Bev Sanders of Las Olas
Bev's Bio: In 1982 Bev co-founded one of the first snowboard companies, ultimately spending 18 years in the snowboard industry. She was recognized as the Pioneer Woman of Snowboarding by Transworld Snowboarding Magazine and received the Tranny Award, snowboarding's Oscar. At the age of 44, her focus shifted when Bev took a surfing lesson while on vacation in Maui. Having made a lifelong commitment of helping women reach their full potential in snowboarding, Bev continued her mission and launched Las Olas, the first women's surf camp, in 1997. The success of Bev's Las Olas has grown from vast experience and a genuine love of surfing, culture, and friendship. Las Olas' all-female crew of world-class instructors offers women the chance to learn surfing in a no pressure, nonjudgemental, warm-water environment. Bev always goes back to Las Olas' motto: "We make girls out of women" when she has a decision to make. She asks herself, "Is this fun? Is this going to be fun? Is it going to make people lighter and happier?" Bev believes we make better decisions if we go by what it will feel like ahead of what it will look like. Las Olas has been named "The World's Premier Surf Safari for Women."
Bev lives and works in downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea, California with her husband Chris. Bev chose Carmel because of its proximity to the beach and abundance of natural beauty. Bev and crew continue to develop new programs designed to meet the needs of women who aspire to challenge and inspire themselves.
las olas translation: the waves
The Full Conversation: Click play and listen here »
The Highlight Reel: Feeling flighty? If you want to listen to music and skim over what I thought were the highlights of the conversation, simply click play, enjoy this tune handpicked just for you by Bev, and read on »
be-7: [...] being ahead of your time in snowboarding, and then in women's surfing, do you feel like you encountered a strand of resistance or a strand of flow in moving you in the direction of your passion and your purpose?
Bev: Ha, there was a lot of resistance. I found myself many, many times in tears just frustrated with how women weren't supported in sports, how they weren't recognized in magazines, how they weren't supported in the equipment that they used, things like that. In the early days, in snowboarding, I was very frustrated. But when I started surfing, I made a vow that I would form my own club, so to speak, and get away from the board-sports world as I knew it, which was basically controlled by men. And the day I decided to do that, is the day everything started to flow. What I mean by that is [that] I was always going up against the grain and the day that I decided, "I'm not going to do this anymore; I'm going to plan my own party," ...and when I decided that, that's when things really started to click for me. And that's when things started to change for women as well. I always felt like if we were going to make change, we had to do it on our own, you didn't have to wait (or shouldn't have to wait) to get the approval from the "powers that be."
be-7: Do you have a certain inspiration that helped you get to that point during that time?
Bev: I think it's just a mindset [...] things I learned young. I remember my grandmother was one who would always point me in the right direction and say, "Focus on the good things." I think, on some levels, that really made sense to me as I got a little bit older. Don't struggle, just go with the flow. You know? Go with what makes you feel good.
be-7: [...] during the Surf Safaris, you're really empowering women and connecting them to the ocean, and we've seen that when people build a relationship with the ocean, they tend to really stand up for it and "protect what they love." What do you see as the connection between a woman's ability to care for herself and her ability to care for the ocean?
Bev: Well, I think women are instinctive caretakers and we are born knowing those things, and I think when we're immersed in surfing/becoming surfers, we take what we already know and it becomes a little more fortified and enhanced; it all comes together.
be-7: Was it conscious when you started spending more time in the ocean that you would be having a positive effect, not only on the individuals you were getting in the ocean but also for the ocean itself by strengthening these bonds between women and waters, or was it just a matter of following your heart and going forward with all of your ideas/programs?
Bev: I believe it was conscious. I think I started a women's surf camp because I found it to be really empowering for myself. Honestly, the same year I learned to surf, I started Las Olas...
to go to Mexico. I didn't know anybody, I didn't really know how to surf, I didn't speak Spanish, but I still had the strength. And I really feel like that strength came from surfing, from learning to surf, just the simple act of learning to surf changed me in a big way.
The consciousness on the part of the ocean was [also] a big part. [...] as an activist/environmentalist in the 90s. [...] and that had a lot to do with Las Olas. And I learned too, though, that you cannot fight anything by being an activist and trying to be angry to get people to see your side, I think it's more powerful to be able to bring them into something that's enjoyable, and then they'll see it themselves, they'll make their own decisions.
be-7: In terms of your connection to nature and your common, daily rituals or your [personal] relationship with the ocean and all of the parts of it that you love, that you care so much about to be an activist and be an environmentalist... what does that look like to you, in your daily rhythm?
Bev: [...] I walk pretty much every day, to everywhere I need to go so that helps a lot. [...] to me, that's a big deal when you get to walk. It's not that I never drive, I do drive sometimes, but it's not very often. I believe, on a day-to-day basis, that's probably the most important thing I do. I try to be conscious; I'm guilty, like everyone else, of not being perfect, but I do try to be conscious on a day-to-day basis.
be-7: Being someone who seems to change things when you see a problem, or invent something that does not exist yet, do you have any ideas of something that might apply [to the problems of mass-transit pollution] on a larger scale? Have you ever thought about that?
Bev: [...] I've always felt that it was important to empower young women in business, so if there were to be a next chapter for myself, I think that could be a good one. I think when you put money into the hands of women, then you've got something to go on, for sure [...] that's going to be a plus for our society for sure. [...] these creative young people [seen by Bev virtually and at Las Olas] are putting together some things that I think are going to be really effective.
be-7: What do you think it is about the ocean itself that allows it to change people as you see it do through the Surf Safaris?
Bev: Well, it's a known fact that when you actually look at water, the brain changes in a way that makes you a lot more aware, awareness is heightened. You have to realize that a lot of people, when they come to Las Olas, they come, maybe they work on the 44th floor in New York city and then suddenly they're in a small town in Mexico in an oceanfront village, just staring at the sea, the endless sea. That really can change people in a big way.
Wondering what Bev Sanders ate for breakfast on December 2nd, 2015? Listen to the full audio above. For a story about one of the first electric cars, tune in around the 8th minute of the full conversation.