You wouldn’t be able to tell a self-professed introvert is behind a condom brand that offers a step-by-step guide on cunnilingus. Or is the mind behind hacks on making your partner “very hot and horny for you.”
But Jason Panda, who is the CEO and founder of B Condoms, says it’s not about him.
“I started this company after speaking to my mother one day about the disproportionate impact HIV and AIDS has had on the Black community over the years,” Panda told ESSENCE. “Additionally, teen pregnancies and STIs were a huge concern at that time and what came out of that conversation was despite knowing these two factors plagued us, there were no Black leaders in the contraception space.
This was in 2011 when the Morehouse and Georgetown-educated attorney was still practicing full time and his mother ran a detox and transitional care facility. Through this early access to government-run health programming, he was able to learn the system and launched his own condom company a short time later, quickly securing contracts with health clinics.
For nearly a decade, Panda’s B Condoms were ubiquitous in public health circles but largely unknown in the general safe sex market.
“During those first few years, a lot of people never really heard about us because I was focused on servicing non-profits in New York,” Panda told ESSENCE. “And then during the pandemic, I moved the business from New York down to Atlanta to expand production and also to really shift focus back on the Black community. Having gone to Morehouse, I always wanted to kind of come back to the A. to double down on my mission to work with retailers that are committed to carrying Black-owned products. And that’s when we really blew up.”
At the time, big box stores were ambitiously rolling out DEI supplier diversity initiatives, which, Panda acknowledges was one of the key reasons his brand was able to secure shelf space in major retailers.
“First, Walmart reached out, then Targe,t and now we’re nationwide in CVS. So we went from no stores in June 2020 to 8000 stores+ right now,” he said proudly.
He said the increase in access to his products comes at a critical time when safe sex seems to be falling out of favor among young adults.
ESSENCE previously reported that STDs are at the highest rates in the nation that they’ve ever been – for the sixth consecutive year. According to EverlyHealth, 80% of sexual health screening clinics were forced to reduce hours or shut down altogether sometime since 2020.
Moreover, Everly Health’s communications team recently conducted a survey of 1,000 Gen Z and Millennial adults between the ages of 18 to 35 years old about their testing frequency and safety habits in the last two years. Only 1 out of 3 Gen Z’ers and Millennials reported asking their hookups critical questions about STIs and testing status, and nearly 20% of people reported never getting tested.
“It’s a really interesting time for sexual health awareness right now,” Panda said. “I’m really on a mission to meet people where they are and educate and encourage them to own their sexual selves while still being safe. It’s really above me. It’s about the community.”