We all remember that infamous day when we started our period! For many of us, that day is associated with embarrassment, shame and lots of confusion. To kick off our ‘Talk More Intimately’ journal series, we spoke with Nadya Okamoto, Co-founder & CEO of August to talk about our periods. Nayda shares why she founded August, advice on breaking the stigma around periods, and how the period care we use can affect our bodies & the environment. We hope you enjoy and walk away embracing the power of your period!
I’m Nadya Okamoto, and I’m currently based in NYC. I’m the co-founder and CEO of August, a lifestyle brand working to reimagine periods. Previously, I was working as the CBO at JUV Consulting, a gen z marketing agency, and founded the nonprofit organization, Period.org.
What inspired you and ignited your passion to start reimagining period care?
I was inspired to get involved with period advocacy work when I was 16 and learned about period poverty and related injustices like the tampon tax. Then I wrote a book called PERIOD POWER, and through my research for the book and leading the nonprofit PERIOD as executive director for 6 years, I started to feel called to the brand side to really innovate on actual period care and reimagine the conversation around periods from the avenue of social entrepreneurship.
We love following you on social media and are inspired by how open you are - have you always been comfortable sharing your period experience?
Growing up, my family was always very open about menstruation — so it didn't really take time for me to be comfortable and open about periods because that was the environment I grew up in. Also, growing up in an all-girls household with a single mom and two younger sisters meant that periods were an open subject!
That being said, it was an adjustment to make it this public thing in my career, because I was also conditioned by society to think periods were an inappropriate topic. In middle school, I remember girls getting teased for their periods all the time.
I think a lot of my advocacy and work has been fueled by my personal experiences — because that’s just who I am, and my ambition comes from a place of deep personal pain and passion.
Can you share any advice for those of us that still get “uncomfortable” talking about and experiencing our period?
I think breaking the stigma around periods starts with talking freely about periods as the natural and powerful thing that it is! Periods are powerful — yet society teaches us to feel ashamed and silences us when talking about menstruation. We should be conscious of this and stop this mentality! We fundamentally need to get all of society (menstruator or not!) to acknowledge/act on that menstrual products are NECESSITIES —and everyone should have equitable access to them.
For people new to understanding & researching their period care, can you share some important information on how our period care can impact our bodies and overall environment?
Most period products made today can take anywhere from 500-800 years to decompose, and most pads have enough plastic for 3-5 plastic bags. And as we all know, plastic-y pads are just not very comfortable, and use more chemicals in their production process too…Needless to say, a lot of period care on the market is detrimental to both our health and our Earth. That’s why sustainability was built into my company August – we’ve sourced high quality 100% cotton to make our products, and our entire supply chain is ethical and carbon neutral. It’s so important for consumers to be able to trace how their products are made, and we really prioritize this transparency when making our period care.
More details on our supply chain on our traceability page!
Can you explain the history behind the ‘pink tax’/’tampon tax’?
I first learned about period poverty at age 16 in 2014. At the time, 40 states in the US had the “tampon tax” — a sales tax on period products considering them luxury goods. Currently, 30 states in the US still have the tampon tax. The inaccessibility of period products is further proof that our society views them as, moreso, luxuries. Furthermore, the burden of this tax falls on the shoulders of marginalized communities because they are economically disadvantaged. Advancing policy against the tampon tax is an ongoing process — a huge barrier is the fact that many of our legislators are men who are uncomfortable talking about periods. We must work hard to elect more women and people who represent various genders into positions of power. However, we’ve seen the tax be taken down worldwide and some states are slowly repealing it, which gives me hope to see a world without the tampon tax. Read more about the tampon tax in this August article
If you order from August in one of the 27 states where the tampon tax still exists, we cover that tax for you. Because we don’t believe anyone should pay for it.
At Hello.Me, we’re reframing the term ‘TMI’ to mean ‘Talk More Intimately’. Our goal is to empower people to talk about topics that society has typically deemed to be “taboo”.
Can you share a “TMI” period story that you hope inspires others to share more?
I think that one of the scariest experiences as a first time menstruator is seeing your first blood clot. When we’re taught about periods, we’re taught that blood comes out - and many of us will picture liquid blood. But it’s not just liquid! It’s also the endometrium which includes tissue and mucus-like textures, and then blood clots. I always receive DM’s from young menstruators who think that meat came out of them, or even a segment of their uterus that they think might have broken off. It can be really scary! I was terrified when I saw my first one. And the size of blood clots can totally vary.
Blood clots are normal, and nothing to worry about if they’re under the size of a quarter. If they are bigger, then ask your doctor about things like uterine fibroids!
Want to get to know Nayda and August more?