2021: A Year in the Life of HANX
Ahhh, 2021. For Team HANX, it was a year of variants, vaginal health and very hard work! As 2022 dawns, we’re reflecting on the year that was and the incredible achievements of our small but mighty team. It’s a startup cliche to say that we wouldn’t be here without you, our amazing customers, supporters and real life friends, family and mentors - but it really is true. Not just running, but growing a small business during a global pandemic hasn’t been the easiest thing to do (understatement of the year!) but every single order, Instagram DM, supportive Whatsapp, suggestion for a partnership and plain old site visit has kept us pushing forward.
Side note: we can’t wait to crack into the new year and we’d love to pick your brains. If you have five minutes, take our survey and tell us what you’d like to see from us in the future, how we could be upping our game and the fun one: what you’d do if you were HANX CEO for the day.
Onto some of our greatest wins of 2021…
UNEXPECTED ITEM IN BAGGING AREA
We started the year with a major milestone: our Condoms and Lubricant launched in Sainsbury’s! We teamed up with the grocery stalwart to bring our signature sexual wellness essentials to over 580(!) superstores across the UK. Since the early days of HANX, our goal has been to bring premium sexual wellness products to the forefront of peoples’ minds and onto the high street, too. No more sidling into a club toilet for the vending machine, grabbing a generic free brand in a paper bag at the GP or hunting down the nearest pharmacy for a box of johnnies that looks more like a Transformer. Condoms should be just as much part of the weekly shop as a bottle of Ecover, and our launch in Sainsbury’s signalled the growing trend for retailers to challenge stigma, embrace contraception and introduce the UK public to the new wave of sexual wellness. Take a look at what went down when we visited our babies in-store...
FOUR IS A MAGIC NUMBER
In September, we marked four years of HANX. We’re not ones to milk a special occasion (okay, maybe we are), but hitting such a major milestone was a great reason to pause, reflect and realise how much we’ve achieved so far in our startup journey. We’ve weathered COVID lockdowns, bias in the investment industry as we fundraised and all the ‘comes with the territory’ ups and downs any founder knows too well - and we’ve emerged with two new team members in Operations and Marketing, and even more drive and self-belief.
MAKING AN IMPACT
From donating condoms to fundraising, we’re proud to work with companies, organisations, individuals and charities whose missions we closely align with and support wholeheartedly. This year, we continued partnering with The School of Sexuality Education on everything from content collaborations sharing the biggest misconceptions about sex they encounter from young people to donating event proceeds and condom and lube sample for their sex-positive, inclusive workshops in schools. We also continued to support the work of Lady Garden Foundation in September, taking part in their Gynae Cancer Awareness Month Collection alongside Hunza G, Heist and Flowerbx. On World Aids Day, we were also thrilled to welcome a new partner, the brilliant team at Positively UK, starting with a firsthand account of living with HIV and why we need to support women growing older with HIV.
BEAUTY CARDS OUT!
We officially launched in Superdrug, our Co-Founders Farah and Sarah’s go-to since they were prepping for a night out together at university. Seeing our condoms and lubricant on their shelves next to uber-cool challenger brands (we love you, Starface!) was a major moment for us all. One of the main reasons we were so determined to get on shelves and online with Superdrug is their mission statement: Doing Good Feels Super. Unlike many big brands who’d paint it on their HQ wall and rapidly forget about it, the SD team takes corporate social responsibility seriously, and this mission drives everything from their environmental practices to the development of their team. Our fave initiatives? They’ve ditched plastic from their own-brand tampons and introduced the UK’s first medical packet recycling programme in-stores.
THIS JUST IN
Grabbing clicks and headlines alike, we’re hugely grateful to all the incredible people at some of the UK’s most major magazines and lifestyle publications for putting their support behind HANX. Yes, we still send them to our mums and yes, they post them on their Facebook for all our extended family to comment loveheart emojis on. Some of our faves include:
- Glamour UK naming us as their Best Vegan Lubricant
- Men’s Health UK including us in their roundup of the best thin condoms
- Fresh off the And Just Like That hype, Zoella featuring our Year of Great Sex Set as the gift Samantha Jones would most like to receive
- Featuring in Marie Claire’s 15 best condom brands that can make sex better
We believe it’s time the world stopped being weird about our sex lives and intimate health - and we took every opportunity to challenge misconceptions in the press! Our Co-Founder Dr Sarah Welsh drew on her roots as a gynaecologist to share an expert opinion on everything from debunking TikTok trend to delay periods (spoiler: it was a load of old rubbish), Jake Gyllenhal’s anti-showering stance and harnessing your menstrual cycle for maximum creativity in titles including Cosmopolitan, Stylist, Metro and The Independent.
