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Sh! Women’s Erotic Emporium is a woman-run British business selling sex toys, harnesses, books on all aspects of sex, and accessories. Founded in 1992 by Kathryn Hoyle and Sophie Walters, the company also manufactures dildos and harnesses, and commissions BDSM playthings, lubricant, massage oil, toy cleaner and vibrating toys.
The Sh! shop is located in Hoxton Square, London, but the company also runs a mail order business via the company website and has its HQ in Forest Gate. Sh! employs 18 women locally and in had an annual turnover of £500,000, which has remained stable over the last six years, but peaked in 2003 at £560,000.
Sh! was the first women's sex shop in the UK and it has been instrumental in making the arena of sex shops accessible to woman customers, who previously were marginalised in this area of the consumer market. Just as vibrators were first developed as medical equipment to help cure women of hysteria by inducing hysterical paroxysm, aka orgasm, sex shops The sexual revolution meant that women take charge of their own sexuality and with that have pushed into the sex business.
Sh! founder Kathyrn Hoyle discovered Rabbit vibrator in a sex toy warehouse in 1993. It was named “Roger Rabbit” and generally overlooked; the renamed toy "Jessica Rabbit Vibrator" has since gone onto fame, starring in numerous television shows including Sex and the City. However, it was in 1999, when Comopolitan ran an article on female masturbation, that the "Jessica" really started to enter women's home.
Sh! runs a number of educational workshops and collaborates with various National Health Service Trusts in providing sex toys for women with sexual difficulties.
Sh! Training Kit
The Sh! Training Kit is comprised of 4 size-graded vibrators with lube sachets and full instruction menues. It is designed for women with vaginismus or who need a dilating kit to help get them back into shape. The Kit was developed through links with over 20 different NHS trusts and now recommended by many doctors and sex therapists. The Sh! training kit is also part of a PhD project, at The Royal United Hospital Bath Gynae Oncology department, to research the possibilities and implications of using vibrators in the post-surgery dilating process for women.
2003 International Sexology Conference
In 2003, Adeola Agbebiyi from the Barts and the London NHS Trust, Kathryn Hoyle and Angel Zatorski both from Sh! Women's Emporium, part-took presented two papers exploring the relationship between women and sex toys.
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