Changing the way we think about sexual health with quality vegan-friendly product, a sense of humour and damn sexy packaging. We get cosy with the gals behind Jonny condoms
Jonny was founded by three ladies and we’re dying to know – WHO ARE YOU! What are your backgrounds and what made you start a business together? Ha! Great question. In some ways, we are all very similar and in others, our differences complement each other! Sami is an award-winning Interior Designer who has been responsible for creating some of the most amazing environments for famous dining places in Melbourne, New York and Hong Kong. Bec Villanti is a production manager extraordinaire who has been working with some of Australia’s largest brands. Me, Bec Park, has a business and marketing background primarily working with large luxury brands for over 20 years.
The reason we chose to go into business together was the aligned belief that we needed to shift the stigma, awkwardness and even shame around buying and using condoms - and in some cases just TALKING about condoms!! We span 2 generations between us and each of us have had similar experiences - it is 2019 - we need to shift this. There should be no shame associated to insisting on having safe sex, whatever gender you identify with!!
Why condoms? Can you tell us about how the idea of redefining sexual protection came about and why you thought it was necessary to rebrand a ‘boring essential’?
Sure, so following on from the above, the three of us were having a casual conversation about loves won and lost over the years and we soon realised that we had all experienced similar situations where we put our own sexual health at risk due to shame and awkwardness. It quickly dawned on us that this needed shifting! We had the epiphany back in 2016 - before the #metoomovement - so the next few years were quite serendipitous!
So the Jonny mission quickly became about carrying & using condoms as normal as lipstick and hair-ties!
It was even more personal for me as my daughter was 13 at the time and I didn’t want her growing up with the same social stigma! She has been an incredible litmus test for me with Jonny. At first, she was mortified with my new career choice - but she quickly changed into Jonny’s most vocal ambassador amongst her peers - without any shame! I quickly saw how this younger generation is hungry for fun, factual and shame-free discussions around sex.
We’re curious to find out how you started. How did you know what Jonny needed to be in terms of product features and how did he get (his?) name?
It was pretty clear that the way the traditional brands had communicated with its audience (men) had not changed in a very very long time. This has perpetuated the stigma and shame around condoms. There are some very degrading advertising going on.
We knew instinctively that it didn’t need to be this way. A clean, modern brand, with minimal packaging, and coupled with quirky imagery and wit was sure to be a winner. It has been!
We also didn’t see the need to trick up the product offer. It was very important for us to find an ethically sourced product; so no toxins, cruelty-free, as sustainable as possible, and one that performs well (durability, feel and even smell! Yes we smelt many ;)) and one that meets all the medical standards. Needless to say, our product research was very interesting!
Jonny is in fact gender neutral - we want to appeal to both men and women...and thankfully we do. Jonny (the name) is playful, catchy and cheeky. It felt right at the time and our audience really identify with the brand name. Jonny becomes your “other’ best friend!
We love Jonny’s witty approach to sex! What tool does language play in the way you want to change the perception of protection?
Massive - our language and tone of voice is so important and this has been a very deliberate move on our part. Humour, especially clever wit, is very important when trying to breakdown negative emotions or connotations. When you lighten the mood, you suddenly provide a space to start a conversation. With conversation, you start changing perception.
Starting a small business is a lot of fun but also a lot of work. Can you talk us through what your main obstacles were in launching a brand that is really out there, bold and with a mission to change the industry?
CASH! We love all the challenges that running Jonny brings - they are all wonderful opportunities. But like any small business managing cash flow in the early days and making sure you invest in the right activities is really important. Whatever you think your budget will be for the first 12 months - double it! You always need more cash than you realise!
To be honest we haven’t seen any obstacles in launching Jonny. The response we have had from everyone has been overwhelmingly positive.
With every Jonny purchase you donate to charity organisations that focus on protecting children. Can you tell us more about your mission to ‘be good’? What does that mean to you?
Love your questions!!
Be Good! Be good to self, be good to others, be good to the environment.
This has been our mantra since the beginning.
And truly it boils down to respect, not just in relation to sexual activity. Respect yourself and you are less likely to allow yourself to be put in a compromising position or feel awkward for standing up for what you believe in; Respect others - sex is a 2-way street! And we should be mindful of the consequences unprotected sex can have, not only to ourselves but to others (there is soooo much we could talk about right there!). Annnd be good to mother nature. We are passionate about minimising our footprint where we can. Respect the earth and she respects you right back.
So Be Good is meant to encapsulate that sentiment beyond just sexual intimacy!
Hence why giving back - supporting others - from the very incarnation of Jonny was super important to us.
What’s on the horizon for Jonny? Are you thinking of getting into bed with other sexual health products?
You bet! There are new products on the horizon as well as some really exciting international news. But for now, I have to keep that one close to my chest!