top of page

SHAPED ︱MANDO + SASHA



Mando and Sasha Jane Lowerson are two innovative surfboard designers forging their unique paths in the surfing industry. Sasha is a transgender woman and competitive surfer from Australia, who got into surfing at a young age, and has spent decades honing her skills, culminating in her signature "Sasha Jane" longboard model. Mando, a nonbinary surfer and artist from California, came to board shaping later with a passion for retro design shapes. Despite facing challenges as LGBTQ+ shapers in a traditionally insular industry, they have joined forces at Mando Surf Co. to create an inclusive space celebrating diversity and individuality. Drawing inspiration from surf culture icons and each other's expertise, this dynamic duo is reshaping surfboard design through an authentic, genre-defying lens.


Hi Sasha and Mando! Tell us a little about yourself, your background, family, upbringing, and anything else you want to add.


Sasha

I grew up in southern Victoria Australia until I was a teenager before moving to the Gold Coast Queensland. I was into surfing at a very young age and was just your typical Australian grommet. I’ve always ridden all types of boards from single fin logs to thruster short boards. I’ve always been extremely lucky to live so close to the beach.

Sasha age 6 with late grandfather and Nan (1985)

Mando

Hmmmm….I grew up in Monterey, California. If my father had it his way, I would have gone to Stanford on a golf scholarship, married a banker or a lawyer, had 2 kids, and become mayor of Carmel. Instead, I’m very gay. My Terrier, Carl, is the closest I’ll get to a child, and I’m an artist of sorts. Monterey is home again, although home has also been Australia, Singapore, Norway, and San Francisco–oh, and Mexico a few times a year. It seems change is the most consistent part of my life. 

Mando and Sister (1990)

When did you get into surfing? What were some of the first boards? What has surfing taught you?


Sasha

I got into surfing in elementary school at about age six to eight. I was lucky enough to ride boards shaped by shapers from Australia like Phil Grace, Mick Pierce (Eastern Light), Frank Sambucco (Quarra Surfboards), and Steve Freedman, all before the age of 12. These guys fed me a plethora of surfboards from '80s thrusters back to '70s single fins–giving me a foundation and love of the ocean in all ways. I enjoy all different styles of waves ranging from long mellow point breaks to heaving slabs of western Australia. Every board has its place in different waves but longboards seem to win every time I have a choice over what board to ride. 


Sasha Surfing Saladita (2024), Photo still from Heiko Bothe footage

In my opinion, surfing is a journey. Each and everyone’s journey is their own. My journey is individual to me and with that, I’ve learned patience and strength, and it’s giving me the will and desire to share the stoke with anyone interested. Surfing with friends, new or old, is the best thing ever. 


Mando Surfing Photo by Nik West (2020)

Mando

Sasha and I are so different. I didn’t learn how to surf until I was 16. My parents were afraid I would get eaten by a shark. They weren’t beach people–they were more golf and tennis people. For example, my mom wore high heels to my first surf comp–bless her heart. My first board was someone’s old Maverick gun. It was ridden at Maverick’s so that made me feel cool. I got my ass kicked for years before I rode a wave. Sometimes I still do (ride a wave–heheh)


I agree with Sasha, there is the perfect board for every type of wave. That’s what’s so addictive about shaping–and surfing, for that matter. I prefer short boarding. I like a bit of rush even if I have to sacrifice a bit of style to make that drop or race through a section. But I still have that grom energy. I’ll surf absolutely anything. 


What has surfing taught me? Nothing. Just kidding. I play into all the cliches. "Just keep swimming," "There’ll always be another wave," "Commit," – I don’t know. Maybe it’s the paradox of it all. When I think I’ve figured surfing out it just demolishes me and I’m back to square one–as if the more I know, the less I know. 


What unique opportunities and challenges have you faced being transgender in the surfing community? What are your thoughts on inclusivity and diversity in the surfing industry?


Sasha

Firstly being transgender or being the first transgender woman in competitive surfing has not offered me many opportunities and when I say many, I mean none really. To say there’s been a few challenges would be an understatement. But on the flip side, meeting all the people in the industry who are true allies and/or gender diverse has been an absolute pleasure and has made life worth living. 


The surf industry has so much work to do within the inclusivity space. We have been lucky enough that the major governing bodies of our sporting arena have cited and put policies in place around inclusiveness, thereby creating a space and culture that has started a snowball effect. We have a struggle ahead of us, but it's worth fighting for.


Mando surfing Photo by Sunny Smith (2016)

Mando

I might come on strong. I don’t get the luxury of being the laid back surfer. I never have. I think that’s the nature of having fought for a space in the lineup or a space in the industry. As a shaper, I find myself having to convince husbands that my rails aren't pinched too much for their wives or that I know as much as the next cis white male shaper. The opportunity comes from my hustle. I’m okay admitting that now but that doesn’t mean I’m not grateful. After all, I get to work with Sasha.


The surf industry is incredibly insular. Frankly, I think we have to work harder–do better. We have to be aware of our immense privilege. I understand it’s hard for some people to hear and accept that but it’s the truth.


When Sasha and I finally had the opportunity to build a couple of boards together something damn awesome happened–we stopped code switching (or performing for the hetero normative trade industry) and started truly being ourselves. With Madonna blasting in the background and resin bucket in hand, I realized I was my gay-ass self and my badass board builder self in the same space. I also realized, that never happens unless I’m alone.


