Danielle Clayton - Salt Gypsy
When did you first start surfing?
When I was 15, so more than half my life now! I had a boyfriend at the time who took me surfing once with his cousin but they both had boards and I had nothing. I sat on the beach and watched them paddle out and thought stuff this, I’m never sitting on the beach again! I’d always been pretty active and involved in lots of sports throughout school and just wanted to be out there.
What beach did you learn at?
Maori Bay on Auckland`s rugged West Coast.
What do you love about surfing?
For me personally, it is always such a physical and mental challenge as I have a heart condition and shouldn`t really be in water, let alone surf. But it’s enormously stress relieving and is something where you are continually learning. It’s a lifelong passion and encompasses so many different feelings from awesomeness to frustration to strength. It’s an amazing sport and amazing experience.
Your most memorable wave or session?
My first proper tube at Valla beach in NSW. It was a small one but it was just my friend and I and another guy, it was a beautiful morning, stunning weather and an amazing feeling.
It would have to be Raglan in NZ, and, as crowded as it is, the North Male region of the Maldives. They’re just epically long and consistent waves.
What is your go-to board?
5’11 Dylan Longbottom board.
Favourite surf travel destination?
I haven’t travelled as much as I’d like to, living in the Maldives for 3 years kind of got in the way! I`m pretty biased, so travelling around remote regions of Maldives would have to be the pick: it`s stunningly beautiful the further afield you go.
What kind of education have you had?
I took a couple of years off between high school and Uni to determine what kind of direction I wanted to take. I ended up studying in Auckland for 4 years and graduated with an honours degree in Sculpture. I’m a professional artist by training and loved Uni, but that wasn’t my ultimate gig. I’ve always wanted to be self-employed and have had an eclectic career that`s led to where I am today: drawing it all together into Salt Gypsy.
How did you get started in the surf industry?
I’ve been surfing since a teenager so I’ve always found part or full time work in Surf Retail around NZ and Australia. After Uni I went and lived in Japan for a couple of years teaching English and when I came back to NZ I was at a bit of a loose end when a friend of mine I knew from working at a major surf chain in Auckland hit me up for a position at Billabong HQ. I was working with VZ and Nixon which was my foot in the door in the Surf industry outside of retail. I worked there for 2 and a half years before moving to the Maldives.
How was your time at Billabong?
I had a really good time there, it was such a great team, with a really good manager - Scott Casey. I had the opportunity to work in marketing, events and even editorial stuff, not just in sales which was really cool. I loved being part of growing those brands in NZ.
The move to Maldives, that must have been tough!
The opportunity came around pretty serendipitously. It was so random. My job at Billabong was approaching a bit of burnout just from being on the road all the time. I met a couple one weekend who were surf guides over there, then within that month I had my flight booked and visa on its way. I was fully throwing myself into the unknown, but haven’t looked back. I met my partner who was working on a surfari boat over there and we’ve ended up doing seasonal work for a few years now with Liquid Destination, and living in Australia the rest of the time.
Tell us a bit about Salt Gypsy?
I pulled together different strands of interests, work experience, passions etc which is what is creating Salt Gypsy. It started as a blog designed to showcase and promote indie surf wear design, handmade, and earth-friendly lifestyle products for discerning women who surf.
After my first year over in the Maldives I was meant to come back to NZ and help out a friend who had just started her own surf bikini brand and wanted some help with sales. But at that stage I’d fallen in love with this Kiwi boy who was living in Australia. I ended up moving to Byron Bay and we were travelling back and forth between seasons. I was spending so much time in the ocean and going through a lot of surf gear. At the end 2011, I’d signed up for another surf season and decided I needed a creative outlet and could use the opportunity of surfing in the tropics to get surf shots and help promote indie surf wear designers, like my friend, who had struggled to get the word out about their brand. There are many inspirations and I just wanted to help promote these rad brands creating cool surfwear that women who actually surf want to wear in the surf.
And now you’re based in Bali?
Yes, life has a funny way of working and here I am in Bali, once again throwing myself into the unknown and turning what has been just a blog into an actual business. I’ve also found myself with a product that I’m developing.
What is the product?
I had some surf leggings made up for myself last year. I was so sick of my legs being under so much sun exposure (3 years in the tropics and counting) and couldn’t find anything that was affordable or cool, so had some made up for myself with my own style, and it’s just kind of snowballed. I had a few boatloads of girls last year who said that if I`d had stock on board they would’ve purchased some. Since I’ve started pushing my brand and this product, several other brands have brought out their own surf leggings as well so it’s cool chicks now have the option to wear leggings in the surf without looking completely dorky.
What does the future hold for you and your ventures?
There’s definitely been a bigger vision right from the beginning, but I’ve been kind of limited in terms of resources and capital. Every dollar I have made has gone into this so I have to be very strategic with how I build my community, product, and brand. The future? Let`s just say…a multi-channel global business promoting more style in the lineup.
What do you love most about your job?
I love that I can just shoot out and surf for a day even for work, to get promo shots for the site etc. So being a master of my own time! Now I have this opportunity to pour all my energy into Salt Gypsy and I think that’s probably the coolest thing about what I’m doing – growing something that started on a boat in the Indian Ocean! Plus the relationships I’ve been building with all these other great people and awesome female surfers who are just as passionate as me. I love making these connections and building this community.
Where can we find you online?
Posted by: Troy Roennfeldt, on September 18, 2013
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