Do Rich Women Need Chic Condoms?
Lovability Inc. is a startup that makes condoms for women. Not the classic female condoms that are inserted into a woman’s vagina before sex — but male condoms designed to appeal only to the female market. Why?
“Years and years of marketing has led to most of us feeling that condoms are a ‘man’s product,’” said Tiffany Gaines, Lovability’s founder. “We subconsciously associate condoms with being promiscuous, hyper-sexual, or dominant. Because a lot of women don’t necessarily want to associate with these qualities, we have an uncomfortable relationship with condoms.”
Gaines launched Lovability a couple years ago while still in graduate school. She was consistently embarrassed when buying condoms at drugstores because of all the judgment that comes along with female sexuality in our society, and she wanted to change that.
Lovability aims to make women feel proud to purchase condoms and take control of their sexual safety — which is why the startup is pushing the hashtag #proudlyprepared in conjunction with their Indiegogo campaign.
“So many companies have spoken to men before about their roles in safe sex. And I don’t think that any company has ever told women that they matter in this experience,” said Claire Courtney, Lovability Inc.’s Director of Outreach. “We think that no other company before has connected to women emotionally. It’s not our goal at all to exclude men from the equation, but it’s our goal to include women, directly, for probably the very first time.”
The condoms are well made — they’re vegan, sustainably produced and sourced from a fair labor rubber plantation in Malaysia. They come in a gold tin that protects the condoms from being damaged, and they have easy-open packaging so the condoms don’t rip.
Also, Lovability’s mission is positive and refreshing; they want to create conversation around sexual safety to help decrease STD transmission, which is why they created a blog called The Lovability Movement — where women can share stories of empowerment and personal growth.
“We want to increase condom use among women. Only 19 percent of women use condoms. It’s crazy. And we think that no other company before has connected to women emotionally to promote this on a different level,” Courtney said. “I think all of us have formed opinions about condoms, and they’re pretty deeply rooted. And coming together to talk about where this stigma surrounding condoms comes from (and what we can do to change that) can make us all feel more proud when we protect ourselves.”
Other than the gold, pink, and black packaging, what makes these condoms “female friendly?” (Assuming that most females are into the stereotypical pink stuff.)
According to Gaines and Courtney, Lovability’s condoms are sold in places that appeal solely to women.
“Our condoms are only offered in intimate, female friendly environments: salons, spas, beauty supply stores, gyms, etc.,” Gaines said. “Why shouldn’t you discover your favorite condom brand while enjoying a spa day with the girls?”
Perhaps because you can’t afford a spa day with the girls.
Last week, Forbes called Gaines The Entrepreneur Making Condoms Chic Enough For Women To Buy. But are the women who are looking for “chic” products the ones who actually need to be marketed to the most?
According to the CDC, poverty is one of the top factors affecting HIV risk. It’s unlikely that the women who are higher risk for STD transmission would even have the opportunity to purchase these condoms.
When asked about how stalwart and true the company was to keeping the condoms in niche stores, Courtney said that their goal is to give women what they want.
“Walmart is out!” Courney said. “But if tons of women came to us and said we really want these in Walmart because we’re shopping in Walmart and we need access to this, we would totally consider Walmart. But right now, we’re being told ‘I hate going to the CVS and buying condoms, buying them in these awkward environments. It’s so uncomfortable, that I won’t do it.’ So, we’re gonna change the environment.”
Lovability is catering to a very specific kind of woman — the kind who shops in boutiques and goes to spas. Since the startup is in its larval stages, it would benefit Lovability to consider shifting focus toward lower income women and minorities so as not to isolate their market.
But regardless of the niche nature of the product, Lovability is trying to do something positive for sexual health and female empowerment — and the world could always use more companies like that.
Do you think there’s such a thing as a “female friendly” condom?