Elise and Julia
I decided to open this third season of #VraiesMeufs portraits with a double portrait about Elise and Julia, two young entrepreneurs you probably already met. “I met Elise about two years ago and I think she’s really funny. At a certain point, our paths met and then parted, where we each worked on our projects, always having in mind that one day we had to do something together. Since then, a lot of time and things have come and gone, so I have an appointment with her on this summer’s day for coffee in the 8 ème arrondissement (8th district) where she lives, with Julia, her friend and partner, whom I will be meeting for the first time.”
The two friends met in high school. Julia grew up in the 93 in Gagny and went to high school in the 17th, and Elise lives in the 8th. “We were in enemy gangs so at first we didn’t talk to each other and then one day we found ourselves at that party where we started laughing at everyone. That’s a bit how we started becoming friends. At first we used to write stories where we used to make fun of people in our community, young people who only think about money, guys who think they’re cool because they’ve spent 1000 bucks in a club… In fact, Elise is not really a girl from the 8th and I’m not a girl rom the 93, we are a blend of too many influences, of so much stuff.”
Later on, the two girls were spotted to host a radio show on RCJ (radio for the Jewish community) “We had a friend named Carla who was doing an internship there, so when they gave her a slot to do her show she called us. We were on a Jewish radio station, so the main themes are how to cook couscous for chabat and how to study the Torah thoroughly. We started a show where all we did was talk about ass, periods, clitoris… I let you imagine the ordeal for the rabbis in the control room. But at the end, the show went on really well, it was quite exciting. After the show, I[Elise] started making videos on Snapchat which caught some attention and Julia was a host on NRJ.”
It was then that the girls began to think about a common project. Fed up with everything they found in the media, they want to create their own concept, which would be more realistic. “One day, we saw an ad about Minutebuzz on Facebook: they were looking for someone to create a female media. I commented something like "this guy didn’t understand anything”. Who still wants to make a female media today when talking about hair, dietary habits, slimming, no longer attracts anyone. I had a lot of likes on my comment and the CEO of Minutebuzz contacted me to ask me if I had a better suggestion. I called Julia and suggested that she create a female media where we could see everything except what we see in mainstream magazines. At that time I was completely discouraged with studies. I handed over a blank copy on the last exam to get my degree, I just wrote everywhere “what the hell am I doing here, I hate my life…” On leaving, I received a message from Julia: we were selected to set up our project. I took that as a sign from God and called my mother to tell her that I would never go back to the Sorbonne again in my life.“
"As for me [Julia] I did my master’s degree but I didn’t even graduate because before leaving school, I was already hired, as I was already working. We were both recruited before we finished our studies. What’s really funny is that a year later, the Sorbonne called us for an interview like "They did it” whereas Elise didn’t even get the diploma.“
They launch Fraîches, a fully video media with 1.7 million Facebook subscribers. But the two girls eventually left MinuteBuzz to start a real business together. ”Big groups have started approaching us so that we can do the same thing for them. We also spent all day interviewing women entrepreneurs who all told us “set up your thing!” We began thinking that Fraîches was cool, but that feminism has really turned into a business. There is a very opportunistic and hypocritical side to all these brands that come to us so that we can become “their girl power asset” when just yesterday they did very problematic things.“
"So we wondered what the next step would be, what is the fate of this trend. Feminism is something obvious and something that concerns us all: it’s not a chick thing, it’s a human problem. Everyone must be a feminist: men, women, children, dogs. But then, the feminism we used to do at Fraîches is no longer relevant. We want to put everyone on an equal footing and set up a new neo-feminist media. And in neo it’s "the guys are with us”. The aim is to do a unisex thing, more in the sense “look at this woman who managed to do this” but rather look at all these people who do these things" without necessarily feeling the need to mention their sex, religion, sexual orientation… when it’s not necessary.“ What Julia says sounds like a message I recently received from a girl who criticized me for not putting enough LGBT community profiles in the spotlight on VraiesMeufs. In fact, there are many, it’s just that I never thought it was relevant to mention it, as it wasn’t what we were talking about.
While waiting for their upcoming new media, the young women have launched their brand consulting company together. "When we left Fraîches, many brands contacted us because they could no longer talk to young people or women. Most continue setting up muses that do not exist and still don’t understand that we’re not all white, that we’re not all 34… I’m no uglier than Kendall Jenner, I just don’t have the same bank account, the same surgeon and the same Photoshop skills.”
“A friend showed me a very touching ad that has been circulating on social media recently. At the end, I noticed that there were only whites in this video. In France, it’s something you don’t even notice, whereas if she had shown the video to an American or an Englishman, he would have noticed it right away. We are still in a very white and narrow vision of the society, that which is not true. I have another even more memorable anecdote: when receiving the photos after a shooting, a friend realizes that there is a black man with her. When she asks who this man is, she is told that he is there to bring diversity. It means that there is very little diversity in France, that there are actors paid to be "the black”, it’s very serious. Just have a look at the situation of French cinema too: blacks have black roles and Arabs the same. The neighborhood kid, the local guy with an accent, the housekeeper, the thief or burglar…“
A key element of their new media is to get things out of the way. "When you are a female media, the brands that come to you are brands of make-up and beauty products, women’s clothing… Julia’s perfume is Yves Saint Laurent’s Man, I want to drive a Mercedes, I go to the bank… why aren’t we targeted by these brands? Why does L'Oréal not want to target male media? Today, men also take care of themselves and women have a purchasing power that exceeds that of the beauty sector. An insurance company can target a female audience and Sephora can target a male audience very well.”
So Elise and Julia’s goal is to break down the barriers and kick the anthill. “There are too many diverse people, each with his or her own identity. Look at the LGBT community: today you have to say LGBTQI+ because there are more and more people who did not consider themselves as part of this group, so you have to create more and more boxes, each one even smaller than the last. It’s worthless creating more, on the contrary, you have to break everything, turn it down with a feminist trend.”
A vraie meuf (real girl) is a girl who lets people be who they want to be. She’s a 100% self-sufficient chick who’s going to let others be self-sufficient and live their lives. If that’s the case, you’re our sis.