August Founder Nadya Okamoto on Using TikTok to Spread Period Awareness (EXCLUSIVE)

Did you know there are currently 21 states with a tampon tax?

Anna Quintana - Author

Mar. 5 2024, Published 11:38 a.m. ET

Nadya Okamoto at MAKERS 2024
Source: Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images for The 2024 MAKERS Conference

Nadya Okamoto is more than just an influencer.

The Harvard graduate and CEO has over 4 million TikTok followers, but she has been an "influencer" way before the social media platform existed. As a teenager in high school, she started Period Inc., an organization with a mission to end the tampon tax, and by 2019 it was "the largest youth-run nongovernmental organization in women's health," per Bloomberg News.

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Today, Nadya is the founder of the lifestyle period brand August, focused on selling period products and paying the tampon tax for customers in the 21 states where it still exists.

In an exclusive interview with Distractify at the 2024 MAKERS Conference, Nadya opened up period poverty, internalized period stigmas, and using TikTok to spread education and awareness.

Nadya Okamoto wants to have real conversations about periods.

nadya okamoto makers
Source: Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images for The 2024 MAKERS Conference

Alexis McGill Johnson, President & CEO,Planned Parenthood, Nadya Okamoto and Cristina Garcia.

Along with eradicating the tampon tax nationwide, Nadya's mission is to normalize periods and allow for real discussions on the topic.

Nadya, who spoke at the 2024 MAKERS Conference — a Yahoo media property and community brand focused on accelerating equity for women in the workplace — on Period Poverty and Policy with Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson, hopes that her company August can help eliminate period stigmas in advertising and beyond.

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"First of all, let's use red liquid instead of blue liquid," Nadya told Distractify of commonly used advertising gimmicks when it comes to period products. "Let's say the word period instead of time of the month or on flow. We want to just have a really real discussion about it, and being really cognizant of where we're sugarcoating it, but also having negative stigmas around it."

Nadya plans on using TikTok for spreading awareness and education until she's banned.

Periods are considered a regulated category (like alcohol and tobacco), according to Nadya. This is why a platform like TikTok is so important. Nadya is constantly pushing the boundaries when it comes to her content, but it is all for a good cause.

"I think that for me, as a brand, as an advocate, as an influencer, in an attention economy, the goal is to spread awareness,” she explained. "I also think that what's unique about it is that it gives a democratized ability to build a platform. And historically, it's been very expensive to advertise. Like we don't even have that advertising capabilities available to us, which means that it does fall on organic traction."

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Some of Nadya's most popular TikTok videos include how she started her business and another on how to put in a tampon. While Nadya used to be worried about being banned on the platform, she now has a "f--k it" attitude.

"I honestly think I got to a burnout period, like rock bottom of my relationship with social media, where it was giving me so much angst and everything," she said, "but I think I kind of got back to this point of like, well f--k it, what's the worst that can happen?"

We'd say the risk is worth it.

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