Top accolade for TOM founder

Aimee Marks delivering a speech on receiving the Victorian Young Achiever of the Year award last week.

FOUNDER of TOM Organic Aimee Marks has been named the Victorian Young Achiever of the Year – the highest honour bestowed in the annual Victorian Young Achiever Awards, which seek to recognise the achievements of young people under 30.

A gala presentation night on May 6 saw Marks take home the Victorian Government Small Business Achievement Award, before being announced as the Victorian Young Achiever of the Year.

“It really was quite humbling to be up there with so many amazing young people under 30 who are achieving so many great things,” the 29-year-old told The AJN.

Marks was working on a high-school design project when she became aware of the pesticides and synthetics used in the materials and production of conventional feminine hygiene products.

“I felt a responsibility, almost a weight on my shoulders, to do something about that,” she explained.

After studying business and entrepreneurship at university, TOM Organic was born in 2009 as a range of organic tampons and pads. It has grown to include a maternity range, and is soon set to launch a baby range, including nappies and wipes.

But for Marks, her business ­represents more than the sum of its products.

“I think for me, TOM Organic is about a wider women’s empowerment message. It’s about women living a meaningful life with passion. It’s empowering women to make conscious, healthy and safe consumer choices with all products they buy,” she said.

She added that she sees the award as “a mouthpiece and a platform” to share messages of social and environmental responsibility, and their place in business.

“It’s an even greater promise and commitment to continue to share my story with younger, aspiring entrepreneurs; particularly female entrepreneurs,” she said.

“There’s no recipes to success I believe other than hard work, determination, passion and persistence.

“I think I’m just lucky to be doing something that I’m passionate about and that my values align with.”

Also on the night, 28-year-old Sheree Rubinstein won the First National Real Estate Leadership Award.

Rubinstein is the co-founder of Think Big, a not-for-profit women’s networking group with the mission to inspire Generation Y women. She is also the co-founder and CEO of social enterprise One Roof, which focuses on empowering and supporting female entrepreneurs.

PHOEBE ROTH