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. 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.
Getting L. up and running has been a challenge, especially since the market for condoms is, as Frenkel says “dominated by three corporate giants.” But once she dedicated herself to the challenge, a support system came out of the woodwork. “I met entrepreneurs, creatives and innovators that I might otherwise have never had the opportunity to interact with,” she says. With this support, she has been able to make a difference in an area often marked off-limits due to social squimishness. “ In the US, it sometimes feels that the only people who are allowed to talk about sex are doctors and porn stars,” she says. “The reality is that sex is universal, but protection is not.”