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Meika Hollender

From our own father and daughter duo at Maxim that brought you organic and natural tampons and pads, we couldn’t be more excited to introduce you to another dynamic family partnership that’s making sexual hygiene more sustainable and natural with Sustain condoms.

The initial idea of sustainable condoms was thought up by Jeffrey Hollender about twenty years ago when the AIDs crisis became prevalent in the USA, but it never came to fruition until Meika Hollender, Jeffrey’s daughter, pushed him to pursue his dream.

Meika graduated from New York University’s Stern School of Business in the Spring of 2013 with a specialization in social impact and strategy, and she is a co-founder of the book “Naturally Clean.” While her dad and fellow Co-Founder may be one of the natural products’ industries major change-makers, Meika is ready and equipped to be the millennial generation’s feminine voice of change for healthy, safe, and sustainable sex practices and products, which is what makes her Maxim’s Fierce Woman of the month.

People have bought and used condoms for many years without much thought as to what is in them or how they are manufactured. I mean, how many people can actually keep an insightful and conscious mind space in the heat of the moment when they’ve really only got one thing on their mind?!

Just like the taboo-breaking methods Maxim has used to inspire women to talk about their periods and menstrual care products in a more natural way, Meika and company are changing the hush-hush cloud hovering over the condom industry by leading a revolution to produce fair-trade sustainable condoms. Sustain’s hope is that through their efforts to be transparent in their supply chain and manufacturing process, other companies will take note and start to make changes in their own.

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Meika’s fierce position at the company shows that they not only want to sell better product, but that they also want to make a larger impact on women’s health and empowerment when it comes to all topics related to condom use. Read our exclusive interview with Meika below to find out more about her vision and company.

1. What are the key points of differentiation between your products and others? 

Sustain is the only Fair Trade certified condom sold in the U.S. We are also only one of two brands that contain no detectable levels of a chemical called Nitrosamine. Nitrosamines are classified as a carcinogen and exist in tons of other products (food, personal care, etc.). We’re not saying in any way shape or form that other condoms are dangerous, we just believe that consumers have a right to know what’s in their products and we’re committed to making the best condoms we can. I also think our packaging is pretty rad!

Sustain-foils-group

Sustain condom packaging.

2. One of the goals of your company has been to educate women about safe sex and to empower them to buy and use more condoms. What have you found to be the most successful way of reaching this goal?

I’m not sure I can say how much ‘success’ we’ve had yet in terms of getting young women to buy and carry and USE condoms more regularly (only 21% of sexually active single women do!) yet, but what I do know is that we have hit a nerve. I talk to women, the media, and retailers every day and everyone understands the importance of the issue we are tackling. We are creating a brand and starting a conversation around safe sex, sexual health and female empowerment and I think by having this larger conversation, and ultimately starting a movement, we are engaging people in a way that other condom brands are not.

3. Sustain has founded the 10%4 women foundation, which is a fantastic initiative, especially for such a young company. Can you tell our readers a bit more about it and what inspired you to start it?

10%4Women was created by my mother Sheila Hollender, another Sustain co-Founder, when we founded the company. At Sustain we understand that we cannot solve major issues like access to reproductive healthcare on our own, we need to enlist and support other more established experts in this space in order to have the type of impact we want to have. 10%4Women means a lot to me because, especially right now, it is more important than ever to support organizations like Planned Parenthood in order to make sure all young women in this country have the access to the healthcare they deserve. 

4. I recently came across some of your print ads and a commercial your company produced – everything was very clever. Do you come up with all of the marketing ideas yourself? What’s your inspiration?

I wish I could take credit for all of our marketing, but I happen to be lucky enough to have a brother who is somewhat of a creative genius and he has been the brainchild of our most innovative marketing work. When he’s too busy to help us out, the marketing ideas are a joint effort between myself, our PR agency and our extremely talented designers.

