They say time flies when you’re having fun and it’s certainly true for Team Sh! Today we’re looking back at all our favourite moments of 2016. This slip-slidey trip down memory lane happened with the help of our blog and Facebook – both very neat diaries of all the fun stuff we do in the name of work. 🙂 We hope you enjoy reading about our moments as much as we enjoyed living them…
The Great Wall of Vagina
This year started off with something that is massively important to us not only as staff working at the first female-focused sex shop in Europe, but also as women.
Big panels of white plaster-casted vulvas, better known as The Great Wall of Vagina was delivered to Sh!, having travelled from Brighton in a snazzy sports car driven personally by artist Jamie McCartney. For anyone unfamiliar with his groundbreaking work, it is definitely worth hopping over to the GWOV website to find out more about the 400 vulvas McCartney plaster-casted in order to create several feet of truly stunning pieces of art.
Women travelled from all over UK to see the panels in person and many were overwhelmed by the variety of vulva on show. “I thought vaginas were all the same” is a sentence we heard more than once.
We want women to love their lips and to know that whatever they’ve got is both beautiful and normal. Unless you have a troupe of female lovers through your bedroom, you never really get a chance to see what real women look like; the images of vulvas that are readily available are too often from porn and having been nipped, tucked, bleached and plucked to within an inch of their life, they give an unrealistic idea of how women actually look.
The exhibition was a collaboration that has been years in the making, and we’d love to be able to bring it back at some point in the future.
We love a good celebration and Sh!’s 24th birthday was an excellent reason for cake & bubbles! We invited friends, family, customers, neighbours and passers-by to celebrate with us. (We found that there is nothing quite like free cake to entice people in.)
A a small, independent business, we are *so* proud of having remained at the forefront of the sex shop industry for so long and we’d like to take this opportunity to say **Thank You** to our lovely customers who’ve remain loyal to this l’il slice of sex toy heaven for so many years.
We have a selection of of our best stories from the past 24 years right here on our blog. Enjoy!
Best Shop Award!
Taking place in Birmingham in June each year, the ETO Trade Show & Awards are highlighted on every adult retailer’s calendar. The ETO Show is where we check out new products, catch up with industry friends and party like it’s 1999.
This year we won a shiny ETO Award for Best Individual Store (woop!) and here’s what MD Ky had to say: “To receive a similar amount of nominations as the big boys in the industry is a huge honour for our small (but perfectly formed!) company and to actually receive ETO Awards which we’ve done year on year thanks to everybody’s wonderful support is the cherry on top. So thank you to everybody who nominated and voted for Sh! – it’s such an uplifting endorsement from our peers that thrills us to bits!”
And that’s not all – we won another award too!
We are so honoured to have won Best LBQ Business Award at the Planet London Awards!
The awards have been running since 2013 and exist to celebrate the hard work of grass roots event organisers and community businesses who are committed to improving the lesbian, bi and queer scene. This year almost 4,000 women cast 47,523 votes to decide the winners across the 40 categories. Now that’s a whole lotta women taking the time to vote for their favourite businesses, like Sh! Thank you!
Sexual Pleasure For All
We spent a warm Saturday in June at a beautiful location right here in London, talking about sex toys and all the pleasure they can bring.
COSRT (College of Sexual Relationship Therapists), the UK’s leading organisation for therapists specialising in sexual and relationship issues, invited us along to an all-day event for their members. Seeing as far too many health professionals are rather sex-negative, it was a huge deal for us to be included and we thank COSRT for their open minds and willingness to look at new ways of offering advice & solutions for their clients.
We brought along a suitcase full of useful products and spent the day explaining how they work and who they might be good for – and we’re delighted to say that the assembled therapists seemed to really enjoy our unorthodox show-womanship!
Pride is a wonderful time of year for us and we always look forward to the celebrations. This year, celebrating Pride felt extra significant and we spent several weeks spreading the love. We raised money for the Orlando Survivor’s Fund by auctioning out specially made rainbow dildos and we wore rainbow bands with Pride.
Here’s what Ops Manager Aphra had to say: “Being a married gay woman living in London, it is easy to think that the world has moved on in its understanding of love & sexuality. Yet the horrendous events in Orlando show how little things have really changed.”
Read the full blog piece here.
Boys, Boys, Boys
The invitations for fun kept coming and next up was an afternoon with Brook and a group of young men from Hackney in east London. We’ll put our hands up to this one – teenage boys aren’t our target market and in all honesty, we usually avoid them like the plague.
