With a focus on maximizing revenue with expertise encompassing paysites, studios, DVDs, broadcast, licensing, mobile, VOD, independent content creation and more, NMG is equal parts biz dev consultant, busywork heavy lifter and dealmaker.
Working alongside company co-founder Megan Stokes, Casillas tackles problem-solving with gusto, as she enjoys the process of deciphering puzzles and creating efficient project management systems to execute carefully laid plans amid complex variables.
Like a tactician with a bubbly personality, ever eager to collaborate and do right by others, Casillas interweaves logic-based analysis with that rare blend of diplomatic human touch needed to inspire teamwork. And with an eye towards shifting market trends, as well as a finger firmly on the pulse of this vibrant industry, our first WIA Woman of the Month for 2022 stands poised for shared success with colleagues and clients in a brand-new year.
XBIZ: Discuss your professional and educational background prior to the adult biz.
CASILLAS: I’d only had a few jobs before getting into the adult business 17 years ago. My first job was a ride operator at Six Flags; I worked there while finishing high school and starting school for Early Childhood Education. I had great teachers and wanted to be like them. Once I finished school, I taught preschool for a couple of years but that didn’t pay much, so I got into preschool photography — I thought I’d combine my love of kids and photography, but that also doesn’t pay much. California is an expensive place to live!
XBIZ: What led you to join this industry?
CASILLAS: As a teacher, some of my students happened to have parents who worked at Hustler in different roles. A coworker at the school had left and gone to work in their production department and needed additional help updating their compliance. I was hired to help get their back catalog organized to meet 2257 requirements way back in ’04, before I moved on to more sales-related roles.
Since then, I’ve been at a few different companies in different roles from sales assistant and sales rep to production-oriented roles; mostly I’ve done the kind of work that’s behind the scenes. I’m much better at production than sales — turns out you should not tell your customers to buy less since they return most of their orders. Oops!
XBIZ: Talk about your role at NMG Management and what your primary responsibilities are.
CASILLAS: When I started with NMG, it started a little bit like my previous work in terms of working with studios and getting their productions into movies. One day I was meeting with Megan and her business partner who said, “You don’t want to keep doing the same thing you did before, right?” It stuck with me because I didn’t! I wanted to do something new and more challenging.
So I started to take on more responsibilities that were higher-level, from researching project management tools that we use companywide to helping guide my co-workers through a difficult project. I’m learning more about how the company works and how to be a leader through Megan, and that’s given me the skills needed to be a strong leader in my own department.
I feel very fortunate to be working someplace that challenges me to think outside the box and supports the ideas I come up with. Not a lot of businesses want to hear how things can be better, but NMG does, and I respect that.
XBIZ: What new skills or unique insights have you gained in your time at the company?
CASILLAS: It turns out that digital organization and process creation is fun! Who knew? I love when someone asks me to solve a problem and I can take the time to just sit and think about it. It’s a luxury to be able to stop work for 15-30 minutes and wonder, “How do I make this work?”
Because not everyone thinks the way that I do, I have to really put time and thought into anything we implement so anyone who doesn’t know my brain can get it. It’s a puzzle that I have to solve, and I get great satisfaction when it clicks into place.
I’ve also really enjoyed working with different clients and building relationships with them on my own. In my previous work I spent most of my time just shuffling projects through the pipeline, so being able to talk with our clients and share in the excitement for their new endeavors has been refreshing.
In my other positions I was very tunnel vision, focused solely on my work. I would come in and do my job, and not know much about the industry happenings beyond my list of studios or companies. It wasn’t something that was encouraged unless you had to deal directly with clients in some way. At NMG, I am learning more general industry knowledge and nuanced skills that make me more confident in my abilities overall.
Because I’m involved a little bit in everything, I get to see the bigger picture and that makes for a better understanding in each project. Ultimately that translates into me being able to better service our clients as well.
XBIZ: How do you interface and collaborate with other staff members at NMG?
CASILLAS: Since we’ve transitioned to work from home, I find it a lot easier to collaborate on projects because we all have to set the time aside to meet up and talk things through. I miss seeing my coworkers and getting out of the apartment sometimes, but in terms of working together, I feel our collaboration has improved because it is intentional, and we’re better focused on the project at hand.
Everyone knows “this is what we’re going to focus on” and I find that having topic-focused meetups like that prove to be more productive than someone just walking into your office and starting to throw things at you; when you had the time to prepare and gather your thoughts, you’re more likely to solve the issue in front of you.
