What is Margo's?
Combining fun, information, friendliness and discretion, Margo’s is unapologetically about helping women to have the most enjoyable and fulfilling sex lives possible. I want to do this by providing a welcoming retail and supportive space that is sophisticated yet comfortable, informative yet enjoyable, professional yet intimate. You can find out more on the website: www.margos.life
Quite simply - there isn't anything else out there for women. There is an incredible range of online suppliers providing advice, products and help. There are an increasing number and range of shops that make sex aids and toys more accessible than ever before; whether that's Ann Summers on the high street or the network of Adult Stores dotted along the A roads of Britain. For many women and men, these meet their needs perfectly. But they're not for me and from the very many women - and men - I have spoken to, it's not for a lot of other people either.
Last year, after having breast cancer, the ongoing treatment meant I felt the full effects of the menopause. What I hadn't realised until then was how the menopause can have a significant effect on a woman's sex life. I had thought it was all about the odd hot flush! What also became apparent over the following months was that there is almost no help within the NHS for women experience sex-related difficulties. It was my GP suggesting that I should just 'Lie back and think of England' that made me really cross; I had genuinely assumed that in the 21st century women would and should, be offered more. In desperation at the lack of anything to offer, my GP also suggested I visit a sex shop and talk to the assistants. Her view was that they are probably best placed to give advice. I left the surgery feeling quite despondent. I tried to think of all the sex shops I knew and simply couldn't imagine walking in to one to talk about the effects of breast cancer treatment. I started to think about what kind of place I would like to walk in to - and so Margo's began to germinate.
Fuelled by my indignation, I talked about my experience with more and more friends and colleagues, male and female, who put up with my frequent oversharing. What happened surprised me. When I talked about the difficulties I faced, people of all ages and genders shared with me the difficulties they face: women struggling with sex after childbirth; young women suffering from the pain of vaginitis; men wanting to support their female partners but not knowing where to get advice. And the consequences were often far reaching. Some people confided that their mental health and well-being was affected and some were on anti-depressants as a direct result. They all wanted more fulfilling sex lives but felt there was nowhere for them to go for advice or support. Not surprisingly, the response I got to my evolving vision of Margo's was consistently enthusiastic and supportive.
What will Margo's Do?
Margo's will be a place that women feel comfortable walking into. When they do, they may be offered a tea or a coffee whilst browsing and there will be discreet areas for them to sit with a friend, partner or staff to explore and discuss products or services further. Currently, I expect Margo's to offer:
Sell products designed to directly help and enhance customers’ sexual experiences such as vibrators, stimulators and Kegel eggs, along with carefully chosen accessories – everything from champagne lubricant to silk sheets.
Trained and knowledgeable staff will help customers to access a wide range of information including: literature on sale in store or support to utilise online merchants. They will be up to date about local and national support groups and other sources of advice and be able to sign post customers in their direction.
Education & Participation
Work with specialists to offer workshops covering a wide range of relevant topics such as: small group seminars about sex after the menopause, yoga sessions for women after childbirth, medical seminars on specific conditions.
What about the Money?
My vision for Margo's is as a national network - at least one in every city. To start the network, I plan to establish a single Margo's facility in Sheffield and to operate as a pilot and test-bed for 12 months. Margo's will need to be in a good, appropriate location and it needs to be large enough not just to sell products, but to run group educational and well-being sessions. Research so far suggests that rent, business rates, bills and staff costs to do this will be approximately £100,000 for a year. I will work full time for Margo's for the initial year for no salary. Not having to find funds on a day to day basis, means that first year can be used to robustly asses the best way of making Margo's profitable whilst remaining accessible to customers. We can:
- fully develop Margo's offer, working with actual customers to find out what does and doesn't work
- engage with potential providers and businesses about services we can offer
- develop a franchising or other model to allow Margo's to be repeated in other cities.
But I am not waiting until Margo's opens it's doors. The work is already underway. I am directly:
- Marketing the concept of Margo's with contacts locally and nationally
- Carrying out ongoing market research via the website and social media
- Working with women to develop Margo's offer
- working with people with particular skills (interior design, finance, marketing) - and those people are giving their time and expertise freely.
I am looking to secure initially £5k. This will be used to develop three strands of work requiring professional expertise:
- Using professional therapists to create a bespoke staff training approach
- Financial expertise to build the business case needed to attract investment; £100k is a lot of money and investment is going to be essential to get Margo's off the ground.
- Social and other media expertise to build Margo's profile and create momentum - essential if margo's is to attract investment and customers.