This brand doesn’t want to only destigmatize periods, but to raise awareness for issues that are important to Gen Z, from sustainability to gender inclusivity…
As Gen Z and Millennials have grown up, marketing around period products have radically changed, and conversation around periods has become far more open and honest. NPR dubbed 2015 “the year of the period,” while Cosmopolitan said it was “the year the period went public,” citing a series of events that put open conversations and imagery around menstruation in the spotlight. Since then, the trend has only gotten even stronger: big brands have pivoted their marketing strategies to showcase women talking more openly about their periods and participating in actual physical activities. In 2017, U by Kotex opened a pop-up shop full of curated products to make periods a little more bearable, while the 157-year-old Midol recently updated its packaging to be more appealing to Gen Z and their pesky menstrual cramps. Meanwhile, startups like Thinx and Lola have attempted to challenge the stigma around periods and traditional approaches to marketing menstruation-related products.
But in 2021, young people expect more when it comes to destigmatizing periods, and Gen Z is pushing the industry to change even further. Cue August, a “personalized period care” brand founded by Gen Zers Nadya Okamoto and Nick Jain, which wants to be more than a traditional feminine care company. While they offer sustainable and ethically-made tampons, pads, and liners, their site also has informative resources about period health—and many of their products are created with the help and feedback from their Inner Cycle forum, a menstruation-focused online community where their nearly 1,500 members can talk openly about issues important to them. And of course, the Gen Z-helmed brand has utilized social media to get word out about their products: Okamoto, who also co-founded nonprofit organization Period and wrote the book Period Power, shares videos on TikTok to her 556.3K followers on everything August , and even went viral on the app for a video explaining how their tampons open sideways to provide more comfort for the wearer. The brand’s official @itsaugustco features videos not only about their products but everything from users sharing their first “period stories” to tips and advice.
The brand also wants to make period care more gender inclusive, and offers a Gender Inclusivity Guide that highlights periods and gender, and according to Creative Producer Sam De La Cruz, the period space is “gendered which leaves many menstruators left out of the conversation” and needs to work toward being “gender inclusive and affirming.” We spoke with De La Cruz more in-depth about what August is doing to reach Gen Z, what’s different about the next generation of consumers, and more:
YPulse: How did August get started and what inspired you all to build a brand around period care?
Sam De La Cruz: Nadya [Okamoto] and Nick [Jain] decided to start August in January 2020 to create an overall impact on the conversation and stigma surrounding periods. Before this, Nadya had been working in the nonprofit sector for many years as the founder of period.org. She knew there was a lot of work that needed to be done in this space surrounding not only sustainability but creating a product that was ethical and impactful. Nick’s interest in the period space began in 2018 when Nadya and Nick were on a panel discussing period poverty—thus birthing the brand August.
YPulse: How has being founded by a Gen Z team impacted the kind of brand that August is?
SD: August is made by, with, and for anyone who menstruates. Our Gen Z team provides insight into age, gender, race, and a lot more. We listen to what our demographic needs, and can understand because we need those things too.
YPulse: What do you think is different about the next generation of consumers that you are focused on?
SD: The next generation of consumers is expecting more of brands in general. They have grown up through financial and environmental disasters taking place at the hands of those in power, and ultimately, they are standing up to demand a higher standard of compassion and authenticity. In this space in particular, they are craving the opportunity to be open about something as natural as menstruation, and are recognizing that they deserve more out of period care—that they deserve to feel empowered by their period care rather than shamed by it, that they deserve high quality period care that is accessible and ethically and sustainably made, and that they deserve to know where their period care comes from and how it is made. The next generation of consumers is recognizing that they deserve a new beginning when it comes to period care, and August can be that new beginning, or for first time menstruators, a better beginning.
YPulse: Why do you think Gen Z is ready to talk more honestly about periods and destigmatize the issue?
SD: Gen Z believes it’s about time capitalism gets a makeover. The period industry is about 100 years old in the mainstream market and menstruators are fed up. There is still a huge stigma surrounding periods and a large gap leaving young menstruators unaware of what is happening to their bodies. Gen Z is ready to have these hard conversations, and we have tools like social media where we can start real and raw conversations. Opening up the space for this only helps us pivot into change. This isn’t just a subject menstruators need to be knowledgeable about but a subject that everyone needs to be more conscious of.
