Editor's Note: We at POPSUGAR recognize that people of many genders and identities have female sex organs, not just those who are women, and Stix provides products for any person with female sex organs. In this interview, those people were referred to mainly as women.
Buying a pregnancy test at a drugstore isn't always the most private experience, which is unfortunate if you would prefer to keep the purchase — and all the matters of your health — to yourself. Even if you make a beeline to the checkout counter or hide the test under other items in your basket, you still have to interact with someone ringing it up. Of course, then there's the possibility of running into someone you know.
For Cynthia Plotch, that was her boyfriend's mother. After recounting the "terrible" situation to her friend Jamie Norwood, the duo quickly realized many others shared similar experiences and there was a clear need for a company that offered a more discreet and comfortable experience for purchasing pregnancy tests, as well as education and a sense of community. And so in the fall of 2019, Stix was founded.
The online, direct-to-consumer, "no-judgment" health company for people with female sex organs kicked off with a pregnancy test — an obvious choice given the brand's origin story — but has since launched ovulation tests, prenatal vitamins, UTI tests, UTI pain relief products, and a UTI supplement.
While one could argue that purchasing a pregnancy test online at any retailer offers slightly more privacy than heading into a store, what really sets Stix apart is its added focus on carefully curating health essentials.
"With Stix, we've really boiled it down to what women actually need. You don't need 16 different options of pregnancy tests. You just need one highly effective version of the product," Plotch said.
To ensure this promise of accuracy and effectiveness, Plotch said Stix always comes "back to science." All of the brand's pregnancy and ovulation products were ob-gyn certified and approved, while the UTI products were developed alongside urologists. All of the brand's content is medically reviewed too.
"It's really important to us to allow our customers to trust that what we're providing is accurate and scientifically-backed in the truth."
Stix products and the instructions that come with them, Plotch explained, are also meant to be incredibly intuitive and digestible.
Both the pregnancy tests and the ovulation tests were designed to have separate test and control windows, so you know exactly what red lines to look out for. Plotch also added that the pregnancy tests are small to allow discretion in shipping, packaging, and storage.
"Even when it comes down to the size font that we use, the kind of paper it's printed on, the colors, the diagrams: everything that we've done has been in order to make it really, really, really as easy as possible to understand," Plotch said.
After successfully launching pregnancy and ovulation tests, Plotch explained they continued to speak with their customers to get an idea of the problems they were facing with other products on the market. That brought Stix to the UTI category.
"The products that existed were terrible. It was hard and confusing to navigate. There's a lot of stigma around them, and that's really what drove us into the expansion," Plotch said.
The UTI tests, in particular, achieve that user-friendly nature with a green hand grip that allows you to easily hold the test while you pee on the strip.
Outside of the informative instructions that come with the products, Stix also offers an extensive library of educational resources on its website aimed at, as Plotch explained, "answering women's most googled health questions."
There, you can find articles, personal essays, and guides on a wide range of health-related topics, like pregnancy, UTIs, sex, period care, and ovulation.
A core part of Norwood and Plotch's goal with Stix is to present all of these products without any judgment about why you may be using them. For example, not everyone is using an ovulation test with the goal of getting pregnant. In fact, Plotch noted that half of the Stix ovulation and pregnancy test customers are not trying to get pregnant.
"Everything out there is all about getting you pregnant. Whether it's the name or like literal baby faces on the boxes, or like sappy pink coloring. It's horrible, and it makes you feel wrong if that's not your intended use, or if that's not even the outcome of your intended use. That branding and that voice has been really important to us," Plotch said.
As far as how Plotch feels to be one of the companies shutting down the ridiculous taboos of female-focused health and really opening up essential conversations?
"Great! That's the short answer. It's amazing how much innovation has happened and how much still needs to happen in this space. Women are constantly marginalized in healthcare, as are people of color, as are LGBTQ people. It's just not a system that has been built for us. And I think we see that in everything from the way products are developed and tested to the way education happens — that women have just been left behind by the system. We are proud to help catch up."
In terms of what's next for the brand, it's safe to assume that Stix will be sticking to its brand ethos of providing customers with thoughtful, science-backed health essentials — free of judgment.
"We look at giving women the confidence they need to manage their health. And that means providing great care in a lot of different ways. So, I think you can expect to see many different products from us in the future."