Aimee Marks is one heck of an impressive woman. At the age of 18, she found herself frustrated with the feminine hygiene products available on the market – and what's worse, Aimee discovered that they were all full of chemicals. Not one to let things lie, and with a newfound passion for healthy living, Aimee went about creating TOM Organic – a range of tampons, pads and liners, all free from harmful chemicals, bleaches, pesticides and perfumes, certified by the ACO.
TOM Organic is now the nation's leading organic feminine hygiene range, with the business growing each and every day. As if the TOM's success wasn't enough, last year Aimee was awarded Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year for Victoria – evidence of how truly passionate she is about organics and the wider industry.
We took two minutes to chat to Aimee, who's not only TOM's CEO but also their 'Chief Storyteller', about living a healthy and organic life, as well as her favourite spots around Melbourne.
TUL: Can you tell us about TOM Organic and how it came to be? Have you always worked in this industry?
It really just started like most business ideas, from a need to solve a problem. I was eighteen and I was tired of my tampons falling out in my handbag all the time. I started by redesigning the packaging, but as soon as I hit the ingredients list everything changed. When you ask the question, 'what's in your tampon?' most women don't actually know the answer.
Most products on the supermarket shelf are made with synthetic fibres like rayon, polypropylene (plastic) "silky smooth" covers and conventional cotton, which is one of the most heavily pesticide sprayed and genetically modified crops on the planet. I knew that I had create an alternative, not just for myself but for women everywhere, and choosing organic cotton meant there was no compromising on our health or the planet.
TUL: You have a strong passion for organics, and health and wellbeing overall – has this always been the case? Can you tell us why it's so important?
TOM was actually a major trigger point for me in turning organic. I've always had a reasonably healthy outlook on life, and I grew up in a very sporty, athletic family, so health was always front of mind. But it really was a turning point for me – it can be quite confronting to discover what's actually in your tampon, whether you're into organics or not. it's one of those products you don't really spend too much time thinking about, so for me it led to a whole new outlook on what I was putting into my body – not just the food, but the skincare and cleaning products – the list is endless! I honestly believe that our bodies can only take so many chemicals – and every choice we make to reduce that load can only be a positive thing.
TUL: What do you love about working in and basing yourself out of Melbourne?
I love the Melbourne business culture, and that every business meeting can be accompanied by great food and coffee! I love that I can ride my bike to work in the morning along Albert Park lake, that the beach is at my doorstep, and that I can get away to the mountains or to a vineyard on the weekend in only a couple of hours.
TUL: If you could describe Melbourne in three words, what would they be?
Eclectic. Passionate. Dynamic.
TUL: More and more Melburnians are eating organic and incorporating organic products into their lives…why do you think we're are so receptive to the organic industry and clean living in general?
Because when it comes down to it, it really just makes sense. I think it's been driven by the foodie nature of our city, the farm to table mentality and being mindful of where our food comes from and the story behind what we are eating. There are also some really phenomenal people in and around Melbourne that are leading the way, like Rohan Anderson with Whole Larder Love and the gorgeous people at Sustainable Table. I believe that the move to organic non-food products is a natural progression of this.
TUL: What health tips do you have for summer?
Stay hydrated! Insides and out! Chop up some delicious organic summer fruits and pop them into ice-cold water (great alternative to cordial for kids!). Use coconut oil to hydrate your skin and as a nourishing mask for your hair. I also love making the most of the sunshine and long daylight hours by going for a post-work jog.
TUL: Favourite health stores in Melbourne?
Oh there are SO many! My top three (and only because I have to): The Staple Store in Ripponlea, The Common Good Ethical Grocer in Hawthorn, and Terre Madre in Northcote. I also spend a lot of time shopping at our local IGA on Fitzroy Street in St Kilda – it's on my way home from work and has the most amazing range of organics and it's really reasonably priced!
TUL: Favourite breakfast in Melbourne?
I love Silo by Joost in the city for morning mid-week meetings and Brighton Schoolhouse for their truffle poached eggs topped with quinoa and smashed green peas.
TUL: Favourite place to be pampered in Melbourne?
Aurora Spa at The Prince in St Kilda.
TUL: Best running / cycling / walking track in Melbourne?
TUL: Best pilates in Melbourne?
I have a couple of favourites – I love KX Pilates (various studios around Melbourne) and Kaya in South Yarra. I also love Yoga 213 for a bit of hip-hop yoga.
TUL: Best way to spend $50 in Melbourne?
A weekly organic veggie box from Whole Larder Love.
TUL: Best ways to spend $500 in Melbourne?
A weekend on the Mornington Peninsula – hot springs, local produce, great wine.
TUL: Biggest naughty Melbourne indulgence?
I don't want to say shopping, so I'll stick with the Bomb Alaska at Donovans in St Kilda, or the Chocolate Fondant at Saké (eek!).
TUL: Favourite Melbourne label?
TUL: Favourite Melbourne restaurant?
TUL: Latest Melbourne discovery?
Frozen by a Thousand Blessings – frozen yoghurt in South Yarra.
TUL: Favourite Melbourne coffee?
I love Market Lane – great service, amazing coffee and they use local organic milk.
TUL: Favourite Melbourne precinct and why?
I love the diversity of Melbourne suburbs; you can cross the city and feel a world away, so it's hard to choose just one – they're all so different. But I've always been a southsider – I live in Middle Park and our office is in St Kilda. I love the beaches and the parks around Albert Park, there are great cafes and restaurants and the farmers' market at Gasworks Park is one of my faves.
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