DIVA 2019

And the DIVA Choice Award Goes to…

“Tonight’s DIVA Choice Award goes to a committed explorer of the senses.

Back in the days when the concept of “Sexual Wellness” was just a glint in Gwyneth Paltrow’s eye, tonight’s winner was toiling away at the coal face of female sexual pleasure.

Indeed, come the second sexual revolution, (not too far off now thanks to this mystery woman) when Queen Megan is handing out awards for Distinguished Services to Strap Ons, tonight’s visionary will be at the head of the queue.

This Yorkshire pioneer and maverick (she didn’t go to business school; she went to art school) opened the UK’s first ever female-focused erotic store in 1992. She’s spent a day in Soho looking for inspiration in the sex shops of the time, but the landscape was sleazy and male-focused.

High points include introducing the women of Britain to the Jessica Rabbit vibrator, setting up Café V, the UK’s first support group to help sexual violence survivors reconnect with their bodies and working with the NHS to bridge the gap between sexuality and overall health.

Established on an investment of £700 and originally specializing in sexy yet comfortable strap-on harnesses and gender-free silicone dildos, her business has grown into a multi award-winning brand dedicated to women’s bodily enjoyment and has created a sea change in attitudes towards honest female sexuality.

27 years ago, tonight’s winner was seen by a lot of the mainstream media as the pervy weirdo lesbian who ran THAT East End sex shop. But she stuck to her beliefs and those beliefs have borne fruit. She has become one of the UK’s leading exponents of sex-positive feminism and has brought orgasms and succor (and the new wave of clitoral suction sex toys) to thousands of women.

The struggle to point out that female sexual pleasure is a right and not an indulgence is on-going. But this powerhouse continues to push boundaries, spreading her message passionately on TV, radio and panels around the world.

The winner of tonight’s DIVA Choice Award is the founder and managing director of Sh! Women’s Erotic Emporium, Ky Hoyle!”
Victoria Broom, Stephanie Theobald, Ky Hoyle, Rachel Shelley
Getty Images

The transcribed introduction above was given by none other than Stephanie Theobald, a journalist at Guardian & Sunday Times, and author of Big Clit Energy memoir Sex Drive.

About the DIVA Awards

Diva, the leading monthly mag for lesbians and bisexual women hosted its annual Award ceremony at Waldorf Hilton on Friday 7th of June. The Awards, hosted by Rachel Shelley and Victoria Broom, honour those who help make a difference to the lives of lesbians, bisexual women, and trans people.

“The DIVA Awards is a fantastic event that honours those who are committed to raising awareness for the lesbian, bisexual and trans community. We’re proud of everyone who won big tonight and all those on the shortlist – each and every one of them make a difference to the LGBTQI+ community.”

Linda Riley, founder of DIVA Awards

There were plenty of celebrities at this year’s fancy bash, and there may even have been some fan-girling involved when the team got to meet Sinitta (no introductions needed!) and London-based singer & song-writer Ronnie-Martine

Gentleman Jack star Suranne Jones *swoon* presented Bake Off host & TV presenter Sandi Toksvig with a shiny gong for her advocacy on behalf of the lesbian, bisexual and trans community.

Loose Woman and proud mama Denise Welch collected the Ally of the Year award on behalf of her son Matty Healy, singer of 1975, who is a vocal and high profile supporter of LGBT+ equality.

Other winners included chef and activist Jack Monroe and outgoing Stonewall Chief Executive Ruth Hunt.

Victoria Broom, Ky Hoyle, Sandi Toksvig, Suranne Jones, Rachel Shelley
Sh! Image
Ky Hoyle Sans Award
Getty Images

A Win For One Is A Win For All

Behind every successful woman is a tribe of badasses cheering her on and at the forefront of the Sh! badass tribe is Sophie Walters, Ky’s business partner and co-owner of Sh! (aka Financial Director & Chief Purse Strings Holder)

A business doesn’t run itself (though sometime we wish it did!) and Sophie has provided magnificently strong shoulders (arms, legs and whatever else may be needed) in shifting heaven, earth & heavy boxes to support Ky’s vision for the li’l slice of heaven that is Sh!

