Introducing this week’s Women of the Watershed - who also happen to be Sustainable Surf and SeaTrees ambassadors!
Each of these women has been a critical part of our organization, exemplifying our mission in their own unique and personal ways - spreading awareness and activism in their own communities.
Not only are these women helping to turn the tide on climate change, but they are also all on their own journey, taking the surf industry on their own terms and reinventing it along the way.
Meet our ocean heroes: Pacha Light, Kassia Meador, Bianca Valenti, and Ashley Lloyd.
Pacha Light has been our long-time friend since the early days of SeaTrees. Two years ago, she came along with us to our project site in Biak, Indonesia, and premiered in one of our first-ever SeaTrees films. If you haven’t seen ‘ReSurface Stronger Together With Pacha Light,’ check it out here.
Born in a cloud forest in Ecuador and raised on the beaches of Eastern Australia, Pacha earned her first surfboard from busking on the streets with a ukulele and quickly made her way to competitive surfing on the WSL qualifying series.
In 2020, Pacha left the world of competitive surfing - choosing to decline a renewal of her contract with several major surf brands and instead follow her heart and carve her own path, in her own way, and on her own terms.
As Pacha has always been a strong advocate for the planet, she made this decision with a plan to connect with smaller, local brands around the world that are pushing the envelope of sustainability in surfing more profoundly.
Following her heart, she then embarked on a journey to explore the various shapes of surf culture worldwide.
Through this journey and walkabout of positive self-discovery, she brings along her GoPro as she explores new materials, sustainable surfboards, and environmentally-conscious apparel and dives into the world of small, local surf brands.
And just recently, Pacha has returned home to Ecuador to learn more about her roots, searching for undiscovered surfing treasures, and also scouting out possible mangrove restoration projects for SeaTrees! We’re so grateful to have Pacha Light as part of our crew, and we can’t wait to see where this journey takes her next.
Kassia Meador has been a key part of SeaTrees' success and has always been at the frontlines of our restoration projects and campaigns, advocating for kelp restoration in California and around the world.
Kassia began surfing at age 14 on the beaches of Southern California where she quickly gained recognition in the world of longboarding. By 17, Kassia was a sponsored pro-long boarder and went on to win competitions worldwide until 2013, when she left that life behind.
She went on to build a brand that focused on quality instead of quantity, working towards more conscious solutions rather than contributing to the larger global issues. Her brand, Kassia+Surf, prioritizes raising awareness and leading by example, inspiring the surf industry to become more aware of the products they use and where they end up with her wetsuit recycling program.
After noticing the dramatic loss of kelp forests along her local California surf breaks, Kassia gives back to our Ocean Planet by supporting SeaTrees kelp restoration projects and is always keen to get involved and help us spread the word about the importance of these ecosystems to the health and future of our Ocean Planet.
Check out this article where Kassia takes a deep #dive into the issues affecting kelp along CA’s coast.
We’ve been proud to call Bianca Valenti a friend and ambassador for Sustainable Surf for many years – as she’s been revolutionizing Big Wave Surfing and leading the fight for gender equality and pay in professional surfing.
As a prominent and incredibly talented big wave surfer, Bianca has taken home countless trophies and left her mark on some of the biggest waves in the world. Taking home 1st place in Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca and regularly surfing Mavericks, Waimea Bay, Jaws, Pipeline, and other notable Big Wave breaks, her journey has been dedicated to creating a more equitable world for all. Striving for equal pay, equal opportunity, and equal access, Bianca not only stands up for what she believes in, she is also protecting our oceans through environmental stewardship along the way.
Bianca’s journey in revolutionizing surfing for women began in 2014 when she requested that women be given the chance to compete at Titans of Mavericks - California’s premier Big Wave contest at Half Moon Bay - and was denied. At the time, organizers of the contest claimed that there weren’t enough women to hold a heat, their skill level wasn’t high enough, and it was unsafe. And rather than accept defeat, this set off a chain of events for Bianca and led to her organization of the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing (CEWS). These women fought tooth and nail to be given equal opportunity in the sport they love. Through countless petitions, letters, denials, and pushbacks, they eventually were granted the chance to compete.
However it wasn’t until 2018 that Bianca received the news she had been waiting countless years for, along with her fellow female athletes in the sport. The WSL announced that they would be rewarding men and women equally across all events moving forward - and many believe the WSL’s decision to adopt a policy of equal pay was heavily influenced by the work that Bianca and the CEWS did.
We’ve always been in awe of Bianca’s dedication to empowering female surfers, and all the women who fought alongside her as well. It’s because of them that organizations around the world are beginning a new era of gender equity in sports, and it's Bianca’s dream that the CEWS soon becomes the Committee for Equity in ALL sports.
Ashley Lloyd’s love for the ocean started at a young age, inspiring her to combine her craft and skill with giving back to the origin of the sport she loves and knows so well. Ashley began her surfboard shaping career in Santa Barbara, eventually joining the team at Bing Surfboards as a team rider and shaper with two of her own surfboard models.
Ashley now builds her own brand of custom boards in Santa Cruz, CA, where she has been helping to pioneer the use of modern, sustainably-minded board-building materials for longboards, mid-lengths and lovely little fishes. Exploring the connective possibilities of the ocean and the healing pathways it invites is deeply integrated into Ashley's surfing, shaping, and now her newest venture – Unfurling apparel for women. Her personal and business values are dedicated to environmental sustainability, ocean stewardship, inclusivity, and connecting people to themselves, nature, and one another.
She joined the Sustainable Surf family in 2018 when she began the verification process to certify all her boards as ECOBOARDS. And to top it off - every board she makes plants a SeaTree too!
To our ambassadors and all the Women of the Watershed we're lucky enough to work with, thank you for your resilience, your strength, and your commitment to the one home we all share and love.