Today we’d like to introduce you to Davin Wedel.
Davin, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I founded Global Protection in 1987 when I was an undergraduate at Tufts University. I was motivated by the exploding AIDS crisis and was determined to make condom use fun and stylish – as socially acceptable as toothpaste and as second nature as wearing a seatbelt. It all started with The Happy Jumbo, a condom matchbook featuring the Tufts mascot, as a way to break down taboos around sex. From there, I started making customized condom wrappers for campus groups, radio shows, and sports teams to help promote safer sex.
Later, Global Protection was instrumental in convincing retailers to bring condoms out from behind the register. Rather than having to ask for them, customers could browse for condoms on the sales floor. In 1991, we opened Condomania in New York’s Greenwich Village, the first retail store in the nation to sell only condoms. The store garnered national and international media coverage and helped further propel the discourse about condoms.
In 2004, we launched our own ONE® brand, which quickly emerged as an industry leader in premium-branded condoms and lubricants. ONE brings a fresh perspective to sexual health through a fusion of creative product packaging, manufacturing technology, customer participation, and social responsibility. We work together with customers, artists, and advocates to inspire people to make a difference in their community.
Since the beginning, I’ve been passionate about working hand-in-hand with our health partners to solve public health issues through creative and educational outreach. Today, Global Protection supplies condoms to public and non-profit agencies in all 50 states, including health departments in major cities like Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Baltimore, and of course, Boston. We also distribute ONE Condoms through major retailers such as Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and Costco.
This year, we’re excited to bring myONE® Perfect Fit condoms to the U.S. market, a revolutionary condom line of 60 sizes. With condom sizes larger and smaller than anything on the market, myONE is designed to finally address the top complaints about condoms: they don’t fit and are uncomfortable.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The long-term challenge throughout our 30-year history has been constantly reinventing the condom and breaking down taboos around sexual health—in order to get people to embrace condom use. It’s an exciting challenge, and we definitely have a lot of fun. Overall, we always have to overcome the fact that people don’t want a barrier during sex. There’s an almost universal belief that condoms make sex less pleasurable. Of course people are aware of the risks of unprotected sex, but they’re often unwilling to sacrifice sexual pleasure for safety. That’s exactly why we invest so heavily in research and development and new manufacturing technologies: to create condoms that make safer sex more pleasurable.
A key challenge to condom innovation is also related to manufacturing and regulations. Many people are surprised to learn that condoms are classified as medical devices and are therefore heavily regulated by the FDA. Condoms also have to conform to safety and testing standards set by two international organizations. Therefore, bringing new products to the market often takes many years of work just to get clearance, in addition to investing in new manufacturing technologies. But those hurdles also give customers reassurance that they’re getting high-quality products that have been through rigorous testing and review.
Please tell us about Global Protection.
Global Protection is known as the leading innovator in sexual health products. Some of our groundbreaking solutions – like glow-in-the-dark condoms, condom keychains, and our signature round ONE® condom wrappers – have become mainstays in public health outreach. We thrive on pioneering products and programs to reach a diverse cross-section of consumers. Our award-winning ONE brand is recognized around the world for its distinctive, stylish packaging and edgy outreach and engagement campaigns.
Our latest innovation is revolutionizing the condom industry once again. This summer, we launched myONE® Perfect Fit Condoms. Now available for the first time in the United States, myONE condoms come in 60 different sizes – various combinations of 10 lengths and 9 widths – to help every person find the perfect fit. The top complaints about condoms are that they’re uncomfortable or they don’t fit properly. We developed myONE in 60 sizes so that no one has to choose between comfort and safety. Now, customers can use our FitKit to measure their length and circumference, order a free sample kit online, and get customized condoms delivered discreetly to their door. Already, the response has been incredible. Customers – who come in all shapes and sizes — are cheering about finally having alternatives to the one-size-fits-all condom.
What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
For us, it’s not just about selling – it’s about engaging. We’re fortunate to have a rapidly-growing community of loyal customers who are passionate about our products and about making condom use fun, creative, and sexy. Our condom wrapper design contests have generated thousands of beautiful, clever designs from artists and advocates from around the world who are thrilled to have their work featured on our products. We rely heavily on customer feedback and ideas to explore new ways of making safer sex pleasurable and fun.
We’re always creating opportunities to integrate condoms with the arts and pop culture, to help build awareness and reduce stigma. We’ve had great success partnering with artists and entertainers, teaming up with performers like Pitbull, The Weeknd, Madonna, Ke$ha and Busta Rhymes to distribute condoms at their concerts. ONE condoms have been featured on television shows such as “Insecure,” “Two Broke Girls,” “CSI,” “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” “GLEE,” “Two and a Half Men,” “House of Lies,” “Ray Donovan” and “The Big Bang Theory.”
Everyone at Global Protection is fiercely passionate about our mission to create a world in which people feel comfortable talking openly about sexuality, while having a lot of fun and pleasurable experiences with condoms. We’re going to keep pushing the envelope to make that world a reality.