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We need to talk about periods
Fun fact: did you know that period products like pads and tampons are considered “luxury” items in many states and are therefore subject to tax?
MORE fun facts: did you know that products like Rogaine and Viagra are considered “essential” and therefore not taxed?
Yeah, we agree; it’s pretty fucked up when you think about it. Fortunately, activists like Nadya Okamoto are here to change that narrative and help menstruators have access to the hygienic products they need without being taxed.
Nadya is incredibly impressive, from starting a non-profit at 16 to graduating from Harvard to starting her own sustainable period products company, August. You also might know her from her viral TikToks, where she digs into taboo subjects and openly talks with her community –– sharing everything from how to handle your first periods to her struggles with mental health.
What you’ll learn:
What menstrual justice is –– and why it’s so important to fight for tax-free period products
What period poverty is and how we can alleviate it
Why Nadya shares so openly about taboo subjects with her community
How both Tori and Nadya are navigating traditional gender roles within their work and relationships
Nadya Okamoto is the Co-Founder of August, a lifestyle period brand working to reimagine periods to be powerful. She is also the author of the book PERIOD POWER: a Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement and founder and former Executive Director of the nonprofit organization PERIOD. Outside of her work in the menstrual health space, Okamoto is also a mental health advocate and known as a Gen Z marketing expert.
She recently graduated from Harvard College, class of 2021. Nadya is also the former Chief Brand Officer and 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.
Hello. Hello, Financial Feminist. Welcome back. I am so beyond excited for the guests that we’ve got this month. We’ve had amazing, fantastic guests lately, and we have so many more amazing folks coming your way. I wish I could tell you more, but you’re just going to have to keep coming back week after week. We’re so excited to see you back and we appreciate your support of the show as always. And if you’re listening to this on a podcast platform, you can subscribe so you’ll get our new episodes as soon as they launch. And if you are loving the show, please consider leaving us a review, telling your friends, again, it not only supports the show and the listenership but also helps get our mission of financial feminism out there and helps us get even more incredible guests on the show. When we get more listeners and we get more love for the show, we get to bring on people that you also love. And today is someone that I have loved for a long time and been following for a very long time.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto is the Co-founder of August, a lifestyle period brand working to reimagine periods to be powerful. She is also the author of the book Period Power, which I literally got on my bookshelf right next to me. Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement. And founder and former executive director of the non-profit organization PERIOD. Outside of her work in the menstrual health space, Okamoto is also a mental health advocate and known as a Gen Z marketing expert. She recently graduated from Harvard College, class of 2021. Nadya Okamoto is also the former chief brand officer and board member of JUV Consulting, a Generation Z marketing agency based in New York City. 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. We of course spend a lot of time talking about menstrual justice and period poverty, but we also get into how to be feminist under capitalism, which is a question I get all of the time.
It’s a really important conversation. And if you’ve ever wondered or been a little critical of my work, we talk about it a lot and this is a really important episode. We also talk about the unique pressures that women face in our society around traditional gender roles, the non-profit industrial complex, and how we can support menstruators both in our day to day lives and through legislation. We also get into how taking part in “taboo” conversations has helped Nadya Okamoto create an authentic community of people who don’t feel so alone. We got to touch on so much in this episode and Nadya Okamoto‘s candidness and authenticity is really special. So let’s go ahead and get into it. Thanks for being here.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:02:26):
I’m excited to have you. We’re going to just dive right into it.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:02:30):
Let’s do it.
Can you define period poverty for our audience and tell us a bit about what that means?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:02:35):
Yeah, so period poverty is just not being able to afford access to period products. And so basically anybody who’s struggling to afford basic necessities and having to make those choices on how you’re spending each and every dollar on basic necessities are likely having to experience period poverty, because period products are definitely a necessity.
Yeah. So you’re probably experiencing poverty in other aspects of your life. Right?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:03:00):
Absolutely. Like it does not exist in a silo at all.
Right. So this is one issue of many on top of a lot of different financial issues for an individual.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:03:10):
Yeah. I think that a lot of times when people hear of period poverty, they often think like, oh, this must affect a very small subset of people. I get asked a lot. “Well, where would you actually find period poverty that exist?” Right? But I think it actually comes from the misunderstanding that menstrual health is a necessity and not just something like some people can choose to elect to want. Right. When in reality, this is intertwined with, again, being in a place where you’re struggling financially. And so that’s why when you look at statistics of where poverty exists, obviously that’s where period poverty i
s going to exist. So as you know, women and children are the fastest growing population of people experiencing poverty. That means period poverty is also being exacerbated at the same rate so very much goes in hand in hand.
We’ll talk about this later, but when you have lawmakers who are not menstruators, who are largely straight white dudes. I want to do like, and you’re probably the person to do this. Like I don’t think men understand what happens when you have your period. I don’t think they get it. I think they think maybe it’s like you got a paper cut and that’s how much blood there is. I want you to understand for just one time what it’s like to menstruate.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:04:24):
I don’t even think a lot of menstruators understand.
That’s true. It’s a good point.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:04:28):
I think that we are also in the dark of even what’s happening inside of our own bodies. But yes, a hundred percent, people who don’t get a period in a culture where it’s not an open conversation are totally in the dark.
Those are the ones making the laws and deciding what is taxed and what, right.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:04:44):
For the most part.
Right. Yeah. No, good point because I think we as menstruators were told to just, this is just another day and you just got to suck it up and you got to shove some cotton up and just keep going as opposed to really understanding what it means to menstruate.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:05:02):
Let’s talk a bit about your background. So period poverty became a passion of yours. I will read your resume up top, but girl, okay. Ran for office at 19, started a non-profit at 16. Like, was this something that you were passionate about from a young age?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:05:21):
Yeah. I mean, I got my period at 12, but I think I became passionate about period poverty when I was 16 and started the non-profit a few months later.
Was there a specific moment or a catalyst for that?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:05:33):
I think it was just hearing about period poverty. It was at a time when my family was experiencing financial and housing instability. And so while I wasn’t necessarily experiencing period poverty, we were experiencing being low income, being in a place in our lives when we were thinking about what were basic necessities, affording food, affording housing and things like that, safety. And so I think that it was a time when, in my mind, in my own life, I was obsessing over what are those basic necessities when you are struck in a literal scarcity mindset, right.
You’re like, this or that?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:06:07):
Exactly. And then at the same time, I was interacting with a lot more homeless women through my commute to school, which ended up being a lot longer and started hearing about period poverty. Literally using cardboard to take care of their periods. They would show me the makeshift pads and how they dealt with it.
What did that look like? Can you tell us what that looked like?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:06:27):
So the cardboard to me was like the most visible thing that always sticks with me. And it was basically taking off
the outer layer of the cardboard for the corrugated ridges on the inside. And then you rub it between your hands to make it as a pad. Similarly like twisting up a plastic bag, like folding up paper grocery bags, the brown paper grocery bags. I think that just hearing those stories of what you do when you don’t have access to period care, or always access to a bathroom or access to clean underwear or other changes of clothes. I think that for me, it was like a huge eye-opener and it was a turning point, because as soon as I heard it, I was like, wait, how have I never thought about this before? Even in this situation that I’m in, how have I not heard of this before? For me, I think it was like a big privilege check at a time when I was honestly thinking of myself as more disadvantaged than privileged. And then it was realizing, oh, wow, even when my family is in this time, I have not had to worry about this. You know?
