The Tale of Aimee, Poppy & Ivy Marks



Aimee Marks is a seriously inspiring success story. Founder of TOM Organic (an Australian brand of organic personal care products for women), she took it upon herself to redesign the packaging of a tampon box at school. At the time, she wanted to solve the problem of her tampons rolling around in her handbag. Her idea grew from here...

“As soon as I read the ingredients list, I realised that conventional tampons were made from everything but organic cotton and contained ingredients like synthetics and pesticide sprayed cotton,” she says. “We use over 15,000 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.” Within 18 months of finishing her university degree, the ambitious young Marks had launched TOM Organic. She was just 23 years of age. Her products are now available to all Australian women through health food stores, Coles and Woolworths.

Last August, Marks’s life took a new direction. She became the mother to adorable twin girls – Poppy and Ivy. “Motherhood has taught me to be more present than I ever imagined I could be. Whether it’s the silence of watching sleeping babies (yes early on a rare moment with twins), the sound of crying (and its challenges), the most explosive smiles, belly chuckles and more than double the cuddles and kisses between two babies. I’ve learnt to manage time like I’ve never managed time before and prioritise what’s important through business and home life. It started off very simply – feed, eat, sleep, play, repeat. Then as we moved through each milestone I have introduced new layers back into our world – being mindful about what those are,” she says. We caught up with the Melbourne-based Marks to talk about her growing business, life as a mother of twins and what’s instore for 2016…

Photography: Raegan Glazner Makeup: Stavroula Hatzipantazis Hair: Nicky Reid Words: Georgie Abay


I think two of the most important qualities in a person…

Are firstly a deep sense of family and to be able to love yourself. Mum always said if you can’t, then it’s hard to love anyone else. Secondly, to be able to laugh at yourself and make others around you laugh too. Laughter is a powerful drug – my husband can do this well and so can my family and my team. Lastly 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.

 


Having twins was much harder than I could have imagined…

To be truthful, I didn’t have a minute to think too much or read too much before – and was probably under the illusion of how motherhood might look – picnics under tree’s etc. Of course there are the deepest moments of magic daily – however there is a road of discovery that was beyond imaginable. My husband and I made the decision early on that we were going to continue to live life and the girls would come on that journey with us. We travelled to the states when they were only four months with our extended family. The girls weren’t crawling or walking and we figured the good outweighed the challenges so just did it. It’s quite empowering to move around the globe with your new mini family and realise you can do anything. We also moved house soon after that trip, so it was a bit of a hectic time but I wouldn’t have changed it. The girls have adapted and will sleep anywhere now, which is a great result!


It takes a village to raise twins...


When I had this realisation that to enjoy the little moments, I needed an extra sets of hands around, I then accepted the support of family and friends and worked a schedule around their feeds. I was breastfeeding, so we were all learning for the first little while. I would try to co-ordinate so someone was around to support me during a feed for the first little while. This meant I could nurse one baby whilst someone was settling the other. I am not a routine person, but routine gave us freedom and was so important then and now. 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. A light afternoon ‘off’ for me is taking one baby out on my own, I’m immediately mobile and really enjoy the one on one time.


Sleep makes everything better…

Even a little kip in the early days helps. It’s amazing how far a quick nap can go to re-energise. But if that’s not an option, good nutrition and getting out of the house for a walk helps to build a good head space. Also the ability to share your sleep deprivation stories with some other mumma friends. Our mothers group had a little text group where we could be really honest and it just helped to share stories. It all passes so quickly and before you know it your babes are sleeping through the night (with a lot of hard work in between!). Often my husband would take the babies for a walk when he came home in the evening so I could have a quick nap. And lastly my grandma told me early, your washing and your cleaning will wait for you, sleep won’t so take it while you can and rest when the babies do.


I’ve always been conscious of eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly…

It’s even more of a focus now. My health is a non-negotiable. During pregnancy in the earlier days I just ate what my body needed to make me feel well, however as it progressed I could eat more nutritious foods and hold them down! When I had my twin girls last year, I all of a sudden had two small children relying on me every day. The first thing I did was fill my hospital fridge with fresh organic juices – a quick boost for me, in between a feed. When it became clear to me how much I rely on my health to fully enjoy the human connections that make life so rich and enable me to be there to lead my business – I realized that I couldn’t compromise on my own nutrition – I had to get far more organised with organic home box deliveries, and find quick easy meal options. My mum was an amazing support always filling my freezer for the first little while as there was little time or energy for cooking! It’s challenging to find time in my busy schedule for exercise, but I knew I needed to create the time. I know that when I move my body I am more efficient and happier – it’s a tiny % of my day just for me, and I then have the energy to give the other +95% of the day to my family and business.


