I think more of the challenge was just that “how”. In answer to your question… I came close a number of times to really just feel overwhelmed and maybe that would have led to potentially giving up, but I just don’t think that was ever on the agenda. I would have found a way to make it work. Perhaps if it was another idea, or something that I wasn’t deeply connected to then, you know…
There are always going to be brands and people that try to ride on your coattails—copycats, hangers-on—but authenticity is the key to everything and if you’re transparent in what you do and you stick to a strong set of ethical values then you will always be at the front of the pack.
Consumers trust a label that says organic, and should be confident and safe in making that assumption. If not that, then we need to teach the consumer to ask the right questions so they can go out into the market and be confident that they have the tools to check that the product they are purchasing is what it says it is. Bodies like the ACO (Australian Certified Organic) are an integral part of that education—it can be as simple as looking out for a certified organic logo.
And what do you do to get away from TOM? Do you have time to just be you and just step back from the company? Is there just never a time where you’re not thinking about it?
To be honest there is very little time where the TOM isn’t in my mind because it’s just such an extension of all the things I believe in, and I don’t necessarily think that that’s a bad thing! I do lots of yoga and lots of walking and running with my dog and at those moments, that’s when I get a lot of clarity and I’m able to re-shuffle priorities and of course TOM’s at the forefront of that [laughs], but that’s a healthy thing and right now, where the business is today it needs me to constantly think about it.
Of course. I came across a quote by Margaret Mead yesterday and it said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” Do you think that your innovation of organic products could change the face of feminine hygiene products? Or inspire bigger companies to go organic, go green and ultimately make things safer for us, cleaner for us?
Absolutely. I think that if there was ever an end goal, then that would be it. At the end of the day we are talking to a consumer group of women who are using a product that is either plastic or organic. There have been a number of times where I’ve approached our competitors and we’ve had this conversation. And to be in complete agreement, I think that’s really the ultimate goal. Above that it’s about looking at the holistic supply chain. Changing the landscape of this industry and helping to change the world, I truly believe that we can.
Every single woman uses 12 to 15 thousand pads or tampons in her entire lifetime. Think about the environmental disaster and effect of those products. You know, if plastic products sit in landfill even for seven to 10 years verses a biodegradable product, absolutely, we are working at changing the world.
Even from a manufacturing perspective, cotton is the most water intensive crop. Think about the thousands of litres of toxic water that is spilling off into local communities that we could avoid. Also supporting local farmers in organic production, I think that that’s potentially really powerful as well. Imagine if the bigger brands decided that they wanted to do that. Imagine the impact that would have.
It would be massive.
I think it’s our responsibility to start to measure that impact, and start to challenge. Challenge our community to hit those goals. The power of voice is everything. And if I can add onto something I said before when you asked the question around starting and what were some of the challenges…
Of course, go right on ahead.