Periods are a natural, healthy part of our monthly cycles, but we often feel ashamed and embarrassed about them, even as grown adults. It has always disturbed Nadya Okamoto, who since 2014 has struggled to desigmatize periods and end period poverty through her nonprofit, Period, where she led young activists to increase the availability of menstrual care products. Now she is working on a new venture, August, a lifestyle brand dedicated to imagining periods again.
“Periods can be difficult, but they are powerful.”
“Let’s be real, periods can be difficult, but they are powerful, and we should have a period society, culture, and product that confirms it again,” Okamoto told POPSUGAR. August was founded by Okamoto and her friend Nick Jain in February 2020 and was born out of the gaps they identified in period treatment, thanks to the many Zoom conversations they had with young menstruators around the world.
Image source: Heather Hazzan
Many brands may label themselves as “for Gen Z”, but in August the description is actually rooted. “First and foremost, we create for our own community,” the 23-year-old Harvard graduate explained. The team spent the last year and a half chatting with a diverse subset of Gen Zers about everything from corporate responsibility when it comes to period poverty and stigma to discovering what is missing in the market. “It’s not like when you think about the relationship you have to a beauty brand, to a Glossier or a Fenty Beauty, where you write about it, you’ve excited about it, and there’s this online group and brand exposure,” she explained. “I don’t think these young menstruators feel any kind of connection to period marks. The period marks that they use and know about are not associated with them.”
What originally began as a group of people who were just “excited to talk about periods” turned into an online community now called #InnerCycle. The team also created Ask August, a database filled with answers (verified by doctors) to frequently asked questions about periods. And this week, August introduced period care products individually and in the form of customizable monthly subscription boxes, allowing consumers to choose from tampons, pads and liners with different absorption options to create the perfect set that works for them. “By imagining this culture around periodic stigma, we needed better products from a brand that stands for its values,” Okamoto said. “We are not the first to recognize that periods are a powerful thing, but I think we are a society that is truly driven to take it to the next level.”
The products are not only 100% biodegradable (for context, most hygiene pillows take five to eight centuries to decompose) and can be recycled down to their packaging, but they are also carbon neutral and you can track all parts of the supply chain in August site to ensure you it. But most importantly, the brand is the first of its kind to cover the tampon tax – a sales tax on feminine hygiene products still found in 30 states – for every consumer; Okamoto has been fighting the tax since she joined the period movement over six years ago.
Image source: August
“I’m basically convinced that companies need to keep pushing the boundaries of what it means to take a stand on something,” she said. “For us, we were like, how do we not just say we hate the tampon tax, but take it to another level? If we were to say that there should be no tax on products from the period, we should not f * cking charge tax on period products. It’s just hypocritical by nature. So when we found out we could legally do this, it was a no-brainer. “
“We are not the first to recognize that periods are a powerful thing, but I think we are a society that is truly driven to take it to the next level.”
Okamoto has been on a mission to end period poverty since she was just 16 years old and founded Period, the nonprofit she led until January 2020. Last summer, Periode severed ties with Okamoto after she was accused of monopolizing time and asking other activists to silent. of color. She told POPSUGAR that she was so hyperfocused on penetrating, growing and just continuing to get time products out the door that she was not “conscious or even educated enough” about the spaces she was in.
“You get into it because you’re so passionate, but we live in a time of commodified activism, where we really have to do the work, take the extra step to educate ourselves about the space we work in, and the consequences of not just the work we do, but the identity that we work with, “Okamoto said.” I think it was a huge learning experience. “
After struggling to see if she could get her past back to the period society, she realized there was nothing she was more passionate about than menstruation, and used her experience to improve August, a company she sees as a development of her previous work. “One of the biggest learning experiences was taking a step back and understanding what it means to think and grow slowly, which has been a big part of August,” she explained, whether it meant creating structures for accountability by surrounding oneself with mentors, strategic investors and team members or partnership with grassroots nonprofits.
While Okamoto was previously focused on solving the problems of period poverty and stigma on the nonprofit side, she is now committed to tackling the problem at its root. “If you asked me why the stigma exists as it does today, I think it’s because we live in a culture that has traded early products to perpetuate negative stigmas around periods of selling products, and convincing us, that this is something to be ashamed of, “she said. That’s why Okamoto and her team are working with August to reinvent the global supply chain and create that impact directly.
Take a closer look at August’s new offer – and the beautiful packaging – ahead.