"Agency, Not Fear": How a Just-Launched Tech Brand Is Reframing Personal-Safety Products

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A new tech brand is trying to change the conversation around personal-safety products. Flare launched in early February with the release of its smart safety bracelet, which, despite a discreet design, has the capability to offer users an easy out of potentially dangerous social scenarios.

Flare's debut product is the Nova Cuff, a constellation-adorned bangle — available in gold, rose gold, and silver — that features a black button hidden on its side. If one were to press the button, they'd soon receive an automated call sounding like a real person and offering an excuse to leave. Holding down the button for three seconds, meanwhile, sends off a message to a designated group text of five preselected friends, who will receive your location details and an alert asking them to get in touch.

"It's about trusting your gut when something doesn't feel right."

Yes, it's upsetting that there's even a need for such advanced safety products, but Flare cofounders Quinn Fitzgerald and Sara Dickhaus de Zárraga are trying to emphasize "agency, not fear." "We provide practical solutions built from experience, not stereotypes. They're not prescriptive or one size fits all, instead, we focus on providing you with options — so you can choose what is right for you in the moment," states a Flare brand zine shared with new customers. "It's about trusting your gut when something doesn't feel right and having the confidence to act earlier in the moment with fewer consequences."

The product is also personal to Fitzgerald and de Zárraga, who are both sexual-assault survivors. In their time as Harvard Business School peers, the cofounders would reckon with ways to address the issue of women's safety, particularly in the college campus space. After speaking with friends and family who shared similar experiences, they found that assaults don't always take place in a "dark alley" with "someone jumping out of the shadows," as is the stereotype: "They almost always happened with someone the person knew in a familiar place — where expectations are often misaligned and you can feel trapped."

In addition to releasing the bracelet, Fitzgerald and de Zárraga have also launched an ambassador program in which students can test out its various features and offer feedback to improve the product. There's also a blog, The Aura, that operates as a space for personal essays on safety, sex, and relationships.

A few important details to note about the bracelet: It works in conjunction with the Flare app, which is currently only compatible with Apple's iOS. (According to the website, an Android app is in the works.) At $99, the bracelet has enough battery life to last about a year, but it will need to be replaced thereafter. It also needs to be within ten feet of its user's smartphone in order for its technology to work.

See photos of the innovative personal-safety product ahead.