A tampon is a tampon right? WRONG!
Did you know that women use over 12, 000 tampons in their lifetime? And did you know that conventional cotton (the kind that is used in by many feminine hygiene brands) is one of the world’s most heavily sprayed crops on the planet? These crops are sprayed with pesticides that are designed to kill insects, and it’s pesticides along with bleaches and synthetics that can be found in many of the tampon brands that sit on the shelves at your local supermarket/chemist.
Director of feminine hygiene brand TOM Organic, Aimee Marks, has made it her mission to educate women around the world on the importance of using chemical free tampons whilst at the same time developing her own chemical-free feminine hygiene range.
I spoke to Aimee about the dangers of some brands, her range and what drives her.
How did you come up with the concept?
I first came up with the TOM concept when designing tampon packaging to stop tampons from falling about in my handbag. During this process I became aware of the concerning list of ingredients on the back of conventional tampon packs and was quite shocked. I was not going to put synthetics, plastics and chemical sprayed cotton in my new tampons so I began researching alternatives and came across certified organic cotton – that can be used in tampons; this felt like a much safer alternative.
How do TOM products differ from all the other feminine hygiene brands out in the market?
TOM products are made from certified organic cotton only. We are ACO (Australian Certified Organic) which is a guarantee of integrity from farm to shelf that there are no chemicals in our products.
Conventional / non-organic feminine hygiene brands are commonly made from synthetics, plastics, and conventional chemical sprayed cotton.
Can you please tell Lipstick & Cake readers about the organic chemical-free cotton used in TOM products?
The certified organic cotton used in TOM products as mentioned above is guaranteed to be chemical free; we have been through a stringent certification process to ensure this – we are audited annually by the BFA (Biological Farmers Association) – to ensure that the cotton remains chemical free from farm to shelf. It is particularly important for women to choose certified organic feminine hygiene products as we are talking about a product that comes into contact with the most absorbent / sensitive part of our bodies. When using an organic cotton tampon – you can have peace of mind that you are not absorbing unwanted toxins / chemical residues.
TOM organic cotton supports ethical farming practices and ensures that we keep chemicals out of the water, air and soil in local farming communities. This means that the farmers do not have to come into contact with the deadly / toxic chemicals that are sprayed onto traditional cotton.
How does it differ from other cottons used in other tampon/pad and liner products?
TOM certified organic cotton is guaranteed to be chemical free. Instead of treating our cotton with toxic herbicides and pesticides (to kill off pests) we use complimentary crop planting methods which helps to keep unwanted pests off the crop rather than spraying them. Compared to conventional cotton used in other tampon / pad / liner products – where the cotton is typically sprayed with over 25% of the world’s TOTAL insecticides.
Unless your pack of tampons / pads has a certified organic accreditation on the front then there is no guarantee that there are not plastics, synthetics and chemicals inside (just read the list of ingredients on the back of the pack, you may find things like viscose rayon (synthetics), polypropylene (plastic coating), dyed string).
What are some of the risks women face using the wrong feminine hygiene products?
We often say that it’s what we choose not to put in our products that make them better for women. We do not claim to be scientists or doctors – but what we do know is that if you have a choice to use a product in the most intimate part of our bodies that is made from plastics & chemicals vs a product like TOM that is made from certified organic cotton – we believe it just makes sense to eliminate all chemicals from such a sensitive part of our bodies.
We continue to receive testimonials from women who truly move us; these women have had allergies to plastics / chemicals in conventional brands – and some have endured reactions to this allergy whilst having their period for many years. Once these women have switched to TOM all irritations have been eliminated.
It is not uncommon for women to be misdiagnosed for thrush when they are actually just allergic to synthetics in their tampons / pads.
It is not in our nature to scare / speak negatively about the risks of using other brands – however we do pride ourselves on educating and empowering women to make conscious choices and simply be aware of the ingredients in the products we perhaps don’t stop to think about.
What have been some of your challenges launching a new range against some long-standing competitors?
Our biggest challenge is educating women about the new choices available to them – and communicating why women should be empowered to spend an extra $1 or so for this kind of product. There has never been another organic choice on Australian Supermarket shelves, like Woolworths’ until TOM – so although we are super proud to be the first it is important that women continue to share this information with friends and family to encourage conscious buying habits in all areas of their lives.
What is a typical day for you as the brain behind the brand?
A typical day doesn’t exist (which I quite like) when running a highly active / agile / effervescent business but these are some of the things I do LOVE to do most days.
- Walking Olive my lab puppy on the beach each morning
- Making time for an early morning yoga sesh / run
- My favourite bircher w poached fruit ‘to go’ from our local cafe fitzrovia
- Early morning catchup with the TOM girls in the office – we have a 15 minute standup meeting to chat through the ongoing projects we are all working on like social media, upcoming events, campaign planning and a super secretive campaign that has never been seen / done before – watch this space.
- Every Friday our team gets together with our friends in the office to have a communal lunch
- Catchup on emails – take calls etc (all the fun stuff)
- overdose on herbal tea’s throughout the day
- We have a rooftop beehive so at the moment the bees are quite active and we take the time to check them out each week! We’ll have some super yummy honey soon!
What’s on the horizon for TOM Organic products?
New product development – we are avid listeners of our community – and have taken on board some exciting new ideas to create new lines to offer women. I love going through this process as we discover new personalities behind each new line – brought to life by our amazing fashion illustrator Sarah Carter Jenkins.
Stay tuned on a top secret / super exciting campaign we are about to launch. We will keep you posted closer to..can’t give too much away yet!
Where can we find the range?
Woolworth’s nationally; Online www.tomorganic.com.au; selected health food stores & independent grocers
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Living and breathing the values I believe in my own life. I think these values should not be limited to personal life but should also play a big role in business / career too.
Offering our community a product that we are so proud of; we know that end the end of each day we be rest assured that we are positively creating change for our environment – reducing the buildup of millions of products in landfills for future generations to come.
When you were little, what did you want to be as a grown up?
I wanted to make the olympics and run for Australia. Sounds hilarious looking back now. I would have been all of 8 years old. I was never that amazing but always remember feeling incredibly inspired by olympic athletes.
I always wanted to make my own beautiful things. I was always passionate about design. I used to set up a jewellery table out the front of my house and sell beaded jewellery that I had threaded for hours on end. I always got such joy out of witnessing people enjoy the things that I had created.
Can you please share one of your proudest moments to date with us?
There are lots.. one that stands out of late, boyfriend coming across the line at the IronMan Melbourne event last year; after a gruelling 1.5km swim followed by a 180km bike ride and then a marathon 42km run home. There were some seriously proud tears when he crossed that finish line!
What do you like to do in your down-time?
Love a long lunch in the country on a weekend over a local bottle of red, with friends. Love to get out of town with friends / family and just hang out.
Snickers or Mars Bar?
My favourite is Raw choccie brand – Consious chocolate. Does that count? Otherwise Snickers
Favourite ingredient to cook with?
Favourite kitchen tool/appliance?
If you could invite 3 famous people (dead or alive) to dinner, who would you invite?
Gwyneth Paltrow, Stella McCartney & Kate Middleton
Name one beauty product you can’t live without
KORA organics clay mask
Name your favourite perfume/scent…
Favourite/fall-back nail polish colour?
Why do you choose the tampons/pads that you currently use? It is packaging, type (applicator, pad with wings, night time), price or what’s inside the product?