For our annual #FierceWomanoftheYear crowning ceremonies last year, we took a page out of Diane Von Furstenberg’s book and life experience to encourage you to think about “Who is the woman I want to be in 2015?” So, what did you come up with? We want to know!
Our first ever Green Feminine Hygiene Queen and Maxim Hygiene Products’ very own Co-Founder, Rebecca Alvandi, took the question to heart and spent the year searching for her answer. Here’s a little bit about her journey with it and how it led her to the new exploratory question we’d like to leave you with for 2016…
The line from last year’s #FierceWomanoftheYear blog post that really resonated with me was Diane’s advice to women on how to find their own path to happiness and success – “Listen, always listen…Sometimes there are doors that will open and you think it is not an important door and yet it is – so it’s very important to be curious and pay attention, because sometimes you learn and you don’t even know you’re learning.”
One of the most powerful experiences I’ve had in understanding Diane’s advice was when I listened to my dad’s story about how and why he created Maxim Hygiene Products. Had you asked me ten years ago, what I’d be doing today, I would have never imagined I’d be Co-Founder of a company that’s changing the future of periods, as recently dubbed by Vice publications. As I wrote about in my first blog post ever, my curiosity got the best of me and eight years later, I can say I’ve learned more than I could have ever imagined.
Another powerful experience I had with Diane’s advice happened just this year. For over three years prior to 2015, I kept hearing a calling for me to move out west to California. The signs were everywhere, from increased business opportunities that drove me to travel west more often to a long distance relationship with a gentleman from LA that helped me get to know the city all the better. Whether it was my native New Yorker pride getting in the way or the fear of leaving all that felt good and comfortable for me, I continued to resist the universe’s signals. Until one day, I finally gave in.
In January of this year, I found a humble little abode five blocks from the beach (very different from the closet sized square of an apartment I had in the concrete jungle of NYC) where I could peacefully work remotely to build our green feminine hygiene kingdom, all while, for the first time in a long time, have the new space and freedom to think about who I wanted to be and what Maxim means to me. After eight years of having to primarily be a #FierceWoman in order to get our company to where it is today, I had sadly lost touch with other parts of myself.
Taking on new activities, like surfing and meditating, helped me find me again and redefine who I want to be, which I declared in my new title at Maxim Hygiene Products and twitter handle – @ChiefFlowRider What does this name actually mean about who I want to be? – A reminder to always be listening and flowing along with the calls and signals life sends our way. When the going gets tough, as it usually does for #FierceWomen, to remember to #gowiththeflow and stop resisting. As my new love for surfing taught me (p.s. it helped me get over my fear of the ocean too, but that’s a story for another time) and Jon Kabat-Zinn, a mindfulness guru, once said, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf,” a wonderful analogy for how to experience joy in the face of overwhelming strength of a force greater than oneself.
I never really liked titles, especially when at a start up, you often find yourself working the responsibilities of a different title every day. I also just find them as just another way to judge and alienate. The declaration of a name though is very different and as I’m learning, provides a platform for expressing your voice.
Names have meaning and inspire (here’s a little bit about what inspired the Maxim name). Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest ever Nobel prize winner, is the perfect example. Malala was born in a remote valley in Northern Pakistan, where the traditional custom in the region tends to value and celebrate the birth and life of boys over girls. Malala was lucky enough to be born to parents and especially a father who encouraged her to rise above the gender equalities of her culture. Growing up, he sang her an inspiring poem about her name that defied the “grief-stricken” meaning of her name and validated the legacy of the freedom fighter she was named after. He also prioritized her getting an education, another freedom that is commonly restricted to girls of her culture and came under attack when the Taliban took control of her home town. With her father’s teachings and the inherent spirit he sang in to her name, Malala learned to use her voice to challenge the Taliban and change the world.
I am so grateful to have had a father, who like Malala’s, also encouraged me to defy the gender inequalities of a culture he himself grew up in that is relatively similar but not nearly as extreme as Malala’s. I was the first woman in my great ancestral lineage to graduate from college and live outside my parents’ home before getting married. My dad went so far in breaking his culture’s expectations that he even created an organic and natural feminine hygiene company and anointed me as the leading voice of it!
