Sh! Women’s Erotic Emporium is a female-run British business selling sex toys, strap-on dildo 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. In 2007 it had a turnover of £500,000, which has remained stable over the last six years but peaked in 2003 at £560,000.
Kathryn Hoyle was born in Ilkley, West Yorkshire and grew up with a feminist mother, a free-thinking father and one brother. She attended her local school, Ilkley Grammar, before going on to complete a foundation art course in Bradford and graduating with a degree in Fine Art from The Faculty of Arts and Architecture, Brighton University. After graduating Kathryn spent the mid-late 1980s floating from job to job. She taught English in Japan, spent time as a nanny in London, had her own sandwich round before starting Sh!.
Sophie Walters was born in Bracknell, Berkshire and went to Marist Convent Catholic School in Sunninghill, Berkshire. At 17, she started a business and commerce course at Windsor College. Upon completion of the course Sophie worked for Securicor Heathrow, Air Courier Division and later on for Roy Bowles Transport & Cargo. In 1989, she took up the position of Logistics Manager at Sony Corporation Air Cargo and then, after meeting Kathryn in 1991, joined Sh!
Sh! runs educational workshops and collaborates with 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 menus. 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 NHS trusts and now recommended by 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.
Sh! Sex Toy Workshops Sh! has a Sex Toy Workshop aimed at student, LBGT and youth groups and wrote the introduction to sex toys and safer sex for the Oxford University Student Guide.
Art at Sh! The Sh! shop also hosts exhibitions of art work centring on erotic and/or sexual themes.
Books Sh! is also one of three remaining women's bookstores in London and has a comprehensive selection of women's erotica and books dealing with women's sexuality and related issues.