I do short high intensity boxing sessions twice a week at 7.30am…

My Dad comes over and looks after the girls for 45 minutes which he loves, so it’s a win win. I will also squeeze in one yoga or Pilates class a week. Sometimes this is a team class in the office over our lunch break which is always fun. I also love to walk when I can. It’s such a joy to be outside with the girls in the pram.


I made the decision to launch TOM Organic straight out of university…

Within 18 months of completing my entrepreneurial business degree at RMIT, TOM Organic was born and is now available to all Australian women through health food stores, Coles and Woolworths in every inch of the country – it was all about creating positive impact through simple everyday purchases.


TOM Organic is so much more than a female personal care brand…

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. We seek to inspire conscious living, so women are empowered to make their own informed decisions and talk openly about their needs and their health. We use our intuition and gather insights from our community of women across the world to identify their needs. We carefully translate these needs into innovative, essential products that make sense for female wellbeing, ensuring that nothing but pure organic cotton is in contact with the body. By using organic cotton we keep synthetic pesticides, chemicals and genetically modified materials out of the air, water and soil.


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. The physical space away from the business gave me a valuable perspective. A creative space to play and let your mind roam often comes from being removed from the day-to-day detail. I have found this has come from dividing my time between home and the office more. I especially love to stop of at one of my favourite cafes for breakfast en route to the office. It gives me the space to plan my day, set my priorities and transition into work mode so by the time I get to work I’m geared up to be really productive and make the most of every minute.


The most challenging part of running my own business is…

The constant uncertainty and sense of the unknown. Despite all the best planning, you can never predict what’s going to happen next. As a team we always try and stay one step ahead by anticipating certain scenarios and planning for them but the most important thing is to always stay positive and be authentic, even if it feels like there’s a mountain ahead. I’ve learnt that even in the face of big challenges, if you pull together as a team and let your passion and conviction drive you, even seemingly insurmountable challenges can be conquered.


TOM Organic was founded on the philosophy that women should never have to compromise their wellbeing or the health of the planet…


As an Australian, female owned company I’m proud that all our products have been developed by women, for women. One of the most rewarding aspects of the business for me is the knowledge that our products have improved the wellbeing of so many women. We receive so many letters from women thanking us for our products and they always fill me with joy. I’m often grateful I didn’t compromise my values and had the foresight to build TOM on foundations that matter to women. I was determined from the outset to go the extra mile to gain things like our ACO (Australian Certified Organic) certification and B Corp Certification. These certifications mean we choose to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency and demonstrate that ethical values are deeply ingrained in our DNA! It’s so rewarding to know that I have created a business that is a force for good in the world.

 


I’ve learnt to trust my intuition…


When I first launched TOM Organic straight out of university I was constantly looking to other experts for guidance and while the advice I received was invaluable, over time I have come to realise that you have to trust your instincts and have faith in your innate knowledge of the business and your vision.  It’s important to combine insight from key stakeholders and experts with the ability to tap into your intuition. Sometimes too much information can crush creativity and bury the wisdom of your raw intuition.

 


“ As a parent, I find myself faced with many questions about the world I want to create for our children, and I’m constantly inspired to develop innovative new products that make sense for health and the planet ”

2016 is going to be the biggest year yet…

My focus has now evolved into a bigger journey to support and nourish women at every important stage of their lives. As a parent, I find myself faced with many questions about the world I want to create for our children, and I’m constantly inspired to develop innovative new products that make sense for health and the planet. By making the choice to support and trust sustainable innovation, I believe we are helping to build a safer and healthier world for future generations to flourish and grow. With this in mind my focus for 2016 is on developing pure, nurturing products for babies. The Mum’s in our community have been asking for these products and we are excited about developing a range that offers them the ultimate in purity and performance to nurture their little ones when they need it the most.


The hardest part of motherhood is…

Not being able to get up and go. I loved the freedom of this. We still try to do this as much as possible but it’s a new kind of normal that we have adjusted to – still just as fast, chasing after a set of waddling babies. The best part? I love watching my girls giggle and play together and how their faces light up when they see the people they love. I also love introducing them to the world around us. They slow things down for me and make the world a wondrous place to live.


Aimee’s little list of loves…

Breakfast solo en route to the office – a moment to journal/prioritise/organise and transition into a different head space.
Chasing Ivy and her belly laugh.
Poppy’s babble
Spying on the girls chatting over the fence (their cots) when they think nobody is listening – it’s hilarious.
Looking at Pinterest on my iPad.
My hammock.
Parabo – photo app – can’t get enough of beautifully printed pics (I am one to never print them and this is so easy).
Weekends at the farm.
Saturday mornings with my family at the Beat café – best organic menu
My Asilio white lace top – live in it.
BKR drink bottle.
Pilates.
Ergo baby Carrier.
Date night with my husband.


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