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Secrets Of A SexTech Founder: Taking On The Condom Big Boys

Secrets Of A SexTech Founder: Taking On The Condom Big Boys

A gynaecology doctor and banker walk into a bar... Sounds unlikely but that was the genesis of HANX. Ever wondered who is behind your favourite condoms and lube? Our Co-Founders, Farah Kabir and Dr Sarah Welsh aren't shy about sharing their journey from secondary school besties to sexual wellness pioneers. In the second of our founder interviews, they answer most-asked questions from our customers and future entrepreneurs, too. Get set for a deep-dive into the business of pleasure, including how we've teamed up with our customers to design their dream products - and their biggest pinch-me moments...


"What makes HANX different from mainstream condom brands?"

Sarah: "When we started HANX, the sexual wellness category leaders hadn't needed to evolve or innovate for years. They were the defacto go-to brand due to lack of challengers in the market. For many consumers, they bought condoms and lubricant from the usual brands not because they were making an amazing product, but because sex as a topic is really taboo. Where you might have asked your friend for a recommendation of a great face cream, culturally, we just weren't anywhere near that when it came to sexcare. There was, and still is, a lot of awkwardness around the topic. Most of us wouldn't have dreamt of spending more than two seconds grabbing some condoms off the shelf, let alone standing there examining the ingredients lists of all the johnnies in the middle of Boots!

Sex was even more stigmatised for women. Even now, six years on, we hear the old-school¬†perspective that¬†condoms¬†are something ‚Äėmen buy, not women‚Äô. This simply isn't true! In my time working in NHS sexual health clinics, I saw so many women struggling with irritation, soreness and recurrent UTIs exacerbated by the harsh ingredients in mainstream condoms. This includes sugary flavours, stinging 'tingle' gels and delay gels which hold off orgasms¬†for people with penises, but can be really problematic if you have a vagina. Women want and deserve better than bog-standard options and we're determined to give it to them. Thus, the HANX condom was born..."

Farah: "At the start, we found it very hard to find a manufacturer who got our vision, and who would take us on a small business. We did exhaustive research into thickness of latex, which ingredients would have zero negative impact on health and what women really want. We surveyed thousands of women to find out what they really wanted from condoms and those learnings helped us to design a super-sensitive, natural-as-possible condom. From there on, we've always collaborated with our community to design products they really want, including our first sex toy, Cindy, and our new pregnancy and menopause nutritional supplements."

 


"I'm starting my own business soon and want to know: how have you managed to build the HANX community?"

Farah: ‚ÄúHow exciting! Firstly, what's always worked for us is being down to earth and relatable. We‚Äôve shown as many aspects of building the business as possible, as our community are really invested in us as a small team taking on corporate giants. It doesn‚Äôt always have to be the rosy side of life, either. We‚Äôve had hundreds of thousands of views on TikToks where we share some of the mistakes that we‚Äôve made along the way - people love it when we‚Äôre¬†honest about the journey!‚ÄĚ

Sarah:
‚ÄúKnow who you're talking to, and¬†the tone of those conversations.¬†We always say that we talk with our community like 'your¬†best mate‚Äôs older sister'. What that means:¬†we're upfront and playful,¬†never judgemental about any of the weird or ‚ÄėTMI‚Äô aspects to sex, dating or vaginal health, and we‚Äôre not afraid to speak our mind about topical issues. Our community love seeing a real personality to the brand and chatting with us on Instagram about everything from reproductive rights to Prince Harry using Elizabeth Arden cream on his penis. You need to have an opinion (where relevant), and¬†remember, it has to be a two-way conversation or you‚Äôre ultimately just serving up ad breaks.‚ÄĚ

"Why did you make vegan condoms? Aren't all condoms plant-based?"

Sarah: "People don’t realise that many standard condoms use animal byproducts such as casein, a dairy extract (or beeswax in lubricant, whilst we’re talking about it!). People are more educated and engaged than ever about the ingredients in their skincare routine and we felt strongly that the same should be said for condoms. We ditched the animal byproducts and instead use a plant extract for smoothness. It makes us really proud that they're certified by The Vegan Society - and it's paid off: we've featured in Women's Health, Cosmopolitan and Vogue's favourite vegan condoms!"

"What has been your proudest moment since starting HANX?"

Farah: "Being invited to 10 Downing Street as part of a roundtable on disparities in women‚Äôs healthcare for ethnic minorities was a major ‚Äėpinch me‚Äô moment. We‚Äôve said since day one that we‚Äôre not in this to become condom millionaires - we truly want better healthcare for women, and to speak with authority alongside fellow industry voices felt very special."

Sarah: "It‚Äôs always a ‚Äėpinch me‚Äô moment walking into a store that stocks HANX. Even when I go on a city break with my husband, I pop into a Tesco, Sainsbury‚Äôs or Boots to take a look at our stock and snap photos of it on shelf. We‚Äôve worked really hard to build strong relationships with retailers and the benefits are really paying off: we hear from many of our customers that they spotted us in-store first and knew we had to be good if we‚Äôd made it on shelves with such a massive brand!"

Want more?

  • From¬†the NHS and Goldman Sachs to putting our life savings into condoms:¬†read more from Farah and Sarah in¬†Secrets of a SexTech Founder.
  • New to HANX? Try our sensitive sexual wellness essentials and save.

Slide into our DMs @hanxofficial

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