Q&A with Sustain Founder Meika Hollender

Together with her father Jeffrey Hollender—founder of Seventh Generation cleaning products—Meika launched the Sustain brand of condoms in 2013. The goal was simple: to create natural, sustainably made condoms and in doing so, bring the topic of women’s sexual health into the mainstream. Their unique concept has garnered the brand hordes of attention, and a place on Pharmaca’s shelves. Here’s more about Meika and Sustain.

What challenges have you faced in educating customers, and women specifically, about the need to pay attention to the safety of ingredients in condoms?

First, we’ve had to make sure that consumers know that all condoms are medical devices regulated by the FDA—which means they all have to meet the same safety standards. Second, we want to make sure people know that we are only one of two brands that does not nitrosamines, a known carcinogen, in our condoms. Our condoms are also vegan, Non-GMO and Fair Trade certified, but I think what's really important is that consumers understand why they do not want a condom that contains a known carcinogen.

Tell us about the kind of feedback you get from customers.

99% of the feedback we've gotten from our customers is positive. People love our product, packaging and what we stand for. I think what's extremely unique about our brand is that we've brought women into the 'condom' conversation. Women, just as much as men, are responsible for buying and carrying condoms, and I think up until now they have really been neglected by the other brands in this category.

What sets you apart from other natural condom companies?

As I mentioned, of the other 'natural' condom brands, we are the only nitrosamine-free brand. We are also the only Fair Trade-certified condom sold in the US. What the Fair Trade certification means is that there are no children working on the rubber plantation where we source our latex, 100% of the workers on the plantation have free health care and all of their children attend a school right next to the plantation. There is a ton of child labor in the rubber industry, so our plantation is extremely unique.

How does your mission to promote sexual health connect to your other missions of sustainability and using Fair Trade ingredients?

Our overarching mission is to empower people to take control of their sexual health and we believe that providing them with the best, most natural products is part of what will enable them to do so. We want to educate people about why their sexual health is so integrally connected to their overall health, which means that using better-for-you products in the sexual wellness space is just as important as in other areas of your life.

Your concept might lend itself to a variety of different product lines. Any plans to expand?

Yes! Currently we also have a fantastic line of organic lubricants, which are free of petroleum, parabens and glycerin (ingredients found in most lubricants), as well as 100% cotton "Post Play" wipes. We will launch an additional line of products in summer 2016.

Finally, Pharmaca also cares a lot about the safety of ingredients, and the environmental and social impacts of the products we carry. How did you come to find out about us?

Our family has been in the natural products business for a very long time. Our co-founder, Jeffrey Hollender, founded Seventh Generation almost 30 years ago and was the CEO up to about 5 years ago, so we have been long-time fans and supporters of Pharmaca!

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