Annie Gagne - Akela Surf

When did you first start surfing?
The first time I surfed was...maybe 15 years ago. I was on a trip to Del Mar, California trying to find a job as a designer. At that time I was living in Whistler and I was focusing more on snowboarding, I used to ride the Pipe and was so addicted to it! I didn't have the chance to surf until I guess 6 years ago in Tofino, Canada. I'm bad with counting the years (laughs).. Anyway, I got really hooked on it and then became a travellilng surfer.

What is it that you love about surfing and the ocean?
The Freedom, the fact that it clears my head, the stress removal, seeing turtles, rays, tropical fish, the clear blue water, and just the opportunity to always improve.

Do you have a session that stands out as your most memorable?
I love the sessions when you get in water and you surprise yourself by riding a wave that you thought was beyond your limit. I'm not a pro, but I think surfing is about riding those waves that allow you to break through those boundaries.

When and how did you first get into design?
When I was a teenager I started drawing and sewing. I knew from a really young age that I wanted to have my own clothing Brand. I was always involved in sports and some how I always wanted to combine these 2 passions.
Back in the day it was hard to find cool products for sporty girls! It was always the typical pink stuff and I didn't like that. So I started to create my own gear!

Can you tell us a little bit about Akela Surf? How did it come about? 
Akela Surf is my Husband Servio and I. We do swimwear, handcraft skateboards, fins, surfboards, and a bit of apparel. Lots of the products are still handmade by us. Right now we are trying to focus more on the swimwear part. But in the future we definitely want to come up with a full line for women, men and even kids. We created Akela because we both felt there was a gap in the industry.  A brand that is more underground, core, functional and fashionable at the same time. Something that you will be proud to wear in the line up, something that looks stylish but at the same time isn't too girly.

What is the philosophy behind the brand? And what kind of things influence the products you make?
Slide your style is the slogan. I get inspired really easily. I gather daily inspiration from all the images I came across on the web from the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest etc. It's a lot different and definitely easier than the days of flicking through magazines and cutting out images..I'm old... (laughs)

What has been the response from the female surf community to Akela?
Really good! They want more and more and I'm so happy to see that. I'm really open about the comments, I think more you feedback you can gather, the better your products will be.

What is it that you love about your job?
I can travel whenever and wherever I want, I get to spend a lot of time with my family, and I'm the one that makes the decisions regarding products and design.

Do you have any advice for any aspiring designers?
Don't listen to negative people, dont be shy to show off your work, follow your instinct, beleive in yourself, and don't stop creating! Even if you dont have money. Money will not equal creativity.

Where do you see yourself and the brand in 5 years?
I would love to have my office in Barbados, where we will both work on the brand and surf! I would like to settle down more. I have a son now and It's getting to a point where he needs a house (laughs) /

Where can we find you online? 

Posted by: Matthew Ryan, on August 12, 2014
Categories: Interviews