Right. Well, even just talking to you, I’m sitting here going like periods suck for me and I have clean underwear and a shower. You know that moment where you get off a plane and you’re like, I feel disgusting.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:07:36):
That’s me for six hours every once in a while. Like what does that feel like every single month for potentially a week?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:07:46):
I think it was just an eye-opener that I very quickly became very obsessed with. Something I was staying up at night researching on Google and learning about the tampon tax, which was in 40 states in the U.S. at the time in 2014.
For those who don’t know, can you tell us what the tampon tax is?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:08:02):
Yes. So the tampon tax is a sales tax on period products considering them non-essential goods.
Which, what the fuck?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:08:07):
Yeah. Meanwhile, and this is where it goes back to like cismen being lawmakers. So meanwhile products like Rogaine and Viagra, older male hair growth and erections are considered necessities and don’t have that tax. So it was learning about things like that, or the fact that food stamps don’t cover period products as necessities. It’s a leading cause of absenteeism for girls around the world. And so it was honestly a very fast, it wasn’t falling in love, it was like becoming so overly consumed by this obsession of what is this issue. I started researching like organizations to volunteer with, like what organizations can I volunteer with as a 16 year old? I just couldn’t find any that were talking about period poverty in my area in Portland, Oregon, or nationally really, focused on the U.S.
Well, how old are you now? That would’ve been what year?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:09:00):
2014. So I’m 24 now. So I’m eight years in. I’m eight years into this career, which is so crazy. Because when I started my nonprofit, and I think a lot of people think that I started this nonprofit and I was like going to make it into my career. But I did not know you could get paid for doing this type of work. For the first three years it was volunteer, the idea of this becoming a career was not something I was thinking about. To me, I was starting this as being really passionate about it.
That’s just you didn’t know that that was a potential.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:09:32):
Yeah. I just didn’t know. And also, at the time, I was really interested in becoming a public defender and that’s what I wanted to be. I had this whole game plan of going to law school. I wanted to be a public defender. I really wanted to go into politics of some sort. At one point I wanted to be an obstetric surgeon because I loved Addison Montgomery in Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. There were things like that where I didn’t think of this as a career path but here I am eight years in.
It didn’t even seem like an option. Which is crazy.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:10:03):
Can we go back to the tampon tax really quick?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:10:06):
How many states is it currently in?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:10:09):
27. So we’re making a lot of progress but it’s still the majority of U.S. states. I think what puts it into perspective for me is that this has existed in other countries and been nationally taken down. India, Australia, Scotland, the UK. The UK repurposed their tax revenue to address period poverty. There are other countries, like the U.S. is very far behind. And so I think-
This is not shocking, unfortunately.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:10:35):
Yeah. Not shocking, but I think it’s interesting because it’s like, I always say the number, yeah, we’ve gone from 40 to 27, but I do think that we totally have the right to expect a lot more than that, you know?
I imagine those 27 states. I shouldn’t assume, let me ask, where are those 27 states largely?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:10:52):
It’s actually really surprising because I think a lot of people assume that it’s like, oh, it’ll be the more conservative ones like Texas and Florida. But Florida was one of the recent ones to take it down, you know? And so I think that if you actually look at the list, and there are states that have made some progress like California, they didn’t take it down. They put a suspension on it for two years. Right? Yeah. So like really weird-
What the fuck, California?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:11:15):
So it’s like progress, but we got to keep an eye on it.
Why suspend it?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:11:21):
Well, so I think one of the biggest conversations I get into when I have talked to lawmakers about the tampon tax is about the revenue, right. This is not a small amount of revenue and maybe a small amount of revenue in the context of the overall of course, like billions or millions of dollars of their state budget.
Spent on beauty.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:11:38):
Exactly. However, this is a commodity product that every menstruator is likely having to purchase. It’s a tax that ranges from six to 14% so it does add up. Right?
And this is on top of the amount you’re paying for something like-
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:11:53):
For the period products.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:11:56):
This is a revenue stream in some way for the government.
Maybe this is my own stupidity. How does the government make money off of private company? Is it them getting taxed, right?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:12:06):
So it’s a sales tax.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:12:07):
Total sales tax.
Got it. Okay.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:12:09):
And so it’s just a sales tax lobbying on these products essentially.
Got it. So if you’re like Always or Tampax, you’re not seeing this money, it’s going directly to the government?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:12:16):
Yes. Yeah. It is like a tax that is literally, when you check out at CVS, it’s like, oh, I thought it was $10. It’s 13. Things like that.
Unless you live in Oregon.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:12:26):
Unless you live in Oregon. Yeah. Which I definitely took for granted.
It’s so nice.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:12:31):
It’s so nice.
Yeah. We were talking, we went to college in Portland. It was so nice to be able to roll up and just be like, ah, the price is actually what I’m going to pay.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:12:37):
Iconic. But yeah, I mean, I think that when you get into these conversations about how do you make up the revenue, it’s like, oh, so we could increase it on tobacco and alcohol. But there’s pushback there because the lobbying groups of tobacco and alcohol are much bigger than the advocates behind the tampon tax. You know? So it’s a constant fight.
It’s a dance.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:13:03):
I’ve been really inspired though by all the conversation that’s been happening about it. But yeah.
Take it from the military, take it from the police budgets. I’m like, okay. Why? Okay. In terms of tampon tax, what other costs are there to factor in to period poverty? We have tampon tax, the actual cost of these products as well. Any other hidden costs that we might not know about or might not think about?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:13:33):
Totally. I mean, I think that your period and your menstrual cycle are very different things. Your period is one part of your menstrual cycle. Your menstrual cycle is happening 24/7. PMS, period pain. I think that on average, if you added up everything you spend beyond just products, but you also think about, well, what about even the emotional part of it? The cravings and food that you have, every small cost, period pain is huge.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:13:59):
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:14:01):
Uterine fibroids, which is like endometriosis. There’s a lot of-
A good friend of mine just got diagnosed with endo.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:14:07):
So it’s like a lot of added costs, and so if you imagine being in a situation where you don’t have healthcare, where you don’t have access to even period education. And obviously poverty goes hand in hand with not having access to more information and education in around health. Right. This is not something that’s really taught comprehensively in schools so I think that it completely adds up. And as we know, poverty is a very intersectional issue, so is period health, right? Uterine fibroids affect Black women two to three times more than any other race. There hasn’t been enough research done on it.
And they’re probably less likely to get the care they need.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:14:41):
Because they’re not believed when they say they’re in pain.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:14:43):
Exactly. So I think that there’s so many added costs to it. Part of the reason why I think I’m here eight years later is because I just feel like there’s still so much to be done.
That’s how I feel about money too.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:14:56):
Yeah, exactly. I will say, I love what you do because I think that a lot of my career journey has really been understanding how do we fight a capitalist system that has caused so much problems in inequality? Like I don’t have any capital or power to actually change the system.
Say that for me. Oh, got chills. Oh, you’re going to literally make me cry. Wow. Okay. Hold on. No, because that’s what I want people to understand because a bunch of people like, and rightfully so, they come and they’re like, “Feminism can’t exist under capitalism, Tori. What is this bullshit you’re trying to do?” I’m like, oh, I’m literally going to cry, dude. I don’t want to win capitalism. I also can’t lose capitalism because that means deep suffering for me and the people that I love. So it’s like, how do we play the game? Unfortunately, because we all have to. Doing the least amount of harm possible. Then once we are stable, then use those resources, use that capital to start changing things.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:15:52):
Yeah. Well, I think that for me, I recently made a huge career shift. I came from the non-profit world.