I get my inspiration from a mix of things. There are a few brands like The Reformation, American Two Shot, and Negative Underwear that I look up to from a marketing angle, but you really never know when you’re going to see something that inspires you. Just the other day I was walking down the street and saw this guy taking photos of couples while they walked by with a vintage Polaroid camera. He then stopped the couples to give them the photo. When I saw that I was like “OH! Sustain needs to do something like that!”. 

Image courtesy of sustainablebrands.com.

5. Where do you envision the company going in the next few years? Are you thinking of creating any other products? 

We are launching two new products in Spring 2015 which I am super excited about, but overall I just envision a world in the next few years where women are not embarrassed or ashamed to purchase and carry condoms. I want all women everywhere to know that taking control of their sexual health is smart, sexy and the right thing to do!

6. Finally, at Maxim Hygiene, we define a Fierce Woman as a “glorious female creature whose idea of beauty is hinged upon the idea that she can change the world with each choice, each moment and each breath of her life.” Who in your life is a Fierce Woman and why?

I have two ‘fierce women’ – the first is my mother. She is one of the smartest, fiercest, most sophisticated people I know. She has inspired me to chase after what I want and never take no for an answer. It is because of her that I have become the feminist I am today.

The second is Lena Duhnam. Lena is the only celebrity out there talking openly and actively about women’s reproductive rights. This country lacks role models like Lena, and I am so incredibly grateful for all the work she has done for Planned Parenthood and for her willingness to talk openly about sex and safe sex. She is really someone I admire and look up to.

In winding down the month of February, which has a place in many peoples’ hearts as the month of love (thanks to Valentine’s Day), we hope Meika’s story has inspired you to make a place on your nightstand, wallet and bed that’s secure and safe with Sustain condoms.

Image courtesy of Twitter

Presidents’ Day is a holiday that is celebrated in the United States on the third Monday in February. It was created in 1885 and was originally coined as Washington’s Birthday to honor the first President of the Nation and it was meant to be celebrated on February 22nd, Washington’s birthdate. In 1971 the government decided to change the date of the holiday by passing the Uniform Holiday Bill, which moved the date to the third Monday in February in order to create more vacation time and longer weekends for workers.

Today the significance of Presidents’ Day varies depending on who you ask, as no one seems to agree on which President should actually be celebrated. Some people still exclusively celebrate Washington, others celebrate Washington as well as Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday is also in February (February 12th), and some individuals in the southern states even celebrate Jefferson, despite his birthday being in April. At Maxim Hygiene we believe that all Presidents should be celebrated, but that we should also celebrate the wives of the Presidents who helped propel change in society throughout the years. An interesting fact is that a President’s wife in the United States is often referred to as a “First Lady” but this term was not officially employed until the 1930s.

Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world – Hillary Rodham Clinton, previous First Lady

This quote by Hillary Clinton is a great reflection of how important it is to take women’s ideas into consideration and how influential they can actually be. Many First Ladies in the past did a lot to help pave the way for a better future for women today, but one past First Lady in particular was not afraid to speak up on many taboo subjects for her time, and in the process ended up saving many women’s lives.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

This remarkable woman was Betty Ford, who was born on April 8, 1918 in Chicago, Illinois. After a first failed marriage to a salesman, Betty met future President Gerald Ford in 1947 and married him one year later. The couple quickly became involved in politics and a little over 20 years later Gerald Ford was appointed Vice President of the United States of America. In 1974, less than one year into Ford’s Vice Presidency, President Richard Nixon resigned, leaving Ford to take his place. With this new position came new power, which allowed Betty to have a voice and speak up on many subjects that were never previously publicly addressed, like abortion and breast cancer.

Betty Ford was diagnosed with malignant breast cancer very early on in the beginning of her husband’s term. When she decided to undergo a mastectomy, she was very open about the disease and brought not only recognition to it, but allowed women to freely discuss the then taboo subject. This helped save many women’s lives, as they realized that they had options and that they were not alone.

