We’re talking safe sex. And it’s thanks to the efforts of two women who are shaking up convention when it comes to condoms and the taboos that surround them.
Founded in 2017 by doctor Sarah Welsh and financier Farah Kabir, HANX is a new premium contraception brand which makes its condoms from all-natural fair-trade latex and packages them discreetly.
Sarah and Farah recognised that attitudes towards sex have changed with the times, and yet the embarrassment that comes with buying and using condoms is still commonplace, with many women believing it’s up to the guy to buy protection.
"Farah was working in investment banking and had had an awkward run-in with her boss, in the Boots queue with a bright red condom pack in hand… I was working as a doctor in sexual health clinics at the time, seeing the rise of difficult to treat sexually transmitted infections as well as unwanted pregnancies."
So, they set out to develop and launch a new brand that could make condoms a cult handbag item, and encourage women to talk confidently and openly about contraception and protecting their sexual health.
We were so excited to find out about HANX – we love brands on a mission to make life’s essentials interesting and purposeful. Tell us more about the purpose behind HANX.
Farah: HANX is here to disrupt the contraception industry, and promote positive sexual health. We are super passionate about female empowerment and taking control of our sexual wellness. It was important to us that our brand was sustainable and natural, hence why we use all natural and fair-trade latex. Our condoms are vegan certified, meaning we use no animal by-products in production (unlike many other brands).
Sarah: We are here to make the world think differently about sexual wellness and feel confident caring for it. Our design is discreet and premium, making our condoms something you feel good carrying and using. At the moment, there is no condom out there that we would be happy to pick up and carry in our handbag, or have on our bedside table. HANX means an end to garish packaging. Our condoms are also ultra-thin and clean scented.
Photo credit: Jade Nina Sarkhel
What was the trigger for setting up HANX?
Sarah: Like all good ideas we were having a long lunch… a few glasses of wine in and we started talking condoms! Farah was working in investment banking and had had an awkward run-in with her boss, in the Boots queue with a bright red condom pack in hand… I was working as a doctor in sexual health clinics at the time, seeing the rise of difficult to treat sexually transmitted infections as well as unwanted pregnancies. There is simply no other contraception that protects against STIs. The male condom is safe, effective and non-hormonal, yet there is still a huge stigma associated with buying carrying and using them.
Farah: So we decided something needed to be done to change the current condom market. One thing led to another and soon enough we were researching the market and deciding what we wanted the HANX condom to look like. Before we knew it, we were looking around condom manufacturers in our white lab coats! We learnt a lot about the chemicals used in production and where the latex came from, and started looking for ways to make a more natural and premium product.
Sarah: Oh and the name… We used to always say “hanky panky” when we were younger, so HANX become the shorter sexier version! We thought of the name the first time we discussed the idea behind HANX, and it just stuck!
What does progress mean to you and what does it look like?
Farah: Progress is removing the stigma and taboos around caring for sexual health. We should feel proud to care for our sexual health, but are often made to feel promiscuous and the negative associations towards condom use mean that many people don’t care.
We love that HANX is part of a broader movement to support women. Where do you feel at your strongest?
Sarah: I am at my strongest after a good run or workout, full of energy and inspired by what my body can be pushed to do. I also feel empowered when surrounded by family and friends, who motivate me to always be a better version of myself.
At Heist we celebrate movement, and we love to see women making progress. Tell us about someone you think is ahead of the game in their field today.
Farah: I would say Whitney Wolfe Herd, of Bumble fame. Her tenacity and resilience during a period of turmoil during her time at Tinder led her to create the best app that empowers women in all aspects of their lives. From dating to finding business connections, Whitney has challenged adversity and hit it on the head with even more strength and an amazing app!
When faced with a challenge, what keeps you going as founders?
Sarah: Knowing that we are making a difference slowly but surely, and are striving for something positive to help the greater good. We are very lucky to have each other in this journey, I don’t know how sole founders do it alone!
What does HANX look like 10 years from now? What’s your ultimate goal?
Farah: Well… Condoms are just the start for HANX! We are here to make people think differently about sexual wellness, and make our mark on the world. In ten years time, we do not want sex or condoms to be a taboo topic.
If there as any item of underwear you could change, what would it be?
Farah: It would have to be an underwired bra obviously. I am yet to find one that is truly comfortable and doesn’t dig in!
When you’re on the move:
…what song gets you motivated?
Sarah: A bit of Taylor Swift never goes a miss!
Farah: At the moment: Disco Tits – Tove Lo
…do you get started at 6am, 9pm or are you moving all day long?
Sarah: We complement each other; I am definitely the early bird and Farah the night owl.
…do you go headfirst, or do you set out with a detailed plan?
Farah: Headfirst… then some direction changing!
Sarah: We say yes then think about how we are going to do whatever it is after!
…what do you always have on you?
Farah: Lip balm
Sarah: A scrunchie
…how do you feel?
…who do you Instant Message?
Sarah: Each other... Far too much!
…what does your diary look like?
Farah: A little mad!
Sarah: HANX everything… sprinkled with weddings in-between!
…on Instagram, who do you scroll to?
Farah: Any puppy related content and @hanxofficial
Sarah: My sisters!
…what book do you take?
Sarah: I’m a sucker for a romantic novel.
Farah: You can’t beat a good biography.
…what or who do you miss?
Sarah: Our good school friend Charlie has moved to Indiana. She is doing amazingly over there but we absolutely miss her in London!
Farah: Alongside Charlie, I also miss my friend Azzy who’s moved to New York. Always providing nuggets of wisdom – she’s my oracle.
Hero image photo credit: Laurence Howe