People of TOM: Mina Soyak

Underwear? Check.

Socks? Check.

Chargers? Check.

Okay. Let’s go. 

This is the kind of list The Organized Mess founder Mina Soyak made before traveling to make sure she took all her essentials with her. She wanted to be organized despite the chaos of having to fit all you need into a luggage before jetting off somewhere. This packing ritual eventually became one of the seeds for TOM’s Core Collection.

But the main inspiration for the travel and lifestyle brand dates back to her childhood. She grew up in a loving and creative family that traveled a lot. This gave Mina and her brother Can an opportunity to observe different cultures; taking in everything from fashion to music to dance.

The 90s struck a special chord with Mina who was born in 1995. She defines this decade as a time of joy.

“I am not a person who likes nostalgia. Every moment in your life carries you forward. I am just happy to have lived through those specific times,” she said.

Mina, age 4.

Cartoons that aired on Nickelodeon such as Cat-Dog and Hey Arnold!, as well as 90s hip hop and baggy clothing represent some of the aspects of the era that she carries with her. A lot of this has to do with her brother who she grew up respecting immensely.

“I grew up extremely fond of my brother. Whatever Can did, I wanted to do too. He played basketball, so I started playing basketball. I even made it on the youth team of Beşiktaş,” she said.

She laughs about how Can and his lovely and calm behavior  was the reason her parents decided to have another child and how she was the reason they decided to stop.

Mina with her brother Can.

Perhaps one of the best cities to feel 90s culture, she left Istanbul for New York, studying Hotel and Tourism Management at New York University. At that point, she was keen on becoming a wedding planner. She had done internships, taken classes and had her mind kind-of set on event planning.

“In one of the first classes I took, our professor had said ‘if there is anyone who does not like to serve people, they should leave immediately.’ That really pulled me in. I thrive in places where I can make sure people are happy,” Mina said.

However after a couple of years, she decided to take another path. It all happened at Amorino Gelato near Washington Square Park. She met up with one of her favorite professors, Douglas Logan, for an assignment. When she was talking about her career plans, his professor, who had gotten to know her over the years, made the very remark that changed Mina’s trajectory.

“He said ‘I can see you love experiencing the joy of others but someone with your personality will not enjoy wedding planning since you won’t always believe in the cause. You won’t enjoy working at events you do not necessarily believe in,’” she recounted.

After graduating in 2018, she moved back to İstanbul and got to work on starting her own creative agency called üstkattayız. One day, when she was going through some old boxes in her family home, she found a notebook from her highschool years. There were illustrations of packing-cubes with combs and toothbrushes in it.

“This idea was something I carried with me for years,” she said.

And so, around 2,5 years ago, she decided to create TOM. Her creative agency background eased the path to creating a brand. Mina summarizes the purpose of the initial TOM products as a way to “ease your way into packing.” She mentioned that she loves packing and while doing so wants everything to be organized. And most importantly she wants everything to be simple.

“A lot of people don’t know how to pack. We write what our products are for on top of the product itself. This makes me feel comfortable, I think it makes people's lives easier,” she said.

TOM values the beauty of everyday life. For example, the scented pouch’s only intention is for you to be welcomed with lovely scents as you open the doors of your closet.

“I want to make things that make life easier and more special,” Mina added.

And so, who is TOM? Obviously a lot of its persona comes from Mina. She grew up as a tomboy. She also knew she wanted to call the brand The Organized Mess. So calling it TOM made perfect sense.

“Because I have a creative agency background, I chose a person and tried to imagine when and where they were born. What they wore, where they liked to go. It was the unisex version of me. TOM is really a genderless 90s kid. Likes good things. Is chill and straightforward. Sometimes an asshole, sometimes not. I think TOM is someone direct” she said smiling.

Mina wants TOM to be more than just another brand. She wants people to feel cool and good when they are using the products. She wants the brand to serve a purpose or solve a problem.

Don’t know where to start? Here is mina’s starter pack for TOM: