Leading with love: A conversation with Rita Nakouzi

by Brooke Williams


Rita Nakouzi is one of those women who seems to have a warm glow emanating from her at all times. Her smile brightens every room she enters, and she always has time to lend a hand with a project, pick up your kids from school when you’re running late, or just listen to whatever complaints you might need to get off your chest. Yet she has two spirited children of her own, a husband who is often on the road, and she runs her own trend and luxury branding agency, 4.5 Productions, among other things. 

We recently sat down with Rita for breakfast to see if we could get some tips on how to be more balanced in our daily lives. Here’s a bit of what she had to share:


On how her business reflects her personal approach to life:

It’s sort of funny that wellness is now considered a “trend”—it's been a lifestyle choice of mine since I was 14. When I was a kid I started to think about the role of meat in my life, and that’s really how it started. And then when I was 18, I started to approach my health more holistically. I began to question western medicine and started to figure out on my own what it means to heal yourself and how everything is interconnected.

And now that this wellness approach is officially a trend, it's been interesting to see how it’s seeped into my life in so many ways. For example, I was able to collaborate with One Hotel last year with their approach to wellness. For their opening in Brooklyn, they wanted to create a welcome pack that identified what the hotel was all about, so we created a box that consisted of touching all parts of ourselves- really getting at that notion of oneness. There was an elixir that you could drink for the body, bath salts made with Maldives crystals to soothe the soul, a holy sweetgrass to burn as a smudge, a scent that was designed specifically for the hotel… In the end, the box really fulfilled what the hotel was all about.


On how we might go about making one of these kits for ourselves:

You want good materials because pretty with no depth is ultimately fleeting. Try not to get seduced by the packaging. Consider where something is made, how it is made and who it is made by.

For your space, you want some kind of scent like sage to ground you and give you a fresh start. I get mine at Sacred Land Sage . They also have great information on how to use smudges on their site. Then, for the body, I use a lot of essential oils that are really soothing and healing. It kind of depends on how you feel which oils you'll want to use-  it's important to be in tune with yourself and to listen to what you need. I mix my essential oils with coconut oil when using them for scrapes or bruising or to nurture, but sometimes— especially in mornings or at night— I use a few drops on their own and mix with moisturizer. Or you could go with an all-over body oil like Everyday Oil, which I love.

I also start my day with a cup of hot water and lemon. And I meditate, which I think is so important. With technology and the way our lives move it’s really about taking ownership of ourselves and giving ourselves time to be grounded and present. Once you’re grounded, you can set an intention for the day and then you can approach the world with purpose. I think those are the most important things. Especially right now. We are living in very stressful times!


On the importance of art and culture and dissent in trying times:

I’ve been appreciating music and the arts and just trying to take in more culture lately- to make it a priority. I saw a Pina Bausch performance recently and it was so good! It dealt with loss and love and oppression- there is just so much within these pieces- and it’s depicted beautifully through dance and movement. It’s also a reminder that yes, we can have these issues, but we can deal with them… we can grapple with them in a more productive way. 

I also keep going back to the Revisionist History podcast that Malcolm Gladwell did about generous orthodoxy. I love the notion of generous orthodoxy as a concept. The idea of disagreeing without putting someone down, of expressing your piece without anger- because anger distilled is hurt. It’s a really powerful idea to dissent in a way that is loving. That’s the challenge we face now.











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