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Red Tent Sisters

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on June 18, 2012

Red Tent SistersRed Tent Sisters falls somewhere in the categorical realm of sex shop-meets-women's health boutique. The east end store offers books on fertility, an assortment of natural feminine hygiene products, and a full wall of vibrators and soft core porn DVDs. It's one stop shopping, if you will.

But the thing that immediately stuck out to me on my first visit was that unlike other sex stores in Toronto, Red Tent Sisters doesn't cover up its windows. While I recognize that the idea of the shrouded window is to give shoppers a little privacy, I think it also has the latent effect of making its contents seem somewhat taboo. It's unintentional, of course, but I think the effect is still there.

Red Tent SistersKim and Amy Sedgwick, therefore, wanted to create space that was inviting and casual, with a layout that deliberately introduced their more "explicit" merchandise gradually. The front of the store stocks an assortment of teas, books, cards, and hygiene items, with sex toys and videos arranged closer to the back.

Red Tent Sisters"We wanted to make this place really comfortable for someone who might not otherwise walk into a sex store," Kim tells me as we take a seat in the shop's 'reading nook.' "We really try to serve all different types of clientele."

Red Tent SistersRed Tent Sisters opened back in 2007 after Kim had returned to Toronto, having completed her Women's Studies degree out in Halifax. Her sister, Amy, had recently given birth to her daughter, and was looking for new and natural forms of birth control. Kim introduced her to some of the concepts she had learned out east, and the two delved further into studies of women and reproductive health.

Red Tent SistersEventually, the sisters had the idea to launch their own business (inspired by a store called Venus Envy, Kim says, which is located out in Halifax), and named it after a fiction book about a "red tent" where menstruating and birthing women would gather and swap wisdoms. The "Sisters" part is self-explanatory.

Red Tent SistersThe store is also quite eco-focused, selling items such as Lunapads, Diva Cups, organic lubricants, and Candi Factory organic cotton underwear. All of those I had seen before, but items such as FertiliTea (a tea to $20) and books on the "Justisse" method of birth control were new to me.

Red Tent SistersKim says Amy regularly runs programs teaching the Justisse method, which she explains as a more "involved" sort of rhythm birth control method that recognizes that a woman's cycle changes month to month.

Red Tent SistersRed Tent SistersPhotos by Natta Summerky

Discussion

31 Comments

Emma / October 4, 2010 at 09:51 pm
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I LOVE this store! The girls are so helpful and easy to chat with about all the products. Every woman should make a trip there.
Jen G / October 5, 2010 at 12:11 am
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I never thought of Red Tent Sister as another 'sex shop'. Every time I visit my home town from the west coast I make a point of visiting this young shop in my old hood. And I don't think twice about shopping there with both my 12 year old daughter and my 65 year old mom. Everyone can feel comfortable there.
kayla replying to a comment from Jen G / October 11, 2010 at 10:27 am
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You take your 12 year old daughter into a sex shop? Talk about dysfunction. No 12 year old child should feel comfortable in a sex shop with their mother, unless you're breeding her to be a stripper.

Further proof that some people should not be allowed to have children.
KD replying to a comment from kayla / October 25, 2010 at 10:00 pm
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To Kayla: Have you been into the store? It's only a sex shop at the back. I would say you're the one who's behaving unhealthily, judging so quickly and so harshly. Really, have you been into the store?
Jennifer Hicks / December 14, 2010 at 11:57 pm
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Thank you to these brave young women who have been such trail blazers in the world of women's sexuality and fertility. I am so blessed to have been introduced to a positive view of my own body through this incredible shop. It takes strong and focused individuals to share their passion for positive female lifestyles through this shop. Thank you. You are both so dear to our community!
AD / June 19, 2012 at 09:33 am
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"Daddy horny, Michael"

- G. Blueth Sr.
ackaa / June 19, 2012 at 09:42 am
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I love this month's window display of dicks growing out of flowerpots. If only nature was so kind.
Exactly replying to a comment from kayla / June 19, 2012 at 10:01 am
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Totally agree Kayla.

Regardless whether one has been to the store or not, it is not a place parents should be taking their children. Call me prude, call me old fashioned, I couldn't give two shits quite honestly.

Now I'll sit here while you all rage and come up with a bunch of silly excuses to justify why a child should be in the store.... SMH
Exactly replying to a comment from KD / June 19, 2012 at 10:03 am
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Sex shop only in the back? So those books titled "How to be a Bush Pilot" and "Erotica" are not sex related? Please, crawl back under your rock.
Exactly replying to a comment from KD / June 19, 2012 at 10:05 am
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Forgot to mention, those books that are clearly at the front of the store you claim is only a sex shop in the back.
Joanne replying to a comment from Exactly / June 19, 2012 at 10:20 am
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I agree. Twelve-year-olds should continue to be confused and left in the dark about their bodies and human sexuality and any frank and open communication with their own mothers should be viciously shunned. This way they can grow up to be angry and repressed prudes just like me and "exactly" and "kayla."

