Aimee Marks is a superhero. She’s a mother of twins – which in my books gains superhero status immediately – but she is also CEO, and Owner and Founder of TOM Organic; Australia’s leaders in organic feminine hygiene. Like I said, superhero!
For those of us who have been living under a ‘baby brain rock for the last few years’ or perhaps on a space shuttle orbiting the earth what is TOM Organic?
TOM Organic is an Australian brand of organic personal care and maternity products for women. Our mission is to empower women to live healthier, more fulfilled lives – through buying and living more consciously. Empowering women to read ingredients lists and question the brands they may have previously trusted, just because they are big.
Sometimes it can be cheaper on the shopping bill to go for non-organic brands. Why is it so important to choose TOM Organic tampons/pads?
We use over 12,000 tampons in a lifetime; they come in contact with the most absorbent skin in our bodies. I felt a responsibility on behalf of Australian women to create an alternative made from pure ingredients that didn’t compromise the environment.
Can you share with us what inspired you to start TOM Organic?
I actually came up with the idea when I was at high school, I’ve always been interested in design and it started out as a purely functional design project, how do I solve the problem of tampons falling out in my handbag? But it quickly evolved into something else when I learned about the impact that conventional products have on our health and the environment. When I hit the ingredients list, it changed the entire focus of what I wanted to do. I was horrified by what was in my tampons (polypropylene, viscose rayon, bleach, dye), I knew I had to find an alternative! There are chemicals and insecticides being sprayed onto cotton that you wouldn’t let near you if you knew what they were, and the processes involved in turning tree pulp into rayon not only have health implications, but are incredibly detrimental to the environment too. I decided to make TOM products from 100% organic cotton, which means there is not a single chemical in any part of the process, from the farm to your bathroom.
What have you been most surprised by since starting TOM Organic?
My early thoughts were that starting a business would be the hardest part and I remember asking my mentor at the time, “what do I do once TOM Organic products are on the shelf?”. I have been most surprised by the unpredictability of running a business and constantly shifting my mindset to stay ahead. It’s important to constantly evolve, to be agile and to look at each opportunity with an optimistic mindset.
I am surprised and pleased that we can reach the large scale of women in the TOM community through the power of social media. At the time of launching TOM, Facebook was used for personal use, rather than business and Instagram was non-existent. We are now sitting at +80K followers across our platforms, which is incredible. As the TOM Organic brand has such a human face, it has allowed women to engage and have sensitive conversations that they weren’t previously having. We feel a responsibility to listen to women and provide them with holistic and educational information that goes beyond product.
Someone once also told me it’s important to schedule in thinking time. I’ve been most surprised at how powerful this is, even if it’s an hour a week (and I’ll be honest, I need to do more of it!)
You’re now a mama to two beautiful twin girls Poppy and Ivy; what was the moment like when you found out you were expecting twins?
Having no history of twins in the family, it was definitely the universe’s way of sending something special that we needed in our life. It wasn’t one, but two enormous and joyful surprises. At first, I felt like it was beyond me, in terms of how I could manage. I couldn’t stretch my mind around going from having no children, to two little humans to take care of. Physically, I was scared that the size of the twins inside of me would take over my whole body (whatever you do, don’t Google “pregnant with twins at 40 weeks”!). When I had imagined being pregnant (with one), I thought I would pop one out and go back to work.
I had to relinquish control of the situation and instead, I took control of my body and my health. The moment I let go of trying to control or understand how I could manage, I felt a sense of calm and became grateful the twins were healthy.
Maternity leave is such a healthy time away from day to day life and teaches you a new set of life skills, creating a better version of you. I wondered how I would reintroduce things that you once did before having children. Time and space definitely allowed time for me to go back to that.
Life / Work balance? How do you do it all?
Finding a balance has been a lot of trial and error. Once I settled into motherhood, I slowly introduced new layers of work into my life and gave them space to settle to ensure I could give equivalent value to both work and family. I work best in short bursts, once I have exercised. I have really productive work sessions while the girls sleep and also have my designated office days where I pack in as much as I can. It has taken some time to experiment with what works for me, find my momentum and use my brain again in a different way.
Biggest learning curve as a mama bear?
The one thing I would recommend to any new Mum is to find a special someone who can provide guiding support and insight. It’s so valuable being able to seek advice from one source that you love and trust. It enables you to put down all the books and create the space to listen to your maternal instincts. When people ask what’s it like raising twins, I usually say that I don’t know any different as I have only had one baby for about two minutes. It’s all perspective.
Best advice for other women wanting to start a business?
Trusting my gut instincts and never compromising on my own values, you have to believe 100% that no-one knows your product better than you. I’m also incredibly grateful to the many mentors I’ve met along the way, surrounding myself with a network of people I admire who have been on the journey already has been priceless.
What are five things we can always find in your handbag?
My BKR drink bottle, iPad, organic sultanas for the girls, a TOM tampon and an Ilia lip gloss.
Favourite way to move your body?
I try to get outside as much as I can with the girls and go for walks to our local parks, along St Kilda beach or around our neighbourhood. I get to either a yoga or Pilates class every week and I have started boxing during the week for half hour sessions.
Best way to spend a rainy afternoon?
Spending the afternoon at my parent’s farm down the coast, playing with my girls and spending quality time with my husband Chris.
We know you’re tea obsessed; what tea are you crushing on at the moment?
Herbal teas are my favourite, Pukka make delicious organic tea blends – we sip on them all day in the office. It’s like having an internal bath – it’s the best way to drench your insides with antioxidants and vitamins.
What would you bring to a pot-luck picnic?
Mum’s Bok Choy mango salad.
Instagram or Pinterest?
Pinterest – I could scroll through and pin for hours, particularly looking at interiors.
Do you have a favourite account you like to stalk?
When I am on Pinterest, I tend to click through images that pop up in my feed rather than following accounts.
On Instagram, I am loving:
A designers mind – their interiors are amazing, Little columbine – gorgeous kids clothes and accessories, Oeuf NYC – love their simple organic cotton designs for children, and Zoe Foster Blake – Zoe is hysterical and so entertaining!
What is one life skill you hope to pass down to your daughters?
To live with passion and an open heart and mind and question everything questionable. I don’t believe you should ever settle just because it’s the way things are done.
To finish … Favourite Quote?
“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different” – Coco Chanel.
Want to read more ‘Interviews’? Click on the little ‘plus’ sign at the bottom of this page and check them out under ‘Categories’.