In a week that sees both World AIDS Day and Giving Tuesday, Sustain Condoms is right in step with its 2014 theme, “Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation.”
The sustainable family-owned business with a mission is owned and operated by Jeffrey Hollender—co-founder of eco-friendly home product line Seventh Generation—and his wife Sheila and their daughter Meika, who are marketing their condoms as the first Fair Trade Certified brand of prophylactics.
Sustain’s target audience is women ages 25 to 35, 40 percent of whom buy condoms. The company’s recent photo campaign, “Protect Your Environment,” spoke to millennials’ tendency to care more for the environment than their own bodies, and urges them to consider their bodies as temples.
brandchannel: How does your content strategy and design speak to women (and men) in order to educate and inspire?
Meika Hollender (right): Regarding the design, the goal was to make something aesthetically appealing. We think that if women (and men!) feel uncomfortable buying and carrying condoms, having product that looks appealing will result in people being more likely to pick it up and bring it with them when they need it.
We didn’t want the packaging to scream neon-flavored sex—we wanted something that would appeal to the consumer. If you look in a drugstore condom aisle today, you will see that none of the products are targeted to women. We understand that women aren’t going to buy our condoms just because we’ve designed a nicer wrapper, but we think it will at least help.
We want women to feel as comfortable carrying a condom in their purse as they do their lipstick, credit card and cell phone. It’s our job to communicate to women the risks they are taking by not using them. I’m here to start a movement to empower women to get on top of their sexual health by providing them with a more sustainable product, as well as more education and the inspiration.
bc: Can you simplify the sustainability component of your product?
Hollender: Here is a simplified version: Sustain is the only brand of Fair-Trade, Vegan, FSC-certified condoms sold in the U.S. Sustain condoms are also nitrosamine-free, sustainably produced and made with natural latex. They are manufactured without Chemicals of Concern, child labor or environmental destruction, and we give 10% of our profits to women’s reproductive health organizations in the U.S.
bc: Do “vegan” and “fair trade” resonate with condom-buyers?
Hollender: We know that people are probably not thinking about “vegan” and “fair trade” before they have sex. However, many people do care about sustainability when purchasing products. We hope that after hearing our message, people will begin to make that initial choice to purchase Sustain.
bc: What are your plans for scaling the business?
Hollender: Our goal is to get Sustain in all major drugstores and wellness shops across the United States and eventually available internationally. We also want to build up our online business, as we know that women prefer to buy condoms online. And our next project is developing a sustainable lubricant.
bc: What did you learn from your dad about how to make a business out of sustainability?
Hollender: Jeffrey sees business as a vehicle to make the world a better place. He never stops asking how we can use what we are doing to positively impact the environment and communities we touch, rather than just taking a toll on them and not looking back.
We live in a world that has an endless number of pressing social and economic issues, and if we aren’t using business to address these issues, then we aren’t creating sustainable businesses.
I’m passionate about Sustain because I know that I am working towards something bigger. I’m building a business that addresses everything from climate change to reproductive health, and I can’t imagine it any other way.