Boo to sexual education!
Jeremy replying to a comment from kayla / June 19, 2012 at 10:28 am
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I disagree actually. I think it's good to be open and honest with your child about sex. It should be nothing to be ashamed of.
Jeff / June 19, 2012 at 10:31 am
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I was a bit surprised by the comment of people bringing their 12 year old daughter in here as well.. Personally not something I would do
Chris / June 19, 2012 at 10:48 am
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If you're not having open conversations about sex with your 12 year old daughter, somebody else is. Probably a 12 year old boy.
Scarlet / June 19, 2012 at 11:29 am
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My diva cup runneth over.
Lissa / June 19, 2012 at 11:30 am
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Might I remind y'all that sexual curiously starts ramping up around 12? 12 is grade seven, the second last year of elementary school, the age when many girls start menstruating and romantic relationships start happening. 12 is a still a child to us, but to a 12-year-old it`s less child and more almost-teenager.
Welshgrrl / June 19, 2012 at 11:51 am
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I was fortunate enough to have a mom who didn't mince words when it came to sex education - served me well later in high school, when often a quarter to a third of the girls in my class were already parents of at least one child with no baby daddy in sight ...
Amy replying to a comment from Scarlet / June 19, 2012 at 01:12 pm
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Ha! I guess I'm not the only one who says that. :)
Lilian replying to a comment from Chris / June 19, 2012 at 02:36 pm
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Exactly. I'm hoping the people who prudishly clutched their pearls arent raising any 12 year olds. Apparently, as far as raising adolescents go, they have no idea what they're in for.
Lilian replying to a comment from kayla / June 19, 2012 at 02:41 pm
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Honestly, the only impression that your reaction offered is that *you* shouldn't have children (particularly as they transition into a stage of their lives when, quite frankly, their minds and bodies are sexually developing, whether you like it or not!).
Sara / June 19, 2012 at 08:37 pm
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Just because a child is sexually curious which is biologically natural, does not mean he/she has to be exposed to or is ready to enter sex stores. Yes, have the birds and the bees conversation with them, heck even teach them how to put on a condom, but to let them know they can spend their lives inserting all kinds of monstrously large objects into their bodies, does not sit very well with me.
Suebie / June 19, 2012 at 09:46 pm
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I took a strip tease course here. It was awesome!
Carrie / June 27, 2012 at 01:14 pm
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I adore Red Tent Sisters. It's one of the most welcoming stores in the city (and I'm sure beyond). And there may not be two lovelier women than the real sisters Amy and Kim. One of Totonto's truest gems!
Emmy / June 27, 2012 at 01:46 pm
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These women are incredibly knowledgeable, friendly, & approachable and are doing amazing things for women's sexuality. I wish they had a west end location so I could visit the shop more often!
eva / June 27, 2012 at 01:47 pm
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this store is a real gem in the city's east end. it is definitely welcome, low key, and intimate because of Kim and Amy! the layout and design of the space is soothing and comforting to just ease into convos like "what's the wettest lube you have which is also eco-friendly?", or "i'm having a hard time getting pregnant so what would you suggest?" or "do you have pornos that are more women-friendly?".great energy. great resource!
Zahra / June 27, 2012 at 05:48 pm
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Amy and Kim are not only wonderful women they are doing a wonderful service by educating and empowering women about their bodies, their fertility and their sexuality. Can't say enough good things about Red Tent Sisters!
Danette / June 27, 2012 at 09:18 pm
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I love that the Red Tent Sisters welcome the entire spectrum of a woman's sexual and reproductive life, from your first period (which for some, is much earlier than 12) and beyond. I love that they are passionate about creating a warm, non-intimidating space for women of all ages, experiences and sexual preferences. I love the work they do to help me ensure that I am not exposing my body to harmful chemicals. I've learned so much from these amazing women from workshops and their generous conversation. Thank you Kim and Amy! I am so grateful for the work you do.
Michelle / July 2, 2012 at 12:47 am
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At first I felt weird with the idea of taking your 12 year old to a sex shop but it doesn't sound like this place is on par with some seedy joint on Yonge St. or something and holy crap, wouldn't you rather have your kid getting her rocks off with her vibrator in her bedroom watching or reading something woman-positive, than out being used, getting her heart broken or worse, or being stuck with some of the horrifying images of women online as her only source of inspiration? From that perspective, I think it's pretty awesome.
Michelle / July 2, 2012 at 12:50 am
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Oh I forgot to say, depends on the kid. If she's curious and comfortable with it, great. I doubt that woman dragged her kid in there and made her buy something.
Jack / July 30, 2012 at 02:53 pm
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There is a lot of talk about women at this store so would anyone recommend a man visit it? I am thinking of lubricant mostly but curious.
Tyler / October 24, 2012 at 06:22 pm
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The shop has been closed down and they now deal exclusively through their online store. Such a shame, my girlfriend and I just moved to the area and were looking forward to stopping in here. Best of luck to them!

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