For many years Betty struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, but when she sought out help she noticed that no recovery facility existed that was especially tailored to women and their specific needs. In 1982 once she was fully recovered she founded the Betty Ford Center, which is still in use today. Her center is open to everyone but is meant to particularly cater to women.

Betty Ford was not the only First Lady who addressed health issues. Nancy Reagan is known for her Just Say No to Drugs campaign and Rosalynn Carter has brought lots of awareness to mental health.

Image courtesy of the times.co.uk

Image courtesy of the times.co.uk. Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter on the left, and Ronald and Nancy Reagan on the right, 1981.

Women’s health and encouragement have always been main goals of Maxim Hygiene so we feel like our Nation’s First Ladies deserve lots of respect and admiration. We are very lucky that such powerful women have helped rally for women’s rights and awareness about different subjects. So please don’t forget: This Presidents’ Day think about our past and current Presidents but also remember the women that helped contribute to our well-being today.

Valentine’s Day is a holiday that is often filled with candy, chocolates and sinful eating. If one of your New Years resolutions was to eat better, do a detox, or perhaps workout more, then you might want to stop and reconsider if you really want to blow all of your hard efforts just for one day of unhealthy eating. The good news is that you don’t have to, because we here at Maxim Hygiene are here to help you make more wholesome decisions with our Valentine’s Day food guide.

Sweet 

Sweet things don’t need to be loaded in sugar or be “bad” for you. The ideas below are great healthy dessert options. If you aren’t a huge fan of desserts but still enjoy something a bit sweet now and again, consider cutting some fruit into heart shapes and eating it by itself, or adding it to yogurt and creating a Valentine’s Day parfait.

1. Red Velvet Smoothie: We recently came across a “red velvet” smoothie, which has a gorgeous color and lets you get your red velvet fix without the added calories and guilt. Smoothies are a wonderful way to get your daily recommended dose of fruits and vegetables. Check out these 15 smoothie ideas that help promote beautiful skin.

2. Triple Chocolate Cake Balls: These cake balls are loaded with heart-healthy cocoa and dark chocolate, avocado, and greek yogurt. Although these are a lot healthier than a big piece of chocolate cake, just remember that you should never go overboard and eat the whole batch at once!

Image courtesy of halfbakedharvest.com

3. Guilt-Free Mini Apple Pies: This recipe for mini apple pies uses egg roll wrappers and only two tablespoons of sugar. The low-fat aspect of these allows you to enjoy a small scoop of vanilla ice-cream, a dollop of whipped cream or for a healthier option, greek yogurt, with them.

Image courtesy of pickyeaterblog.com

Savory

Looking for something a bit more savory? Valentine’s dinner is meant to be decadent, but that doesn’t mean it has to be fat-laden and filled with unnecessary added calories. We think some great healthy options would be:

1. Beet risotto: The color alone screams romance and risottos always have a very luxurious melt-in-your-mouth texture. An added bonus to this risotto is that you can get a daily serving of vegetables in. Just be careful when preparing the beets, as they can stain countertops and your hands.

Image courtesy of wellplated.com

Image courtesy of wellplated.com

2. Tulip tomatoes: These are not only cute, but you can use whatever creamy filling you want. You could put a creamy herb goat cheese filling, white bean dip, hummus…whatever you want inside the cherry tomatoes. However, pay attention to the color combinations you choose, so that your “tulips” look convincing!

Image courtesy of creativeandhealthyfunfood.com

3. Roasted heart potatoes: These potatoes would be great with steak and a mushroom sauce. All you need is a heart-shaped cookie cutter and you are good to go! Instead of the caraway seeds that are used in this recipe, we personally think rosemary would be a better choice.

Image courtesy of hanielas.com

Happy healthy eating and Happy Valentine’s Day from the Maxim Hygiene team!