Not usually one for late nights out on the town, our Sophie made an exception for the DIVA Awards and not only did she look dapper AF for the occasion, but rumour also has it that she thoroughly enjoyed the fine wine and good food on offer at Hilton Waldorf. 🙂 Who knows, maybe we’ll be able to convince her to join us for fun nights out a bit more regularly after this!

Sh! FD Sophie Walters looking Dapper AF
Sh! Image

Diva Awards 2019 – Full list of winners here.
Sh! Voted Best Individual Store 2016!

Sh! Voted Best Individual Store 2016!

The annual ETO (Erotic Trade Only) Awards are always a fancy affair and no less so this year.

Taking place in Birmingham in June each year, the ETO Trade Show & Awards are highlighted on every adult retailer’s calendar – preferably with a gold star so it can’t be missed!

On the day, we left London slightly later than planned after an impromptu rouge-bra hunt around East London (it happens), and promptly got stuck in a traffic jam on the M1 as there’d been an accident in the heavy rain.

Feeling a little worried that we’d miss the 7.30pm dinner call, we fetched make up and other paraphernalia from the boot of the car and set about beautifying ourselves whilst waiting for traffic to move. As we arrived at our hotel, half-made up with partial strips of fake eyelashes glued on, we were glowing with foundation and stress…

ETO DInnerSlipping into our finery, complete with sparkly heels & clutches, we made our way to the venue, Resorts World. Confusingly located inside a shopping mall, the venue is nontheless very glamourous and overlooks the Pendigo Lake.

We had lovely company around the table, and both conversation and wine were flowing freely.  A scrumptious 3-course dinner was enjoyed, and then – finally time for the Awards!

As much as everyone pretends winning doesn’t matter, it is always exciting to see whether your name/business will be called up. Practically rushing the stage in our excitement to collect the award for Best Individual Store, our brains froze (still thinking about that rouge bra) and our Thank You speech was less than eloquent. The stresses of the afternoon (and, let’s be honest, the wine) got to us, and we were a bit giggly…

ETO Awards and BottleWe’ll let Ky (founder & MD) speak instead: 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 recieve 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!

We were delighted when our friend Tabitha Rayne won the award for Best Erotic Author 2016. This year is definitely Tabitha’s year, what with the fantastic Ruby Glow vibrator receiving a nomination for most innovatie toy. Tabitha is the brains behind this awesome vibe, which incidentally scored an impressive 2nd place in Good Housekeeping Magazine a couple of weeks ago.

Along with her fellow Brit Babes (Kay Jaybee, KD Grace, Victoria Blisse and Lexie Bay), Tabitha took the dancefloor with storm, and celebrated with some very sharp moves.

The after-Awards parties are legendary; everyone finally relaxes and hair gets let down. This year, a pair of panties were flung across the room, two merry men were energetically tonguing each other on the stage until security removed them (booo – we were enjoying that!) and champagne corks were popping in every direction.

The Morning After

man cunt lubeVisting the ETO Trade Show is a lot of fun. This year we got to try a new arousal drink for women (yep, it works – lady bits were twitching!) which will be ready for shoppers in about 2 months. We  were given tiny Doxy Massager keyrings (always useful!) and a bottle of…ahem… ManCunt…lube. It’s “white, creamy and fun to play with”.

We spotted a number of products we think you’ll love, such as the new rabbit vibrator with a moving nubbin, or the flickering tongue toy. We’ll order the Doxy Massagers in sparkly cover (perfect for Christmas!)  and we found some deliciously-scented massage creams.

So all in all a very successful trip!

Thanks so much to everyone who voted for us.

Sh! Wins Best LBQ Business Award at Planet London Awards.

Sh! Wins Best LBQ Business Award at Planet London Awards.

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.

We beat some strong competition in the form of Barberette, Pink Lobster Dating, Pretty Pink Pearl, Square Peg Media and That’s the Spot.

Our own Kate Frank was there to pick up the award for the Sh! team. She gives us her thoughts on the night:

“It was an absolutely fabulous night, well… late afternoon!

Broadway Theatre was full of empowered, inspiring women. I was sitting there, in full #powerlesbian mode, next to Sarah Waters! (Yes, I was fangirling hard, as was everyone else in the room – reading ‘Fingersmith’ in my early teens  was a major sexual identity breakthrough).

