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The Gen-Z CEO and influencer with almost 3 million followers explains how she makes it work

April 16, 2022, 1:00 PM UTC
Headshot of Nadya Okamoto
Co-founder of August, Nadya Okamoto.
Courtesy of Nadya Okamoto by Mercedes Zapata

Nadya Okamoto is only 24, but she found her calling at just 16 when she found the nonprofit PERIOD to address period poverty and advocate for the end of the tampon tax. Since then, she’s continued to defy expectations and societal norms while running her own sustainable period company, August, and posting videos to her viral TikTok account.

Choosing a more freestyle and unedited approach to social media, Okamoto posts around 20 to 50 videos a day that range from intensely personal videos to more casual “get ready with me” content. Okamoto grew up with social media: She tells Fortune she made her first Facebook account before she had her first period. And when starting her nonprofit, she quickly realized that social media was a free and accessible tool for marketing. 

Her blend of personal and private on one account might seem unusual, as short videos about her brand are mixed in with vlog-style videos on whatever topic might be on her mind. What matters most though when creating a viral social media presence is being authentic, Okamoto says.

“I think it’s really cringey when someone who does not feel natural on TikTok tries to be on TikTok,” Okamoto says. “But if you’re trying to talk to a TikTok audience, then you should have someone who speaks that language and is authentic to it.”

But to say that all Okamoto does in a day is post TikToks would be entirely off-base. She’s busy building a business and advocating for women, and she doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.

What got you started on your path to your current role?

I was inspired to get involved with period advocacy work when I was 16 and learned about period poverty and related injustices like the tampon tax. I wrote a book called PERIOD POWER, and through my research for the book, I founded the nonprofit PERIOD and served as executive director for six years. I started to feel called to the brand side so I could really innovate on actual period care and reimagine the conversation around periods from the avenue of social entrepreneurship, which is why I was inspired to start August.

Outline your day-to-day. Do you have any rituals or routines around work?

Lots of Zoom meetings and making TikToks!

I usually wake up around 8:30 a.m. to get ready for the day. I love cleaning the house for a bit before my phone calls. It just helps me physically feel like my workspace is ready, too. I also like to stay active so I’m not working at my chair all day, whether that’s going to Solidcore classes or taking a yoga break.

How do you deal with career-related doubt or frustration?

One of the biggest challenges I faced was burnout — both physically and mentally. I often worked until I was exhausted, and this was detrimental both for me and the people around me. Since then, I’ve really learned the importance of prioritizing my health and self-care and will continue to work on finding harmony in my work and life.

How do you know that what you’re doing is right?

Sometimes I get discouraged because chipping away at the period stigma is a long and slow process. The one thing that always affirms me and helps me know my work is valuable is seeing firsthand the impact that August has made.

I receive thousands of comments from young menstruators on my social media telling us how we’ve changed their perspective on periods, or the way they approach their period care. It’s amazing to see our impact on our community, and that is what drives me every day to continue my work.

I believe in what I do—and I am inspired and humbled by the opportunities to work with such incredible people who push me to think bolder, work smarter, and be accountable to the intentions of what we are building.

What’s success to you?

To me, success is doing everything I can with my time, energy, and passion to contribute to this movement in some way. I feel humbled to be one small part in this menstrual movement, and excited to see what’s to come. On a personal level, I’d love to keep my daily habits of sleeping eight-plus hours a night! Which still sometimes feels like a big and challenging feat.

This is Success Stories, a series of profiles featuring people who are redefining what it means to excel in their careers. Know someone we should profile? Submit their name by following the link here.