Simah Zohdi found a passion for surfing but was having a hard time finding surf accessories with a feminine flare. The 26 year old accountant decided that if she cant find surf accessories geared towards women, she would make them. Simah picked up some fabrics, grabbed her sewing machine, and Surfwalker Co was born. Below we dive into her new venture and what it’s like being a women in a male dominated scene.
You just started surfing in August and clearly you’re hooked. What got you into surfing?
I didn’t have swimming lessons growing up, so I’ve always had this fear of the ocean and swimming in general (still working on this!). A couple of friends offered to teach me how to surf this summer, and I didn’t want to let that fear hold me back from a new experience, so I just decided to face it head-on. When I surf, there’s no space in my head for doubts or worries, just complete focus on trying to catch waves. It’s a place where I have complete flow, and where I can’t do anything else, but be absolutely present. I think in life it’s hard to find that kind of flow, so I’m blessed to have found that with surfing.
I’m the kind of person that was always searching for the next adventure, whether it was traveling to a new place or trying a new experience that pushed my comfort zone. With surfing, I feel like I don’t have to keep searching for that anymore. It has helped revitalized my love for life, and I appreciate that I can do it alone. I actually read an article that surfing helps with depression, and I thought that was so beautiful.
You’re starting a new board bag and accessories brand with a focus on women because you felt all the products are geared towards men. What’s it like shopping for surf accessories in a male dominated sport?
I found that the majority of gear and surf accessories I saw were directed towards men. Even when looking for women’s surf booties, I had a hard time because most booties I saw were in men’s sizes, almost as if women were an afterthought. I want women to know that I created a company with them in mind. I wanted something that would keep wax and sand from getting all over the inside of my car, but I couldn’t find a surfboard bag that I felt like expressed my taste, so I made one. I want there to be more options for myself, and for other female surfers.
Going into a male dominated sport, I feel like expressing my femininity doesn’t take away from the fact that I am still learning how to be a serious surfer. As a female surfer in a lineup of mostly men, you stand out anyway, so why not embrace that?
Tell us about Surf Walker Co. What products do you plan on making, what’s the vibe and how will you position yourself in the market.
I started Surfwalker Co. to help bring balance to a male dominated sport, by creating feminine surf accessories that are stylish, without compromising on functionality. I noticed the market consisted mostly of nondescript and plain products, and wanted to fill that deficit with colorful prints that were more unique.
Right now I have 3 products: a surfboard cover, a surfwax bag, and a changing mat that turns into a drawstring bag to fit a bikini! I come up with the ideas during my surf sessions, it basically just starts out like “wow this would make my life easier if I had…”, then I go home and see if I can create what I envision in my head onto fabric. All of my products are hand-made, so will be small-batch in the beginning. I hope the brand gets bigger than anything I imagined, I’ll go as far as it takes me!
Let’s take a minute to talk about how women are portrayed in the surf industry. How does the industry make women new to surfing feel? When you first started did it feel like you were welcome to join this culture and enjoy the surf?
I think when people think of surfing they think of the young male shortboarder who carves big waves. Women have had to make their own space in this industry, since sometimes their surfing abilities can get reduced to their looks, as we’ve seen in advertisements over the past couple of years.
Personally, I feel very welcomed, because I joined an international women’s forum on Facebook (Women Who Surf). It seems most surfers I talk to are seriously the coolest people, they are so patient answering questions and giving advice. Even the company I bought my leash from (Sympl Co.) made sure I had it attached properly to my board, which I thought was so nice.
As a woman, with any entrance into a male dominated industry, whether it’s a sport or even career path, there’s some pressure to not draw attention to yourself and to just blend in with the guys. But being feminine or being a woman, doesn’t make you any less capable. You’re bringing a different set of strengths to the table that are invaluable, and it shows a lot of initiative and courage that you had to make a spot at that table.
What advice do you have for the Surf Industry?
Continue to create more spaces in surfing for women. Women supporting women, and men supporting women. Conversations like these are so invaluable to female surfers, because it gives us a platform to feel represented.