SHE Stories: Discreet Design
Aimee Sealfon Kassana is a Design Director living in Kigali, Rwanda. She started working closely together with the SHE team and Johnson & Johnson two years ago as both a designer and a design strategist. The SHE Team and Johnson & Johnson design partnership created sustainable design concepts together with key stakeholders, in order to develop more sustainable go! packaging and readily accessible health education. During the decade that she worked for Johnson & Johnson, Aimee says that designing for SHE is the project she is most passionate about and invested in.
1. How did you start designing such culturally sensitive and work? How did you test your designs to make sure they communicated the right messages?
All designers need to be culturally sensitive in order to create materials that are successful. I began working with Johnson & Johnson more than a decade ago as the design director for the Women’s Health franchise. I managed the design and creative direction of the consumer packaging for all of their global women’s health care brands and feminine hygiene brands. Some products play an intimate role in women’s lives, and understanding the appropriate cultural sensitivities and how they differed from region to region — and even country to country — was incredibly important to understand from a consumer insights perspective.
As a designer, I have to gather insights on cultural norms, customs, practices, taboos; how and where she shopped; how she lived, trying to better understand her desires and dreams; mapping her journey and how she interacted with these products throughout her life. These insights were then embedded into the design concepts that were developed, in order to create products that added delight, meaning, or in some ways, improved or positively impacted her life.
To test them, we would create prototypes and share them directly with our target audiences in both qualitative and quantitative groups to gather critical feedback and / or co-create together.
2. What did you learn from this work and how did those lessons affect the final product?
Women around the world ultimately have very similar feelings and frustrations around their intimate health needs. Women are women. Regardless of where they live or their socio-economic status, women struggle with issues of self-confidence and wish they knew more about what was happening to them. Being aware of this has allowed me to create consumer experiences that are more approachable and delightful, more meaningful and authentic.
3. Why does design matter on this project? How does it lead to social impact?
People are inherently visual beings, so I would like to think that good design is important for all projects. However, in this specific case with the development of more sustainable packaging for SHE, we needed to figure out how to create more sustainable packaging that also fit within the consumers’ lives in a seamless manner.
It is really hard to change existing behaviors — for example, trying to get the girls to dispose of their used pads and wrappers in a manner other than throwing them down the latrine would be challenging. Recognizing this need led to the development of PET coated paper for the pad wrappers, which will biodegrade.
4. Tell us about the educational pamphlet you’ve been making for SHE.
As we gathered insights from the girls and women, to gain more perspective around how to create more sustainable packaging, we also learned that the girls had SO MANY questions that were not fully answered from what was taught in a classroom setting. They were intimate questions that they did not feel comfortable asking their teachers or their aunts or older sisters. Thus, the idea to create a pocket-sized, educational pamphlet that could be updated in different versions, was born, as it allowed the girls easy access to all of their most pertinent sexual and reproductive health queries, in a format that was discreet (easy to hide from nosy boy classmates and brothers) but that was also easily shareable with their friends and younger sisters.