Nadya Okamoto is a 23-year-old Harvard graduate. In early 2020, Okamoto co-founded August, a lifestyle brand working to reimagine periods. As the Today Show describes, “August is a growing online community aiming to “re-imagine and redefine the period experience to be powerful and dignified,” with members who engage in conversations about how to properly use menstrual cups or what it’s like to be a transgender man having a period, for example.”
Nadya Okamoto is also the Founder of PERIOD, an organization fighting to end period poverty and stigma that she founded at the age of 16. Under her leadership as Executive Director for five years, PERIOD has addressed over 1.5 million periods and registered over 800 campus chapters in all 50 states and over 50 other countries. In 2017, Nadya ran for public office in Cambridge, MA, at the age 19, becoming the youngest Asian American to run at the time. In 2018, Nadya published her debut book, Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement, with publisher Simon & Schuster, which made the Kirkus Reviews list for Best Young Adult Nonfiction of 2018. Nadya is also the former Chief Brand Officer and current Board Member of JUV Consulting, a Generation Z marketing agency based in NYC. She has been recognized on the lists of Forbes 30 under 30, Bloomberg 50 “Ones to Watch” and People Magazine’s Women Changing the World.
Where did the idea for August come from?
The word “August” means dignified, and our company August is a lifestyle brand working to reimagine periods to be dignified! The period product industry sold us one narrative that has kept us silent and ashamed of our bodies, and we’re here to put an end to that.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I usually have multiple Zoom meetings a day, but I make sure to get up and move around! I try to work out at least once a day, and it’s so important for me to stay active so I’m not stuck at my desk all day — it also boosts my productivity!
How do you bring ideas to life?
I am surrounded by a brilliant team and community — and in chatting with our August Inner Cycle, there is no shortage of inspiration. I believe in what I do and I am incredibly inspired and humbled by the opportunities to work with such incredible people who push me to think bolder, work smarter, and be accountable to the intentions of what we are building.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Further focusing on sustainability efforts! A big part of August is making sure that we are as transparent as possible about our goals and our progress with sustainability and impact.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Although it might sound simple, it is effective: I make to-do lists! I find a pen & paper for to-do lists and still find it to be the most productive way to organize my own thoughts. During meetings, I take a lot of notes and make check box to-do lists to stay on track.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To be more present in the moment! I feel like I spent much of my life worrying about the future or caught up in the toxic productivity culture. Recently, I’ve really allowed myself to actually live in and enjoy the present moment – something that seems so simple but used to be one of the more challenging things for me to do.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
We all are affected by period shaming.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Seeking advice and learning from my mentors/other professionals! I feel that there’s a pressure that entrepreneurs or CEOs face where they feel burdened to know everything in each field. For example, I know I’m not the most qualified person when it comes to investing, so I’ve really learned to step back and humble myself and take my advice from people who are more knowledgeable!
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Our community is the reason we were first motivated to start thinking about improving period care. Building a community and centering them was vital and it was so exciting to finally have a space to talk about periods with people! Everything we do at August is with, by, and for our community called the Inner Cycle. This community is a welcoming space where people come to talk about all things periods, and our members have actually helped with our upcoming launch!
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Burning out and not taking care of myself — both physically and mentally. I often worked until I was exhausted, and this was detrimental both for me and the people around me. I’ve really learned the importance of prioritizing my health and self-care.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
An easier way to get bite-size information about local politics! I definitely think that there is more room to increase civic engagement on local levels.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Trying out hypnosis therapy! This has had an all-around positive impact on me, both in my personal and work life!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Google Docs has been a live saver with helping me keep track of projects and anything else were working on one. I know sometimes people get so overwhelmed and can lose of track of important info, so it’s nice to have everything in one place where everyone can see them!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Self help books are great for everyone! The one I would recommend is
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero.
What is your favorite quote?
“Never forget to dream.” – Madonna
- Believe in what you do and be inspired
- Be open to advice from people with experience and knowledge, don’t fall victim to pressure when your starting out
- Don’t get caught up in the moment, remember to take care of yourself physically and mentally
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.