“It’s not about flogging sex toys, we are helping women find their sexuality”: inside London’s very first sex shop for women


In 1992, in a pre-gentrified and less trendy corner of Hoxton, Ky Hoyle had the great idea to open the UK’s very first sex shop entirely for women.

Back then, sex shops were largely shabby establishments filled with inflatable dolls, X-rated sticky videos, and male entertainment that were alienating to women, offering nothing designed for female pleasure.

Add that to the continued impact of the AIDS epidemic fueling a culture of fear around sexuality for all genders and sexual orientations, and it is clear that the landscape for sexual pleasure in London was quite bleak.

READ MORE: London sex expert on the benefits of ‘Santa role-playing’ and why partners should never buy sex toys as gifts

“After a few glasses of wine, I went to Soho and found it to be the most disgusting, alienating, and male-oriented place,” Ky said.

“It has changed so much [now], but none of it was directed at a woman’s real sexuality, it was very whimsical[-focused].

“Basically I came back from that shopping trip [and thought] about the fact that there must be a place for women, and about three months later I opened Sh! on a side street in Hoxton. “

Ky said she named the shop Sh! because it directly contradicted the idea that women’s sexuality should be “hushed up”.

The store was – and is – completely female-centric, while celebrating that gender and sexuality are fluid and that “not all women have vaginas and not all men have penises.”



Ky Hoyle started Sh! after realizing the urgent need for a female-centric sex shop that helps women discover and embrace their sexuality

The pandemic has forced Sh! to close the doors of her shop in East London, but it’s still open online – helping women across the country connect with their sexuality and learn more about their own pleasure.

While Sh! stocks a whole range of sex toys and accessories geared towards women, Ky says the real impact comes from the free, one-on-one, personalized counseling offered by Sh! staff and online classes! in specialized subjects.

“Education is absolutely our goal, it’s not about whipping toys at all,” she said.

“Toys are secondary to exploring your sexuality and owning your true sexuality – not what the TV tells you or the magazines tell you.”



A rope course at Sh!
A rope course at Sh!

“It’s good to ask questions”

“Selling sex toys is, of course, a lot of fun and we laugh a lot, but my main reason for working at Sh! is not dildos or vibrators. !.

“It is an honor to be able to offer help and advice to women and couples who may be visiting a sex shop for the very first time, or who have not yet experienced their first orgasm.

“I work with women who are ready to love their bodies after sexual violence, women who have survived FGM, HIV positive women, LGBTQIA groups, including offering free pleasure workshops to lesbian women asylum seekers, and I’m currently involved in two different cancer and sex projects. “

Hush! offers a wide range of advice articles on its website as well as three in-depth courses exploring orgasms, oral sex, and building sexual confidence.



Renée Denyer, sexuality educator at Sh!
Renée Denyer, sexuality educator at Sh!

Customers can also email or use the website’s chat box to contact Renée directly and ask her questions about anything they think about sex and sexuality.

“We give very personalized advice,” explains Renée.

“It’s not generic, one size fits all – if anything, I’d rather talk to the person, have them email me so I can ask questions that will help me gauge what might suit them.

“I ask personal questions, but I do it in a very gentle way, and I try to make the experience as light and fun as possible – I want it to be as fun for them. ‘It’s okay to ask questions.



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“I learned to spank 80 year olds”

While Renée often helps women and their partners navigate very difficult and challenging topics, she also helps bring a lot of joy into the lives of people of all ages.

She helped a female genital mutilation (FGM) survivor regain her sexuality.

“Despite deep trauma, she wanted to explore pleasure,” Renée explained.

“She was married to a man, but their culture did not approve of female pleasure or sex toys. She needed something that she could use when he was at work that he wouldn’t suspect to be. a sex toy if he found it.

“It was an absolute honor to help her choose exactly the thing.”

Hush! also helped a couple in their early 30s from strict religious backgrounds discover sexual pleasure after a year of inability to consummate their marriage, helped a 70 year old woman explore her sexuality in a new relationship after a first marriage sexless and helped a “butler” who was sent by a woman to buy her toys from a shopping list.



Woman tries lipstick vibrator at Sh! 'S Hoxton store before store goes exclusively online during pandemic
Woman tries lipstick vibrator at Sh! ‘S Hoxton store before store goes exclusively online during pandemic

Needless to say, he wasn’t a real butler, and rather enjoyed the whole situation …

Renée also recalled: “I was once booked to give a WWI group spanking workshop in West London.

“Mary, 80, didn’t want to be spanked, but she laughed so hard she almost fell off her chair.”

While Sh! offers a huge range of sex toys and accessories, all intentionally designed for female pleasure, above all it offers a full experience for women looking to explore their sexuality and learn more about themselves and their bodies – regardless their age, sexuality, level of experience or knowledge. based.

Ky said, “It’s mostly around empowerment. Yes, we’ll teach you the tips and tricks, but it’s mostly about giving women the confidence to really take ownership of what they love to do, their fantasies and what really gives them pleasure. “

To talk to Renée and get personal advice, or to find out more about the lessons, toys and accessories that Sh !, visit their website at sh-womenstore.com.

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