Right. And now you’re running a for-profit.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:16:00):
For-profit, a venture backed for-profit company that raised millions of dollars.
I didn’t realize. Fuck, yeah, girl.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:16:04):
Yeah. But I think for me, I got a lot of shit for that and I still get a lot of shit for that on social media because I started in a community of anti-capitalist activists. But a lot of
what made me want to change was suddenly three, four years into running a non-profit, the non-profit then had a multimillion dollar budget. That meant as executive director, my fucking job was to fundraise.
Which is so difficult.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:16:31):
Well, it’s so exhausting. I think that at the same time, I was studying sociology at Harvard and I was like… But I was really asking these questions around like, what is capitalism? Why is it so problematic? And oh, wow. It really is linked to all exploitation and issues of globalization. I think I was really resonating with a lot of anti-capitalist rhetoric and I completely empathized with it and understood it and started to really believe it. But I think at the same time, I started to learn about things like the non-profit industrial complex and noticing how I felt like I was very much experiencing that. Right.
Tell us what that is.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:17:06):
So the non-profit industrial complex is basically, it’s kind of the idea that when you work at a non-profit, you’re like, I am changing the system. I am the solution. Or like, what I’m doing is the solution to the inequality we’re seeing in the world. But as a non-profit, you’re stuck in the capitalist machine where you’re dependent on private donors, corporate foundations or private foundations, corporate benefits and sponsorships. And so you’re dependent on the exact system that you are advocating to change. At the same time, and I saw this first hand, their motivation to support is based off of self-serving tax benefits or-
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:17:49):
PR marketing. And the amount that they’re giving is so minuscule to what would actually matter to them for larger change.
And we’re talking big corporations.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:18:01):
Yeah. I think at the same time, I would have to be on so many calls like exchanging, I’ll give you X number of social media shout outs. You give me a hundred thousand tampons. Literally those kind of conversations for years. And so I think that for me, at the same time I was doing this legislative work. I can’t compete with alcohol and tobacco. I don’t have enough money to move campaign politics. And then I ran for office in 2017. I think that was an eye-opener because it was like, oh, how is the electability of every single fucking political candidate measured? By how much money they raise. That is exactly when they think about electability, it’s how much money did you raise? When you even look at campaign rhetoric, the first thing that they ask is donate, support the campaign, donate, donate small dollar donations. I think it was all of that. And plus, in my mental health journey, it was like, everybody’s telling me to move away from a scarcity mindset, but I’m living scarcity. I don’t have a lot of money. My family doesn’t have a lot of money. I’m working multiple jobs.
Well, and I feel like even the perspective. I read about this in my book, my book’s coming out later this year, is like we feel, I think, especially as women or any marginalized group, we’re told like your career should be for the good of humanity and you have to sacrifice your financial stability for that. Like if you work in a non-profit, it’s just like this understanding of just like, you’re going to financially struggle, but you need to martyr yourself.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:19:26):
I think that’s part of the non-profit industrial complex which is like… I think I’ve been obsessing over this because I’ve even gotten a lot of backlash publicly from people who are like, “Why did you have a salary? Why did you have a salary as an executive director of a non-profit?”
Because I have rent.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:19:43):
But then it’s like I remember getting backlash and people will look through and they’re like, “Why did you spend so much operationally on people?” I’m like, “That’s health benefits.” Right. I think that there is a lot of pushback on how non-profits spend their money and who’s compensated. But the more you think about it, you’re like, but if we’re talking about valuing labor, non-profits are the place where you can excuse a lot of people being underpaid or unpaid because it’s volunteer work. It’s a contribution to the organization.
Or you’re getting paid $30,000 a year.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:20:17):
Yeah. I think for me, like I never, ever could work on my non-profit on its own because I couldn’t afford to. I was working other things. But I think at the same time, the reason I created August was like for years I was working with every period company as either as a non-profit partner, an influencer, or a consultant. They were clients of mine at my last company. I really believe that maybe the way we fight capitalism is not to say I’m not going to participate or I’m going to benefit from the small dollars they’ll throw me here and there, but is like, I need to compete with them and have enough say, and also show that we can build business in a more socially conscious way. Right? Like what if we created a goal? Like we are tax free period care, so even with August, if you buy from us online in the 27 states, you won’t have that tampon tax. We’ll cover it, you know? Things like that.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:21:06):
We’re carbon neutral. We should just have that be a standard, not even something to be celebrated for, a standard. Right? Give back. I thought about this a lot. I think over the last few years as we’ve seen more grassroots activism fighting capitalism is like the amount of ground swell at the same time, you’re in such a survival mode if you’re trying not to participate in the capitalist system. At the end of the day, we live in a capitalist system where you have to buy food and necessities.
You have to pay your rent. You have to buy groceries. You have to do these things.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:21:33):
You have to pay your rent. You have to pay for healthcare. We don’t have an alternative system where you can not participate in that.
Where you can opt out.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:21:42):
Yeah. I think for me in the work I was doing in the non-profit realm and then politics was like everything, all these machines that are supposed to change the system, non-profits politics are all dependent on a capitalist system. So I either stay in these fields or I try to set a new standard of social enterprise. I think at the same time, it was like my own mental health. Like I have complex PTSD and borderline personality disorder, which I think inherently mean that a large part of my mental health is feeling really unstable, leading from a place of scarcity, not having a lot of comfort and having a deep fear of abandonment and being left alone without anything. And so I think for me, it was like, oh, I do need a secure, like I personally want to be able to make money. I want to be able to have a fun-
And you shouldn’t have to apologize for it.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:22:30):
No, totally. I think that for me, I’ve been called so many awful names and I’m sure you have too by saying like, oh, I want to make money. I want to be, I love that I make a lot more money than my partner as the younger woman.
I love going out on dates and knowing I’m going out with men. It’s so fun.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:22:45):
I think for me, it was like the fact that it took me so long and so many therapy sessions to even be able to say that is ridiculous.
Well, because again, writing about this in my book about all of these narratives we’re told about money, right? We’re told to not talk about money because it’s taboo. And then we’re told that wanting money is bad or evil. Right? And especially as women, we’re told that it’s not allowed. I don’t want to speak for you, but I’m assuming like when I say I want money, I don’t want a stack of paper. That doesn’t get me shit. Or I don’t want a bunch of papers with Benjamin Franklin’s face on it in a pool where I can… That’s not what I want. I want what that money can buy me or what I can use that money for as a tool or resource for somebody else.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:23:30):
I think when you think about huge wealth right now, I think that there’s also a larger conversation of like, should you be able to become a billionaire and not pay a lot of taxes on it? Right?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:23:40):
Yeah, no. And so I think that a lot of people-
You won capitalism. Great. Cool. Great. Give some money-
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:23:45):
Yeah. Actually, I talk about this a lot with my boyfriend because he’s from Switzerland, which is much higher, a lot more taxes, a lot more… Yeah. Very different around fully believing in social benefits and all of that. I think it’s really interesting because even for me, it is painful to pay the tax check every year. It hurts so bad, but like at the end of the day, it’s not just about creating wealth. It’s also like you literally have a legally binded obligation to support. And so part of it is okay, I’m going to support this government, but then we need to elect people where I fully believe in how they’re distributing this cash, you know? I think it all goes hand in hand, but I do think that it really only is in the last two years that I’ve been like, okay, we need to be able to build the wealth that we have. We’re closing our seed round this week so we raised-
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:24:41):
Thank you. But we had to raise two mill to start as a CPG company, a consumer packaged goods. You have to buy a huge product order. We have to be able to support our people from the very beginning as a startup. If you want to pay your people well, a competitive salary in fucking New York City, you have to raise money before you’re even making revenue. There are all of these conversations that go into building a large scale business that take a lot of capital. And so for us, that was even a whole conversation around if part of capitalism is redistributing wealth, how do you find the right people to invest in? Because I know we’re going to create a lot of wealth. It’s just a matter of who we want to build that wealth for.
