Sara Kranjcec Jukic of LELO: “You’ll just have to stay tuned!”

The best advice I’ve ever received is to never accept the criticism of those I wouldn’t come for advice. It’s so obvious, but it took me hearing these words to finally internalize them and try to start abiding by them. I got this at a crucial point in my life when I was drowning in […]

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The best advice I’ve ever received is to never accept the criticism of those I wouldn’t come for advice. It’s so obvious, but it took me hearing these words to finally internalize them and try to start abiding by them. I got this at a crucial point in my life when I was drowning in work because I was trying to make everyone happy — which, as we know, it’s the epitome of an unrealistic goal.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sara Kranjčec Jukić.

Sara Kranjcec Jukic is the Global Brand Manager at LELO. She started her journey in 2015, in a small PR agency working with high-end fashion brands, then made the shift into digital marketing in 2017 which turned out to be one of the best decisions of her professional life, even though it didn’t seem that way in the beginning. Sara suffers from the unfortunate juxtaposition of being an idealist and a cynic which made her career path much harder, but also a lot more fun. With degrees in Journalism, Public Relations, and Ancient Latin, Sara never expected to land at LELO, even though, funnily enough, she once applied for an open position in their then-Communications Department in 2016 out of sheer curiosity. Three years later, she started as LELO’s Global PR Manager as a part of their newly formed global headquarters. Sara is passionate about women empowerment and the de-stigmatization of sexual pleasure, the two things that are, in her opinion, intertwined, and it is her ambition (and pleasure) to turn LELO into the brand that once again leads those conversations.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

My background is in fashion — my career started in a boutique PR agency handling high-end fashion brands across Southeastern Europe — I handled public relations and events. During that period, I realized that I was falling behind when it came to digital marketing and decided to make the switch from PR and event management to digital advertising, focusing on digital content, which also landed me in the beauty sector. It was a fun experience with a really steep learning curve, but it wasn’t challenging enough, you know? Everyone wants to dress well and have clear skin. During that period, I did apply for a position with LELO, but I got rejected. It wasn’t until I crossed paths with LELO’s current CMO (on a completely unrelated matter) that I finally landed a job there. It just goes to show that it pays to be assertive and daring enough to speak your mind, especially about the matters you’re an expert on. I was younger and lacked experience in certain areas, but I got my chance and I decided to use it wisely. Also, you’d think advocating for pleasure wouldn’t be much of a challenge either… and yet!

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Absolutely everything. As much as I love a good challenge, it also pains me that the work we’re doing as a brand is considered disruptive simply because it’s related to sexual pleasure. What pains me, even more, is the paradox of knowing that sex sells, but when you’re trying to sell sex — it’s taboo. Even worse, neither LELO, nor any of the other brands in the sexual wellness space, aren’t really selling sex, we’re selling the experience of enjoying one’s body and the ability to experience pleasure without shame — to me, nothing about that is disruptive.

We elevated the brand’s marketing to the level of art, not just because it’s the right way to go for LELO as a brand, or because it aligns with our internal values, but because it’s a necessity when it comes to pushing the matters of sex and pleasure into the mainstream. We’re allowed to push boundaries as long as we hint at the crux of the matter, we can never speak plainly.

This is where collaborations like this one with Blackbook media on a Woman’s Right To Pleasure come into play — it’s a way for us to speak our truth and put our core brand values into practice for the betterment of our society.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Back when I was just starting out in a PR agency, I got my first solo assignment — organizing a small event for one of our clients. I remember feeling overwhelmed with my then-mentor’s-now friend’s level of trust in my abilities — I was over the moon. In my excitement, I sent the client our pricing proposal without really checking all the details, one that was significantly cheaper than what we usually charged — I put in the wrong percentages into the excel sheet we used for this purpose. The client approved it momentarily (which should have been a dead giveaway to me that I did something wrong!) My mentor spent the next ten days trying to smooth things over in order to charge the full amount and save me from having to pay the difference out of my tiny salary. I was shaking in my boots when he called me and explained what I had done expecting the absolute worst. It was the wildest roller coaster of my budding career.

I had learned three very important lessons that day. Firstly, as expected, I learned to check my work multiple times. Secondly, I learned how to react to mistakes as someone’s supervisor. My mentor could have yelled at me, taken the difference from my salary or even fired me, but instead, he had shown me how to fix the mistake I made and learn something from it. And third — I learned that it’s okay to fail. Take responsibility for your mistakes and learn from them.

I cannot stress how important it was for me to experience that, especially from where I’m standing today. Now it seems like such a minor thing, but I remember the stress it caused years ago.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I have had the good fortune to have lots of amazing mentors from my college years until this very day. One of them I have mentioned already in my answer to the previous question. There are too many to mention by name but let me put it this way — ever since I joined LELO I have had the opportunity to work with some of the biggest marketing professionals. From digital advertising to public relations, my supervisors, and colleagues, past and present, showed their faith in my abilities by constantly challenging me and pushing me forward, even when I had serious doubts about my future.

