Photos and ads from our early years

When Tom and Kate Chappell founded Tom's of Maine in 1970, it was a reflection of their idealistic, creative and entrepreneurial aspirations. Enjoy this look at some fo our early products, advertising and photographs — they capture our unique spirit.

Tom's first business plan

Tom wrote his first business plan in the summer of 1970.

Clearlake Laundry Detergent

The first Tom's of Maine product: Clearlake Laundry Detergent, with a homey hand-drawn label designed by Kate.

Clearlake non-phosphate label

Clearlake was the first non-phosphate cleaner on the market, inspired in part by Tom and Kate's concerns about rapidly degrading water quality in the U.S. Today the company continues its involvement with that issue through our Rivers Awareness Partnership.

Tom with reusable containers

The reusable container included a request to mail it back to Tom for refilling — little did he know that so many people would take him up on that! Needless to say, the post office wasn't altogether pleased to be receiving so many bottles.

Tom and Kate

Kate and Tom worked closely together from the very beginning, with Tom leading the charge from an entrepreneurial and business standpoint and Kate focusing on creativity and community within the company.

Tom working in the lab

Tom and Kate both actively participated in product development, and their lack of formal knowledge helped them to innovate because they had no preconceptions about what was and wasn't possible.

Ad from 1972

In 1972, Tom's of Maine moved into natural personal care, developing a line of soaps made from vegetable (not animal) glycerin. Kate herself designed most of the early advertising and branding.

Tom's package with Soap Bars and Loofah

Early on, Tom sought ways to provide value and a little bit of natural luxury to his consumers.

Baby Shampoo ad with Tom's family

In 1975, the company debuted its shampoo and toothpaste lines. Early advertising often included the Chappell's growing young family, and many new products were inspired by their needs as parents, like this baby shampoo.

Toothpaste Ad with Tom's Children

Not only did the Chappell children appear in ads, they were also frequent testers of products. In fact, they even dabbled in product development — Matt was given some raw ingredients and told to play, and came up with our cinnamint flavor!

Letter from happy customer shares a little too much

From the very start, Tom and Kate encouraged their consumers to write in and share their thoughts. Sometimes, they shared just a little too much!

Original Tom's Factory in Railroad Depot

We housed our original factory in the former Kennebunk railroad depot building. The tracks were right outside and every time a train came by, the building rattled and people in meetings or on the phone had to stop momentarily because of the noise. In front, Kate planted an herb garden.

Small factory with one line

There wasn't much space inside the factory — just one line, that had to be cleaned and set back up every time a new product was made.

First natural fluoride toothpaste news article

In 1981, Tom's launched the first natural toothpaste with fluoride. We've always felt it's important to serve all of our consumer's health needs, so we like offering choices like fluoride or fluoride-free.

Ad after Tom and Kate move to Maine

Tom and Kate were inspired to move to Maine and live more simply — and the products they created also subscribed to that idealistic idea.

Ad with items left out of toothpaste

Tom's has always focused as much on what's not in our products as well as what is. Sometimes, it's what you don't add that makes all the difference!

Tom's letter to Directors and VP's

In the late 1980s, Tom attended divinity school at Harvard, and his intellectual approach permeated the company culture. During the development phase for our formal mission documents, he assigned readings by Kant and brought the esteemed professor Richard Niebuhr to speak to the management team on philosophical topics.

Ad with ADA Seal of Approval

By the end of the 1980s, growing awareness of our impact on the environment made companies like Tom's a more and more popular choice. Our product line had developed to include, in 1995, the American Dental Association's Seal of Approval on our fluoride toothpaste — the first natural brand to receive the designation.