Which that’s I think the conversation, right? It’s like while we work to change the system, because it has to change, that’s not going to happen overnight. I grew up Catholic, change is glacial, girl, than you know, change is glacial.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:25:33):
I grew up in Jesuit Catholic. Actually, went to the cathedral in Portland, Oregon. I was an altar server there.
One of my jobs in college was playing piano at mass every week. So we know that if you want change, glacial pace.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:25:53):
Also Catholic guilt of what you do with wealth or having anything.
Yes. Yeah. So it’s like, okay, while we work to change the system, you still got to pay your rent. You still got to figure out your groceries. And you also like, I don’t want to sit back and not found a company if I feel like it can support people and you need money to run a company. So then it’s like, okay, if I’m doing the least harm, let me go find VCs that I feel like support our mission that I am okay giving money to and getting money from.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:26:28):
When we start thinking about, what change do you want to see in the world? I’m like, I would love to see more women of color in office running incredible companies. But in order to elect them into office, people need to donate and give them large chunks of money. You need to invest in their pre-seed and seed rounds. Right? So much of this exists in a cog. I’m not saying capitalism is not fucked up. It totally is fucked up. I’ve come to my own conclusion that it is an unavoidable thing. I believe that there’s some issues.
At least at this moment.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:26:57):
Yeah. At this moment. I do believe we need an alternative. I don’t think we see one now. I think for me, for the first time with August, I feel like I’m able to generate opportunity but also more impact in a way that acts as passive income. In a non-profit world or my last business was actually as chief brand officer to Gen Z marketing agency. I exited that to start August. But even those two lines of work, non-profit and selling services is cons
tant pitching. Money does not come in if you do not work, there’s no concept of rest. And then from a conceptual standpoint when we think about capitalism, utility, white supremacy, the idea of how do we resist that through pleasure, joy, community, these-
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:27:42):
Yeah, ease. It’s like, I can’t experience any of that if I’m working in a line of work where I can’t take a break. And then so what if I create this engine of impact, a social enterprise where I can take weekends off knowing that purchases are still going, we’re still creating impact. I can come back on Monday knowing that we’ve actually made progress, even though nobody’s been working over the weekend. I think that has been one of the most powerful things from an emotional standpoint of being like, I have the luxury of resting while also making an impact.
One of the things, I don’t know if I’ve told this story. It was one of those like I had, like it was right place, right time. It was super random. I remember I was commuting into work back when HFK was still like a side hustle. I would take the light rail in Seattle and downtown you like go through the Nordstrom to get up to the city. I remember seeing just randomly, while I was, I don’t know, it was a random Tuesday, like the hours of when Nordstrom was open. I was like, I don’t know, eight to eight or whatever. And then it said, or always online @nordstrom.com. Something about that just clicked for me where it’s like, oh, like 2:00 AM. I’m not up, but somebody could buy a product from me at 2:00 AM. And so I started building my business in that way where it was more, obviously more beneficial and more convenient for the person who’s trying to buy something. But also, hypothetically, I could take a break. Or I could earn money in my sleep and then allow that to pay my people, et cetera, et cetera. So yeah, there was something about just seeing that, just like, oh, totally. Right? You can go buy a leather jacket @nordstrom.com even if Nordstrom downtown isn’t open.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:29:27):
Yeah. No, I think it’s one of the really fun things of building a digital front or a business.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:29:34):
Yeah. It’s super fun. I mean, I think that one of the things I’ve been really focused on even over the last year has been like, or becoming passionate about is trying to also get to an abundance mindset where I can actually enjoy having financial stability. Like I, for the first time have health insurance and even though-
How does it feel?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:29:54):
It feels amazing.
This is the height of luxury.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:29:57):
Exactly. It’s like even when I was becoming financially stable a couple years ago, I started making real money and had money in the bank and savings, there were small things where like, I couldn’t get myself health insurance. I didn’t want to buy myself an apartment or get myself an apartment so I would sleep at friends. I would couch surf. I would sleep at port authority bus station because to me I was like, well, that money, like thinking of it as I need to store it under my mattress for a rainy day. It’s not actually to touch and enjoy or not even to enjoy, to literally take care of myself. Like that is not for me. I think it’s been a lot of getting over even the guilt and scarcity of like, no, why the fuck am I working so hard? It is to be able to take care of myself and take care of my people.
Well, that’s an interesting money narrative too, because in theory, that is what we want to do is squirrel away money and save money to take care of ourselves should something happen. But if you’re sacrificing not only just fun but actual comfort in order to get it, that’s not sustainable. You’ve mentioned working to change policy and several policy initiatives that you feel could help menstruators. Can you break down what those are? Is there anything right now that’s currently going through the process that we could support?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:31:26):
I think period poverty to me is a really, really interesting part of the overall conversation around poverty because it is solvable. That’s a huge thing to say about something related to poverty.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:31:39):
It’s like there is specific legislation that if we check off and click off, it is solvable.
You’re right, because I live in Seattle where the houseless issue is massive.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:31:52):
And no one’s got a solution, but everybody thinks they have a solution. No one has a solution.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:31:58):
So it’s like there’s so many aspects of houselessness, homelessness where we have no idea. Or everybody has ideas but not really sure what the path is there.
Right. How to establish them.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:32:09):
With period poverty, this is not addressing period health or inequities there, but the access to products we can solve. We’ve seen other examples like Scotland, for example, where period products are free for everybody.
Where do you go to get them in Scotland? Do you know?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:32:20):
You can like walk into a, I don’t know.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:32:24):
Marks & Spencer would be like-
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:32:29):
I’ve always said like the easy, tangible places are schools, shelters and prisons for marginalized communities. Addressing period poverty in schools for young menstruators, period products should be free in every restroom, shelters or houseless services, human services. Period products should be free just like there’s subsidies for buying condoms. It should be for these necessities as well, prisons.
I remember, well, not because I’m [inaudible 00:32:55] Catholic school, but I remember hearing about in college, you could go to the health center and get condoms or get birth control.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:33:03):
Condoms are a lot more easily accessible than period products.
Because men use them.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:33:08):
I think that school shelters and prisons are one, but I also think a lot of what I try to contextualize in my head is one big way that we solve period poverty or just make progress on it is to treat access to period products just like toilet paper. Right? It is just as much of a necessity. It happens like in the bathroom primarily. When you go to a bathroom, if there was no toilet paper, you’d be kind of pissed. Imagine if toilet paper was stuck behind a dispenser where you had to enter a fucking quarter. Like what the fuck?
