• 6 minute Read

The Future-Forward Company Called “L”

Talia Frenkel is a photographer who created “L”–a condom company with a cause, to support women globally by focusing on their health, wellness, and sexual empowerment. Buy one of L’s sustainable condoms, and one goes immediately to AIDS affected areas and the women living in these areas, promoting and sharing ‘the love’ around the globe.

The
TEDActive team recently brought several of us to together in Palm Springs for
the purpose of co-creation. A challenging and inspiring collaboration
experience took place in very real form. We focused on clear, honed, global macro
concerns, and were tasked with defining and evolving micro human actions with
enormous traction. This is something we are all trying to grasp and move
forward with. We are all (the entire pyramid) creating solutions to address the
unaddressed and locate meaningful spaces for opportunity via both grassroots
inventiveness and company innovation. TEDActive moved us forward a good deal
with new ways of interacting and sourcing solutions for more positive outcomes.

As
you would expect, I met the most amazing young change-makers and future
business drivers. We talked, we pushed, and we played. One such brilliant young
visionary has taken her photography work to a new level; a give-back business
model extraordinaire. New business models built on passion are top-of-mind; here
is one that addresses taboos in very clear and meaningful ways, with both play
and serious purpose.

Talia
Frenkel
is a photographer who created a future-forward company from
her work in SE Asia, the Middle East and Africa. “L” is a condom company with
a cause; to support women globally by focusing on their health, wellness, and
sexual empowerment. Buy one of L’s sustainable and sexually comfortable
condoms, and one goes immediately to AIDS affected areas and the women living
in these areas, promoting and sharing ‘the love’ around the globe. Free will
and healthy choice are good things to support, all in all.

While at TEDActive Talia photographed several women,
including the woman who introduced us: Jerri Chou of NYC’s socially innovative
The Feast Conference. Talia photographed us within the context of a content
campaign in support of her company concept. Each of us was asked three
questions about the meaning of “L” in our lives. In turn, I asked Talia three
questions about her vision for “L.”
Her three-question campaign about Love can be found here. Here we
interview her in turn.

Jody Turner: Hello
Talia, it was a pleasure to meet you at TEDActive Palm Springs and to
participate in your “L” Word Campaign. How did you come up with and get into
the original L project?”

Talia Frenkel: L was inspired by my experiences
photographing the effects of HIV/AIDS on women and girls. At the
time, I had been working as a photojournalist documenting humanitarian
crises in South East Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, and had worked
extensively as a photographer for the Red Cross. What struck me the most,
and what was ultimately the driving force in creating L, was that unlike other
disasters I’ve photographed, this crisis is preventable.

The
numbers surrounding the AIDS epidemic are staggering; more human life has been
lost to AIDS than all the wars, famines, floods, and deadly diseases on the
African continent combined. The most effective technology in preventing the
sexual transmission of HIV is something we in the U.S. find in any convenience
store: condoms. A significant part of the problem is that 9 out of 10 countries
in Africa go through regular condom stock-outs that commonly last over two months.
The tool of prevention isn’t accessible. Antiviral treatment is a breakthrough
in saving lives, but currently for every person who is treated in Africa at
least two become infected. We can’t continue at this rate, even for the
simple reason that it’s not smart economics. I needed to do something
about this, and have dedicated myself to the making of L ever since. For
every condom purchased, one is distributed in a developing country. We work
closely with non-profit partners to take a holistic and gender sensitive
approach to HIV/AIDS prevention. Central to our mission is building capacity
and long-term distribution channels. For example, we’ve been developing a
program where we work with female-run social enterprise programs to provide
condoms to women who will in turn sell them to create livelihoods. This not
only makes condoms more accessible, it works towards the goal of creating a
culture of buying condoms.