On this occasion, however, we were pleasantly surprised: the guys were polite, interested, and keen on learning more about female arousal and sexuality. *High five, fellas*
Keen to break the ice and get everyone comfortable, we charged ahead and asked their names, and their preferred words for male & female genitalia, and penetrative sex. Dick, pussy and sex were the main ones (no surprise), but the word “beat” threw us a little. “Beat” is (apparently) East London slang for sex. We image a conversation would go something like this:
“Whatcha doin’ tonite, bro?
“I’m gonna beat my girl, innit.”
“Cool bro – enjoy!”
The mind boggles.
If you fancy reading about our day in a very warm green house with a group of lovely lads, just hop on over to the Sh! blog.
Many thanks to Brook, the young people’s sexual health & wellbeing charity, for giving us the opportunity to come along to their new project @ComeTruPleasure – we had such a great day!
Vaginismus Awareness Day
Over the years we’ve met hundreds of women living with a wide variety of vaginal issues, with vaginal pain and pain during sex being the most common complaints. It became clear to us that something had to be done.
We designed and manufactured the world’s first vibrating silicone dilating kit (celebrated with a round of pink bubbles), and to date we have given away dozens of free kits to psychosexual therapists, doctors and nurses all over the UK.
And from there, www.vaginismusawareness.com and the first National Vaginismus Awareness Day was born.
It was an important day for us, the female guests and bless him, the lone male rocking up (kudos for not drowning in the sea of estrogen, fella!) who attended the event. Bubbles (well, any cause for a celebration…), fantastic speakers and an allround atmosphere of joy made the evening great.
We focused on Vaginismus this year but we’re hoping to expand the event next year, as we want to include a greater variety of reasons for vaginal pain.
We have since found out that our soft vibrating kit helped one couple conceive. From not being able to have or enjoy penetrative sex at all, there is now a much longed-for baby on the way – congratulations you guys!
After having smashed the barriers surrounding painful sex, we decided to carry on smashing taboos and menopause was next on our list…
Move Over, Menopause!
Menopause is usually spoken about in hushed tones, if spoken about at all. In true Sh! style, we decided to shout loud & proud about it and invited a panel of magnificent women; TV personality & Author Christine Webber, Sex & Relationship Therapist Sarah Berry and Author & Editor Zak Jane Keir for an evening of menopausal fun & frolics.
There was bubbles (…we can see a theme forming…), cake, book readings and Zak’s rousing talk on what it’s like to be a porn star in your fabulous 50’s. The shop was overrun with women in ‘mid-life & beyond’ – all keen to get a closer look at sex toys, lube and erotica… We lost control of the frisky women and we loved every second of it! Sometimes it’s just better to stand back and watch. 😀
TedX East End Supper Club – Dinner & Sex
Combining three of our loves (good food, white wine and sex talk), there was no way we weren’t going to accept TedX East End Supper Club’s invite to join the fantabulous Alix Fox for an evening of Indonesian dishes and sexual innuendos. Great guests, great talks and a fun Q&A made the evening into the juiciest Sunday night this year. We sat next to Helen Croydon, author of Sugar Daddy Diaries, and made friends with Sarah Forbes, author of Sex in the Museum.
Best Place to Visit
We are almost at the end of this year, but there is still time for more favourite moments to happen.
Like this one: we won Best Place to Visit in boldly-named website fuck.com’s Best London sex Shops!
Open since 1992 as the first-ever “for women” erotic boutique and cater to the discerning woman who wants to shop in a safe place. Their rules are a bit more relaxed nowadays, with the first floor solely reserved for the ladies and couples, but the basement is a come-one-come-all space to find every kinky need. The selection ranges from the educational with sex manuals and erotic novels, to the exciting, with an impressive selection of strap-ons and vibrators, all with helpful staff to find your ideal item for any price-point. 5/5
Thank you, lovely people!
Christmas Party in the Shop
This year, we decided to do the Company Christmas party a little different. We invited family, friends, neighbours and local businesses for fun n’ games in the shop, along with us. The festive spirits flowed as we played pass-the-sex-toy parcel and musical statues. Guests had a great time and the atmosphere was on top – and once they realised there was free sex toys to be won, there was no stopping them!
After the shop shut at 8pm, the open-house evening turned into staff & close friends only. We played our annual game of **FACE** and we wouldn’t be surprised if the excitement could be heard all over the Square…
…which turned into shrieks of horror when one guest, jumping for joy, managed to smash his head straight into a lamp shade made of heavy glass… Ouch!
Thankfully his head fared better than the light!
We expect the fella has a sore head this morning, but rest assured no blood was spilt. Next year we’ll have to ask guests to wear helmets before partaking in the games. 🙂
The evening ended with a conga-line of guests wanting a spank or two from our delighted Store Manager, but in order to save blushes we’ll just leave it there. *wink*
It has been a truly wonderful year and we’re looking forward to much more in 2017.
Have a wonderful Christmas, y’all!