And also, you got a cardboard fucking tampon that’s so uncomfortable.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:33:47):
I think that if you had period products for free in every bathroom just like toilet paper, we would make a lot of progress. It’s not saying that they’ll be free at all stores. You still buy toilet paper when you go to CVS. I buy toilet paper for my apartment. Right? But if I go to another workplace or a restroom or anything, I know that there’ll be toilet paper there.
Go to a restaurant, right?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:34:07):
Exactly. You know that there’ll be toilet paper there. It is considered a basic-
Or you go to the manager and you’re like, how come there was no toilet paper?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:34:13):
So periods come just as unexpectedly but cannot be held in like you can hold in your pee. It’s not something where you can like pee on the street as easily. It is not a contained thing. In many ways, I think that how do we move to a place where we really push this message of compare it to toilet paper, period products should be free and accessible just like toilet paper. But there is legislation out there, it’s actually been really inspiring to see the wave of legislation around period products in schools. I have my Google alerts on and probably once or twice a week, I’ll get some sort of notification that another district has passed legislation around period products being in schools.
So it can be at that local district level?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:34:54):
Yeah. That’s one of the challenging parts about it, right? Even around the tampon tax, sales tax is a state by state issue in the U.S. School districts and budgets for how schools are spending is often a district school board conversation, which has its pros and cons. The con is that it’s much lower. It’s a lot more politicized. Local politics is a lot more politicized than national politics, I think. Well, it also means that it’s not a one-stop solution. Because I think that at a national level, yeah, there’s a lot more hoops to jump through but there is also national legislation. Grace Meng, who’s a representative here in New York, introduced a bill called the Menstrual Equity For All Act. It’s been introduced. It hasn’t made much progress, but it would get period products in schools, shelters, but also workplaces. Workplaces over a certain size and things like that. Trying to get WIC programs to cover period products as necessities.
Yeah. Cool. How can we support those issues?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:35:55):
I mean, there are a lot of incredible organizations that are doing work. I’m not involved with PERIOD anymore, but they’re still going and growing with the new team. There’s also No More Secrets, which is an incredible organization August supports based in Philadelphia. I think that’s one of many incredible organizations that’s working on direct service, that is continuing to advocate for the legislative side. But in the meantime, supporting so many menstruators who need products right now.
Yeah. Cool. Let’s talk about TikTok.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:36:21):
So I think both of us have-
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:36:27):
Great passive income stream.
Well, yeah. For us, it’s a lead gen. I’m not making money directly off of TikTok. Are you on the Creator Fund?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:36:35):
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:36:37):
You can, as soon as you have 10,000 followers.
No, I know. I’ve avoided it.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:36:39):
There was a whole rumor, especially in the early days of TikTok.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:36:43):
It’s a myth. I’ve tried it up. I’ve gone in and out of the Creator Fund and I’ve concluded it’s a myth.
But still, they pay like two cents, it’s a comically low amount of money.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:36:51):
But if you have a lot of views and you’re investing in the platform, again, these are videos.
You’re next level though. We went really hard in the early days because it’s like three to five videos a day, at least. I think you’re posting what, like eight, 10, sometimes more than that.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:37:08):
You’re posting 50 videos a day?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:37:10):
I’m very much trying to do 50 videos a day.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:37:14):
It takes me an hour to two hours. I don’t spend a lot of time on TikTok. I post at least 20 a day. This platform is honestly the number one way we’ve kept our cost of acquisition down.
Oh, us too. Us too.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:37:29):
As a podcast, it’s how we’ve gotten all of our podcasts.
Us too. No. I believe in the platform. That’s why we’re on it. That’s why we’re still there. But like, oh my God, the pace is unrelenting.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:37:39):
Yeah. No. It is. But my whole thing is if you just stop, like I never edit, really edit the videos. I literally 30, 45 seconds done. You know? So for me, I think it’s-
It’s quantity over quality.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:37:52):
It’s a quantity over quality game but also I think I do genuinely have a lot of fun on the platform and I think it’s taken a lot of pressure.
I did, but last year I think I’m just tired.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:38:01):
I’m also eight months in.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:38:03):
So I think for me, I’m in honeymoon phase.
We’ve been on for almost two years. I was never posting like 20, 50 videos a day, but I think for my first eight months I was like, oh my God, this is amazing. I was blowing up and we’ve stagnated hard and so it’s like-
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:38:17):
Well, it’s all linked to quantity.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:38:20):
Which we could talk about just how that is so exhausting. I’m like, you know what you’re doing, you’re telling me that my actual worth on this platform is in my productivity.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:38:33):
Which is also directly linked to capitalism things. But also it means that the people who have time to be able to spend that much on the platform and create content and create aspirational content is skewed towards people who come from a place of privilege. I recognize that in myself too.
Yeah. One thing that you and I have done that’s in common is we’ve talked about very taboo topics on TikTok. I think yours is even more taboo than mine is because it’s very visual at times. What sort of shit have you gotten and how has that either personally affected you, affected the business both positively and negatively?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:39:12):
Well, I get anything from basic hate comments to death threats every day.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:39:18):
If you ever want like doubt period stigma exist, you just look through my comments.
That’s how I feel too. I’m like, if you have ever wondered of talking about money as taboo, scroll through my comments.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:39:27):
So I think in many ways it motivates me.
Yep. Me too.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:39:31):
To be honest, I think that the hate comments don’t get to me that are like, ew, this is disgusting. You’re disgusting. The ones that get to me are like, you’re a fraud. I don’t like you.
My worst are from other women who are like, I don’t like that you brag about your accomplishments.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:39
No. I think other women who are like, you’re really full of yourself, you’re an attention whore. I’m like, bitch, it’s TikTok. Literally, it’s about attention.
Bitch, it’s TikTok.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:39:57):
Literally, that’s off the top of my list. I think in many ways though, from how it affects the business, we do have a following and a base of subscribers that are passionate about fighting the period stigma. So every hate comment that they see further motivates I think interest in what we’re doing. So I think in some ways it works for our advantage. I think it’s also an unfortunate reality that social media platforms feed off of controversy, because more controversy and more-
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:40:28):
More clicks, more views, more comments. So the ones where I am posting period blood or posting my vaginal discharge on TikTok, which I do often, the more-
Or a tampon string hanging out.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:40:39):
Exactly, the more content that’s like that, the more hate comments, the more comment, this is too much, this is ridiculous, this is disgusting, the more clicks and views and virality it has, which means for us the more subscriptions, sales, following community we have. I think for us, that phenomenon on social media works in many ways to our advantage. But I do think it’s an unfortunate reality of like, that’s why cancel culture on social media is a thing, you know? And so I think that it’s something that I think about a lot of, how do we build a strategy that continues to not perpetuate or invite that, but just is very focused on doing our own positive work in talking about periods.
I feel like TikTok, especially. So I worked in social media. That was my background. I mean, I’ve never seen virality like TikTok virality ever.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:41:30):
No. And we don’t know how long it’s going to last.
I feel like it’s already clearing out. At least for us.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:41:38):
People on Instagram saw the same thing with being an early adopter there. So who knows how long it’s going to last.
