• • • Fierce Females is back, and to kickstart our much loved series shining a light on the changemakers and ocean women around the world, say hello to our newest recruit to the SLO ACTIVE Team, Sophie Everard – a true Fierce Female herself! Our founder, Janaya, sat down with Sophie to talk about all things surfing, sustainability, retreats, connection and slowing down.

I’m so excited to have you on board the SLO team. Your contribution to the surf community and enthusiasm for sustainability is an inspiration. Tell us a bit about some of the causes close to your heart

I am so stoked to join the SLO team! Thanks for having me on board 😉 Here’s to creating epicness. My passions for surfing, the ocean and sustainability stems back far… As soon as I finished High School, I knew I wanted to work within the action sports industry, within marketing and communications, and eventually, to be able to work supporting causes close to my heart. With a childhood and upbringing inherently linked to the ocean, I was always exposed to it’s beauty and wander, which as they say, cast me under its spell forever…when I was 18 my dad passed away and what really helped me heal and recover was time back in the water, a cherished place we loved together. I really have a strong belief in the profound mental and physical benefits of immersing ourselves in the ocean, whether surfing, swimming, diving, or simply floating, can bring. I have dedicated my career to developing women’s business in sport, to augmenting the participation of women and girls in surfing and sport, of supporting those who can not access those sports with ease, of amplifying the coverage of sporting women within media, and of safeguarding our natural planet.

The safeguarding of these natural environments is vital, and since I was a child I was taught about the nourishing benefits of the outdoors, but also, the importance of protecting our Earth. My career is multifaceted but always drawn to the nucleus of my beliefs and guiding principles and goals. I have worked for global businesses, previously as head of PR at Oakley and New Era, I have been a freelance surf journalist for over 13 years and am the women’s editor at Wavelength Surf Magazine and the author of a published book on snowboarding. I have worked as a fitness trainer and surf instructor, which led me to establishing my Forbes featured business Mad to Live Retreats and brand, Mad To Live. Mad To Live Retreats incorporate a giving model into the trips, where guests can learn about the local environments through tree planting, participate in beach cleans, and support a local Moroccan charity in our surf town there who help kids learn about the environment and try new sports like surfing and skating. My passion for surfing and mental health led me to be appointed a Trustee for UK based not-for-profit The Wave Project.

You spend your time between Portugal and the UK. To me, your lifestyle is something dreams are made of. Tell us about your roots and how you came to build this ocean filled adventurous life?

My roots are like me, off the beaten path, and quite global! I grew up in Greece, Portugal and the UK, where my love-affair with water started…as a kid in Greece I think I swam before I walked…I would explore the ocean through my dad’s shoulders, then diving deep into the navy inkyness, avidly exploring. I took my GCSE’s & A Levels in the UK, and have been working abroad and ensuring my passion for the outdoors has been interwoven into how I live my life.

And you have a business, Mad to Live Retreats. They look like a lot of fun – the perfect fusion of adventure and luxury. Tell us more about them?

Mad to Live Retreats were a vision I had many moons ago. When I was moonlighting as a PT, and surfing avidly as soon as I got out of work at the weekends, I was keen that more girls and women could experience the nourishing benefits of surfing, adventure sports and the outdoors. Back then lineups were quite dude heavy, but have transformed now. The DNA of Mad To Live Retreats is that you can be a part of an epic girl gang for a week, joining our team in one of our destination camps, try a new sport or get the tuition you need to improve, and to live life a little wild…with the comforts of excellent nutrition and beautiful, out of this world accommodations. They are about meeting like-minded souls, about pushing and discovering new-limits in yourself, about perhaps picking up a great new passion, and maybe, experiencing something life changing…I’ve had amazing stories over the years from clients, many of whom completely changed their lives, to move to be to the ocean, change the job they hated, do something new…the confidence surfing and adventure and learning about your own tenacity is mind-blowing. I am stoked that the Retreats have welcomed so many girls and women aged 17-60 from all around the world.

Can you describe for us what water means to you? How do you like to slow down?

Water for me is my life. It’s wander, it’s joy, it’s humbling, it’s nourishing, it’s wild, and it’s beautiful. I never feel better than immersing myself into Big Blue…it’s a great love I must always be near. I slow down by taking the time for what I love, like surfing, something that really helps me relax, slow my mind but also open it, and connect me to nature in a way that is utterly mind-blowing.

I see you are a member of the Board Of Trustees for The Wave Project tell us more about this amazing cause…

I am so humbled to be able to work closely with The Wave Project who’s fantastic work is truly life-changing for children in need. The Wave Project supports kids and adolescents suffering from anxiety, depression, mental and physical disabilities through “surf therapy”, referred onto the UK-wide programmes by doctors, social workers and care workers. Their life-changing programmes are a testimony to the wonderful benefits of play in the ocean.

Two things I have noticed about you on IG: your epic dedication to training and being a strong fierce female! And your great taste in rock music (and I can imagine they both go hand in hand in the gym too). Tell me what these things mean to you?

My dedication to training (and rock music) you are quite right, go hand in hand! To me, it’s not just going into the gym…when you strengthen your body and thus your mind. I feel inherently more capable to tackle life, I feel like I am able to keep myself strong for the sports I love, and life’s challenges. I like to feel like Lara Croft goin’ after life! I have always adored rock music, ever since I was a youngster and first heard Pearl Jam, my mind was blown. There’s nothing better than turning up Metallica, Soundgarden, The Rolling Stones, Pantera, Led Zeppelin, the Kills, Howlin’ Wolf as loud as you can, in the gym, at home, to me rock music is freedom. It’s wild.

Tell us about your relationship with the SLO ACTIVE brand and all the hopes and dreams for it 🙂

I first connected with SLO ACTIVE a few years ago when I was penning a sustainable swimwear guide. I was immediately struck by the brand ethos, the strong look and feel of the product, and of its brilliant founder, Janaya. It feels almost serendipitous to be working with SLO now and I think it is a brand and business with unbelievable potential that stems from its strong guiding principles, fantastic premium product, and loyal followers and customers. I think consumers are so hungry for excellent products that adhere to sustainability practices, that are size inclusive and diverse, and that can envelop them into a stunning world of ocean love. I can’t wait to grow our SLO ACTIVE family, to share our amazing new products, and to help support our cherished oceans.

Wildcard: what’s something you secretly still hope to achieve?

I have always wanted to surf a big, big wave…maybe just once! 😉

April 27, 2022 — Janaya Wilkins