When you’re done cooking up a healthy storm, visit our online store to get 20% Off your next purchase of Maxim Hygiene products by entering the following coupon code at checkout: VDAY

Cloud9

 

Offer valid now through Sunday, February 15th, 2015 at 9pm EST. This is a one time offer that can not be combined with any other offers, is not valid on shipping charges, and not applicable to prior or pending orders. Other restrictions may apply.

 

Photo courtesy of iran-daily.com

Photo courtesy of iran-daily.com

As we get in to the depths of Winter and temperatures continue to drop, the body becomes weaker and more susceptible to illness. If you are like most people, you probably wait until your body gives in and you fall ill, and then you make a dash to the nearest drugstore to buy medicine. However, what if we told you that you might be able to avoid this dilemma and lower your chances of getting sick this winter simply by looking into your kitchen cupboard and making yourself a cup of tea?

We here at Maxim Hygiene like to believe in trying natural health remedies, like Chinese traditional medicine before moving over to synthetic drugs, Our company produces organic and natural cotton feminine hygiene products, so whenever we come across a natural way to stay healthy, we want nothing more than to share our findings with you.

Tea is a natural health remedy that has been around for thousands of years. According to legend, tea was first discovered in China in 2737 B.C. when the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung was sitting under a tree and some of the leaves of the tree fell into his hot water. The leaves were from the camellia sinensis tree, which is where all tea comes from today.

Camellia Sinensis. Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org

There are five main types of tea:

  • Black
  • Green
  • White
  • Oolong
  • Pu-erh

Tea contains antioxidants, known as flavonoids, which help the body fight against cancers, increase metabolism, fight free radicals and can even lower the risk of developing neurological diseases later in life, like Alzheimer’s. The infographic below highlights some of the potential health benefits of the different tea varieties. It is important to note however, that herbal infusions like chamomile cannot really be considered to be “tea” because herbal infusions do not come from the camellia sinensis tree. However, these infusions do contain some medicinal properties as can be seen in the infographic, so if you are not a huge traditional tea drinker you can still give infusions a try:

Photo courtesy of care2.com

After looking at all of the different health benefits that tea and herbal infusions offer, you may be wondering which one is best to choose. We personally believe that your choice should be made based on taste, because a lot of studies are frequently conducted about which tea has the most potential health benefits, but the results are rarely conclusive. However, if you are looking to keep your immune system in check during the winter, we recommend drinking 3-5 cups of green tea or chamomile per day.

Just keep in mind that whatever tea or herbal infusion you choose, try avoiding any sugar, milk or cream additives, otherwise you won’t be able to reap all of the antioxidant goodness.

Happy sipping!

NaturalCycles - Elina Berglund

Our current society is no stranger to synthetic drugs, chemicals and hormones. A prime example of this is The Pill, which injects hormones into a woman’s body to help prevent pregnancy. These hormones induce side effects like nausea, weight gain, and mood changes.

Maxim Hygiene’s January Fierce Woman of the month, Dr. Elina Berglund, a former CERN researcher, decided that enough was enough and wanted to give women the opportunity and choice to reclaim control of their bodies and sexual health without having to use traditional synthetic contraception. In 2012 Dr. Berglund and her husband, Dr. Raoul Scherwitzl, who both have PhDs in physics, made the choice to leave their jobs and embark on an adventure to create a natural birth control method for themselves and other couples. In June 2013 they launched an application known as NaturalCycles, the world’s only birth control app.

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NaturalCycles is a hormone-free alternative to popular contraceptives, like the pill, for women who are fed up of side-effects. All a woman needs to do is measure her temperature in her mouth every morning, tap it into the app and voila, she can check her fertility. A  ‘green day’ is 99.9% safe and a ‘red day’ is when a woman is at risk and should wear protection.  The method is 100% natural and 99.9% safe, as clinically proven in a study recently published in the European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health.

Check out our exclusive Q&A with Dr. Berglund below to learn about NaturalCycles and this ambitious woman’s efforts towards naturally improving women’s health.

