above: Last Supper Collage, 2013 by Akira Hashiguchi
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L. was founded by Talia Frenkel, a photojournalist whose coverage of the effects of HIV/AIDS on women and girls inspired her into action.
above: Talia in Uganda
Talia Frenkel didn’t start out in the safe sex business. “I had worked extensively as a photographer for the Red Cross and documented humanitarian crisis around the world,” she says.
above: one of Talia’s provocative images of the ravages of AIDS on women.
Taking photos of people suffering, especially women and girls, she was ”struck by the preventative nature of the AIDS epidemic.” Upon returning to Los Angeles, she found herself at a crossroads. After all the suffering she had witnessed, her challenge was to channel the frustration of those experiences ”in a productive way.”
After talking to friends and family about the lack of access to condoms abroad, and seeing the potential in the high-quality market at home, Frenkel started L., a premium condom company that operates on a one-for-one model. For every condom they sell in America, they donate one to the developing world. “It’s important to note that we didn’t just re-package an existing condom on the US market,” she says “we re-engineered a new condom for the modern consumer.” But while the premium latex, and sustainable packaging of L. condoms are sure to deliver piece of mind (amongst other things) they’re delivered to sub-saharan Africa through female entrepreneurs, and student education programs.
But L. doesn’t stop there – the company focuses on supporting women leaders as catalysts for change and development. At its core, L. is setting out to create a superior product that rests on three pillars: Sex, Cause and World.
L. has re-engineered the condom. From premium quality high-grade latex to formulating moisture-rich, female-friendly lubricants with out harmful additives, L. focuses on creating the most natural and pleasurable way to practice safe sex. L. condoms use purified latex so that theyare uniquely low in latex scent and are glycerin and paraben free. All condoms are individually electronically tested to exceed FDA and international standards.
Integral to L.’s inception and mission is to fight the international AIDS epidemic. In Africa, there are more deaths caused by AIDS than all the wars, famines, floods, and deadly diseases on the continent – combined. Increasingly, women and girls are the face of the epidemic as they are disproportionately affected at a young age. Condoms are the most effective technology in HIV prevention as well as a simple form of birth control that provide a greater quality of life. Still, 9 out of 10 countries in Africa go through regular condom stock outs that typically last 2 months or more. L. has set out to address this through a one for one consumer driven donation model.
One for one is only the beginning.
L. has been credited with re-inventing the model, dubbed 1 for 1 +, by focusing on building capacity of its partners and facilitating the creation of long-term distribution channels.
Currently, L. is partnered with Direct Relief International and working with female-run social enterprise programs. Similar to the recent trend in international focus on women from Nike’s Girl Effect to the Half the Sky Movement – L.’s programs focus particularly on women leaders as agents of progress.
L. takes measure to be as sustainable as possible, and beyond that, the company aims to be restorative and enriching. From sourcing raw materials local to their manufacturing facility to providing product in recycled packaging – L. strives to deliver thoughtfully-designed products that are compatible with the environment. Their condoms also only use sustainably tapped 100% natural latex and are Vegan- friendly.
above: photo by Talia Frenkel
L. draws a connection between developed and developing world women through unique marketing and the opportunity for daily actions to support women globally. “Sex is universal, but protection is not.” says founder Talia Frenkel, who started the venture out of frustration at the preventative nature of the epidemic. “A largely untapped resource in Africa, women have the unique abilities and skills to strengthen and lead the global response to AIDS.” The sleek design, product features and company mission sets the company apart as a bold option for the modern consumer. Uniquely, L. is focused on empowering a hugely under-represented market for condoms – women. “Birth control pills are a common site in a women’s purse, but condoms are not. Part of what L. is about is making condoms sexy.”
But more than just a product, L. is creating a movement by offering consumers an opportunity to create massive change through simple choices and actions within their everyday lives. If just one in 20 condom purchases were made with L., the HIV prevention needs of the three countries with the highest prevalence of AIDS could be met, averting countless new HIV transmissions and improving the quality of life for even more.
above: photo by Talia Frenkel
As part of this movement, L. is transforming consumers into advocates, giving them the opportunity to participate by hosting social events as well as wearing L. t-shirts and donning wristbands that show their support for women globally.
They re-thought condom package design – from the materials of the packaging to the shape itself – providing a sleek and sexy package that aligns with the modern consumer lifestyle. L. packages are thin and compact enough to carry with you and reseal if you desire.
L. condoms come in 100% recycled paper packaging printed with vegetable inks. The packaging reflects their passion for the aesthetic as well as their goal of minimizing materials while maximizing functionality. No cellophane or plastic is used in packaging. Directions for Use are printed on the inner walls of the box to save paper. The modern minimalist black and white design allows them to save on ink wastage and makes the end product easier to recycle. L. recycles all unused and excess rubber latex that is created in the manufacturing process. This natural rubber latex is sent to facilities that then re-use the material to make other rubber products, such as flip flops. Natural rubber latex products are eventually biodegradable.
To find out more, you can visit www.thisisL.com and find out how you can help. Whether it’s by purchasing the well designed apparel or the beautifully packaged condoms or make an impact in these other ways.
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