Kenneth Alvandi spent a quarter century building up a small distribution company into a factory that manufactured some of the feminine products in its distribution portfolio. In 2006, five years into Alvandi’s manufacturing venture, making conventional products for mass market retailers like Walmart, he realized he could be doing something that was more in line with his personal values for healthy and earth-friendly living. He sold his shares in his company and began to develop the Maxim brand: the first pure 100% organic and natural cotton-based feminine hygiene products. His daughter, Rebecca Alvandi Yadegar (Maxim’s Vice President and Chief Flow Rider), joined him in the journey, excited to be part of a change-making movement inspired by menstruation.
RT: How do you describe the Fierce Woman Philosophy the company was founded on?
MHP:The Fierce Woman philosophy was written by my sister who interned for us at the early stages of the brand. This philosophy truly captures the spirit in which my Dad raised his girls and part of the reason he created Maxim to begin with – to empower women to make better and healthier choices.
RT: Why is it important for girls and women to use natural feminine products?
MHP: Our bodies and vaginas in particular have been endowed with the greatest life force in the world – giving birth and providing the space for each human being’s first home. Vaginal tissues are some of the most absorbent tissues found in the body. For this reason, girls and women in particular need to use the cleanest and healthiest products, especially when exposing our powerful baby-making body parts to them.
RT: It seems there are more and more opportunities to purchase natural, bleach-free feminine products. What sets Maxim’s products apart from other products on the market?
MHP: Maxim products have been servicing health-conscious audiences for over 11 years—before it was a trend. Our products are backed by over 35 years of expertise in the category and a father and daughter duo that care about more than just the bottom line. As product pioneers, we’ve grown our business sustainably and privately, as if it was a part of our own family. We try to treat everyone who comes in contact with Maxim like family, as well.
RT: What’s the latest from Maxim? Anything new in the pipeline?
MHP: Yes!!!!!!!! I hope the exclamation points help illustrate how excited I am about the Organic Cotton Baby, Facial and Intimate Wipes we recently launched. I can’t even begin to tell you how long and hard my Dad worked to find and formulate a pure organic cotton towelette-based product that works! Cotton is the most basic standard ingredient we require for all our product lines. Being the first to offer a pure cotton line of Cotton Menstrual Pads, we are proud to have found a way to carry that standard over to the wipes products, too. Most other wipes, even if they contain organic extracts, are made with a synthetic or wood pulp based towelette, which isn’t as gentle on the body or safe for the environment as organic cotton.
RT: As the owner of a company that makes natural personal care products, we’re thinking you must live a healthy lifestyle. So…what are you loving to eat right now? What are your current go-to’s?
MHP: Great question! I’ve been on a really big tarragon, dill, and parsley kick. It’s my new favorite green alternative to the craze over kale. These herbs are a very big part of the Iranian culture (my father’s ethnicity) and are super healthy and tasty. I throw them in and on everything from salads, to fish, to smoothies. I’ve also really gotten in to acupuncture lately, but I think I was late on that trend!
RT: What’s one fun thing most people don’t know about Maxim?
MHP: My Dad and I constantly argue about how to pronounce the brand’s name. I say “Maxum,” he says “Maxeeem”….it definitely confuses people, but at the end of the day he named the baby so he wins.
RT: Maxim is involved in social action projects around menstruation and feminine hygiene. What are the core issues you’re fighting for?
MHP:The social action piece of what we do has been the driving force for me. Whereas my dad is driven and passionate about product development, I was inspired by what this category can and does stand for.
The core issues that drive me are focused around women’s health and empowerment, particularly in making sure women and girls have access not just to menstrual care products, but to healthier ones. A few years ago, I stood at the footsteps of NYC’s city hall, alongside Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal and other fierce woman leaders, to rally around the passing of a bill that was the first of its kind in the nation – providing free period products in city homeless shelters, prisons and schools. Not only did this bill pass in 2016 as mandatory for city schools, but two years later Assemblymember Rosenthal was behind another bill that made New York the first state in the country to provide free period products in public school restrooms. Maxim not only supported the passing of these bills; we also made a monumental donation of over 250,000 tampons to reinforce our values with action. The donation helped service over 33,000 women and girls in need via a nonprofit organization that helps distribute menstrual care kits to those who do not have access or can’t afford them.
RT: Can you suggest ways that we can get involved in the menstruation movement?
MHP: This year’s hottest menstrual health related topic is ingredients disclosure. Bill A.164/S.2387, the Period Disclosure Bill, will most likely once again make our home state of New York the first to pass a bill of this kind, which would mandate full ingredient disclosure on the labels of period products sold in New York. At Maxim, we’ve always been transparent about our products’ ingredients because we’ve got nothing to hide. We believe consumers have a right to know what their products are made of so they can be empowered enough to make their own choice. To help get this bill passed, we encourage New Yorker’s reach out to their local representatives with a call or email to express how important the bill is to them. If you don’t know who your representative is, here’s a link to help you find out: https://nyassembly.gov/mem/search/
RT: Rising Tide loves local! What has it been like to start and run a company in Long Island/New York State?
MHP: I’ve traveled a lot in my lifetime and I can say hands down, without any bias, that New York is the best state in the world, mostly because of NYC’s rich cultural diversity and the stunning beaches on Long Island (ok, maybe there’s a little bias in that last part ). Seriously, New York State has an edge and spirit I’ve experienced nowhere else. The history-making wins of the menstrual movement described above are just one small example of that!
RT: So many in this community dream of starting their own business. What’s your best piece of advice for launching a successful local biz?
MHP: Love what you’re dreaming of starting as much as you love yourself and hire people who are smarter than you.