One of the funniest stories I can share with you is the one where LELO’s Head of Global PR, my manager before I stepped into my current role, approved a conference sponsorship which required that someone from LELO get up in front of 200 people and talk about sex, masturbation, and pleasure in a pretty conservative market. She shoved me into the spotlight knowing it would do wonders for my career and enjoyed every single minute of my freaking out and dying of stage fright. While I was giving the speech, I couldn’t even look in her direction without cracking a huge smile, especially when I forgot my entire speech and decided to improvise on the spot — the exact thing she told me would happen while I was overly preparing myself for the conference. She is one of the biggest reasons why I am where I am today and I wouldn’t last a day without her support.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

As you could have gathered from my previous answers, I’m not a huge fan of the term. But let’s put it this way — disrupting an industry, from where I’m standing, is rarely a bad thing, even when it fails, or it’s done for all the wrong reasons. Why? Because through the mere act of being disrupted by someone or something, we’re forced to evaluate where we stand and be honest with ourselves — we either pass or fail.

Being disruptive for the sake of media coverage or as a PR stunt is something I can’t get behind, especially today when there are so many barriers to cross and so many ways to shake things up that can actually leave lasting impact on our industry and more importantly, our audience.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

The best advice I’ve ever received is to never accept the criticism of those I wouldn’t come for advice. It’s so obvious, but it took me hearing these words to finally internalize them and try to start abiding by them. I got this at a crucial point in my life when I was drowning in work because I was trying to make everyone happy — which, as we know, it’s the epitome of an unrealistic goal.

I was also told not to keep myself hostage by my own expectations and ambitions. It’s hard to put that into practice when you’re an overachiever to the bone. Basically, I had my whole life planned out and I kept feeling like I was falling behind my own schedule. It felt very liberating to be able to shuck some of the self-imposed expectations and focus on my own well-being instead.

The third and final piece of advice I received was to use my authority to lift others up and help them reach their full potential. I had the good fortune of having some amazing mentors in my life and I’d love to be able to continue their good work through my own actions.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

You’ll just have to stay tuned! There’s a project in the works that’s almost ready to launch — something a couple of us have been working on for a really long time, both during and after working hours. It’s very important to us to see this project come to life as it really embodies everything that LELO stands for and I can’t wait to share it with our audience as it’s something we created with them in mind.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

Cindy Gallop gave a Ted Talk in 2009 where she spoke about how hardcore pornography affected, or rather distorted, the way an entire generation of men thought about sex. I was in college at the time and I was actually researching that topic for a volunteer project I did for my Communication Science class. It was the first time I saw anyone take action against this instead of just theorizing about it. was and still is a revolutionary concept and it inspired me to see it. That was way before I even knew about LELO, let alone realized I want to have a career in sexual wellness. This affected my attitude towards my job and this is why I see my work here at LELO as something more than just a profession, I see it as a mission of sorts, too.

I’m an avid reader and asking me to single out a book is like asking a parent to choose their favorite child. Not that dramatic, but still, a big ask! There is one book that I read early on, I was about 15 at the time and I had to reread it when I was about 20, by Nick Cave, titled And The Ass Saw The Angel. I think it was Cave’s first book, too. My view of the book is very biased because I’m a huge fan of his, but that book deeply affected my writing style. Writing was my very first love and reading Cave’s prose was like something inside me just clicked into place. I realized there was a completely different approach to writing, something I never even thought was allowed, I opened my eyes to the fact that sometimes the ugliest scenes yield the most beautiful of paragraphs and it completely changed my inner narrative, so to say, you know, the inner voice that takes over when I write and plays out the scenes before my eyes.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

There isn’t an English translation for this sentence my mom always tells me whenever I’m up in arms about something I have no control over. The sentence basically says stop trying to set a crooked river straight meaning that there are some things you just cannot change. Which I totally disagree with. It’s my favorite life lesson because I’m yet to learn it. Ignoring this lesson means choosing the harder path in life, but for me, it’s a more fulfilling one, knowing that I have done everything in my power to bring about the change I wanted. I don’t think I’m wired in a way to just let things go. This way brings more disappointment than reward, but I’m okay with that.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Hm, I would love to inspire a movement spreading simple kindness. No quid pro quo, no expectations, just kindness to our fellow man. It sounds horribly naive, but it’s the only thing that comes to mind at the end of 2020, the year that has demonstrated how fragile our entire civilization is and that simple acts of human kindness are the key to solving even the world’s greatest problems. Selfless acts, on the level of a private individual and entire countries, pushing our ego aside for the common good of all living beings is a movement I could get behind. I know it’s a pipedream, but we have to start somewhere 🙂

How can our readers follow you online?

My Instagram profile might not be too terribly interesting as there’s a lot of Croatian in it, but for all those curious to see what I’m about in my personal life, you can find me at @bastardsonsson and, of course, I’m on LinkedIn. Reach out and say hello!

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