I needed to take a deep breath when I went into Sh! for the first time. I knew that going to buy my first toy would be exciting but at 19 years old I had no idea to expect, especially growing up in a household where sex was never discussed. Apart from being wide-eyed and feeling shy whilst browsing, it was overall a pleasant experience that I will never forget.
Fast forward many many years later and I buy all my sex toys online, like most people I know. Over 3 million British people own adult toys and in 2017 the global market was estimated to be worth over £18 billion. Online sales play a key role in the growth of the adult toy industry but how many of the online retailers cater to, market to or are owned by Black people and people of colour?
Well, Black Honey Toys (BHT) wants to change how Black people are catered for by providing an online store “where shoppers feel empowered and represented.” BHT Launched in December 2019 because they think it’s important for customers to feel empowered and represent Black people. I recently caught up with Mac, Co-Founder of BHT to talk about why he felt there was a lack of representation for Black people in the adult toy industry.
What was the driving force behind creating BHT?
The industry or mainly everything in society is dominated by eurocentric standards of beauty and that is what is reflected in the sex toy industry, its a general issue that has crossed over into that space. I feel like there will be a shift now because I guess retailers are waking up to the fact that consumers like to be represented when they visit your online or physical store. People are much more willing to spend their money consciously, they’re aware of their impact and where their money is going. There will be a shift and I think that’s what BHT is here for. To create a space where people feel represented not just physically but their values as well.
What are the main principles?
We have two main guiding principles and those are captured in our tagline; love yourself, love pleasure. We are big believers in embracing all you are and want to create a retail experience where people feel valued for who they are. For us love pleasure is to provide pleasure enhancing products which cater for all sorts of tastes, kinks and preferences. These two things are the guiding principles for us as a company. Love yourself, love pleasure.
Black people are over-sexualised in the media, how does BHT want to change that?
There’s a conversation to be had around Black bodies being over-sexualised. When you go online adult stores most of the black or brown products you see are your usual phallic options. The more sleek designs rarely come in any shade of black or brown. It is hard to find a sex toy which is subtle in a brown skin colour. In the future we’d like create bespoke sleek modern designs that reflect different shades of black, not too in your face. That’s the vision going forward. We want to cater for those who are not too keen on the traditional phallic designs, but want toys in shades of brown and black, we will cater to your taste.
Have you got any plans to take BHT offline?
We’d like to collaborate with other organisations on sex-positive and body positive events. We’ve been conversations with some likeminded organisations but, unfortunately, the current situation came in at a point where we were ready to move forward with some of our plans so we’ve had to go back to the drawing board.
What other plans do you have for the next couple of years?
It would be great for us to move some of our operations to Africa. Since Black Pound Day I’ve had contact from retailers in Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone who are interested in doing business with us. South Africa is a place we’d like to get into as the infrastructure is there for e-commerce. The African market is untapped, we’d be looking to get into that market in the next 5 years. In most African cultures there’s a taboo around sex in general, people don’t talk about it in public or private. Which has manifested in how people engage with their sexuality. But I think attitudes are shifting and we want to be part of the process.