Earlier this year we had the pleasure of meeting Hayley Shaw-McGuinness and Mikala Wilbow, jumping from boat to boat over here in the Maldives. Another creative and talented duo (also check out Cos We Can) hailing from Sydney`s Northern Beaches, they`ve been busy creating a community of like-minded surf wahine through surf sessions, photography, and organised surf trips. We think there`s a lot more coming from these two and their collaborations so read on to find out a little more of what drives these ladies….
Can you tell us a bit more about the Shesurfs community and how it came about? We both love surfing and being creative in our own different ways. We were always talking about creating something where girls who loved surfing could go to learn more, make new friends and be creative. Shesurfs was an avenue where Mikala can share her surf lifestyle imagery and Hayley her stories. We started by producing articles and short movies for SurfGirl Mag UK and then we started the Facebook page, Instagram and soon a website. Its so much fun so far and we love the response we are getting, it makes us excited about the future.
You two are quite a team – a photographer and writer with your own personal projects going on also. Mikala – how did you get into photography? What challenges have you had in establishing yourself/your business and how have/are you overcoming them? I got into photography in late high school. I always had a camera in my hand spending my free time in the dark room developing at school. I started my career in wedding photography and eventually merged my love for surfing and photography together and became a surf lifestyle photographer. It has been a very long journey (or what feels like a very long time) of early morning alarms dragging me out of bed to get that picture perfect shot, travelling, uploading, editing, networking, brainstorming, creating, researching the list goes on. What`s involved behind the scenes is as exciting as it is exhausting. I think the hardest thing is getting your name out there and showing people what you can do. While it is easier these days with social media and the internet, you are challenged with making yourself stand out from the rest and have a point of difference. I was always told when I said to people I want to be a photographer to choose another occupation. I went in knowing the challenge and I am glad I pursued my passion in photography.
And Hayley – tell us a bit more about the book you wrote in 2010….How was it publishing a book? I wrote A Girl Like U as I wanted to help young girls through things that I struggled with when I was their age. The age 8 to 12 is a hard transition time for girls, I really struggled with bullying and knowing who I was at this age. Also, with the media pressure on young girls these days I wanted to do something positive with what I went through. So I put together the book. It`s full of interactive activities and fitness tips, beauty tips, etc. Its lots of fun. When I wrote it I had no idea how hard it would be to get published and I got lots of rejection letters until finally New Holland said, “Yes.” I am so happy with how it turned out and it makes it all worthwhile when I hear from mothers of girls who it has made smile and has helped!
We recently had the chance to meet when you took a group of girls on a boat trip to the Maldives – thanks for coming onboard for a wine! How was that experience (the boat trip – not necessarily meeting me!) for you ladies and is it going to be repeated? The Maldives is a place very dear to our hearts that’s for sure! We have both been here before and I fell in love the first time I came. This time it was set in stone my love for the place! I love living on a boat, it gives you a sense of adventure and freedom. Waking up and checking the surf from the bow of a boat with the sun on your back and a bad coffee in your hand – there is nothing better (it even makes bad coffee taste good). Knowing your day is going to be filled with fun surfs with your friends and crazy adventures, couldn’t be happier when I`m in the Maldives. Will definitely be back next year and the year after, and meeting you Danny was great…so lovely sharing wine with you in the sunset!
How did you find the waves?
Hayley – For me the Maldives waves are perfect. They are gentle enough but some are challenging enough as well. The difference between the spots is great as you can surf Jails in the morning, a faster steeper right. Then in the afternoon you can go and surf Ninjas which is a lot more of a gentle, comfy wave so you get a bit of everything all in one day.
Mikala – Surfing the waves in the Maldives is so much fun. They just peel perfectly and allow you so much time to really enjoy the ride. The variety of lefts and rights – some more heavy than the others, really gives you the freedom to surf the waves you want to. My favourite break would be Jailbreaks. I got wave after wave of absolute perfection.
How do you envision Shesurfs evolving? Shesurfs has grown so fast already, we really want it to continue to grow through the imagery, stories and great competitions we run. We want it to reach out to all surfer girls all over the world that love the lifestyle and anyone that wants a part of the surfing lifestyle. We have some exciting things planned for Shesurfs starting with a new website that will be launched really soon. So keep posted!
Favourite surf spot or destination:
Hayley – It would have to be the Maldives for sure, it’s the place I dream of.
Mikala– ooohhh this is a hard one. I absolutely love the Mid North NSW coast. My favourite place to surf and shoot. The Maldives is definitely up there too.
What inspires you?
Hayley – I am inspired by people who are happy, kind and follow their dreams. I love seeing people who have a passion for something doesn’t matter what it is but they are inspired daily by it. I like seeing people make a difference even in a small way but just trying to do the best they can with a big smile on their face. My also mum inspires me because she is the greatest woman I know!
Mikala – Like minded people, people with passion and drive. People who get back up when they fall is the absolute.
Words you live by?
Hayley – I have always had two little sayings in my head that I love and live by:
Never, never, never give up
Be the change you wish to see in the world. Mahatma Ghandi
Mikala – From a very young age my mum would say that I am a laser beam, whatever I want I can get if I want it hard enough. Thats what I have lived by my whole life.
Hayley and Mikala. Making cool s*&^ happen.
Top 10 essential surf travel items:
1 – lots of Bikinis
2 – 2 surf boards
3 – camera, housing and all the accessories 🙂
4 – neck pillow to use on the plane
5 – invisible zinc
6 – spare leggies, fins and wax
7 – wide brim hat to keep face out of the sun
8 – sunnies
9 – UV protective hair products
10 – good music
*All photos courtesy of Shesurfs (photographer, Mikala Wilbow). Check out Mikala`s website for more inspiration and the Shesurfs facebook page for updates on what they`re up to. And girls – we can`t wait to come visit you in Sydney for a surf and GOOD COFFEE!!