This Female-Led Startup Wants Women to Know What Their Condoms Are Made Of

May 1, 2018, 10:00 AM UTC
Startup LOLA is launching a line of natural condoms, lubricant, and cleansing wipes.

When organic tampon startup Lola launched in 2014 with its line of direct-to-consumer feminine care products, it had a broader mission: to become a lifelong brand for women’s bodies.

“We were starting a conversation in a category that had really gone undiscussed for years,” says Lola co-founder Jordana Kier.

But the feeling of unpreparedness, embarrassment, and lack of control that some women have when they first get their period don’t end there, says Kier. Those emotions “duplicate throughout your life,” she says, whether that’s when women become sexually active, are thinking about having a baby, or are entering menopause. “Every stage brings questions,” she says, “and we want to answer them candidly.”

On Tuesday, the company—which counts Lena Dunham and Karlie Kloss among its investors—is tackling a new segment of the reproductive health and wellness market with the launch of Sex by Lola, a line of “natural” latex condoms, lubricant, and cleansing wipes.

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Co-founder Alex Friedman says the parallels between the sexual health and menstrual care categories were obvious. In both categories “the status quo has just been accepted,” she says. “There’s rote behavior on both the side of the consumer and the brand.”

Innovation in the category has lagged because there’s so much stigma and lack of conversation around sexual health, Friedman says. “Brands are targeting the male consumer,” she explains, but “women want to have that conversation and play an active part in the decision making.”

To help with the R&D process, Lola surveyed about 1,000 women and found that the most important attributes women want in a condom are pregnancy prevention and sexually transmitted infection prevention—in that order. They found that the group used, on average, four to seven condoms per month. The study also found that 36% of those surveyed said they typically buy condoms, while another 33% said both they and their partner purchase them.

With the launch of Sex by Lola, the company is continuing to differentiate itself with a focus on natural ingredients—a growing segment of the wellness market. Lola’s tampons and pads are made with 100% organic cotton, and now the company is marketing its condoms as made without any “unnecessary additives.” To coat its condoms, Lola is using a locally-sourced lubricant made of 100% medical-grade silicone oil, which it says is the highest quality oil on the market. While reviewing suppliers during its R&D process, the company says it found that many sold lubricants mixed with other additives, including industrial-grade silicone—something that consumers are not aware of because the FDA does not require that companies disclose their lubricant ingredient information.

Lola is also focusing on packaging to help reposition these products as part of your wellness routine rather than something that gets hidden in your nightstand.

“Lube gets such a bad rap. Why shouldn’t it be beautiful?” says Kier. “We’re just really excited to help change that mindset.”

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