Pleasure not at the cost of woman’s health

With a knack for entrepreneurship, Komal Baldwa dived into starting a business dealing with festive goods as soon as she returned to India after doing her MS in Marketing from the Cranfield School of Management. The business of sending festive gifts to loved ones reinforced her belief in her entrepreneurial skills and she later worked on planning for another venture in the area of luxury lingerie. But stopped short of putting this one into action as she realised that it was too niche a segment for India at that time.

Komal took a break from work once she had kids. Coming back into the professional mainstream after a couple of years she worked in the construction industry for a while. That was the time she started facing some vaginal itching and rashes. Realising that the condoms were the cause, she reached out to her gynaecologist who suggested oral contraceptives. Uncomfortable with the side effects these pills are supposed to have, she realised that a business opportunity was staring in her face.

In this exclusive catchup, Komal Baldwa talks to Hasanthi Duvvuri of AsiaBizToday of how she went about setting up Bleu Condoms, a non-toxic contraceptive.

Your trigger and motivation to get into this business

What motivated me was when I saw that women here don’t have much of an option for contraception. We would just have to rely on having a birth control pill or UDI, both of which have very long-term side effects, and when one looks at a healthier option, there is not a lot of awareness about it. There is no one talking about it. That motivated me to get onto this journey and clearing these clouds.

Your experiences in this leadership position

It has brought me closer to my goal when I think about it. I wanted to bring about change. Of course, it’s going to take a long time for the waves to spread around, but we are happy with the dribbles we have caused so far. At Bleu Condoms I take care of business development. Apart from this, we have three teams, one for marketing, one for operations and one for finance and account.

Important factors that keep you going

The hope of creating a sexual health awareness in the Indian woman. That there is an alternative available, and please think about your own body. Women need to think about our own body first, we should not be so submissive that if my partner doesn’t like to use a condom for his own pleasure, so I will let it be. This cannot happen. We have to start thinking about it. Because in the end, whether it’s an abortion or a hormonal imbalance, both are to be taken care of by the woman. So, the hope of creating awareness in the society is what keeps me going.

Challenges in pursuing this initiative

There have been many challenges I had to overcome, from convincing my family to accepting it for myself that I am going to start a contraceptive company. Procuring the products was also a challenge as there weren’t many players in the market as it is a very confined industry, they don’t let many outsiders come into it. Then there is the challenge of creating awareness, which we are still trying to do. Where everyone is talking about long-lasting pleasure and flavors, we are the only ones talking about one’s health. We are talking about how women can have the right to choose a contraceptive, while all the others are talking about how to please a man, as it’s more of a pleasure activity. Challenges include marketing, where Facebook doesn’t allow talking about contraceptives. Indian laws also don’t let us talk a lot about it. And creating awareness amongst all this has been challenging. It’s all about facing these challenges in this industry. There isn’t a single smooth day where we know that this will repeat tomorrow, and we’re ready for it.

Your source of inspiration

The customer messages that we keep on receiving about how a woman or their partner would face this problem but could never have discussed it. They have always been having these painful sexual experiences, which took part of their whole life. A survey showed 45% of women don’t talk to their partners about the issues they face, and 85% of women suffer from vaginal infections due to toxic condoms. These women don’t speak to their partner about it because they are afraid that their partners might get offended.  Messages from women that say that this product has given them hope and this is something that makes me come back to these challenges.

Your proudest moment so far

I think I still have to wait for that moment to arrive. When Bleu Condoms will be a preferred choice of Non-Toxic alternative to Women for their healthier pleasure.

Your definition of success

Right now, only 5% of Indians use condoms. For me, success would be when we have an increase in this number.

Your advice to aspiring Entrepreneurs, especially women

I have said this multiple times that failures will come. You have to accept it and move on. You need to try to overcome those failures and keep trying. Because your goal is on top of a hill and to reach the top, there will be many boulders on the way. You have to keep crossing them to reach your destination. We can’t give up.