NARDJISSE BEN MEBAREK
Nardjisse Ben Mebarek began her career as a marketing manager in fashion and luxury but quickly moved on to founding a digital communication agency, an experience that lasted 6 years. Simultaneously this multi-hyphenate (in keeping with her name) worked as a journalist, blogger and in PR.
Today, she is the Digital Director of NellyRodi, the venerable consulting agency focused on trends, innovation and creativity and with offices in Paris, Tokyo and New York. Nardjisse's motto: "All i want is more!". She sat down with Inside/Out to discuss the evolution of wellness, in today's society where, incidentally, one always needs to give more.
Inside/Out: Nardjisse, how would you define your relationship to sports?
Nardjisse Ben Mebarek: I have regular activities but not as many as I would like. In the long run, it's difficult for me to commit to and practice physical activities. These days, yoga is the activity that suits me the best, because it helps with stress, allows me to reconnect with my brain, and elevates me in a certain way. At one point, it saved me from a potential burn-out.
I/O : What does your community look like?
NBM: Female entrepreneurs, active women. But not such sporty ones. More like ones with "active lifestyles".
I/O: In your opinion, what has changed recently in our social practice of sports and how does this affect our lifestyle today?
NBM: You want to practice sports with people, and you do it because it’s good for you, for your body, and also for your mind. Apps provide performance data, pushing your limits, thus potentially allowing you to improve and in a fun way; the community dynamic incites things like group runs. We have gone from a performance culture to a culture of fun and of care. You can see it through activities like yoga and cycling. We are more attracted by activities that celebrate pleasure and wellness. We don’t respect sports that promote doping or even severe constraints. We seek clean sports, ones that minimize the stress of our daily lives; sports that reconcile mind and body.
I/O: It’s good form to show some kind of balance through sports, eating well and the practice of meditation. Do you think that wellness and sports are new forms of injunctions today?
NBM: Injunctions, no. But ways of compensating the effects of our busy and stressful lives, yes. More and more people around me include sports in their daily schedules, in order to compensate for their pace of work. Our jobs might be exciting but they demand a lot from us. We receive thousands of stimuli every day, and mostly because of all the different contact points that request answers from us (phone, social networks, emails, meetings…). Concentration is now a sport! And when you talk about adopting a healthy lifestyle, when you see the impact on our physical resistance - our skin or even our sleep - you understand why it is essential. And today eating well can be fun: when you see all those colorful, inspiring and gourmet recipes on Instagram or Pinterest using the #veggie #healthy #cleanfood hashtags, you can see that it goes way beyond a trend. It is now an established lifestyle, a mindset.
I/O: Let’s talk about "generations" - do you think that sports are now essential to millennials while previous generations were dropping them in our teenage years?
NBM: No, not really. I don't think that sports are more motivational for millennials than they were for former generations. They prefer e-sports! However, millennials practice sports differently: with friends, squads…. Everyone can now build real connections and share their passions with their communities, followers and like-minded individuals.
I/O: Female empowerment has become a key value in sports for women, as in wellness. How do you analyze this trend?
NBM: Women have always been interested in helping each other and in self-affirmation. They express themselves exactly the way they used to, but they were less audible, more confidential, even five years ago. Social networks have provided visibility and allowed their voices to be heard! In the past, sports gurus were from the innermost circles, high-level athletes, famous figures who were the incarnation of sports. Today, you can be inspired by different kinds of women, with different shapes and different backgrounds, from Lorette Barron to Rachel Brathen, from Michelle Obama and her daily workouts, to Sarah Ourahmoune who provides an amazing showcase of women's boxing. I personally love the GoodMood Class by Sophie Trem, each time it gives me energy and puts me in such a good mood!
I/O: And how has the digital age changed the game?
NBM: Digital has made sports more mainstream by making them more audible, more accessible, less niche. But beyond digital, it’s the smartphone that changed the whole game with apps like Runstatic or 7minworkout. They are real personal trainers!
I/O: Do you think that women showing off their sweaty bodies or posting #ootd workout pics on Instagram are a sign of the socialization of sports? A collateral effect?
NBM: Let’s say it’s like showing stretch marks in an ad campaign: it’s just a way of exposing a certain form of transparency, truth, and authenticity. A woman and or man working out without sweating is not credible. So yes, it’s a bit staged, but I think that consumers are over immaculate aesthetics and super retouched images. They cannot be fooled anymore. So beyond socialization, it’s mostly an answer to a new vision of sports, less aspirational and more realistic, and also more in sync with whom we really are.
I/O: What sites, podcasts and references would you recommend to the Inside/Out community?
NBM: Prescription Lab, a beauty site. I like their kindness and their didactic approach in regard to ingredients and product formulations. Papiertigre.fr and nailmatic.com, both founded by friends who I know to be motivated, independent entrepreneurs who value engagement and quality. And true artisans.
I really like reading stories about women with inspiring trajectories. For podcasts, Generation XX and Transfert / Slate. And to name an app, I would say Simone, for the pleasure of treating myself to a mani/pedi at home, when my daughter is napping.
I/O: What role does travel play in your life, at the moment?
NBM: I am the mother of a little 3-year-old girl so traveling is very difficult for me these days. It's tough for me to be away from her for long. In general, I like to travel to big cities like New York or to Bali, a destination I discovered last year and where I was able to surf and practice yoga. I would say I travel differently now: I look for yoga classes everywhere I go. Even if I go to Marseille! Next year, I would like to discover THE destination that stands for wellness, healthy lifestyle and also the most Instagram friendly of all: California!
I/O: What makes you happy?
NBM: My daughter, my couple, my family and my job. And a good thai massage, from time to time. These days, the stars are aligned.
I/O: Who are your models?
NBM: My mother, a young French bourgeoise who left for Algeria, when she was 23. Cultivated, audacious and rebellious. Simone Veil, for her path, her values and her convictions. In a time when our rights as women, are questioned, her words remind us how much they had to fight to earn them. My friends for their choices and personalities. Even when they are far away from me, they stay close.
I/O: Your list of essentials?
NBM: My iPhone, my jewellery, a red lipstick and a picture of my daughter.
I/O: Where can our community find you?
NBM: Everyday on Instagram on on Sundays, at the Aligre market near the Square Trousseau.
I/O: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
NBM: On a beach, with my daughter, my family, some friends and a glass of Vionnier.
I/O: A desire or a wish for the upcoming year?
NBM: That life will be sweet.