Empowered Women Empower: Nadya Okamoto and Her Mission to Reimagine Period Care
In this edition of Empowered Women Empower, join us for a peek inside the inspiring mind of Nadya Okamoto. A 23-year old Harvard graduate, Nadya has made her life’s work fighting period stigma and reimagining period care as powerful and inclusive. Already a successful author, speaker, and entrepreneur, most recently Nadya decided to further impact the period conversation with a social enterprise. Thus the creation of her newest venture, August, an empowering, sustainable, and ethically-made period care lifestyle brand.
At just 16 Nadya Okamoto founded her first business, PERIOD (period.org), an organization fighting to end period poverty and stigma. During her leadership as Executive Director for five years, PERIOD addressed over 1.5 million periods and registered over 800 campus chapters in all 50 states and 50 other countries. Young and dedicated, next on Nadya’s plight to reimagine period care came her debut book, Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement, published in 2018.
Recognizing the strength of a social enterprise and knowing period care could be more sustainable, impactful, and inclusive, in 2020 Nadya co-founded August alongside her best friend, the equally ambitious and passionate marketing guru Nick Jain.
Nadya has been recognized on the lists of Forbes 30 under 30, Bloomberg 50 “Ones to Watch” and People Magazine’s Women Changing the World. Further, in addition to August she also recently launched a podcast called Tigress, where she talks about mental health, intersectional feminism, and empowerment. Nadya Okamoto is a young woman on a mission! So of course there is, and will certainly continue to be, more to her story!
Be Empowered by Nadya Okamoto
Love Happens: As our name, and the tagline of our published KOKET, denotes we are firm believers that you cannot achieve any level of success without love. When did your passion for reimagining period care and empowering women begin? And how did it make you feel?
Nadya Okamoto: 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 then. 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.
Empowering women has always been a passion of mine. I think it stems from growing up with a badass single mom and two younger sisters who inspired me every day.
Lh: What empowers you?
Nadya: My passion for destigmatizing periods and mental health. And my mission to redefine the period experience to be powerful and dignified. Also, the amazing friends, family, and mentors who have always supported my dreams along the way!
Lh: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Nadya: I am really proud of my mental health journey. I learned that my complex PTSD is accompanied by dissociation and depersonalization. Before this more specific diagnosis, I had never heard these words in the context of mental health, but the added vocabulary brought me an unexpected sense of calm. I don’t want to be defined by the conditions or disorders I have. Instead, I want to own and embrace them as emotional scars of what my trauma has left on me. Scars that I am on a path to heal.
Lh: Who is Nadya Okamoto the Woman?
Nadya: She is growing, and learning more about herself as she takes more time to relax and lean into her emotional self-work. She is passionate about the solidarity she feels with other women. Especially in the resistance against the misogynistic culture we live in.
Lh: Who is Nadya Okamoto the co-founder of August?
Nadya: She is curious to learn from others. She struggles with crippling imposter syndrome but decides to channel that into an eagerness to surround herself with brilliant team members who will challenge and hold her accountable in the best way possible. She is passionate about what she does. And she is feeling more motivated than ever before to keep fighting period poverty and stigma.
Doing my part in creating and holding space where women can just exist, unapologetically.
Lh: How do you empower other women?
Nadya: By allowing and encouraging women to embrace their diverse experiences and identities and also by combating period poverty. While also doing my part in creating and holding space where women can just exist, unapologetically.
Lh: What advice would you give to a young woman starting her career?
- Honesty will get you everywhere! Transparency and authenticity are vital.
- Surround yourself with people who love you and will build you up. This is vulnerable stuff, you’ll want the support!
- Be open to career changes and be flexible, just don’t lose your initial goal.
Lh: Do you have any favorite empowering quotes you like to live by?
Nadya: The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given was from my mom who would tell me that a true leader is one who empowers others to be leaders themselves!
Lh: What’s next for Nadya Okamoto?
Nadya: I’m going to continue working on building August. Supporting our community. And making an impact on the overall conversation about periods and what period care is from the social enterprise side. I knew that period care could be more sustainable, ethically-made, and impactful — and that’s what August aims to address.
Learn more about August!
By Anna Beck Bimba