I was amazed by the supportive and warm atmosphere. Katie and Naomi did wonderful job, not only by inviting such an inspiring
crowd but also by creating a fun yet professional event. I was surprised and flustered when Sh! was called to collect an award for the most inspiring business serving the Lesbian, Bi Queer & Questioning community. I thanked everyone on behalf of the whole Team Sh! and invited everyone to join us for a Spank You Very Much Class.

Every day we are working hard at Sh! to create an empowered and safe space for women to explore their sexuality.  Such a rare and precious space is worth protecting.  It is one of the few sex education platforms that not only sprung from the queer community, but has many LBQ staff and continues to base its practices on the experiences and life stories that queer women share with us.

Working in a family-like, women orientated small business that has been focused on sexually empowering women since the 90s’ (some of our Team Sh! girls are younger than our shop!) is one of the best jobs a girl in London can have. That’s why I am always dying to talk about Sh! to anyone who would like to listen… and on that night I had a full room of gorgeous, powerful LBQ women who were very eager to let me do so.”

The nights other awesome winners were:


Independent Author – Kiki Archer

Publishing House Author – Sarah Waters

LBQ Book  – Too Late I Love You by Kiki Archer

International Festival – Pride In London

LBQ Comedian – Rosie Wilby

LBQ Live Performance Event – Coming Out of my Box by Emma Stroud

Musician – Solo Artist – Lucy Spraggan

Musician – Group/Band – Playing House

Live Performance Performer – MIRI

Recorded Performance Performer – Lucy Spraggan


Voluntary/Community Project – Love Human Rights

Journalist – Katie Bennett-Hall

Photographer/Videographer – Laura Dixon

Local Network/Forum – Gay Women’s Network

Best/most effective LBQ focussed politician – Sandi Toksvig


Role Model – Rosie Spaughton

LBQ Blogger/Vlogger Rose Ellen Dix

Volunteer – Sarah Lavender


Radio Show or Podcast – The Girls Hour

Web series – She’s in London

Independent Film – Crazy Bitches

Short Film – Life in Colors

Media Outlet (online or print) – Diva Magazine


DJ – Carmen London

Inclusive event – Project X

LBQ friendly space –  SHE Soho

Event organiser – Nikki Chubb

Bar staff  – Bex Smith and Cressida Lawlor

Security staff – Anna Georgiou, Pinx Security

Most Creative Space or Event – Sink the Pink


DJ – DJ Lady Lola

LBQ friendly space – Diva Cafe

Most Creative Space or Event – Brighton Pride


Social Group Organiser – Jennifer Lorrimer, LezBeSocial

Social Group – Lesbian Book Readers Club

Dating/Network Service – HER App

Corporate Network – Freshfields LGBT Network




ETO Award Winners 2015

Two ETO Awards for Sh!

First of all, in case you choose to skim this blog piece rather than read all of it, Team Sh! would like to thank all who nominated and voted for us in the ETO Awards – thanks to you lovely guys & gals we took home TWO awards! For a small, independent company, winning an award (or two!) when up against some of the giants in the adult industry is huge, and it really spurs us on to go forth and do more great things!

The ETO (Erotic Trade Only) Awards are the most prestigious awards within the adult industry, so winning one is amazing – but romping home TWO is the icing on a very sexy cake! Thank You!

ETO AwardsThe ETO Show, put on by the team at ETO Magazine, took place at Birmingham NEC over 28th and 29th June. Bigger than ever, the adult trade show is a place to meet old friends, make new ones and look at the latest exiting products.

Whilst a few hundreds visitors spent the Sunday at the trade show, I was unable to and instead headed straight for the gala dinner after having dropped off my luggage at the hotel.

Rocking up to an event all on your lonesome is hard enough, but even more so when the cabbie drops you off at the wrong entrance of a very big venue… I walked around looking for signs of life until I bumped into a lovely pair from Alter Ego clothing, also lost. Together we ambled through the impossibly long corridors until we eventually found the party. By this point I was damp with sweat (getting over a recent bout of stomach flu) and ready to kick off my stilettos – not the best start to an evening!

