Empowering Stories: Meet Nadya Okamoto, The Activist On A Mission To Destigmatize Periods


Nadya Okamoto

We want to empower you! Today, we’re chatting with Nadya Okamoto, someone who has inspired and empowered us for years. Stay tuned for more #EmpoweringStories from incredible people around the world.

Meet Nadya Okamoto, author, organizer, and entrepreneur; three titles that only begin to describe what this inspiring menstruation advocate has achieved at just 23. (Read: Author of the book Period Power, podcaster behind Tigress by Nadya Okamoto, Harvard graduate, and SO. MUCH. MORE!) We’ve been major fangirls of Nadya for years, pretty much as soon as we discovered the non-profit she founded, PERIOD, which aims to “end period poverty and period stigma through service, education, and advocacy.” As soon as we read the bio, we hit follow and have been watching Nadya thrive and empower her community ever since.

In early 2020, Nadya added co-founder and CEO of a sustainable menstrual care brand, August, to her resume. The Gen Z brand continues her mission to normalize periods and make period care available to all menstruators while identifying solutions for more sustainable and comfortable period products. Nadya is real, authentic, and has a no-BS attitude to menstrual care and menstruator rights, which is not just refreshing, but thoroughly needed.

Today, we’re sharing her empowering story of how she empowers herself and others, and we hope it inspires you as much as it inspires us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how and why you got into the menstruation care space?

I learned about period poverty in 2014 from hearing stories directly from homeless women about their experience of not being able to afford period products. I had never heard of period poverty before, but learning about that and the fact that the tampon tax existed in 40 states at the time ignited a fire in me — I knew I had to take action. So that year, I started what is now known as PERIOD.org, a nonprofit. I led it as executive director until January 2020 before I began my journey focusing on August.

2. Tell us about your journey as an influencer? How did you get into content creation? 

Instagram was becoming a daily sort of app that I used at the beginning of high school, so when I started my nonprofit during the junior year of my high school career, Instagram was very much the main social media platform that I was using. And of course, at the beginning, as we started building this organization, social media was the freest and easy-to-use platform at our fingertips to help spread the word. I was mostly on Instagram and only focused on that until last year when I launched August, and TikTok was then the most popular platform to use so I got on that. And then I just kept making as much content as possible, and by the end of the year (6 months later), I was at 2 million followers. Social media has been a platform where I can have a lot of fun making content, building community, and raising awareness about the work that I’m doing.

3. What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced in your journey as an activist, a creator, and as a woman, and how have you overcome them? 

One of the biggest challenges I faced was burnout — both physically and mentally. I often worked until I was exhausted, and this was detrimental both for me and the people around me. I definitely learned to prioritize my self-care the hard way…but it’s something that I am most proud of learning to do. In the last year, I’ve really learned the importance of prioritizing my health (like getting 8+ hours of sleep) and will continue to work on finding harmony between my work and life.

I’ve also always struggled with imposter syndrome, and that definitely hasn’t been made easier working in an often stressful situation with grassroots organizing and entrepreneurship. Therapy has been a very necessary part of my journey to deal with that, and it’s something I will probably forever have to be working on — and I’m okay with that!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Nadya Okamoto (@nadyaokamoto)

4. How has your life and your work changed since you started PERIOD? And again, when you founded August?

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.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by PERIOD. (@periodmovement)

A huge part of why I wanted to start August was inspired by the work that I was doing at PERIOD, working to distribute millions of period products to places in need. Through all my work and research, I kept thinking every day that there needed to be a more empowering and sustainable brand of tampons and pads that had impact embedded into every purchase that was made. And that’s really what August aims to do — to create more sustainable and more comfortable versions of tampons and pads, and have product and monetary giveback with every transaction to our nonprofit partners.

I think that my mission has always stayed focused on periods — reimagining periods to be powerful, trying to work towards more accessible period care for people, and to keep pushing period care to be as sustainable and high quality as possible. I think that while my mission has changed, of course, the angle in which I was working to do that has shifted. I started on the nonprofit side, and now I’m obviously on the social entrepreneurial side.

The more that I keep learning, the more learning I’m able to apply to the work that I do. I hope that the more I learn to prioritize self-care, the more I’m able to keep feeling fulfillment and balance from my work — something I definitely haven’t always known to do.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by August (@itsaugust)

5. You’re so open about your own menstruation on social media. Something we’re so happy to see! Why did you decide to share and display the details of your cycle so transparently? And what has the response been to it?

I haven’t always shared my period blood on social media. For the first six years of my career, I don’t think it really crossed my mind because I hadn’t really worked through that engrained period stigma in my head and I didn’t feel the need to in my work. But when I started August, it just felt so obvious to me. I want to show people how the products work, and what better way to do that than to ACTUALLY show them how they work — and how WELL + MUCH BETTER they work at that.

It’s definitely been a very mixed response — I hope that most people are supportive and find it thought-provoking. I’ve heard in comments that they find it as a reminder and encouragement to think of periods as powerful and nothing to be ashamed of. Of course, there is also a lot of disgust and even anger — and I’m not surprised by that. I think five years ago, if I saw someone on social media I would probably cringe or gag from disgust because that’s how we have been conditioned to react to period blood by society. I try to see the hate and pushback as just reminders on why we need to do this work.

6. Your page is extremely empowering, positive, and you’re very open with your community; how does this empower you? 

My strong belief and passion for this work is what keeps me motivated, along with the empowerment I draw from watching our community grow and strengthen in numbers and excitement. 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.

I definitely struggle sometimes with taking the hate/pushback personally, but seeing how the messages resonate positively with people keeps me going and reminds me that I’m not alone. After all, over half the global population consists of menstruators!

7. What do you do to feel empowered? How do you lift yourself up and show yourself love when you’re not feeling your best? 

Yoga has been a really empowering addition to my life. For so many of us, myself included, it can be easier to disassociate with our bodies due to past trauma. Yoga gave me my power back. I learned how to breathe deeply, how to take up space and how to honor what feels like yes in my body and what feels like no. Showing up to a yoga practice consistently gave me a very deep relationship to my body and my mind.

8. What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs, activists, and fellow menstruators who want to follow in your footsteps and find power in their period?

Join the menstrual movement – the fight for equitable access to period products and the effort to break down the stigma and taboo around periods! And there are so many ways to get involved and so many incredible organizations, brands, and leaders who are doing the most incredible work around the world. Start with simple conversations with your friends, and families, and normalize talking about periods as something that is natural and powerful!

9. What’s next for Nadya? What are your goals and dreams for the future? 

As a Founder, I want to ensure that every decision we make at August is aligned with creating a more sustainable future for period care, especially as we continue innovating. Although we launched with disposable period products – we did so because we knew that we needed to take the journey of making more sustainable period care alongside our community’s needs. In the future, I hope that we can just keep expanding on our offerings.

Right now, we’re mostly just available online, but I also hope that as we grow in our capacity, we can keep trying to make the products more accessible to people where they already get their period care — like their local school, drugstore, or gas station store!


Stay up-to-date with Nadya on her Instagram page, and feel empowered and educated about all things menstruation over on her TikTok page. A massive thank you to Nadya for sharing her #EmpoweringStory with us (and being so brave with her menstruation journey); we are so grateful to be able to share it with our loving and supportive Huda Beauty community.

For more empowering stories, check our candid conversation with Christina Abiola on becoming the representation she needed to see.

Disclaimer: Every product we review has been independently selected and tested without bias by our editorial team. Although some brands allow affiliate links, we never take payment to review products, so we may earn a commission if you purchase a product by clicking on one of our links.