ELLE Person Of Interest: Komal Baldwa, The Brain Behind Bleü Condoms
Komal Baldwa, founder of Bleü condoms, is happy to wear the badge of taboo slayer as she pushes the conversation on sexual wellness
“When it comes to birth control, here are your best o p t i o n s, ” said a gynaecologist whose bedside manner left much to be desired as she proceeded to rattle off different methods from the hormonal contraceptive pill to cervical caps to IUDs. As I asked a million questions about each—What effects will the hormones have on my body? How expensive are cervical caps? What are the risks of pelvic infections from an IUD?—I started to mentally cross a lot of these option off my list. So, I guess it was back to using the good-old condom—the very reason I made the appointment in the first place.
The thing is, very early into using condoms, I realised something was amiss. Every time I used one, I suffered irritation, drying and itching. My now-husband, however, wasn’t having any these reactions but he insisted we try something else that didn’t make me this uncomfortable. That’s when our quest for reliable, safe contraception began. A lot of Google searches later, we chanced upon Bleü. This relatively unknown (to me) organic and hypoallergenic condom brand spoke of being free of harsh chemicals in the lubrication and carcinogenic agents in the rubber. Making the switch was one of the best decisions we have made for our sexual wellness. I was so happy with my experience that I hunted down the founder, Komal Baldwa, for a candid interview. Here are a few excerpts:
ELLE: What led you to start Bleü?
Komal Baldwa: It was born from my personal suffering due to the harsh chemicals found in regular condoms. I suffered from irritation, itching and other after-effects post usage. Upon discussing my ordeal, people branded my problem as a hallucination rather than a genuine issue. That’s when I decided to look for other options. Initially, we focused our limited research on women’s issues related to condom usage. However, many of our male customers got back to us when they also found a solution to their own suffering of rashes and irritation.
ELLE: What differentiates Bleü condoms?
Komal Baldwa: Bleü is India’s first vegan-friendly condom, made from sustainably procured latex. These are free from harsh chemicals like parabens, glycerine and benzocaine, thus reducing the possibility of bad after-effects. We are also the only Indian condom brand which has introduced ‘one-time plastic-free packaging’, making us more sustainable and environmental-friendly.
ELLE: Tell us about the challenges you faced along your journey.
Komal Baldwa: Though I decided to support the journey of other women in 2016, it took me time and courage to convince my Marwadi joint family to start a condom brand. Till date, the reactions I face from strangers when I talk about my brand are mostly unwelcoming. (Komal has been chided on being “a mother who behaves in an irresponsible manner”, reprimanded for “displaying loose character” and accused of having the gall to enter an industry for a male product.) However, finding the right manufacturer was the biggest problem; condoms manufacturer in India are a close-knit community consisting of a few select players who are not open to accepting change, especially from a woman.
ELLE: Have you seen a shift in the way we discuss sexual health?
Komal Baldwa: People around me have become comfortable discussing sexual health in an informative manner. In general, India needs a lot more talking, so that our younger generation can openly discuss sexual and mental health. And that is essential. We cannot ignore such an essential human drive; we must address it and ensure everyone has the right information. And discuss it without being judged. I am here to advocate safe sex by using a healthier alternative. I urge you to think about your partner, yourself and your contribution to the environment.