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Studying sculpture at university wasn`t an idea I ever entertained at high school as a career move. Yet there I was in my early 20s, re-making new objects out of recycled window glass, installing them into tidelines and documenting through photography – anything, basically, to hang out at the beach during class-time. I was smitten: fire/water/light combined is a beautiful thing. So it`s been a very pleasant surprise to meet a kindred spirit in Mandy, alchemist and owner of a Glass Art business in Cape Town, and another wahine living out her dream as a surf guide in the tropics.

Hey Mandy, we met briefly once in the lineup at Sultans in the 2010 season – what have you been up to since then? Hi Danny! Yeah I`ve been pretty busy, since I last saw you I headed back to the Maldives for 3 months to manage the Tropicsurf operation there, then I came back home to South Africa to continue with my glass art business. Not long after that I flew off to the Seychelles for another 3 months, again for Tropicsurf, as they have recently opened a new branch on Mahe. For now I`m back home in the lovely city of Cape Town and we are just about to leave for Australia for a two week surf trip, I can`t wait!

So how did you end up working for Tropic Surf? Well I heard through a friend who had just returned from a surf trip in the Maldives about a “a girl who rips and works as a surf guide,” and I just couldn`t get this out of my head…so I managed to track down who I thought was ‘this girl’ on FB and it turned out to be the lovely Amy Kotch! Amy was so sweet and helpful and put me in touch with Tropicsurf. At the time they weren`t too keen on hiring me as they didn`t know me at all – but I persevered by pestering them for a good few months until they finally let me have a chance to prove myself, the rest is history!

Tell us about your glass art business….I`ve always been fascinated with glass and how it captures light, I guess that is what drew me to the glass carving technique – with the different tones and depth that are created by the various levels and shading…I just love how each artwork is so unique! I always wanted to work for myself so when I finished school I started Glass Art!

What have been some challenges for starting your own business and how have you overcome these? I would say the biggest challenge was my age as I was 17 when I started up and I couldn`t get a cheque or phone account…but my dad helped me so much and he gave me the confidence to make it happen. Finance was also a concern, so I started small but things steadily grew and we established a good reputation for our quality and service. Today we have been operating for over ten years and are growing from strength to strength!

The best part of being your own boss? The freedom to travel and surf when I want to.

Any advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs out there? Go for it! And never give up!

What`s the surf scene in Cape Town like? Cape Town rocks! We have waves almost everyday and because we live on a peninsula it`s almost always offshore somewhere. Cape Town picks up a ton of swell and offers something for every level of surfer from Dungeons (a famous REDBULL big waves spot) to fun beach breaks and more challenging reef breaks. We are blessed with beautiful scenery and wherever you find yourself surfing in Cape Town – it`s hard to believe that you`re in a city.

Surfed other nations on the continent? No other African trips yet – but Mozambique and Morocco are on the list.

Same – let`s do a trip! Who and what inspires you? Wow, so many things…the beauty of nature, power of music, and anyone with a positive friendly attitude! If I were to choose a single person that I said has inspired me most – I would say Nelson Mandela. For someone to spend so many years in prison and still find so much love and forgiveness in their heart is truly amazing.

What`s one piece of advice you`ve been given that resonated with you? The Tropicsurf slogan:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn`t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.  ~ Mark Twain

Favourite surf destination so far? It`s a tie – Maldives and Indo!

Any surf spots or countries yet to check out? Oh yes! Too many to mention…but top of my list is Peru! Then Morocco, Fiji, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Hawaii and so many more…

What`s on your bucket list? Wow too much. Here`s just a few: learn to play the guitar, speak Spanish, kitesurf, rock-climb, surf bigger and heavier waves!

*All images courtesy of Mandy Lancellas

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