We recently spoke with representatives of Jems, an up and coming business that is re-inventing the latex condom while educating people about safe-sex and condoms at the same time.
What is your business called and what does it do?
Jems is a condom and sex-ed platform created with everyone in mind! We keep it simple, using only what’s essential—natural latex and 100% silicone lube, and nothing more. Condoms so often speak only to men, and the condom aisle feels like an overwhelming place to shop. Jems is designed for an evolving multiplicity of sex and gender expressions. A quick glance at the packaging and it is obvious that Jems is different from what you are used to seeing in the condom aisle. We want Jems to fit into your life and live on your bedside table just as seamlessly as your lip gloss and favourite reading material.
What made you want to do this work?
We are used to regularly checking ingredients in all food, beauty and household products. Whitney is celiac and has to ensure that everything she consumes is gluten-free. As mothers in between having children, we turned to condoms as a form of birth control. We couldn’t find any condom that listed ingredients and were shocked by the lack of transparency for such an important product. What’s more, it was hard to even understand what type of condom to buy: ribbed, large, extra lube? Where were the condoms with simple, non-toxic ingredients? If this was too big a hurdle for us as adults to navigate, we couldn’t imagine what it was like for today’s youth.
What problem did you want to solve with the business?
So many! With STI rates on the rise and condom usage down, we knew we could use design to help rethink how we speak about condoms. This challenge is not dissimilar to the types of problems we have been solving for clients over the last 10 years as partners and co-founders of Whitman Emorson, a strategic design consultancy in Toronto.
Our hope was to create a meaningful condom brand, making Jems a desirable product for those who have typically felt excluded. Part of this challenge is in redesigning the packaging. The other part is changing where and how condoms are accessed by bringing condoms out of the awkward condom aisle in pharmacies and into places that people like to spend time and shop, like boutique retailers and coffee shops.
Who are your clientele/demographics?
Jems is truly made for all. We knew we couldn’t be the only ones who felt uncomfortable and confused about which condom to buy so we wanted to create one that didn’t leave anyone out. We also believe that youth are a top priority as potential first-time condom users and buyers – and arguably those most in need of sex education.
How does your business make money? How does it work?
Where in Toronto can we find your profession?
What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? Give the answer as well.
Why is Jems different from other condom brands? Jems simplifies safer sex for everyone, we take out the unnecessary ingredients including parabens and benzocaine, and use only natural latex with 100% silicone lube! It’s important to know which ingredients you’re putting on and inside your body!
What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?
The best: We know it’s easy to create a beautiful brand that appeals to many but what’s driving us is the possibility of having a positive impact on safer sex.
The worst: We’re up against a lot of challenges. Condoms are something that people don’t want to talk or think about. Our hope is to break down these barriers by reimagining what a condom brand is and can be.
What is your favourite joke about your own profession?
When you’re building a condom company, the jokes are really endless but there’s definitely a good punchline waiting to be made of the fact we both got pregnant in the process.
PAY IT FORWARD: What is another Toronto business that you love?
B Yoga is a Toronto founded company that makes everyday yoga essentials. They were an early Whitman Emorson client and we absolutely love their ethos and how much they continue to grow and stand out in a crowded global marketplace!