August builds social good into selling its organic pads, tampons, and

Nadya Okamoto wants to make your period better. Well, better for you, and better for the environment.

On average, Global Citizen estimates that menstrual products can sit in landfills for 500 to 800 years before they fully decompose, to say nothing of the single-use plastic applicators. August, Okamoto’s brand of 100% organic cotton tampons and pads, are biodegradable within 12 months, and applicators are recyclable.

Okamoto graduated from Harvard in June but has been championing equity for menstrual hygiene since 2014 when she cofounded Period Inc., a nonprofit that distributes menstrual supplies to those in need and works to eradicate period stigma through education and advocacy. When she found herself “begging companies to donate products,” she decided to create a period-products brand that “builds social impact into base commodities, regardless.”

[Photo: courtesy August]

The New York-based August launched last summer, with $1.95 million in seed funding and a road map for channeling and directing its myriad social and environmental commitments. (VC firm Hannah Grey and Lively founder Michelle Cordeiro Grant are among its investors.) Okamoto and August cofounder Nick Jain (who founded JUV Consulting, an agency that works with brands to reach Gen Z consumers), made good on their promises, detailing August’s mission around giving back, sustainability, and democratizing access to period care. The company’s organic cotton is ethically farmed in Mesin, Turkey; it has built-in, quarterly 10% profit sharing and product donations to nonprofits in the period-advocacy space, and a carbon-neutral supply chain offsetting CO2 emissions with Sidrap Wind Farm in Indonesia through EcoCart. “We don’t want to be one of those brands that’s like, we planted trees that take years to grow,” Okamoto says.

August’s tampons start at $11, pads at $8.25, and liners are $7. Subscriptions ship free, and the brand will cover tampon tax in states that categorize menstrual products as luxury goods. (The brand reported paying $6,608.92 in Q4 to cover their customers’ tampon taxes.)

[Photo: courtesy August]

This level of conscientious responsibility extends to the brand’s marketing and community channels. Jain and Okamoto wanted to break free of conventionally “feminine” or subdued designs they saw from other menstrual products in favor of an approach that recognizes the diversity of people with periods.

“We have a gender-inclusive community,” Okamoto says. “We wanted to be hyper-inclusive of transgender men and nonbinary people. We wanted to make sure they were comfortable and felt championed by a brand.” The result is colorful, vibrant branding and packaging that encompasses August’s eco-conscious roots and its joyfully unapologetic mission. One $40 hoodie—yes, they have swag—is imprinted with “Periods Make Human Lives Possible,” on repeat. Called the Human Hoodie, it’s available in black, lavender, and sand, in sizes XS to XL, and worn by a diverse group of brand partners. Among the stats August released on diversity and representation this month: 69% of its influencers were people of color, and approximately 85% of their staff members are Black, Indigenous, and POC.

[Photo: courtesy August]

Given its Gen Z founders, August naturally leans on TikTok and other social media channels to create conversation around the brand and the topics it’s passionate about. Okamoto, who uses the platform to candidly discuss health and social topics for menstruating bodies, grew her TikTok following to 2.4 million since joining in June. While she says the platform has been an excellent opportunity to interact with consumers, the August community truly lives on the brand’s Geneva Inner Cycle, which, Okamoto explains, is like “Slack for Gen Z.” (I’ve never felt so old in my life.)

Currently, the group has more than 2,000 members across 40 different countries, with channels like Cramps and Cravings and The Flow. There, the August team interacts with their community—not just about product but all facets of life. “We have a channel called ‘Heavy Flow,’ and it’s a space where people can talk about hard things,” Okamoto says, noting its popularity as a support system throughout the pandemic. “We’ve hosted over 200 events with our community. On weekends, we’ll do the Inner Cycle Brunch, where we all have brunch together online.” While she was giving me a screen-share tour of the Inner Cycle, a member asked the group for support with digital marketing. Okamoto immediately typed in her reply: “I can help!”

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