Well, and when you build on borrowed land, and marketers know this. There’s this whole thing about building on borrowed land, meaning you build an audience on Instagram or TikTok or Twitter or whatever, that platform can remove you at any time hypothetically. They can ban you. I’ve been shadow banned, it is a thing. I’ve been shadow banned for like weeks on end. You know? If you build a platform there, you’re building on land that you don’t own.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:42:13):
Yeah, it’s a huge, it’s something where like even from a business, we can’t put all our eggs in one basket and all of that. But I think it’s interesting because the more and more I’m working in this direct to consumer space, the more and more you realize like, oh, fuck, the way these brands for the most part grow and how I don’t want to grow is in this pay to play model. VC is a world in which founders try to raise as much fucking money as possible. And then they pay Facebook and Instagram for ads.
I literally, my last job, it was a FinTech startup. I don’t even want to say it, the amount of money they spent on Facebook ads. I ran Facebook ads for a weekend once and was like, I won’t do this again. We have not paid for ads. We don’t do that shit.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:42:56):
The thing is like it completely neglect community or real conversation. But it’s fascinating.
It’s a lot harder to build organically, but it’s a lot more fruitful.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:43:03):
But it’s fascinating because it reveals, again, what fucking dictates this fucking world is people try to raise as much money as possible. The rich get richer and it’s ridiculous.
And then they spend the money on a platform like Facebook.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:43:19):
Exactly. And then they’re like, screw Facebook. And then it’s like, but you’re giving Facebook millions of dollars a month.
Yeah. You built an entire business.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:43:27):
Yeah. And then the Facebook algorithm changes or iOS 15 privacy changes happen. And then those business are freaking out.
I ran marketing for a company that did that. Yeah. Because I think the platforms get to a point where they’re like, and TikTok, this is already happening. Right? Every probably fourth video I see is an ad and it’s not like a sponsored post. It’s an actual ad promoted. I’m like, fuck, here we go again. That’s so interesting. Oh, I can’t believe you do 50 videos a day.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:44:03):
It’s been 20 recently.
Okay. That makes me feel silly, but still, dude, take care of yourself please. Do you ever have well-meaning people on TikTok who like try to persuade you to like, hi, I like what you’re doing but maybe tone it down a bit.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:44:18):
A hundred percent.
What do you say to those people?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:44:23):
Well usually, most of these go completely ignored. But a lot of them I’m like, well, let’s really talk about this. But I will say, it’s on anything. Yesterday I posted a video that’s at 1.1 million views and it was about getting a colonic. I showed, here’s the fucking tube that went on my butt hole. Because I’m chronically constipated. I think that for me, you look through it and there are a lot of people who are like-
It’s really interesting because I saw, you were like, “I had an enema.” I won’t lie to you. I had the response in my body where I’m like, okay, okay. Okay. This is weird.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:45:01):
No. And my boyfriend too, it’s kind of a joke because if I’m around him, I’ll put on my louder TikTok voice. I’m like, “So today I got poop sucked out of my butt.” He’s like, “Nadya Okamoto.” Because he thinks it’s so much. He’s like, “I don’t think people need to know that you stick the metal tube up your butt.” I’m like, “No, but they do.” So it is something where like-
I even feel it in myself where I’m like-
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:45:20):
Do we need to talk about that?
Do we need to?
The period thing, I get, because there’s stigma. I don’t know. Is there poop… I feel like that’s the hill you don’t want to die on.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:45:27):
I know. But then I look through the comments and it’s like, wait, I need this too. I’m very grateful for you. The world is in danger and you’re helping because you’re… All of these different things.
I read an article last night, I think it was in Bitch Magazine about people’s labias and how sometimes they’re bigger than others and how there’s a stigma around that. Just talking about it on TikTok makes people feel less alone.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:45:52):
Well, that’s mental health. It’s money. All of these things. But I do think that for me, and my whole podcast is like TMI. I recently was in studio and I did a 45 minute episode about my poop update. I was like, here are all the things I need to talk about.
Did people listen to it?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:46:07):
Yeah. Tens of thousands of people listened to it. The thing is then I connect with all these people who are like, wait, I’ve been constipated my whole life. I can’t figure it out. What works for you? It’s a whole dialogue. And so I think that for me, I do think that I’ve been like this since I was young. Whatever people don’t want to talk about, I’m fascinated talking about.
Is it like rebellion in you? Is it like, no, we’re going to fucking talk about it?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:46:30):
No, it’s not. I think it honestly is where like my major depressive disorder comes in handy, which is like I have major depressive disorder, diagnosed major depressive disorder.
Can you tell me what that is? Because I don’t know if I know.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:46:43):
It just means I’m chronically depressed. My neutral is depressed, but I come up very bubbly and I’m very high functioning. I think depression affects people differently. For me, it comes off more as like dissociating and not really thinking about myself.
It’s like big boy depression. It’s not just like, it’s depression light.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:47:02):
It’s more intense and also prolonged. It’s not like oh, I’m depressed for a couple weeks. It’s like, no, I’ve been like this my whole life.
I was going to say like a day.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:47:11):
No. For me it’s like suicidal ideation is my regular, so it’s hard. But I think that in many ways my eagerness to talk about things that other people don’t talk about I think comes from this internal loneliness of there’s so much in society and about my body and about my experience that make me feel really alone. When I talk about them, suddenly I have this very, maybe it’s not a really deep connection, but because periods are stigmatized or because constipation is stigmatized, suddenly I’m in conversation with many strangers who are like, wait, this is what I’m dealing with in my rectum. I’m like, I’m less alone. We are opening up to each other about something that is so stigmatized. It is less of a rebellion thing. It’s more of a connection community thing.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:47:55):
And then I’m connected to people about things that they feel alone about. These are their deep seated things that they’re embarrassed about. I never talked about even orgasming. I’ve never made myself orgasm still today. It’s like a self-pleasure block I have. My mind is so busy. That’s something I never talked about until very recently and it connected me to all these women, many high power women too who are like, me too. It is this deep thing, they’ve been thinking about it every day their whole lives and they’ve never talked about it. I was similarly like I’ve been talking-
Been causing them anxiety or stress or feeling like, am I the only person who’s never able to?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:48:34):
Exactly. So less of a rebellion thing, more of I think it’s like a deep connection community thing. It’s like a selfish thing of me of like, if I have an inherent loneliness inside but every day I get connected to people on a deeper level, that’s really meaningful. I think it’s why TikTok is so powerful because I’m connected to people where they’re just scrolling and suddenly they see a video of a girl with a colonic up her ass. They’re like, it’s something that they’re engaging on more.
No. Okay. I get it.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:49:06):
My colonic was $200, by the way. Yeah. Colonics are that expensive because they have to be administered and is literally-
Do they give you any sort of pain meds for that?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:49:17):
Nope. They just stick it up your butt and then 25 gallons of water trickle into it. It’s a lot.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:49:23):
People get them regularly for health and overall just like feeling good. But it was like one of those things where like, it was really helpful and I was like, wow.
Do porn stars get them too? I think that’s the other thing.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:49:34):
I have no idea.
I think that’s the whole thing.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:49:37):
But for me it was like, I did feel so much better today. My stomach, I don’t have this pain. I literally won’t poop for two weeks, you know?
Oh girl. Ouch.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:49:46):
This is expensive. Trying to address your health is expensive. Going back to like, I need to make money so I can fucking go to the bathroom.
So I can actually poop.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:49:56):
So I can poop. You know?
