Karina Mota is a talented woman entrepreneur living in São Paulo. As the daughter of a bohemian Italian and an Amazonian Indian, she is a citizen of the world and feels at home in many places... She lived in California during her teenage years, in Paris from 19, then after a seven year stint in fashion, Headed back to Brazil where she started her own business with a group of partners.

In the last ten years, their Group 'Chez' (which loosely translates as 'at' in French) has developed dozens of spaces: a boutique, a club, several restaurants, bars (among the newest: Chez Oscar, Chez l'Or, Bar Decima and Orfeu) as well as a design and consulting office. Today Karina divides her time between São Paulo and, well, most anywhere in the rest of the world that allows her to stay connected to the sea.


INSIDE/OUT: What’s the first sport you ever practiced?
Karina Mota:
Swimming - my first memory. I was 6 years old at a surfers' beach in Brazil and my mother went to swim. I missed her so I decided to face those huge waves, swimming by myself like a grown up. I felt quite brave.

 I/O: And the first one that made you feel confident?
Surfing and dancing make me feel free and strong.

I/O: Was physical education a central element of your identity at school when you were a kid?
Not really, I was more used to watch my volleyball teammates get into fights with the visiting teams!

I/O: Are you a sports fan?
KM: I enjoy watching sports on TV - tennis mostly - but I don't consider myself a fan.

I/O: What sports heroes do you remember from childhood?
Ana Botafogo the ballet dancer (editor's note: this Brazilian athlete danced in France and has been the prima ballerina of Theatro Municipal de Janeiro since 1981) and Ayrton Senna the Brazilian Formula 1 driver, a legend.


I/O: How would you define the relationship that the habitants of São Paolo have with the active lifestyle? 
I can't speak for the 15 years that I was away traveling, but in the last ten years I’ve noticed that people have integrated bikes into their routines and I think that’s a start for a healthy lifestyle. But here bikes are not only a mode of transportation, they are also used as a form of protest, as the traffic is very intense and the air quality is horrifying.

I/O: What is your ideal performance garment or product?
Brazilian swimwear and my Muay Thai gloves.

I/O: Your favorite activewear brands?
KM: Stella McCartney for Adidas, Haight (a brand from Rio) for swimwear.

I/O: What lifestyle rituals or routines do you do before or after working out?
Power juices, stretching and a few of minutes meditation.

calm at Chez Oscar.JPG

I/O: What about beauty?
KM: A shower with Aesop products is essential to keep my skin and hair fresh, clean and hydrated.

I/O: What activities say Sao Paulo the most?
KM: Cycling.

I/O: From street to studio, define your style.
KM: Bohemian, always.

I/O: What lifestyle trends do you see happening? 
KM: The develoment of raw food, medicinal food and meditation of course.

I/O: What activities have you recently discovered or want to try?
KM: Danza Medicina, an empowerment tool to bring women to self-realization, self-confidence, and deep authenticity. Through psychotherapeutic movement and an awakening of the ancient feminine wisdom within, Danza Medicina brings back the body, mind, and spirit to our instinctive nature, intuitive potential, and visionary power.

I/O: Favorite studio and class? Other activities or groups that you like?
 On a boat, in the middle of the sea, is where I am at my best. In Sao Paulo I train with Rodrigo Ruiz and in Paris I love Rasa Yoga.

It’s our everyday job to empower every woman, it’s essential like breathing. It’s our only way to change the unfair world we are living in. I’m starting with the woman in the mirror.

I/O: How do you strive to find balance in your life?
KM: The most important thing to me is to respect my own pace.  If I’m going to do anything, I try to do it peacefully and mindfully, and I try to enjoy whatever my goal is.

I/O: Are selfcare and working out the new nightlife in Sao Paulo these days?
KM: From my perspective, they are for people over 30, but most kids are still all about nightlife: this city never sleeps!

I/O: How have sports or physical activities impact your eating habits?
KM: I have been focusing on raw vegetables, fruits and eating and buying local.

I/O: Does challenging yourself physically take you out of your comfort zone in other areas of your life?
KM: Not really, but it just gives me more energy and strength to accomplish what I want.

I/O: When travelling, how do you connect locally? 
KM: I have a lot of friends everywhere and, more than anything, I try to get tips and information from them.

Capture d’écran 2018-05-22 à 13.28.26.png
Capture d’écran 2018-05-22 à 13.28.53.png

I/O: Do you feel more connected to communities online or physically?
KM: I try to think that I keep a good balance.

I/O: What destinations are on your wish list? 
KM: Mexico, Japan, Birmania, Amazonia.

I/O: What role does music play in your practices?
KM: I listen to trashy pop music for Muay Thai and I need silence to practice my other activities.

I/O: What does female empowerment mean to you?
 It’s our everyday job to empower every woman, it's essential like breathing. It's our only way to change the unfair world we are living in. I’m starting with the woman in the mirror.

I/O: Do your wellness practices give you a sense of community?
Yes, it’s a different way to connect with people, which I very much appreciate.

I/O: Do you have a mantra? 
KM: I got a beautiful mantra from my Yawanawa Ayahuasca healing mentor (editor's note: 'Ayahuasca', 'iowaska' or 'yagé' is a pant-based brew used as a traditional spiritual medicine associated with shamanism, as practiced among indigenous peoples like the Urarina of the Peruvian Amazon). It says: 'Fogo sagrado da realização' which means 'Sacred fire of realization.'

1st line: Chez Oscar, Rua Oscar Freire, 1128 Jardins, São Paulo
2nd line: Orfeu, Avenida Ipiranga, Bloco A, 318 - Loja 3 - República, São Paulo



1 tip to improve performance: eat raw, drink more water, love yourself more, be kind to everyone and breathe
1 trainer:  Rodrigo Ruiz
1 app: Headspace
1 blog/site: Yawa Festival's site
1 food address: Chez Oscar for the organic, salads and raw lunch
1 beverage: coconut water
1 inspiration: nature
1 woman we should interview: Marcela Franklin (Haight founder), Paula Raia, a Brazilian designer and Bela Gil.