Experience the Traveler Surf Club & Coastal Outpost



Julia Cox surfing Pacifica, CA photo credit: Lucia Griggi


Traveler Surf Club & Coastal Outpost was first imagined by Julie Cox, a former professional longboarder and lifetime lover of the ocean. She was joined by her wife Rel Lavizzo-Mourey, Silver Lining founder, who had an impressive background in the fashion/design industry. Together, they have created two successful, beautiful stores in both Pacifica and Malibu.


Traveler serves as a place to foster community, inclusivity, and accessibility within surf cultures and communities.


Nina:

Hi Julie and Rel! This is Nina from Withitgirl.


Rel:

Hi Nina!


Nina:

Are you both currently at the Pacifica or Malibu location?


Rel:

We are at the Malibu store. Where are you based?


Nina:

I am recently based in LA, but I grew up in Pacifica, so I am familiar with both stores.


Rel:

Oh, that's awesome!


Nina:

Yeah, and I wanted to just say thank you so much for speaking with me today. Withitgirl is revamping for the first time since 2005, so we are super excited to have this interview on the new website! So just jumping into my questions - what was the original inspiration and goal for the store?


Julie:

The original inspiration was to build a community space that served cold water surfers and ocean lovers. A gym concept offered hot showers, board storage, lockers, changing rooms, which would help transition folks from the Pacific's cold waters to life back on land.


We wanted it to be more about being more comfortable; therefore, we focused on the amenities on how to reduce the troubles of dragging your board around. As you know, getting your board on and off the car is a hassle, along with storing it in your house or your garage and having limited space. So all of those convenient factors informed our concept. And then the other side of the Club is really just about building a community of people who, you know, as we all grow older, probably spend less time just kind of hanging out at the beach. That free time becomes more limited and more precious, so we wanted to create a place where you can cross paths with people who have a common interest, such as swimming in the ocean or surfing in the ocean.



Nina:

Totally. I actually remember spending a day at Traveler back when I lived in Pacifica. The amenities really do make a difference with that cold water. It just makes the whole experience much more comfortable. The community aspect is also so crucial, which leads me to my next question. How is the business model different in Malibu and Pacifica? They are kind of different cultures and obviously different climates as well.


Julie:

Yeah, down here in Malibu, so many folks don't live near the ocean and so having a longboard by the water is essential. With the heat down here, having your longboard in your car all day long is kind of a pain, and driving around, you know, flipping it all around LA is also a pain. So in LA, that makes it a little more inviting to have the surfboard storage here. We also have a little bigger Wifi/working area, and it's more of a coworking space here. In Pacifica, we don't have as much of that; it's more of an outdoor garden and kind of "get-warm" area. In Malibu, with COVID, if there are no other members in here. You can post up for as long as you want and get some work done, which is great. Lastly, the retail store is quite a bit smaller here in Malibu to give a little more space to the surf club.



Nina:

That makes sense. It seems that you have adapted well to both of the communities. So with Withitgirl's goal in mind, what advice would you give to young female entrepreneurs starting a new retail business?


Rel:

I say go for it. It's super fun. It's super challenging. I'd say, do your homework.


I took a class at the small business administration local office (the SBA), which has these different regional offices, and they offer concrete business planning classes. So I would highly suggest that to anyone that wants to open a retail store. Overall, it's super fun, and it's a fun way to engage all your friends and your network and really sell the products you want to sell. It is definitely challenging, and there are many risks involved, but my advice would be to just do your homework and be prepared and gain the experience you want, knowing that it doesn't happen overnight. So just being patient with the whole process.


Nina:

And obviously, it seems like for you two collaboration is probably a big part of it.


Rel:

Definitely, it makes it way more fun.


Nina:

Yeah, I bet. Since the 'sport' of surfing is not the most historically diverse and accessible sport, what have you learned about holding a space for community inclusivity within Traveler?


Rel:

We've learned is that there is a real desire for surfing to represent a plurality of faces and lifestyles because there's not one face that goes with hanging out at the beach. There's just not one face that goes with surfing either.


I think it's essential that more people see more diversity within the surfing culture and the California beach lifestyle.


It's not one size fits all. I mean, that's definitely something that we just try to work on, creating a space for people who might feel slightly intimidated to go into a particular type of surf shop or paddle out at certain breaks. We want to make people feel empowered to ask questions that you may not feel comfortable asking in different situations. So we're just trying to be open, welcoming, and friendly. And I think that goes a long way.



Nina:

Yeah, I think it definitely does. I've felt that sort of acceptance and welcomeness in Traveler, especially after growing up in a white-male dominated surf community. In terms of differences in cultures and communities, Pacifica and Malibu are so different. How have you learned to nurture each?


Rel:

Yeah, that's a good question because hopefully, we'll have more locations down the line with their own communities. We really have to go in and take the time to become involved in that specific community and meet the characters and people who make it special. I think that you know, more than anything, it's important to be patient, like Julie said, and take time to get to know people and talk to them.


It's interesting who comes to your doors, especially when you first open your doors. There are always some welcoming characters, and it's good to listen to these folks and hear what they have to say. So the differences are small, and it comes down to just being authentic to the local community and really listening to what they're saying they need. It's not usually vastly different, but they are generally small differences that could make or break your business, and it's important to adjust.


Nina:

Yeah, adaptability seems super important. So then moving on to my last question, what does the future of Traveler look like right now? And I think people wonder if there's any chance that they'll see a San Diego post anytime in the future?


Julie:

Haha, that's really great to hear. We're actually going down to San Diego tomorrow just to go for a surf with some friends. All California is near and dear to our hearts. We definitely would love to, you know, expand with patience, do it slowly and seek the opportunities when the time is right, being able to see those when they make sense for us. Right now, we are getting ready to launch a Traveler camper van that we're gonna be renting out, which is really exciting. It's going to be one of those Metris vans with the pop-top, which will hopefully encourage road trips between Malibu and Pacifica and, of course, beyond. But also just to grow a little bit and expand our brand while helping people experience a little van life.


Nina:

With limits and complications with travel right now, that seems perfect.. many people are keeping their trips more local. I think road trips are a popular thing right now.


Julie:

Yeah, for sure. We are also interested in partnering as much as we can with local folks to keep working towards being organic and not being a cookie-cutter model that is the standard these days. I've been actively trying to partner with people in the community who are eager to take this idea and do something with it that is unique to their location.


Nina:

Yeah. And that gives you a better idea of what the community really wants and needs as well. I want to say thank you both so much for speaking with me today! It is super impactful to hear from two successful, strong women, and I'm sure it will be super inspiring for many.


Julie:

Of course, thank you so much!


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Nina Morasky is a surfer, writer, and photographer for withitgirl currently based in Southern California.


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