I was more than a little relieved to see familiar faces; KD Grace (winner of ETO Best Erotic Author 2014) and her lovely husband, Lexie Bay, Lily Harlem & Tabitha Rayne from Brit Babes and journalist Alix Fox to name a few gorgeous-looking peeps.

starterDuring the dinner, I was sat at the VIP table (all together now: ooooh!), the ETO table. Finally getting to meet the team behind the UK’s leading trade magazine was exciting, and if I’m honest, a little daunting. If anyone (me) had expected them to let down their hair during the evening, they were very wrong – the team remained professional throughout and whilst guests were enjoying a fantastic meal, parts of the team were buzzing around fixing last minute glitches. Also sat at the table was Emily Dubberley, founder of Cliterati and author of a whopping 29 books, who kept the conversation going whilst the rest of us enjoyed the wine.

Lee and DaleAfter dessert, it was time for the Awards. Dale Bradford (editor) and Lee Schofield (publisher) read out nominations and winners, to cheers and applause. Sh! was nominated for Most Innovative Retailer 2015, but being pretty sure that a huge online retailer would take home the award, I wasn’t at all prepared when Dale called out Sh! I walked up on stage with wobbly knees and received the award and accompanying bottle of Champagne on behalf of the company. Back at the table, I quickly sent a text to Sh! MD Ky Hoyle to share the great news!

Renee Award 15Having won the title of ETO Best Store Manager last year, I was fully onboard with passing on the title (it would be greedy to want one award for each hand, right?), so I almost pee’d myself with excitement when Dale called out my name!

Again, up on stage (with super-wobbly knees) to receive the award and bottle of bubbles (which was quickly uncorked and enjoyed), before letting the team know we’d won TWO awards!

The rest of the evening went by in a blur (thanks to the champagne), and lots of dancing ensued. The Brit Babes and the merry team behind Blue Moon Lingerie owned the dance floor, though I did my best to throw some shapes, too.

A special mention must go to Sh! friend Kay Jaybee who won Best Erotica Author, but was unable to attend the award dinner due to – literally – a pain in the butt. Congratulations lovely – we hope you’re feeling better!

All in all, it was an amazing evening which ended MUCH better than it started!

Renee x

Check out the full list of winners here. 


ETO Awards: Sh! Crowned Most Innovative Retailer 2013

etologoWe’ve only gone and done it again!
Sunday night saw us take away our 3rd consecutive ETO Award for Most Innovative Retailer. To just be nominated for such a prestigious award is amazing in itself, but to actually win? We’re over the moon!

We take great pride in our little pink shop and being recognised for all the pioneering work we do here at Sh! is the cherry on top of the cake.
We put in a lot of hard work to make sure we uphold our empowering female-focused ethos and to deliver unparalleled customer service to each and every person who wanders through our dusky pink door.
We offer so much more than your average sex shop: classes, events, exhibitions, hand-made sex toys and expert advice all finished off with a cup of tea. Winning this award once again is a fantastic reminder of why we do what we do here at Sh! and that all our effort is worth it.

This is our first award for 2013 but the year isn’t over yet! ky

We’re excited to see what the rest of the year will bring and, until then, we’re busying ourselves by dusting our trophy cabinet and clearing a space for our shiny new award!

Thank you to everyone who voted for us and hearty congratulations to all other ETO Award winners and nominees xx

Sh! named ‘Most Innovative Retailer’ at ETO Awards 2012

Yes it’s true, for the second year running Sh! has snagged the Most Innovative Retailer title at the prestigious ETO Awards, and we could not be happier!

Most Innovative Retailer 2012 is a welcome addition to the Sh! awards shelf, which is getting pretty crowded if we do say so ourselves (SO much dusting).

It felt real as soon as it was Tweeted!
It felt real as soon as it was Tweeted!

Only half way through the year, Sh! has already scooped Best Shopping Venue, and (the big one) Best Business of the Year at the 2012 Qype Business Awards. This ETO award, the trade body for the erotic industry, is the icing on the cake!

Team Sh! are thrilled that our  Hoxton Store has been recognized for the second year running as the pioneer that it is. What with manufacturing our own toys, hosting ground breaking classes & exhibitions, raising money for charities and working tirelessly to raise awareness about women’s sexuality, Sh! is much, much more than just a shop.

