Hanx co-founder Farah Kabir and Ferly’s Anna Hushlak reflect on society’s discomfort with discussing sex and pleasure, why we need to create new spaces for discussion, and the risks brands face when taking on taboos
While high-profile ad campaigns from feminine hygiene brand Libresse or razor brand Billie have signalled progress on tackling body taboos, it seems we haven’t yet shaken off our embarrassment around sex.
The past few years have seen a wave of new brands encouraging more frank and open discussions on sex and pleasure – from New York startup Dame to erotica app Dipsea – but IRL, it’s often still talked about in hushed tones and awkward euphemisms.
This presents a problem not just for educating people about intimacy and sexual health, but also for brands hoping to bring some innovation to an industry that has long been dominated by men, by the creation of new products or platforms that can help a wider audience to feel more satisfied, better informed or empowered.
For our Conversation issue, we brought together two women who have experienced these challenges first-hand, and have launched brands that aim to change the way we talk about and experience sex.
Farah Kabir is co-founder of Hanx, a condom brand launched by and for women. Its ultra-thin condoms are vegan, biodegradable and come in sleek minimal packaging, providing an alternative to the wealth of scented, flavoured and ribbed products with cringeworthy names (and the wealth of condoms made with animal protein).
Anna Hushlak is co-founder of Ferly, an app that promotes sexual wellness through a mix of erotic content, audio guides and therapeutic exercises. Its content covers a wide range of topics, from mindful masturbation to boundaries, and encourages women to reflect on their feelings about sex with the aim of helping them feel more confident and comfortable.
Here, Kabir and Hushlak discuss their own experiences of launching sexual health and wellness brands, whether sex is becoming less of a taboo, and how brands can encourage more open conversations.