L was also motivated by the desire
for a better condom. The condom market has seen little innovation at a time
when consumers are rightly demanding more from their product offerings than
ever. I believe that many consumers are looking for the most natural,
pleasurable way to practice safe sex. We’ve created a condom that we believe
aligns with the values of the modern consumer–sexually, socially and
environmentally. By giving people the best condom choice on the market, we’re
giving our company the best opportunity for changing lives.”

What do you hope to achieve?

Our goal is to empower women
globally by making safe sex a human right for all. I know that when we
look at the scale of the epidemic–over 5,000 HIV transmissions and 4,000 AIDS
deaths in Africa a day–the numbers can be overwhelming. One for
one may seem small at first–but consider this: if just 1 out of 20 people in
the U.S. who are currently buying condoms choose L, we can serve the condom
needs of the three countries with the highest prevalence rate in
Africa. We hope to expand L. to give every consumer the choice to be
part of a movement that can make this massive impact. By doing so, we can stop
the cycle of transmission and improve the quality of life for women everywhere.

How can people help you
with the project?

“Dangerous question–we’ll take all the help we can get. Contact us if you
would like to become involved. Share lovebeginswithL.com with your
friends and family. Pre-order a pack to support our cause. Start a campus club or
intern with us by applying on our site. Ask your local retailer if they might
be interested in carrying L condoms to support the 1 for 1 cause.

We
thank you very much Talia, we are behind your campaign 100%. We also want to
thank you for including us in your L campaign; “31 Women Who Believe You Can
Change The World”–amazing women!

From the campaign: “What is
your L word?” Interviewing Jody Turner

Talia
Frenkel:
What word that begins with ‘L” is most meaningful to you
and why?

Jody
Turner: “LIKE” … it can lead to love and yet unlike love you might
feel free to share it more often. Being able to LIKE something or not like
something is about growing into preferences, discernment and boundary setting —
it grows us. And yet we are careful about who we say we love; “I like you” can
be said around the world at any time, any place and on any day. I find great
pleasure in telling people what I like about them … until I feel comfortable
enough to tell them what I love about them … until I leave the item out of the
story altogether and just say I love you. So the L word LIKE is a road to love
for me. But so can the L word LUST if you are lucky, but that is another story
for another time.

TF: How
can love change the world?

Love can
be empathetic, compassionate and yet also strong and forcefully RADIANT with
truth. Love gives but it can also be a strong medicine for growth. Love brings
dimensional meaning to the table; connection that allows us to inhabit our
decisions further and take responsibility for our directions … or … we lose love.
Lost love can destroy but it can also show us like the seasons of the earth and
the seasons of our lives that this body/planet is a temporary temple for us to
know ourselves within and appreciate. With gratitude for the opportunity to
know self in such limited form … Love is honoring the paths we have chosen that
have led to growth. Love is about contributing wisely to each other’s
evolution. My life has meaning if I engage others and myself in this way, with
LOVE!!! Love with a big L.

TF: Why do
you love what you do?

I am able
to imbue intelligence, heart, and spirit into all I do, to cast it out and to
actually feel a response through the airwaves of culture in return. So cool.
Each day work requires showing up with a creative and fresh mind. At times I am
tired and overwhelmed but again each day I am fired up to do it all over. Free
will is a frightening thing and yet it is what we are working to understand and
utilize well on this planet. Practice makes perfect, this is the planet of
practice and more practice! I LOVE having the space to create as best I can
what I will experience next, my work as a futurist requires it and I am
grateful for the chance.”

For more information on Talia and her business ventures
visit: lovebeginswithl.com
and taliafrenkel.com/newwork.html.

A thank you
goes out to our sublime article editor, the narration strategist Elizabeth
Adams
and to Fast Company.

About the author

A dynamic social researcher, cultural narrator, future trendhunter and strategic designer, Jody Turner works and speaks globally via her west coast company CultureofFuture.com and the London group Trendwatching.com. Client engagements have included Apple, BMW, StyleVision France, Adidas, Starbucks, The Gap, Unilever Istanbul and multiple others.

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