Graphic design studio Whitman Emorson explains how Gen-Z inspired their fun and inclusive condom brand
With the Jems brand centered on “experimentation, play and exploration”, Yasemin says how liberating it was to “break many rules of consistency that we often use for our customers”. Looking for ways to ‘break the mould’ in the condom industry, the team decided that color would be the best route: “We intentionally avoided the black, purple and gold that seem to be ubiquitous in the condom aisle, and we went for the unexpected: ‘alien green’ and ‘electric blue’ (or so we call it),” adds Whitney. Avoiding stereotypical gendered colors, the studio wanted to ensure that Jem is “really for everyone”.
Yasemin goes on to explain that “research and strategy” is a fundamental part of their practice, and so there is a lot of deep groundwork behind the Jems project. Through discussions with family, friends, and small focus groups and analyzing market gaps, the studio realized that its mission “needed to focus on a younger demographic that needed guidance. and support in the area of sexual health and well-being”. Whitney adds, “By providing safer sex options to Gen Z, we want to change the perception of condoms and how they are used.” And, not only are they a group that needs more attention and care, but they also “celebrate a multiplicity of genders and sexual expressions,” an inclusivity the studio wants to champion in its design.
This desire to instigate change is found from the beginning of the studio. After meeting while studying at McGill University, Yasemin and Whitney moved to New York to work in design. After completing a charter school branding project together and seeing the impact the design could have, the duo realized they “had something different to offer that was basically rooted in research and the rigor of our liberal arts education,” Yasemin shares. At the time of the joining of forces, design studios run by women were much less common. Then, once they had enough work, the duo made the studio their full-time jobs. Eventually, they returned to their hometown of Toronto to grow their team, where the studio is currently based.
Having high hopes for the brand, Whitney says their goal is to have “Jems everywhere!”. Wanting them to be available at all the expected retailers, the studio also wants to push the limited boundaries on where you can buy Jems. “Who says you can’t buy a three-pack of condoms at your favorite cafe?”