Let me shit in peace.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:50:01):
Oh man. Well, I’m glad you’re feeling better.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:50:10):
I’m curious to know. I have one question for you.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:50:12):
Which is, I’ve had a few very serious relationships in my life. All of my serious relationships before this one, I was dumped for very much related to insecurity with the other guy about my obsession with my career, making more money than them, the intimidation. I was really curious.
I’m giving Jim face to camera because I’m like, Mm-mm.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:50:36):
I was so excited to ask you about this because I was so curious about how that manifests in your dating life.
Why are you asking me?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:50:46):
Because I think that there’s a lot of conversation around like, I think that money is something that comes up a lot in dating and in building your personal life.
It should, yes.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:50:55):
I don’t know if you watched The Ultimatum, the dating show.
I don’t watch dating shows. I can’t.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:51:00):
I love dating shows.
Oh. They feel so inauthentic. I just can’t.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:51:03):
They are inauthentic.
My best friend is obsessed with The Bachelor and I’m like, Christina, I can’t do that.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:51:07):
I can do The Bachelor.
I can’t do that. I tried. I watched like two episodes of Love Is Blind. I’m like, this is bullshit. I hate them.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:51:14):
But it is interesting because for me I’m like in every part of dating I think money comes up a lot. They’re like whether or not you want to get married, how financially stable are you? Even conversations around chivalry.
Or do you want to have kids? Those things cost money. Those children cost money.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:51:32):
Like what is the number one way you learn as a young girl around if it’s a date or not? If he pays, right? The vision of dating. And I think for me, money just come up a lot. Before, my previous relationship, it’s not an issue. But every relationship before, it’s always been like a very hard conversation.
Interesting. My previous partner and I were together before HFK really blew up. And then we separated during that whole process. Now this is like the first time I took some time off from dating. I needed to figure some stuff out. And this is the first time now I’m actively dating with a very public persona. Like if you do the obligatory Google search of me before a date, you’re going to have a l
ot of information. You’re going to have eighth, ninth, 10th date information about me, about maybe how much money I have. You have a lot of information about me. And so I feel like that actually does a really good job of weeding out the men who I wouldn’t be interested in anyway.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:52:34):
But are they weird about it? Do they have more eagerness to pay for dinner? Or are they like, oh, we’re going to split like you might want to split? You know what I mean?
I feel like I’ve been really lucky where the men who, again, I have pursued or have been interested in have seen that not as like attraction of like, oh, she has money, but just rather like, oh, she is confident and has this business and ambitious. That’s what they feel excited about. Now however, I do, my nana warns me about this all the time. She’ll call me and she’ll be like, “Hi, if you’re going on, like men are going to try to take advantage of you.” Which is funny because the men are trying to take advantage of you conversation was when I was like 14, 15, around sex. And now it’s like money. Take advantage of your own money. Right?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:53:20):
And so I am hyper aware that like that could be a thing. It’s a little scary. I also realized the other day that other than dating, everybody that is in my life now who I’m close to was in my life before I blew up. I have a couple of friends or colleagues but like close people in my life were all there before all this shit happened. And so now I’m trying to figure out like the people who are close to me, not like I’ve changed, but I have. I’m slightly different. Right? And so people who knew me before now know me now, versus people who I’m getting to know, especially in a romantic context only know Her First $100K Tori. Thanks for asking me. No, it’s really interesting. It’s an interesting thing to navigate.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:54:17):
Are you going through that with your partner?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:54:21):
My partner wants to be a stay-at-home dad so conversation around money is like a really big one. But I also think like TikTok is really new. Every video we posts, I have no idea how well it’s going to do. My boyfriend is really conventionally attractive. Because of that, there have been some videos of him that I’ve made where like I kind of expected them just like for those followers to see and three million people liked them. It had nine million views. And so when we go out and he’s never had any social media, he gets recognized as my boyfriend. And so people will run up to us and be like Nadya Okamoto and Henry.
Does that make him uncomfortable?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:55:00):
Yeah. Totally. We don’t get into fights really about anything except for this. But it’s an interesting conversation because he also knows that it’s my job.
Right. But you are involving him.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:55:11):
Yeah. No. And I am involving him and like, what are those boundaries?
Maybe he doesn’t want to be in videos.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:55:17):
Exactly. And like, I live this really public life and I think that I have this, I’ve grown up on social media. I’m 24. I’ve been on social media since before I got my first period. This is a huge part of my life. I think that there is like an internal hope of mine where like, I want to share my whole life with the world. I don’t know if that’s necessarily a healthy thing, but that’s been programmed into my brain.
See, I was that, and now I am purposefully setting boundaries and taking a step back.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:55:47):
Well, and I think that maybe I’ll get there but I think like I do have that urge and I love sharing it. I think a lot of it is because I’ve been through so much relationship trauma. I’m like, now I’m in this healthy relationship and I’m like, I want to share it with everybody. You know? I think it’s interesting, but it’s a conversation that we have a lot.
There’s so much there.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:56:05):
So much there. I think it’s a part of the conversation around money that we have to talk about. There’s a part of me that hates when I get asked as an ambitious career woman, how are you going to balance if you ever have kids? Right? I’m like, why are you asking me that? No other man would be asked that. But at the same time, I’m like, that is a question I ask myself.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:56:25):
Because societally I’ve been told.
Well, then that’s the chicken or the egg of like, am I asking this because-
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:56:30):
I’m actually wondering.
Right. Or am I asking this because I’ve been conditioned to ask this?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:56:34):
Yeah. I think I’ve come to a place in my life where I’m like, wait, I don’t want to ever quit my job. There’s no part of me like I don’t ever want to have kids because I want to take care of kids, you know? Honestly, if I weren’t with a partner who wanted to be a stay at home person, I would not have kids. I had busy parents, I had parents who were not meant for each other and it fucking sucked. I also had parents where we struggled with money. A lot of my, I think trauma around money is my dad was very sexually and physically abusive and a lot of manipulation was around money. For me-
99% of domestic violence cases have some sort of financial-
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:57:09):
Exactly. So there was a lot of money trauma around that. And so I think that for me, when I think about making money, it is very personal and it is very like even the motivations but also what I do with it. Yeah. I think that when I’m alone and when I’m journaling, I do find myself asking these questions around like, what do I want in life?
One, what do you want with a partner? But what do you also want separate from a partner?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:57:35):
Exactly. And like, what do I want to share with a partner?
I’m not trying to psychoanalyze you, but if you don’t want kids and you’re with somebody who wants kids and then you have kids, is that going to lead to bitterness or resentment?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:57:47):
Exactly. And I think it’s also a conversation around like… I obsess over this. If I am the breadwinner, do I want to pay all this money for another human? What if they go to college? I was on a full financial aid, thank God. We couldn’t have paid for college, but I’m like, would I want to suck out 70,000 a year for a kid’s college?
In addition to the 18 years [inaudible 00:58:12].
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:58:13):
I know. And I’m like, yea
h, I’m sure I would. Like parents happily do that, but I’m like, that’s insane. And so these are conversations, I think about for myself a lot because I get asked about them, you know? And I think a lot of it is because I’m a woman and I would get asked about it. But because of that, I think about it all the time.