YPulse: How does August work and what products do you offer?
SD: August provides sustainable and ethical period care that reimagines periods to be powerful. At August, customers can shop for sustainable and ethically made tampons, pads, and liners. We offer the option to create a monthly personalized subscription box. Only you know exactly what you need and what best fits your flow, so you have the option to create that. Accountability and transparency are a top priority for August. That’s why interactive product journey maps, sustainability reports, and certifications can be found clearly on the site. Most disposable period products take up to 5-8 centuries to decompose, and we offer products with not only 100% organic cotton but products that take only 12 months to biodegrade. Along with being biodegradable, August is carbon neutral and conscious of ethical tracking and shipping habits.
YPulse: Along with period care, sustainability and inclusivity seem to be a big part of August’s mission. How are you incorporating that in your brand and why are the important issues to you?
SD: August believes it shouldn’t be a dark secret how the products are made. Sourcing suitable materials from ethical manufacturers is important. Located on the site, visitors can find the conscious footprints we leave behind. You can interactively track August’s product journey and follow how exactly the products are fulfilled and distributed. Being transparent about sustainability and impact is important because we want to break the norms of capitalism. Period care needs to be accessible because this is something that is out of any menstruators control. Just how toilet paper is accessible for free in bathrooms, period care should be this easy to access. It is our responsibility as a company to participate in givebacks, on our check-out page from shopping with August, we give the option to donate to our non-profit partner No More Secrets, which is the nation’s first ever menstrual hub, on a mission to make period health education more holistic and accessible.
YPulse: Are you seeing that Gen Z is prioritizing sustainability and inclusivity?
SD: The passion Gen Z has surrounding a multitude of social and environmental issues is so refreshing to see, especially how this passion is conveyed in their purchasing choices. Menstruation is not solely a women’s issue. This space is gendered which leaves many menstruators left out of the conversation. Periods should be gender inclusive and affirming. Schuyler Bailar, a good friend of August, created a Gender Inclusivity Guide outlining so many answers and conversations to be had surrounding periods and gender. The guide outlines commitments to being more gender inclusive and do’s and don’ts. Providing this resource has been extremely helpful to ourselves and our community in moving forward towards unlearning, learning, and being more aware.
YPulse: Our Clicking on Community trend report explores how young people are joining and building online communities based on interests and issues they care about. Tell me about the #InnerCycle online forum and how it began.
SD: The Inner Cycle is the foundation of who we are at August. We are community built and driven. That’s why it’s so important to us to build connections with people who want to be a part of change. Having a forum that is accessible to all age groups, all different kinds of menstruators to talk about not only all things periods but also just the wellbeing of our community is so important. We stand by providing sustainable and impactful period care but we also stand firmly on providing educational resources and a safe place our community can turn to. Whether it’s a bad day at school or feeling excited about a new stepping stone in life or just needing some period advice, our community provides a shoulder to cry and laugh on.
YPulse: How much has #InnerCycle has grown since August was launched?
SD: The Inner Cycle started has a small community of about 200 people within its first launch week and now almost a year later has grown into an also 1,500 member international community with people from all walks of life. The Inner Cycle has members in over 46 countries and continues to grow everyday empowering more and more people to chat about periods.
YPulse: What’s next for August?
SD: August is going to continue empowering menstruators all around the world by serving our Inner Cycle community. We will continue to use social media platforms to bring accessible education and provide period resources. Platforms like TikTok allow us to openly talk about periods and continue the conversation. Along with this, we also have Ask August—a free, medically-verified, and ever-growing, period health Q&A database. So, what’s next? August will continue to serve its community by educating not only their community but themselves as well. Continuing to provide innovative period care and strive towards ending period stigma. Periods make human life possible, menstruators are powerful and the world should know this.
Sam De La Cruz is the Creative Producer at August. Working alongside all projects, photoshoots, and campaigns, she ensures all ideas are brought to life. Her role primarily ranges from managing concepts to completion and making sure August is producing impactful and engaging moments. Sam works closely with influencers and press contacts to make sure the world knows August is pushing away from the stigma around menstruation and relabeling periods as powerful.