As key historical figures have taught us, it takes rebellious spirits to clear the path for positive change. It wasn’t easy talking about our Maxim brand of organic tampons, cosmetic accessories and other items eight years ago when periods were moreso taboo than they are now. Don’t get me wrong, periods are still taboo, but we’ve definitely broken some ground since our launch in 2008. Today, it’s exhilarating to see how far we’ve come, be part of recent menstrual hygiene victories, have new #healthymenstruation activists to collaborate with, and plan for all that has yet to come!
Malala’s story provides a great opportunity for us to expand upon the grounds we’ve already pioneered and our goal from 2015. There’s a time to be fierce, a time to flow and in the spirit of both, as 2016’s new food for thought, I’d like to ask how you are going to use your voice with your new title? I hope it will be wisely, like Malala did, to inspire change with “each choice, moment and breath of your life,” as our fierce woman philosophy so beautifully defines.
Need some place to start? Here are two initiatives we think you’ll like – encourage your local congressperson to vote for the #tampontruth and sign the #notaxontampons petition? Whatever you choose, may the #fiercewoman light flow with you (all the new Star Wars hype is getting to me) and thank you for giving me the opportunity to share mine with you. I hope to hear yours either in a comment below or via the following great promo I hear the Green Feminine Hygiene Queen will be telling you about next.
In line with Rebecca and Malala’s messages, we invite you to join us in celebrating our year of equally inspiring Fierce Women of 2015 by casting your vote for your favorite and in return, you’ll also win free Maxim Hygiene products. Take your time to read each of their courageous stories and tell us who you think should be Maxim’s #FierceWomanOfTheYear by casting your vote here.
Also, if you tag @maximhy in a post on your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter feeds using the hashtag #FierceWomanOfTheYear , you will get two votes counted towards your choice and a $5.00 Gift Certificate Coupon to our online store.* Just make sure to include the link to your post via the section provided when casting your vote, so that we can make sure to give you the double credit and $5.00 coupon. Don’t know what to say in your post? Here’s an example for inspiration that will not only support your favorite fierce woman but give you a head start in 2016’s new goal of exercising your voice – My vote for @maximhy ‘s #FierceWomanoftheYear is –insert the name of your fierce woman– and #Iam –Fill in your new title of being or who you want to be–
Two hundred fifty voters (chosen at random) will receive a FREE Maxim Hygiene Cosmetic Accessory Travel Pack just for voting.**
Once we’ve tallied all the votes, fifty voters (chosen at random) for the Fierce Woman with the most votes will receive one FREE Maxim product of their choice and a $10 Gift Certificate Coupon to our online store.***
And the nominees are….
January 2015 – Dr. Elina Berglund – Creator of a revolutionary birth control method
February 2015 – Meika Hollender – Encouraging women to take the lead on their sexual health with the use of Sustain condoms
March 2015 – Courtney Kenny Porto – An inspiring feminist artist
April 2015 – Ashleigh Sergeant – Living the yogi talk, naturally and sustainably
May 2015 – Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney – Taking a stand for women’s health via the Robin Danielson Act
June 2015 – Holly Grigg-Spall – Author of Sweetening the Pill
July 2015 – Lorraine Vontista – The feminine goddess founder of Eagle Rock Juice Co.
August 2015 – Kiran Gandhi – London marathon period pride runner
September 2015 – Ana Mayer – An innovator who meets fertility needs on our terms
October 2015 – Fran Drescher – Founder of Cancer Schmancer
November 2015 – Amy and Sophie Silverman – Paving the way for periods with style and positivity
Happy and Fierce New Years Wishes!
*Limited to one entry per per unique email and ship to address. To qualify, entries must be submitted by December 30th, 2015, 6pm EST. Coupon codes will be issued between January 1st, 2016 – January 10th, 2016 via the email address provided with your entry.
**Limited to 250 participants only (to be chosen at random from all entries received) and one entry per per unique email and ship to address. To qualify, entries must be submitted by December 30th, 2015, 6pm EST. Travel packs will be distributed between January 1st, 2016 – January 10th, 2016 via the ship to address provided with your entry.
***Limited to 50 participants only (to be chosen at random from all entries received) and one entry per per unique email and ship to address. To qualify, entries must be submitted by December 30th, 2015, 6pm EST. Coupon codes will be issued between January 1st, 2016 – January 10th, 2016 via the email address provided with your entry.