Yeah. I do too. And I’m friends with a bunch of women who are yeah. Again, best friend Christine is eight years older than me. And so she’s doing the like, not only do I have to figure out if I want, but like the clock-
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:58:42):
Has talked. Like it’s pretty much over. So it’s like, you got to piss or get off the pot at this point.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:58:50):
Yeah. No, it’s crazy. And I think that like societally and historically, the role of a woman is to bear children.
We’re conditioned in that. We’re conditioned to do that from like age two.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:59:03):
No, not just that. I’m talking like, so, boys are given Legos. Right. They’re told to build things and be innovative. Girls are given, literally, young like two year olds.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:59:14):
Baby dolls, veils, easy bake ovens. You’re literally told, your like first toy, the first thing you interact with, your first thought is like, oh, this is my value to society.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (00:59:29):
Yeah. No. I think that because of that, it’s like, okay, what is my vision of a successful. Like I’ve caught myself even like when I think of for example, who are the feminist icons that I maybe not want to be, but I aspire to be like. Like a lot of what I even find myself factoring in is like, oh, like Amal Clooney has like a really successful husband and incredible career. And she also is able to have two kids.
She also has nannies to take care of his children.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:00:04):
Exactly, which costs a lot of money. But I do think I find myself, like when I think of role models, yes, I think of their career, but I’m also thinking of their personal life. I think a lot of it is because I’ve been so conditioned to factor that in. But I also think it’s like, I saw my mom have to sacrifice so much because she had three daughters before the age of 30. That’s crazy. That is crazy to me. Because of that, I think it’s like, when you talk about money and you’re creating wealth, it’s like the first place. I mean, even when you set up a will, who are you leaving your wealth to? Like your direct kids.
Right. We’re also told as women that, again, you can’t want money for yourself. You have to want money for children, for your employees.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:00:51):
I could literally talk about this forever.
Studio time is waning, but yes, I will gladly talk about it forever with you. No, because these are the things that I’m thinking about too.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:00:59):
Yeah. No, completely.
Do you follow John Mulaney’s work at all?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:01:07):
I do. Yeah. I don’t follow closely, but I follow him on social media.
Okay. It was him and Timothée Chalamet for me, was like my big two. I’ve met him. I like had a full on meltdown after he walked away. Like know every line to his stand up. Seen him, like literally saw him in Seattle. He came out on stage. I actually legitimately forgot how to breathe. He walked out and I was like, I love this man. The interesting thing of course about him, now divorcing his wife. I think part of the appeal for so many people who loved him and his wife together was like they were very vocal about the fact that they were not going to have children. It was like this beautiful seemingly like in love, “successful couple.” He just like adored his wife. Right? But also that was I feel like a model for so many, especially millennials who are like, you can exist in this beautiful relationship and go on trips together and do all these things and not have children. And it felt so, I think that’s part of the reason why it felt so jarring to so many of us, of course, when he not only got divorced but then he had a baby with somebody else.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:02:32):
So the majority of my friends don’t want kids.
I don’t think I do.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:02:36):
I think part of it is I come from like more Portland progressive. But also environmentally conscious. I think the number one reason that my friend don’t want kids is the environmental impact of having a child.
Or if the world is going to be here.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:02:48):
Yeah, in 50, hundred years. Which I think is a very valid thing. Again, I still go back and forth on, do I want kids for the right reasons? Do I want it for myself versus because my partner wants it and I can give it to him?
If I’m being a hundred percent honest, the biggest reason I would want children is this is so egotistical, I want a little mini me. And I want to nurture her and grow her because I’m an only child. I never had a sister and I wanted a little sister so badly.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:03:14):
For me, it’s like the most important thing in my life is like my sisters and my family. They’re not going to be in my life in terms of like, well, maybe I could live with them, you know? But I would love to live with them. But I think that is that family aspect. But like, do I want to change a diaper? Fuck, no. Maybe that’ll change. But I do think it’s like the majority of my friends don’t want kids. And I do think that there’s something really empowering, but also thought provoking when we do see a really successful woman stand up and be like, I don’t ever want kids. I don’t want kids. Kamala Harris.
Kamala Harris. Yes.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:03:45):
I don’t want kids. I don’t have time for kids. I think that there’s something really powerful of like, oh shit.
That’s an option.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:03:53):
That’s an option. We kind of forget that because again, we’re so conditioned to think like, what is the goal? What is the end goal? You know?
Right. I can talk about this forever with you. You’ve mentioned August. Talk to me a bit about August.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:04:06):
August is a lifestyle period brand. We make three sizes of tampons and three sizes of pads that are more sustainable a
nd actually work. We launched last June and it’s been a hell of a ride.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:04:20):
Closing your seed round.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:04:22):
Closing seed round, I’ve been touring office space, which is super new. We made a new hire.
New office. Cool.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:04:29):
Yeah. So it’s been really fun.
That’s amazing. I’m so excited for you. Thank you. That’s going to be so good. Last question for you. How can we continue to destigmatize periods?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:04:39):
I think the biggest thing to do, if you want to destigmatize periods is just to start talking about it.
That’s how we feel about money. Just talk about money guys.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:04:47):
Part of it is like an easy step that I tell people is stop whispering period when you say oh, I’m on my period.
Stop hiding your tampon up your sleeve to go to the bathroom.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:04:56):
Yeah. Stop. Catch people when they use a euphemism, when they say time of the month.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:05:02):
Yeah. Start calling people on it. Start talking about period poverty. The next time you’re doing a donation drive or cleaning out your closet for clothes and what you’re going to donate, donate period products. I think also on a legislative side, these are conversations happening in every single state, right? So if you want to get involved, there are organizations out there doing this work. You just have to find them.
Right. Or calling representatives and voicing-
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:05:28):
Or voting for it when you see it on your ballot.
Right. Where can people find you?
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:05:33):
I’m just at Nadya Okamoto Okamoto on social media and August is itsaugust.co.
Love it. Thank you.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:05:39):
Thanks for being here.
Nadya Okamoto Okamoto (01:05:40):
Thank you Once again to Nadya Okamoto for joining us for Financial Feminist. If you’re interested in checking out her period products, head to itsaugust.co. We’ll make sure to link her website and all of her social handles below in the show notes. We also link additional resources below for states that still do implement the tampon and period tax so you can lobby your legislators to make meaningful change and remove tax from these vital products. It’ll literally take you less than two minutes. Call up your legislators, voice your disapproval for these tampon and period taxes and demand change. You can also email them. You can typically sometimes text them as well. So please take two minutes out of your day and vocalize your support against these kinds of taxes. Thank you again for listening to Financial Feminist. Thank you for being here.
Thank you for your support of topics that might seem taboo but are so important to discuss and make more normal and normalize these conversations. So we appreciate your support as always and we will talk to you soon. Thank you for listening to Financial Feminist, a Her First $100K podcast. Financial Feminist is hosted by me, Tori Dunlap. Produced by Kristen fields. Marketing and administration by Karina Patel. Olivia Coning, Cherise Wade, Alina Helzer, Paulina Isaac, Sophia Cohen, Valerie Oresko, Jack Coning, and Ana Alexandria. Researched by Ariel Johnson. Audio engineering by Austin Fields. Promotional graphics by Mary Stratton. Photography by Sarah Wolfe and theme music by Jonah Cohen Sound. A huge thanks to the entire Her First $100K team and community for supporting the show. For more information about Financial Feminist, Her First $100K, our guests, episode show notes, and our upcoming book also titled Financial Feminist, visit herfirst100k.com.