2012 is shaping up to be the year of big wins in our quest to paint the town pink, and we are so incredibly grateful to everyone who has nominated and voted for us!

Keep those fingers and toes crossed that more accolades will come our way in the second half of the year, and in the mean time, come on down to one of our many July events (see the diary here) to share the champers!


Sh! awards

Qype Business of the Year!

Vist our QYPE pages here & here

Sh! received the best birthday pressie EVER last night when she scooped 2 awards at the first ever Qype business awards, including the TOP one: Best Business of the Year, UK & Ireland 2012.

Held at Brixton Club House, the omen was good from the start when the 2 directors, Kathryn & Sophieeasily found a parking spot for the Sh! pink smart car, just off Electric Avenue. Sweet! The gods ( or goddesses) were looking down benevolently alright…

After a wee drink and a munch on a curry goat roti on the Ibizan-style roof terrace ( in London – in MARCH!), it was down to the main room for the ceremony.

Dark and glitzy, with wine,cupcakesand party poppers on the tables, the CEO of Qype, Ian Brotherston, took to the stage to tell us we were all winners, having demonstratedexcellent customer engagement and been given fab reviews, as rated by Qype’s ( which stands for quality over hype)1.6m consumers across the UK.

Our friends at theHoxton Salonwon the first award for Best UK Beauty and Wellness Venue of the Year 2012

Then the next one; UK Shopping Venue of the Year 2012. Eeeek! Its scary going through the runner-up accolades not hearing your name called – a tiny insight into the turmoil disappointed Oscar nominees go through, with a polite grin (mace!) frozen to their faces. As the description of the winner was being read out; “shown exceptional customer engagement…” “an incredibly popular winner” – or words to the effect, Sophie, (the intuative Picean) was muttering “we’ve got this one”,  whilst Kathryn ( the superstitious carpricorn) hushed her…

A wee cheer went up as our name was called out and Kathryn stumbled ( there were a lot of wire and stage stuff to negotiate; the wine had nothing to do with it) to receive the prize.

The next set of awards were a bit of a blurr as there was lots of hugging and tweeting to be done, but the other members of our table,Gordons Wine Barquickly won Best Bar, followed by Best Place…

Kathryn was still attempting to tap out tweets in the dark, when the biggie came up: One business was to be named Best Business, putting it ahead of 750,000 other businesses listed on Qype. Sophie starts her muttering again ” we’ve got this one too….” “Don’t be silly” counters Kathryn, milliseconds before she hears “And the Best UK Business Award 2012 goes to Sh! Women’s Erotic Emporium”

A *huge* cheer, this time. More stumbling ( again, *not* the wine, but the sheer wobbly-legged excitement)… Another award gratefully received- the BIG one!

Being Business of the Year means Sh! will now  go on to represent the UK at the Qype World Business of the Year Awards, which will see one business named the best of the 13.5 million places currently listed on Qype worldwide – Yikes!

Then, back upstairs to the sunsetting terrace, for photos, mingling and lots of congratulations.

Later as we buzzed back east, in our pink smartie and on cloud 9, we talked about why such a great accolade from a consumer review site means such a lot to us. We’ve always looked at our business as a series of relationships we have with every one of our customers. If someone isn’t happy, we take it personally, emotionally even, – like a relationship breakdown and do our danmdest to make up. We’ve never seen it as a numbers game, where we can accept a certain % of fallout, so long as we get money in the till. Running a biz with this kind of personal attention may never make us millionaires ( we’re in a smartcar FFS not a porche!) but it sure makes us happy … and we sleep well at night.

We certainly slept with happy smiles on our faces last night.

Thank you to Qype, and most of all to our lovely customers, for recognising our passion is personal and very much in the detail.

About Qype:

Founded in 2006, Qype is Europe’s largest site for user-generated reviews and recommendations of places, events and experiences. Qype has up to 18 million unique users per month and over 2.2 million user-generatedreviews covering business categories in more than 166,000 cities with locations worldwide. Qype allows users to search for and read trusted reviews about a restaurant, shop, service or experience and, with the Qype App, which has been downloaded over 1 million times, users can read and add reviews on their phone and use the application as a personal sat-nav to find places nearby. Available in seven different languages, Qype is now the only truly pan-European local review site able to offer its international users a multi-lingual platform.