Nadya Okamoto has been encouraging ladies to speak about their intervals for not less than seven or eight years.
“Periods are not these shameful things that we should not be thinking about,” Okamoto instructed WWD over the cellphone. She talks excitedly and quickly with out pause, usually repeating herself for emphasis. “Periods make human life possible and we need to make better period care that’s better for our bodies and better for the environment and better for the earth.”
This ardour for intervals might be traced again to 2014. Back then she was in highschool and would repeatedly come throughout the identical homeless ladies on her approach to faculty. They would inform her tales about utilizing bathroom paper, socks, brown paper grocery luggage and even cardboard bins to deal with their intervals.
“I had never thought about period poverty before,” mentioned Okamoto, referring to the shortcoming to afford menstrual merchandise. “It was a really big privilege check.”
She rapidly mobilized Period.org, a nonprofit that delivers female hygiene merchandise to ladies in locations of want, like faculties, shelters and prisons. Four years later, Okamoto fairly actually wrote the ebook on menstruation with “Period Power.”
Now, the influencer, entrepreneur and up to date Harvard graduate is taking her fervor for fem care to the following degree. Earlier this month, Okamoto not-so-quietly launched August, the direct-to-consumer interval care merchandise model, alongside cofounder Nick Jain. The duo raised $1.95 million in a seed spherical, with buyers comparable to enterprise capital agency Hannah Grey; funding agency and model company Bullish; former Glossier executives and founders of Chord, a platform that helps manufacturers launch on-line, Henry Davis and Bryan Mahoney; “Black Panther” actor Winston Duke; innerwear model Lively founder Michelle Cordeiro Grant, and former Refinery29 president Amy Emmerich, amongst others.
“In a space where brands are continuing to play it safe, August is channeling their personal experiences to create a bold brand, unique products and period positive conversations,” mentioned Sali Christeson, founder and chief government officer of Argent, an e-commerce website for skilled ladies’s workwear that additionally affords styling ideas, and one other investor.
Of course, disruption within the female hygiene trade isn’t fully new. Thinx has been providing interval underwear — underwear which you can bleed proper into — for greater than a decade. There’s additionally Knix, Ruby Love and Karla Welch’s The Period Company, all of which promote reusable interval underwear or reusable pads. Direct-to-consumer interval model Saalt just lately grew to become obtainable at Neiman Marcus. Thinx and Adidas each launched interval activewear this yr.
Okamoto mentioned what makes August totally different is that it affords sanitary merchandise — tampons, pads and liners — that may be thrown away, by means of a subscription mannequin.
“Literally like 90 percent of the people we talked to who were in our Gen Z demographic used tampons and pads,” she defined. “So we were, like, how do we take this product that people are using and make it more sustainable?”
To begin with, August’s pads don’t comprise plastic, are produced from 100% natural cotton and are biodegradable inside 12 months. The model can also be carbon impartial all through its provide chain and donates a portion of every sale to initiatives that oppose the so-called “Tampon Tax,” or tax on interval merchandise in sure states throughout the nation. In addition, customers can ask all of their in any other case embarrassing menstrual questions within the “Ask August” part on Itsaugust.co and monitor how merchandise have been made.
“So it’s hyper traceable and transparent,” Okamoto mentioned. “I wanted to create a brand that actually does stand for this culture shift.”
Okamoto’s first order of enterprise was to incorporate precise interval blood within the model’s launch video.
“That, unfortunately, meant we could not put money behind it on Facebook, because it’s considered violent and graphic content,” she mentioned. “But for me, I used to be, like, we have to cease this, cease firms really partaking in perpetuating these stigmas round intervals.
“If you look at how period products have been sold over the last century, it’s been around, buy our products to hide your period, or forget you have a period, using blue liquid because actual periods are too gross to show,” Okamoto continued. “Even still in some cases we don’t feel comfortable saying the word ‘period.’ The idea [behind August is] of making periods more of this talked about experience.”
This is strictly why Hannah Grey, which led the fundraising spherical, mentioned it needed to put money into August.
“Nadya and Nick have strong opinions around the brand tone and the type of products they are architecting, with sustainability, scalable impact and accountability being top priorities,” mentioned Kate Shillo Beardsley, one of many founding companions on the enterprise capital agency. “August is well positioned to support the needs and desires of Gen Z in a way that traditional period care products have not.”
Emmerich mentioned one of many causes she was drawn to August and determined to put money into the corporate is as a result of it’s not simply attempting to achieve younger folks — it’s run by younger folks, too.
“There’s nothing like it in the market,” she mentioned. “Opportunity for August in the market is wide open. There have only been a few new brands aimed toward younger women, but none have been built by a younger inclusive community with their own generation in mind.”
In truth, Okamoto and Jain, who’re 23 and 22, respectively, mentioned August’s youngest crew member is 13. “A lot of brands can talk about reaching young people and trying to relate. But we are that community,” Okamoto mentioned. “I think that really makes a difference. Our whole idea is that we can co-create products with them.”
She’s fast so as to add, nonetheless, that August is for everybody, together with nonbinary people and trans males. That helps clarify the variety of each the neighborhood and buyers.
“Supporting and investing in August, Nadya and Nick, was an absolute no-brainer,” mentioned Michelle Cordeiro Grant, founding father of innerwear model Lively and certainly one of August’s angel buyers. “I firmly believe in the power of community and brand above all else when creating a strong and long lasting consumer business, one that not only has an incredible product, but also brings people, conversations and education to the forefront of the brand. Nadya and Nick are doing just this.”
August subscription costs vary from $10 to $12 a field, relying on how usually customers make a purchase order. Okamoto mentioned at current there are not any plans to maneuver into the interval attire area. Although there are some August hoodies obtainable on the web site.
“But we do very much have plans to have an efficient product development roadmap where we can be innovating on period care in general,” she mentioned. “So we’re having conversations on how do you really innovate on interval care?
“Brands have the resources and the responsibility to devote themselves to making an impact with better product,” she added. “And I think period products have played a very succinct role in shaping the period stigma. I think that the terrifying part of starting a company is that everything I’m telling you I believe wholeheartedly. But it’s also a thing that we’re trying to prove out.”