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Welcome to The Quality Makers, an interview series highlighting pioneers in the direct-to-consumer space. Join us as we get an inside look at the world of digital shopping through the eyes of the individuals shaping it…
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A tampon is just a tampon, and a pad is just a pad. Like, a period is just a period…right?
I’ve been writing about periods and period care for a long time now, or at least long enough to know that the original menstrual pad was made of wood pulp bandages back in the 1800s. To no one’s surprise, women have had—well—centuries of challenged accessibility when it comes to tending to their menses. With burdens like the pink tax, poor distribution amongst impoverished nations, pesticides in cotton that eventually ends up inside one’s body—oh, and let’s not forget endless amounts of stigma and shame—it’s fair to say the options for periods have been subpar.
However, as society has evolved and become more laser-focused on better wellbeing—emotionally, physically, spiritually, and otherwise—so, too, has the need for more inclusive, sustainable, accessible, and, most importantly, comfortable menstrual care.
Enter: 25 year-old August Founder Nadya Okamoto.
Although young (and I’m no ageist!), Nadya knows exactly what it takes to not only build a bold and beautiful brand, but also revolutionize an already-transforming category to be even more reflective of society’s present and future periods.
She and I chatted through all the period things, so prepare to be inspired.
TQE: Okay. Not to bring age into this, but you’re 25 years old and already have this beautifully packaged, majorly impactful brand. How did you get your start as a founder?
N: I had my start in the nonprofit space when I was a teenager. At a really young age, I became aware of period poverty through my experience with houseless people in Portland, OR. When I realized that there were no pre-established clubs and organizations to address period poverty in my area, I created my own—PERIOD. That org is still going and growing—period.org! So, I would say that’s when my life as a founder really began!
TQE: What was your impetus for starting August?
N: I was inspired to start August after spending years in the period space, either working as a nonprofit partner or consultant, and feeling like there was a need for more sustainable, ethically made, and inclusive period care. And that’s what we aim to do.
TQE: Organic menstrual hygiene products have become more mainstream. What makes August different from all the rest?
N: To start, we don’t even use the term “feminine” anymore to describe menstrual care because we’re making a huge effort to be more gender inclusive.
August products are softer, more sustainable, and we’re incredibly period-positive and bold about it. That means being loud and proud about being menstruators on social media and building a whole community around it. You can find out more about our community inner circle on our website as well, in addition to our educational database Ask August.
TQE: What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about 1) menstruation 2) menstrual hygiene care and 3) accessibility/inclusivity as it relates to one’s period?
N: I would say that one of the biggest misconceptions about menstruation is that only women menstruate. Not all menstruators are women! There are nonbinary, trans folks, and trans men who do menstruate, and they deserve to be a part of the community too.
TQE: What do you wish more people knew about menstruation? Why is it so important to have such an inclusive product?
N: That you don’t have to be ashamed of having your period. I honestly wish there was more comprehensive period education to begin with. Especially considering what is happening with the Don’t Say Period bill in Florida, it is SO crucial for menstruators to have the ability to speak freely and ask questions. It is so important to push inclusivity in period care because PEOPLE MENSTRUATE across so many different human experiences.
TQE: People are always complaining that organic, sustainable period products lack quality or long-lasting protection. As someone who was personally able to try the August product line, I was shocked by how much protection I had. In fact, I felt like your products were on par with the everyday drugstore brand. How did you manage to maintain this kind of quality without compromising the planet?
N: I absolutely love to hear that you love the product. In fact, it was a huge part of our goal when we launched to make sure that we broke the myth that more sustainable products aren’t as effective. We wanted to make products that were not only softer but also more absorbent and could lock in the liquid. What’s wild is that the less sustainable products out there are some of the least-absorbent and most uncomfortable…
TQE: What do you think the future of periods looks like? What does the future of August look like?
N: That’s a really great question! I really hope August can continue to lead conversation and action on inclusivity and sustainability within the period space. I am very well aware that all of our products are single-use products, and I hope that, as we build community and continue to change culture to be more period positive, we can push for more sustainable and potentially even reusable period care in our future. We also recently launched at Target at select stores nationwide. I hope that we are able to be in more doors in the future to be as accessible as possible to menstruators all around the country!
TQE: What are some ~comfort tips~ you have for people when they’re on their respective flows?
N: Take care of yourself and listen to your body. Periods are incredibly interconnected with your health at large, so there is no shame in taking extra good care of yourself while you’re menstruating. That can mean a lot of different things to different people, but do what feels good and give yourself the nourishment you deserve.
TQE: I saw that you’ve already launched at Target (which is epic). Where else can people buy August?
N: Online! You can still make custom subscription boxes on the August website, but we also ship internationally via Amazon.
Want to know more about how August is changing the period space? Check out your newest period-care regimen here.
Have a founder you’d like us to interview next? Let us know: email@example.com.