At Maxim Hygiene, we define a Fierce Woman as a “glorious female creature whose idea of beauty is hinged upon the idea that she can change the world with each choice, each moment and each breath of her life.” Who in your life is a Fierce Woman and why?

My daughter! It’s incredible to see how she discovers the world a little bit every day and has already figured out how to make everyone around her do exactly what she wants them to do. She has definitely changed my world for the better!

What inspired you to found NaturalCycles? How long did it take you to develop the technology?

I noticed an unmet need when I started using other available hormone-free methods, which were difficult to use, old-fashioned and inaccurate. I knew I could apply my knowledge from CERN to creating the basis of NaturalCycles, to determine when a woman is ovulating. I left my career at CERN with the hope of making it available for all couples and now my dream has come true in just over a year.

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Do you currently have any competitors? If so, how does your company set itself apart? How many women currently use NaturalCycles?

Our competitors are focused towards helping women get pregnant based on the calendar method (period tracking). This is not a fail-safe method as it only offers the percentage likeliness of getting pregnant. Calendar methods help women plot their cycle but assume that all women’s cycles are the same. However, when determining a woman’s fertility NaturalCycles takes into account the fact that every woman’s cycle is unique and most are irregular.

NaturalCycles’ clinically proven algorithm accurately pinpoints a woman’s fertile window, only giving women a ‘green day’ when 99.9% sure they are safe. Competitors that are aimed towards birth control are not as effective often giving women more red days, and do not map women’s cycles with graphs, monthly calendars and cycle statistics like we do. We now have over 15,000 users and with a total of 420000 days on NaturalCycles there have been zero unwanted pregnancies.

Your product is a great natural birth control method, but you must face lots of skepticism and criticism from consumers as it is relatively new. How do you combat this hesitation/wariness?

Often by default, hormonal contraceptives are offered to women from an early-age, which masks a woman’s unique cycle and lead many women to be out-of-touch with their own fertility. This in turn has meant that many women have forgotten the basics in fertility thus making the uptake of natural alternatives, like NaturalCycles, a daunting prospect.

Our job is to educate both women and men about the importance of fertility and how it all works, for instance did you know that women are only fertile 6 days a cycle? With this understanding, women learn that getting pregnant on green days is almost impossible and that natural alternatives, like NaturalCycles, are effective and can benefit both people in a relationship. No hormones for her and less condoms for him!

Where do you see the company going in the future?

Following a recent investment round we are focusing on growing our team and spreading the ‘natural and safe’ word across the globe. We plan to progress NaturalCycles alongside our user’s evolving needs and have some exciting plans in the pipeline. We think the future of birth control lies in knowing your body rather than altering it with hormonal contraceptives and are looking forward to the day when the term ‘green day’ and ‘red day’ are used in everyday life!

If you hadn’t founded NaturalCycles do you think you would still be working towards improving women’s health in some way?

NaturalCycles was the one opportunity for me to help women directly, which is why I seized the idea and drove it to people’s bedside tables. Particle physics aims to determine the makeup of our universe as a whole, not the makeup of unique individuals and their health. I never imagined that my background in physics would be used towards finding a solution for women’s everyday biological needs and thanks to today’s ubiquitous access to technology we have made it happen!

Photo courtesy of tescoliving.com

Modern society demands that we lead busy lives and stay connected 24/7 with the outside world via our phones, laptops, and tablets. Technology has become so much a part of our existence that many people have been known to claim that their phones are like extensions of themselves, and that without them they feel lost. What we often neglect to realize, however, is that when we feel a constant need to connect to our devices and social networks, we actually feel more lost, empty and disconnected than before.

Meditation is a wonderful natural way to reduce stress, improve overall health, and even keep PMS at bay. However, a common but false belief is that meditation is hard to do or that there is not enough time in the day to practice it. According to a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University, all it takes to start seeing results from meditation is 25 minutes per day for three consecutive days. If you feel that this is too much for you, you can start out with two minutes per day and then gradually add in more time.

