From Black Enterprise
Conversations surrounding sexually transmitted illnesses and the rise in new cases of HIV often morph into great concern; but, typically, they stop there. Such wasn’t the case for one group of young men. After engaging in deep dialogue about sky-rocketing HIV/AIDS rates, Morehouse College grads Jason Panda, Esq and Ashanti Johnson knew they had to do something.
That “something” was b condoms, a plush prophylactic brand that focuses on bettering sexual health practices in four main target audiences: African-Americans, Latinos, 50 and over, and gay and bisexual males. The letter b was chosen by the company’s founders to give the small business some flexibility when connecting with various partners. “You can say ‘b Latina, b African American, b gay or bisexual, b the Bronx, b Harlem, b what you are,’” says Panda, 31. Adding to the brand’s allure, sleek packaging and a cool company motto: “b cool, b safe, b yourself.”
The idea for the b condoms, which is distributed by PBJ Group LLC, began as a discussion Panda and Johnson had with other Morehouse graduates and friends during summer 2010. That idea blossomed into a business plan, and prompted the pair to invest $50,000 of their own money, with contributions from family and friends, into b condoms, which officially launched on December 1, 2010. Since then, the FDA-approved condom brand has taken off, and, in order to sustain the budding business, Johnson resigned from his sales and marketing position at Johnson & Johnson, with Panda soon following suit, resigning from his job as a corporate attorney. On World AIDS Day (December 1), the business partners kicked-off an elegant event for their boutique condom company in partnership with VillageCare at the Trump Soho in New York City—an event appropriately themed, “b inspired.” The duo tapped into their extensive network, inviting power players within the entertainment, finance and philanthropic communities.
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