Designed ‘by women for women,’ luxury condom brand HANX looks to empower as well as protect. We caught up with founders Sarah Welsh and Farah Kabir to find out more about its vision and mission
Founded by doctor Sarah Welsh and financier Farah Kabir in 2017, HANX was borne out of a desire to offer women condoms that they would be proud to buy and carry. Their white and gold packaging ensures they look more sophisticated than your run-of-the-mill rubber - but they also offer substance as well style. Ultra-thin, they’re made of all-natural, fair-trade latex and are also vegan-friendly too.
We caught up with Sarah and Farah to take a peek behind the brand and discover more about its inspiration, the story behind its name and their future plans.
GTG: What inspired you to create HANX?
Farah: The need for a condom brand to speak to women and that makes us feel comfortable buying, carrying and using them. Too many brands at the moment encourage male conquest, are in garish packaging and are absolutely not female-friendly.
Sarah: We are all about positive sexual health and female empowerment. HANX is for the generation of today, for those who want to buy from sustainable companies, are bothered about what goes into their body and what is in the products they use.
GTG: Could you tell us a bit about your backgrounds?
Farah: Sarah and I went to the same school in York, and then ended up at Durham University together. I then became a chartered accountant and worked in investment banking for 6 years prior to launching HANX.
Sarah: After Durham I finished my medical training in Newcastle before moving to London to pursue work in obstetrics, gynaecology and sexual health, setting Farah and I up nicely to launch HANX.
GTG: What three words would you use to describe HANX?
Farah: Premium, empowering, sustainable.
Sarah: Stylish, savvy, sexy.
GTG: How did your personal experiences help shape the brand?
Farah: I had an awkward encounter bumping into my boss while buying condoms! Needless to say, this emphasised how much things needed to change in the condom industry. I have always been keen to start my own business, my mum is an avid feminist and HANX is the perfect company to combine my passions.
Sarah: Having had experience working in gynaecology and sexual health, I’ve seen first-hand the effect of sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies and the use of irritable products. There are so many factors that influence women when deciding on their contraception, from efficacy to whether they include hormones, to protection from STIs and whatever their friend is using! And the emotional effects of contracting infections or accidentally falling pregnant are wide-ranging and can be huge. I am passionate about giving customers choice, better educating them and providing a platform that empowers women to take control of their sexual health.
GTG: How did you decide on the name?
Farah: We used to say ‘hanky panky’ all the time growing up!
Sarah: HANX is just the shorter sexier version!
GTG: What would you say are the main points of difference between HANX condoms and others on the market?
Farah: If people agree with our vision and mission, which allows women (and men) to take control of their sexual health without shame, they would choose HANX over other household brands. If they believe in sustainable brands, they would choose HANX. And if they want a premium product that is packaged beautifully (and discreetly) they would choose HANX.
Sarah: Who wouldn’t want these gorgeous packets in their handbag? We are sold online via subscription, and also in places intuitive to women, so when going about your day you can pick up HANX without any awkward encounters.
GTG: Could you talk us through a typical day in the office - any office traditions, habits or rituals?
Farah: It’s all a little crazy! We are often out and about at meetings, catching up with investors, pitching, meeting with potential partners, collaborators, or creative teams and talking advertising and campaigns. Sarah and I work so well together as we complement each other. Sarah is an early riser and I work late, so we are always responsive and on top of things. Well, almost always!
Sarah: We are fortunate to have an amazing team of people around us - this includes the incredible tech and creative teams who support us. We are based in the co-working space Huckletree in Shoreditch where there is such an amazing community that we feel proud to be part of. Farah and I giggle a lot in the office…
GTG: What’s the best piece of work advice you’ve ever been given and who gave it to you?
Farah: Invest in your wellbeing. People often sacrifice health to focus on careers but how are you going to be a hot shot CEO when you can’t even function?!
Sarah: Do what you love (from my parents).
GTG: How do your approaches towards sexual health influence your approaches to other aspects of health and beauty?
Farah: Many people do not tolerate hormonal contraception well for a myriad of reasons. So stop taking them. If you’re having symptoms that are not right for your body, have an STI check. Why should sexual health and condoms be any different to other aspects of health and beauty? HANX condoms are made from all natural fair-trade latex, which is vegan and keeping things natural and body-friendly reflects on all parts of health/beauty.
Sarah: Everyone’s body is different, and nobody knows it like you do, so listen to it. Whether it’s that you’re tired and need more sleep, having ill-effects from dairy, certain face creams that cause flare ups, feeling energised with more exercise, or feeling amazing in that lipstick…we all need to listen to our bodies more.
GTG: Where do you think the sexual health industry is headed?
Farah: It is heading the HANX way! There are always new products in sexual health and with increased conversation around sexual health and pleasure, we are heading in the right direction.
Sarah: Sexual health services in the UK are really at tipping point. With funding cuts and clinics facing unprecedented demand, there is a worry that sexual health is not seen as highly as other aspects of health. However, with the female empowerment movement going on at the moment, some sexual health issues are being raised publically, and people are realising the importance.
GTG: What other issues surrounding sexual health and contraception would you like to see resolved?
Sarah: Sex education really needs to improve. I did some myself at schools in London and think we have a way to go to make young people feel comfortable and positive about sex and relationships.
There are also so many women not going for their smear tests or having STI checks because of taboos or anxiety. There is a lot that could still be done here, with regards to education, but also the experience for patients.
GTG: What else is in the pipeline for you?
Farah: Condoms are just the start for us. HANX is a brand that empowers women and promotes positive sexual health, so there is much more to come. Watch this space!