Photo courtesy of reallifebh.com

Photo courtesy of reallifebh.com

There are 8 basic popular forms of meditation. Many of these focus on your breathing and aim to make you more present in the moment. If you are interested in trying out meditation then you should consider testing a few of the different types of meditation and see which one works best for you. There is no “right” way to meditate, only what feels best and gives you results. Some people prefer to focus on images like in guided visualization; others prefer to practice “mindfulness” where they observe their surroundings but do not let their thoughts wander or affect them, and some individuals prefer to totally empty their minds and simply sit for hours.

When you practice meditation you do not need any special tools or gadgets, however many exist on the market that could ultimately enhance your meditation experience. An essential oil diffuser or aromatherapy burner are good ideas, because you can use essential oils with them, which are meant to heighten your senses. A few essential oils to consider using are:

  • Cedarwood: Helps increase focus and relieve anxiety. The scent is very comforting and grounding
  • Frankincense: Quiets the mind, helps with respiration
  • Myrrh: Opens the spiritual energies to help deliver more calm and tranquility
  • Sandalwood: Encourages feelings of well-being and promotes trust

Aromatherapy burner. Image courtesy of oilreeddiffuser.com

We hope you will find five minutes in your day after reading this article to disconnect from the outside world and its stresses, and reconnect with your inner self and discover what truly matters. Your inner peace is the most important part of your being, and you should cherish and nourish it as much as you can. Namaste from the Maxim Hygiene team.

Photo courtesy of Detox.Zone

The New Year represents an opportunity to start fresh and rid your body and mind of anything toxic that was in your life during the past year. By now you’ve probably made your New Year’s Resolutions and promised yourself to kick-start 2015 in a healthier manner, so what better way to do so than with a post-holiday detox?

The word detox often has a negative connotation but it doesn’t have to. According to Dr. Frank Lipman,

detoxificationis about improving and optimizing the function of your body’s own detoxification systems. This is done by decreasing the amount of toxins we put into our bodies, while at the same time supporting our body’s detoxification and elimination systems with the nutrients it needs to function properly.”

Detoxification can become a part of your daily routine, by adopting healthy habits like waking up and going to bed early, and drinking lots of fluids, or it can be done for a shorter period of time, like a few days. At Maxim Hygiene we think that a detox is a great thing for the body, so long as you do it safely, and do not deny your body of essential vitamins and nutrients. If a detox is followed correctly, it can help you become in tune with your inner self and rid your body of any toxins and pessimistic thoughts that you might be keeping bottled up. However, we do not advise extreme cleanses like juice detox diets or excessive exercise, which can disrupt the body’s internal system and create harm in the long run.

If you are interested in a post-holiday detox, here are our 5 tips for getting started:

  1. Get at least 8 hours of sleep and go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This will lower your stress level and boost your metabolism.
  2. Drink lots of water, about 1.5 to 2 liters per day, which will help flush out your organs as well as improve digestion.
  3. Favor alkaline foods. Alkaline foods include water-based vegetables like cucumbers, nuts, fresh fruits, and any food not considered as “acidic”. Acidic foods include gluten, refined grains, alcohol, sugars, and anything that promotes inflammation in the body. If you eat alkaline foods on a regular basis, and acidic foods in moderation, you will balance your pH and generate the production of healthy cells in the body.alkalin-chart
  4. Add lemon to whatever you can. Lemon helps regulate the digestive system and helps eliminate toxins faster. Consider adding lemon to a large bottle of water or adding it to a salad.
  5. Try detox yoga poses. See the diagram below for some ideas and for detailed instructions on how to perform the poses, click here.

BLog-Shots-yoga

If you are serious about following a post-holiday detox, Gwyneth Paltrow has some great tips as well a straight-forward 1-week detox plan that you can follow, recipes included. If you are interested checking out even more detox-friendly recipes, take a look at these 49 ideas.

Let us know if you get the opportunity to try out any of these suggestions, and happy detoxing!

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