Aimee Marks, founder of TOM Organic
We're certainly living in an age where we're more socially and environmentally conscious than ever before. Beyond that, we're more mindful of what we put in our bodies. The food we eat, the water the drink and yes...the tampons we use!
TOM Organic is an Australian-owned organic sanitary company whose products contain ZERO chemicals or nasties.
She Does This spent 5 minutes with founder, Aimee Marks on the inspiration behind the brand, the negative impacts of using non-organic tampons and how she grew TOM'S online presence to over 70,000.
1. You established TOM Organic in 2009, what was life like for you prior to the venture?
I started working on this business essentially straight out of High School, so launching TOM has really been intertwined with growing into an adult. It’s been quite an amazing journey to grow alongside TOM and to be able to evolve the business to meet the needs of women across different stages of life. While the need for non-toxic sanitary products presented itself as a non-negotiable to me in my teenage years, it was when I was on maternity leave with my twins Poppy and Ivy that I saw the need for more planet friendly disposable nappies. It was then that we launched the second brand under the TOM Co banner, tooshies by TOM, so the business and I really have grown in synergy with one another!
2. What inspired you to create TOM? How hard was it to build the brand from the ground up?!
I came up with the idea of TOM Organic during a design project in high school, trying to solve the problem of tampons falling out of my handbag. After looking closer, I realized the tampons I’d been using for years were made of everything but cotton. I was horrified to discover that conventional tampons contained bleach, synthetics and dyes which then sit within our bodies.
This realization really lit a fire in my belly. I felt a responsibility to share this information and find an alternative. This was also during a time when awareness around organic didn’t really exist, so there was a job to be done in educating women on what that really meant.
Starting as a business from my bedroom and delivering product from the boot of my car, it was definitely a few years before TOM really became established. I think what drove me most through these times was hearing the stories from women I met along the journey and understanding how TOM products were offering an alternative and a solution.
3. What sets TOM apart from the rest?
I believe what truly sets TOM apart from the rest is the values that underline our business. When I started TOM, the mission was to offer women a conscious choice with products that supported their health and the health of the environment.
While the business has grown and our team has expanded, this vision is still at the core of everything we do.
When you stray from your core values, there is a disconnect that doesn’t last the distance. A way in which we’ve held ourselves accountable to our values is by becoming a certified B corporation.
4. So many Australian women don’t realise the tampons they’re using aren’t 100% cotton and contain pesticides, bleach and other chemicals. What are the health risks associated with using non-organic sanitary products?
Conventional cotton is the world’s most heavily sprayed crop, using an alarming 25% of the world’s pesticides. This is troublesome given it is the core ingredient in many sanitary products today.
Conventional tampons are also often made with synthetics including polypropylene, viscose, rayon and
treated with bleaches, perfumes and other nasty ingredients.
Considering the average woman uses more than 12,000 tampons and pads in her lifetime, absorption of the chemicals within these products can build up in our bodies over time. Our vaginas are one of the most absorbent parts of our body, the skin on the vagina wall is even more absorbent than that in our mouths!
It’s really important that our personal care products don’t contain ingredients that we wouldn’t ingest as that’s what’s happening when we’re wearing them, our body is ingesting the soluble chemicals.
5. TOM has a HUGE following, (over 70K on Instagram!) how have you built such a loyal, engaged audience?
I think it really comes down to treating the platform as a community, rather than viewing it as a marketing opportunity. Having built this company around offering a healthier and better alternative for women, Australia wide, it’s always been a key priority to find connection with these women. The first employee in the business outside of myself was actually a community manager, so it’s always been a focus for us.
Engaging in this two-way relationship on social media brings so many insights for our business, straight
from our customers themselves! It’s incredibly valuable and allows us to connect from a place of honesty.
Being real, open and transparent across social media is key to building a solid audience.
6. Lastly, Australia has FINALLY removed the GST tax for sanitary items. How does this make you feel and what does this mean for Australian women?
Ecstatic! While it was long overdue, the removal of the GST on sanitary items really is a step forward in treating women and men as equals in our Australia. I really believe this will also begin to lift the shame and stigma that (unfortunately) still exists around periods.