Nadya Okamoto Built a Community to Focus on Destigmatizing Periods

Yes, you read that right. People are coming together over the common bond of… monthly bleeding. It’s been a taboo subject for generations. But, Nadya Okamoto says it shouldn’t be and she’s gone to great lengths to make sure anyone with a period has a safe space to talk about it, gain information and find safe sanitary products.

Her company is called August and identifies as a community-built lifestyle period brand. They recently launched their more sustainable versions of tampons, pads, and liners last week — and are the first brand to also cover the tampon tax for all subscribers.

She is ready to take on the controversial conversations and shed light on this discussion so others don’t feel shrouded in shame or confusion.

Why are Periods Considered Taboo Topics?

Periods are incredibly natural. So, how is it that they are considered such an embarrassing topic to discuss?

Thousands of years ago, many ancient cultures thought of periods as being dirty and unclean. This happened in part because of concerns about hygiene. There is still a lot of controversy about how certain laws and religious practices were informed by or played a role in influencing patriarchal societies.

Modern Day Period Problems

In some areas, this has led to keeping women outside of the camp or the home until they are finished with their menstruation. This often included being left out of societal or religious events as well.

In Nepal, customs force women into period huts during their monthly cycles and for up to two months after childbirth. Women have died in these huts, which provide scant shelter and little else. They are kept from their own kitchens and not allowed contact with their spouses or male relatives.

It isn’t just the stigma behind periods that has been a problem. There is also an issue with a lack of access to menstruation products. In India, 88% of women rely on rags, cloth, ash, hay, and leaves for ways to stop the flow. In Kenya, Garissa, and Ghana, an astronomical number of girls drop out of school during their periods because they have no way to manage them.

The takeaway might be that Western countries are better off when it comes to periods. But, the US is still strikingly lacking when it comes to period awareness and access to products for all. Nadya Okamoto started PERIOD when she realized how difficult monthly cycles were for homeless women to manage. There are still millions of people in the US who struggle to afford sanitary products.

Building Up a Community Around Periods

In 2020, Okamoto started up August to pull the Gen Z community together over the topic of periods and create better options of period care — even innovating on the consumer experience to have period products customized and delivered to your door.

People of all walks of life, gender, and age are encouraged to start opening up the discussion on topics of menstruation. The more the conversation is considered natural and mainstream, the more real solutions can be found for those who are struggling with their period.

Some of the top issues surrounding periods in America include:

  • Pain management
  • Tampon tax
  • Period poverty
  • Lack of period knowledge
  • Uncomfortable period products
  • Sustainable sanitation solutions

According to UNICEF, the average woman will spend 7 years of her life menstruating. That is a lot of lost time where she may feel down and out without being able to talk about it or ask for time off. Oftentimes, the first period is something girls fear or feel shame about.

But, there is hope that things will keep changing. Gen Z has started encouraging period parties to help end the stigma and change the energy around menstruation.

Period Products for the Community, By the Community

Nadya Okamoto created August for exactly these kinds of things. “I spent the last 6 years in the period space thinking about how we can change the stigma around period care and the conversation and make period care in general better,” she says.

After working with many companies in the period space, I just felt like there was an opportunity to make a better product for a generation that cares deeply about causes, like ending period poverty.

The goal of August is to reject negative stigmas and find freedom in being “real.”

By gathering information from the tight-knit community, August was able to create the kind of products their audience wants when they are facing their time of the month. No more trying to “forget” your period or being made to feel like you have to fit a certain mold to use the products. The community circle doesn’t just sell tampons and pads—they are selling hoodies to spread awareness and increase the community that has been brought together over periods.

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