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Sexual health brand Stix says it is profitable as it rebrands to Winx Health

Over the past year, sexual health startup Stix shifted its marketing approach to help achieve profitability. Now, it is setting its sights on reaching an even bigger audience.

Stix was founded in 2019, and got its start selling at-home pregnancy tests that were shipped to consumers’ doorsteps. Since then, it has expanded its product offerings to focus on other aspects of sexual health, like an at-home UTI test and treatment kit.

Investing in educational content around sexual and reproductive health quickly became a big focus for Stix. So much so that its online content hub, called Real Talk, now drives nearly 20% of the brand’s sales organically. That prompted Stix to cut off paid advertising entirely last October, allowing the brand to reach profitability in the first quarter of 2024. Against this backdrop, Stix is now rebranding and changing its name to Winx Health. The company hopes the new name will help it reach more customers and introduce more young people to its products and services through organic marketing efforts.

In May, the company announced that grocery chain Giants Co will start carrying its UTI test kits in around 200 locations, representing the first major retail partnership for Winx Health. Alongside the rebrand, Winx is updating its packaging, which it believes will help it stand out better on shelves. Actress Kerry Washington is also joining as an investor and advisor, and will work with Winx Health to create more awareness around women’s reproductive health issues.

Pulling out of paid advertising

In the last few months, Winx Health improved its margins and reached profitability by shutting off virtually all digital advertising.

Jamie Norwood, co-founder of Winx Health, told Modern Retail that since launching Real Talk last summer, the blog has generated over 500 medically-reviewed articles and receives thousands of visitors a month. The blog publishes articles reviewed by OBGYNs and FNPs that answer frequently-asked questions from readers on various topics. Recent examples include “How to track your cycle” and “Navigating birth control and sexual health in a larger body.” The content lives on the brand’s website, along with its own social media accounts on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.

The content formats differ slightly depending on the platform. For instance, the website blog features articles from contributors while the YouTube videos are hosted by co-founder Cynthia Plotch. “They are mostly written by Gen Z women for Gen Z women, or a ‘WebMD for Gen Z’ as I like to call it,” Norwood said.

The blog has been impactful not just for growing customer loyalty and providing something of value for the audience, Norwood said, but also for growing organic traffic and transactions on the site. Since its launch a year ago, 20% of Real Talk readers have gone on to make a Winx Health purchase. 

“We were recently able to slash our marketing budget and focus on Real Talk, which helped us achieve profitability in Q1 of this year,” Norwood said. “It’s been a huge relief, honestly.” The company also still operates with a lean team of three employees. The company raised $5 million in seed money since launching, with its last round closing in 2021

The company was advertising on Meta, TikTok and paid search until the past few months. “We pulled out completely from Meta around October and stopped TikTok ads after experimenting with them briefly,” Norwood said. However, the company is still utilizing SEO keywords and TikTok as a traffic tool. The idea is to provide educational content to bring in people, who then find Winx’s products organically. 

“Gen Z is using TikTok as a search engine more than Google,” Norwood said, such as searching for answers to their feminine health and sex education questions. This has resulted in Winx Health’s organic TikTok reach driving a lot of traffic to the brand’s site in recent months. 

Part of why Winx Health is moving toward a more educational approach is also the advertising limitations sexual wellness brands have on platforms like Meta and TikTok. “We were constantly facing getting shut down on Meta,” Norwood said. By promoting health education over its products, Winx Health is more easily able to operate on these platforms.

The decision to use the brand’s platforms to educate young females also comes at a time when the changing political landscape is influencing when and where women might buy pregnancy tests and contraceptives.

“Pregnancy test purchase habits are also changing,” Norwood said, especially in states with restricted abortion access. “Bulk purchasing and subscriptions have definitely increased.” Emergency contraceptives in particular have been selling out on Winx Health’s site recently. Norwood said since more state abortion bans started being passed last year, Winx’s morning-after pill and pregnancy tests have become one of its best-performing products, especially on same-day delivery apps Gopuff and DoorDash.

In 2024, Winx Health also saw orders increase by over 133% year over year from Florida, Arizona and Texas, where new abortion regulations went into effect. Norwood pointed to Florida’s six-week abortion ban that went into effect in May. “In the last two months since abortion bans, orders from key partners increased by 250% in Florida and Arizona,” she said. 

Rachel Hirsch, founder and managing partner of Wellness Growth Ventures, said sex and reproductive health startups face both challenges and opportunities as state policies change. “There are many of these brands popping up, I think it makes it hard to differentiate,” she said, adding that current digital advertising costs make it difficult to compete. “So it becomes a marketing play to some degree, and engaging content is a big part of that.”  

Breathing room to make new investments 

Norwood said reaching profitability now allows the company to turn its focus to new products and a brand refresh.

The name Stix originally came from the line that appears on pregnancy tests, a nod to its first product. But as its offerings have evolved, Norwood said Winx Health feels more reflective of the current offerings and is a nod to a “wink.” The wink is a reminder of its mission to provide access to health products with discretion, such as discreet packing to protect customers’ privacy. “It lets people know we’re in their corner,” she said.

The new packaging focuses on a bigger font, brighter colors and product images on the box, as the company wanted to be better equipped for retail shelves. “All of the design and messaging was done in-house with a small budget, so it’s been a big learning experience,” Norwood said.

Winx’s new products also mark a foray into telemedicine, with the company moving beyond over-the-counter products. This week, Winx Health introduced an at-home UTI test and treatment that connects patients to a care provider if a prescription is needed. The service is in partnership with the telemedicine platform Dr. B, which costs $15 per prescription. The other product is a vaginal health test that detects yeast infections.

“The tests are the first step, and we really want to complete the cycle of care,” Norwood said.

With so much confusion over reproduction health and products, Norwood said the biggest marketing focus for Winx Health going forward will be educational content.

“We’ll never say we’ll never do paid ads again,” Norwood said. “But for now, slashing it has been a lot healthier for our bottom line and we haven’t seen a decrease in revenue since.”