Sometimes, I’ll be in a Skype or Slack chat with a coworker while we’re working on different projects, and they’ll mention something they’re stuck on in passing. That’s when I really shine because I want to make things easier for them. I’ll start brainstorming on how we might handle the issue, what it would look like when completed, figure out the steps it would take to get there and so on while we’re talking. Often just that casual conversation results in a solution to a problem we didn’t know we had or becomes a new idea to share with content creators.
XBIZ: Any major projects or initiatives you’ve undertaken this year that proved especially fruitful?
CASILLAS: There was one simple idea I had this year that proved to be really brilliant in the long term. Megan does a lot of trade shows and forums, and people are always wanting to get in touch with her. Working closely with her, I see how much of her time that takes up. And Megan will always make time for everyone, but from a business perspective there had to be some organization to it.
We were reworking our website and it dawned on me that a program we’re already using for our content creators could make it easy for people to reach out to her in a more organized manner. I put together a contact form that would gather all the information Megan would need when talking to someone new about NMG and how we could work together. We added it to our site, and it’s been amazing! Now we have potential clients and even people just for work reaching out and we’re better able to designate not only who they should talk to — because sometimes Megan isn’t the best person at NMG to help them — but we’re also able to customize our knowledge to their specific needs.
I’ve spent the latter half of this year working more in-depth with our independent content creator team. It’s a completely different mindset than I’m used to; these creators get so much thrown at them from the platforms, it’s hard for us to keep up at times and I cannot imagine trying to do it on my own! Working in this space has given me a chance to try and help streamline our processes internally … to make the overall experience better for our clients, of course, but also for the various teams that work with their content. It sounds so nerdy, but I’ve really enjoyed being able to learn about the spaces and build processes that — I hope, at least — are making life easier for our clients and my teams!
XBIZ: Give us the elevator pitch for why a company or talent should consider tapping into NMG.
CASILLAS: There’s a scene in “The Wedding Singer” where Adam Sandler goes on a job interview and says, to paraphrase, “I like money… I have a little … I keep it in a jar on top of my refrigerator. I’d like to put more in it, that’s where you come in.” In a nutshell, if you want to make more money without putting in all the extra work that comes with that, you should work with NMG. We’ll put more money into that jar on the fridge.
We’ve done the hard work of researching platforms and developing software to be efficient for clients and customers alike; we have built the relationships over the years that can help your brand. Not only that, each department within NMG has someone who is well-versed in their area, and we collaborate internally so that our clients get the advantage of all this collective knowledge working to help build their brands and diversify their revenue streams, so that they can focus on the creative aspects.
XBIZ: What is your approach to analyzing market trends to ensure NMG stays ahead of the curve?
CASILLAS: Because I work with several departments, I can see the different trends going on in production for studios, but also what the independent content creators are doing as well. What’s trending in one vertical might not work for another, so we must strike a balance between trying everything in each space and being selective about what to push and where. I try to check out TikTok or Instagram and see what’s popular or what’s going on in the news, because you never know when inspiration might hit. I’ve seen some TikTok trends and thought, “How could this work for our models?” beyond just putting a sexy twist on everything. If you’re just chasing trends, you’re not planning for longevity and you’re not going to be able to evolve your brand that way. You have to think long-term.
XBIZ: When you’re not working, do you have any hobbies or special talents that you spend time on?
CASILLAS: My one special talent is improv; I was in an improv troupe for nine years and I miss it. It taught me to think quickly on my feet, which is a skill that I use every day. I also love to cook — my dream is to have a kitchen with enough space for me to make a full meal from scratch for my friends and family. I’ll be watching Food Network and become obsessed for days with making something delicious I saw! I highly recommend Anne Burrell’s meatball recipe. It’s relaxing for me, getting all the ingredients prepped and smelling it along the way. I’m also getting back into playing my Switch games too; I finally figured out “Among Us” and have to catch up on my “Animal Crossing” island chores! It’s an easy way to unwind after a long day.
XBIZ: Tell us your biggest goals for 2022, for yourself and for NMG.
CASILLAS: I’m excited to see how NMG grows in 2022; I feel like 2021 was a year of reset, adjusting to working from home permanently and having non-local team members really settling into our groove. I believe going into 2022 we’re in a strong position to really be a leader of the industry; we’ve kind of quietly been leading and I think in 2022 we’re poised to show that off!
For myself, I’m looking forward to seeing my friends and family now that I can travel a little more. We’ve started to tentatively go back to a new normal — so cliche! — and I’m attempting to plan a wedding, so my organizational skills are really going to get tested. I’ve had several vendors send me information in formats that kill me; it takes a lot for me not to offer to reformat it into a more user-friendly presentation for a discount.