This week’s episode features a young woman who is changing the conversation around women’s reproductive health, and more specifically the stigma associated with period products. Barely into her 20s, Nadya Okamoto shares her story both as a serial entrepreneur and as a young woman evolving. She founded and became executive director at age 16 of Period.org, a nonprofit organization with 900 chapters in all 50 states, and has gone on to expand her portfolio. She explains to the hosts how she came to her passion for destigmatizing and reimagining periods – and how she has been shaped by the journey.

While still a student at Harvard University, Nadya has created an activist community that seeks to normalize and make more inclusive the conversation around menstruation. This growing and increasingly vocal generation of activists thrives both online and in-person. Nadya inspired this movement first with Period.org and also with her book, “The Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement.” She has more recently branched out as a branding officer for a Generation Z consulting company and is currently launching a new period products lifestyle brand called August.

Part of what makes Nadya so powerful as a woman and activist is her candor. She shares with Dr. Dweck and Rachel not only how she came to her passion but also some of the trauma and abuse, mental health challenges and recovery steps that have shaped who she is and how she is moving forward. Currently work on a new memoir and cultivating August (in spite of pandemic challenges), this is a young woman people of all ages are going to be hearing from in the years ahead.

Watch the Interview with Nadya Okamoto

TOPICS COVERED:

  • Dr. Alyssa shares some compelling facts and stats about women’s health, menstruation and lifetime impacts, including the workplace and environment.
  • Some background about how Nadya’s passion was initially ignited – and why it’s still going strong.
  • The products and services that grew out of Nadya’s interest in advocating around menstrual issues, including Period, the nonprofit she founded that today has 900+ chapters on campuses globally an across 50.
  • A little about Nadya’s target audience, which is primarily GenZ, but also extends to parents and others.
  • The importance of moving the conversation about having periods away from shame and hiding and towards a message of inclusivity and sustainability.
  • How Nadya has managed challenges along the road.
  • Nadya shares insights about her entrepreneurial and activist drive, as well as the ways in which those impulses have been intertwined with her own mental health and recovery journey.
  • A little about “Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement” and the new memoir that Nady is now at work on about trauma, acceptance and healing.
  • HOTFLASH: The medical and scientific communities have evolved in their thinking to regard the menstrual cycle as a sort of vital sign because of the window it provides into ancillary health issues.Yet another encouraging sign that the stigmas surrounding women’s health and sexuality are receding as the result of increased awareness.

Quotes From Nadya’s Interview:

04:14: “Homeless women that I was meeting going to and from school as a freshman in high school shared stories about using toilet paper and socks and brown paper bags and cardboard to take care of their periods and from that moment it was just the thing that kept me up at night.”

07:49: “The beautiful thing about periods is that it transcends age, backgrounds and geographies.”

08:31: “We are very focused on GenZ just given how we are trying to reach out to them and in how we see a gap. I firmly believe that period products have been sold through the last century by perpetuating a stigma.”

09:23: “It’s not just women who get their periods. It’s also people who might identify as trans men or non-binary, so 15% of our community are people who don’t identify as women.”

12:28:“I felt completely worthless as a woman beyond what my body could be used for. And it was activism that got me out of it – that my voice means something, that I can make an a difference.”

13:54: “We live in this society where everything can be commodified. Everything now is work. My face, and how I appear on social media, which is my social life and how I earn income.”

14:18: “The biggest hurdle has been learning to find value for myself outside of work, which is hard when I’m so genuinely passionate about what I do that I lose myself in it regularly.”

14:40: “The conversation that’s missing from workplace culture today is that conversation around making sure you have a set identity outside of your occupation.”

15:50: “I meet so many people who say ‘I now have my own period organization’ or ‘I now collect period products’ because I read your book.”

About Nadya Okamoto:

A student at Harvard University, Nadya is also a serial entrepreneur and author who have been recognized with titles such as Forbes Magazine’s “30 Under 30.” In addition to fostering important conversation through Period, the non-profit she founded and that has more than 900 chapters national and internationally, she has written a book, run for public office, served as a chief branding officer and recently launched August, a period lifestyle products brand.

FURTHER RESOURCES:

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