Farah and her co-founder, Sarah, are helping women feel more sexually confident through a range of female-focused products.
Their story began with a question: why are sexual health products so masculine when over 50% of the people using them are women?
They decided to do something about it, becoming the first company in Europe to create condoms for men designed by women.
Today, HANX offers several products, a podcast and even a forum. And they’re just getting started. As big believers in their vision, we spoke with Farah to learn more about the world they’re building and what they’ve learned about sharing it.
Our initial vision was to smash stigmas around sexual health. It all started with this anecdote of me bumping into my boss who was embarrassed to be holding condoms. My co-founder Sarah and I started looking at the market and were amazed — there was absolutely no options out there for women buying condoms, even though over 40% of purchases are made by women.
So, we created a condom for women. We were solving a problem that was immediately there and in front of us. As we looked into the market and our consumer groups, we realised that our initial vision was just a small piece of a much wider problem.
“Women were just not being represented at all in sexual health, intimate health and wellness. The whole industry has been designed for men.”
Our vision now is to be the go-to sexual and intimate wellness platform for mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, grandmas, you name it. We want women of all ages, backgrounds, cultures, races and religions to resonate with HANX and come to us for advice, inspiration, product and the community we’ve been proud to build over the past three years.
We don’t have a vision without our customers.
Everything we’ve done — timing, product development, vision, short-term and long-term ideas — has been a result of our consumers. They are at the forefront of our business. We also communicate with them on our HANX LIFE platform, which is a little bit like Mumsnet (but without your mum!) where you can go for advice and speak about any issues.
Another example is our newsletter. We’ll share six quick questions we need our community’s help with and are always astounded by our response rates. The last big survey we did on lubricants had over 6,500 respondents! It was a pretty chunky survey as well, with at least 20 questions. The engagement rates tell us we’re onto something and that our community believes in us.
“Everything we’ve done with our product to date is a result of what our consumers want. We created a lubricant that’s really natural and only has a handful of ingredients because our consumers wanted that product.”
We also reach out in really honest, relatable terms. It’s the difference between communicating with your community as a corporate and as a human. They share what they think because they know they’ll be listened to. They led us to this bigger vision for wellness for women, no matter what kind of woman you are.
We also wanted to go into vaginal health treatments and that was part of our vision with Sarah’s background as a gynaecologist, but we were selective with the timing and the products we released.
We know that thrush is one of the most common pain points for women. 3/4 women get thrush at some point in their lives. Cystitis can be recurring for some women. In a post Covid-19 world, when people don’t want to queue up in a pharmacy, we wanted to provide that convenience with quality.
HANX Fix was born because we learned what the consumer trends were for our audience during lockdown. With that, we established a medically-backed service.
“It’s really important that you don’t get bogged down with a vision based on commercials and what’s going to make you money.”
It’s incredibly challenging because there’s this frenzy of raising and getting to the VC level and having to move fast in case someone takes your idea. We are a startup who hasn’t gone down the VC route and have been incredibly lean with our marketing spend. There’s only four us — we are incredibly stretched — and we’re constantly learning. We want to take a slower approach, but it can feel like you’re not going fast enough.
We thought of HANX Fix over two years ago and it’s taken us this long but everything has its time. We’re confident in our vision and patience is really important.
When we were looking at going down the VC route, a lot of investors thought we didn’t have enough data. They looked at our sales and tracking data and, naturally, as a self-funded startup we didn’t have much.
I don’t know if a load of VCs went to the same conference because now female sexual health is the new thing. We’re no longer begging for money and people are finally seeing our potential.
Really early on, we were too scared to share our vision. We were worried someone was going to steal it, so we kept saying “let’s only share it when we get to this or that milestone”. The more we worked on the brand, the more we realised it was so important to tell as many people as you can and not wait until we had product.
We were talking to Make Us Care before we even had a product! The more people you talk to, the more advice and insights you’ll get on the final product. There’s always going to be challenges and minor mistakes, even with the most perfect intentions.
I’d tell myself to be more open. Even if there is someone with your idea, you have to stay focused and believe in yourself and that your strategy is going to work.
Not enough. I feel like day-to-day can easily take over, the longer time goes on. We should be doing it more. It’s so important to take a step back and have an off-site, virtually or otherwise. When Sarah and I first started, we would write down what we thought we wanted in 1, 3 and 5 years on a load of post-it notes. Then, we would add them in to prioritised categories. We still have them all and we need to revisit them more often.
When you take a step back, you remind everyone why they’re doing this.