PERMISSION TO LAND
Globetrotters, this is your moment. In March, we launched our sexual wellness essentials at 25+ WHSmith ultra-convenient travel stores across the UK! We know that consumers love picking up carry-on friendly beauty and wellness products en route to their holidays. From Edinburgh Airport to the Eurotunnel, we’re flying high to be working with one of the world's leading travel retailers to upgrade the condom and lubricant on-the-go offering in airports and train stations near you. Grab us a chocolate orange whilst you’re at it, would you?
AND THE AWARD GOES TO...
Back in September, we spoke with industry bible Techround all about the challenges of COVID and launching HANX Fix, our same-day-dispatch hormonal contraception service, designed to tackle oversubscribed NHS services. Just two months later, we heard word that we’d been selected in the TechRound 100, out of a staggering 3,000 applications. The awards list is a testament to the UK startup scene and is intended to inspire for the next generation of startups and entrepreneurs (!). A massive thank you to the judges for recognising the hard work of our small-but-mighty team alongside a lineup of truly amazing businesses. It wasn’t the only gong of the year: Farah recognised in in FemTech Analytics' 150 FemTech Leaders alongside visionaries including Tania Boler of Elvie, Billie Quinlan (she/her) of Ferly and we were proud runners up to adaptive clothing pioneer Unhidden in the Enterprise Nation Female Entrepreneur of the Year 2021.
THE PILL. NOW WITH MORE CHILL.
Hundreds of emails, development calls and pharmacy partner all came to fruition with the launch of our new contraceptive pill service, HANX Fix: Pill. An evolution of our intimate health service, we built a same-day-dispatch hormonal contraceptive pill offering for both monthly subscriptions and the morning after pill. We’ve heard feedback from customers who have transitioned from condoms onto the pill when entering committed relationships about the lack of choice and education available from the healthcare service. We experienced first hand disruption and difficulties caused by NHS backlogs and COVID restrictions in accessing appointments at the GP, so we drew on our Co-Founder Sarah’s experience in sexual health clinics and knuckled down to open up greater access to contraception. As London opened up again, we took to the streets with a bold, punchy poster campaign to spread the word, thanks to creative geniuses and longterm champions of HANX, Otherway.
MODERN ATTITUDES TO DATING
Has hand sanitiser replaced hand jobs for good? We teamed up with dating and connection experts Inner Circle to quiz over 1000 of you on your attitudes to post-pandemic dating, how to discuss switching contraception methods with a partner and why using a condom is still taboo. After nearly two years of pausing our events schedule, we launched the report with a sold-out in–person Sex Ed for Grown Ups session hosted at Mama Shelter, with a panel of experts from Inner Circle, the NHS and HANX. Read the full report and find out how we’ll all be dating in 2022 now…
HANX GETS ZAPP!-ED
Congratulations if you made it this far - here’s a sneaky new stockist reveal! We’re now officially available on Zapp! in London, Manchester, Cambridge and Bristol. Ever been caught out without a condom, and venturing out for supplies would be a massive mood killer? Enter 24/7 condom deliveries in just 20 minutes via Zapp!’s all-electric fleet of riders. Stay tuned for more updates…
THE SPEED ROUND
- Brexit who? In autumn, we were thrilled to team up with a brand new European stockist, Blush.
- We met hundreds of new faces virtually and in real life . We joined a contraception conversation for Diageo’s Spirited Women Network (their internal programme to engage, develop and retain female employees), shared insights into swapping NHS gynae care for building a condom business with the next gen of sex educators at Sexpression, and growing a brand that people care about alongside THIS and Hip! with The Copy Club.
- Farah joined the award-winning Masala Podcast’s heartfelt live episode at the London Podcast Festival, which even featured the first ever LGBTQ South Asian marriage proposal live on a podcast!
- We popped up in the year’s coolest concept pop up stores on London’s King’s Road: challenger brand grocery curator Raye and fashion rental platform, HURR.
- Finally… we joined TikTok and wasted no time making Twilight memes.
Thank you SO much for being a massive part of this epic year for HANX! Keep up with us on Instagram here and remember, our DMs are always open...