Do you have a favorite board?



Sasha

My favorite board is the board aptly named after me–the Sasha Jane. I’ve put so much time, sweat, blood, and tears, into this board, it’s been six years in the making. Fine-tuning, tweaking one aspect, and then tweaking another. It's gotten to a point where I’m so happy with it–so smooth off the tail and so much levitation on the nose, I’m so happy where I am with it now. Every time I surf it it makes me grin ear to ear. Whether I'm just trimming down the line pulling a speed line rolling coasting my board midsection tail or I’ve wedged it in high and tight hanging all toes over. It feels smooth and glides light (high and tight baby). 


Mando Board -Purple Hull, Photo by Salt n Sea Photography (2023

Mando

No one actually realizes I make shortboards. My market is very longboards and mid lengths and since I ride everything I’m very keen to make everything. But I love twins and twins with trailers–oh and twinzers! But also, I’m an obsessive perfectionist. To pick a favorite board is to accept that a board is perfect and I’m not sure my anxious brain can compute that. 


Sasha and Mando...and Chloe (in the background) searching for waves in California (2024)

Sasha: How did you and Mando meet and how did this collaboration start? Give us some details - how many boards, particular shapes and designs?


Mando and I met on an activism nonprofit project we were trying to get off the ground a little over a year ago. We have since become friends over the last few months of my being in the United States. We started talking about boards and it just made sense that we should join forces and start releasing some boards together.


It’s hard to find space in the industry as a female shaper or a shaper of diverse gender so we decided to make our own space within the industry.


A full Mando quiver including an Asym, Village Bicycle, Maxi, Flo-Bot, and some customs!

Mando has an amazing range of models already existing in the Mando Surf Co range and the first couple of models I will be releasing will complement them we will only add a couple more at a time but there will be more as we go!


The first one to drop is the Sasha Jane signature model. It is a traditional longboard that I’ve been working on for years back in Australia and I had a lot of success previously in sales with this board under my old label Sasha Jane Designs. 


It’s a Californian style shade with a twist of Aussie pig bottom contours, it has 60,40 rails, leaning more on the upturned style for ease of riding on the nose. The tails are nice and pulled in and super kicked, adding projection and lift or elevation, and the pulled-in tail additionally adds ease of turning.


The Sex Bot model back in Sasha’s Western Australian shop (2019)

The second board I’ll be dropping into the Mando Surf Co range is a high-performance twin fin shortboard called the Sex-Bot. It has a full nose lots of foam under the chest and a set of flyers tucked behind the fins to add to all these fancy bells and whistles. It also has a set of curved channels that feed out through these flyers that are tucked in behind the TwinFins, it’s one of my personal riders when it gets sucky and hollow, and overhead it’s a twin fin that feels like a thruster but has all the speed you need.


We plan to drop a bunch more boards after these two as the future is bright at Mando Surf Co in our little shop of creativity in Monterey Bay!



Mando: “I MAKE TOYS FROM FOAM & RESIN. JUST TOYS. NOT FERRARIS. No ONE SURFS FERRARIS.” Tell us a little more about your shaping practice.


I love that you swooped that quote. It actually comes from a confrontation I had in a shop a while back. I didn’t back down to an old shaper who was holding me to a double-standard. He told me his boards were like Ferraris and mine were, well, something else. The comparison didn’t bother me much. He had been doing this for a very long time and had already taught me so much. But it was the ego–it was the act of pushing others down and the gate-keeping–the usual behavior in the trade industry. Yet it was at that moment that I decided to build a business with as little ego as I could which is not always easy (my friends refer to my ego as, “The Chad”).  Regardless, I ultimately want to create a safer and more accessible space for shapers who would otherwise have a difficult time making their way in this very protected industry. 


Mando Shaping Room, Photo by Salt n Sea Photography (2023)

As for my boards and learning how to shape, I consider myself lucky. I’ve learned from nearly a dozen shapers that actually weren’t all that proprietary. And now Sasha, who has 30 years in the industry is sharing her experience with me. It’s pretty epic.


I think my style is pretty clear. I love retro shapes, fast boards, and boards that draw unique lines in the wave. Could you call me a hipster shaper? I might be. Either way, I personally obsess over the details of my boards but the end result is something that is supposed to be fun and easy to surf. I believe there is the perfect board for every wave. The endless combinations that present themselves excite and intrigue me. 



Mando: What shapers and mentors have significantly influenced your practice?


As I noted, I love retro shapes. So, I am often influenced by older shapers, and then I add a modern twist to their designs. Shapers I love: Mark Richards, Glenn Pang from Town & Country, Steve Colleta, Junod, and Andreini. But I’m also intrigued by many younger shapers: Cory Graham, Ashton Pickle of A&H, and Simon Jones


But my biggest influences and supporters have been those willing to hold space and critique my boards while I’m obsessing over them–that would be Burke Boynton, above all (shit, the amount of board files he’s reviewed for me or the amount of boards he’s tried for me is like a full-time job–love this human), Bobby Wood of Missing Link because he never lets me cut a bad board and glasses over my mistakes. Sasha and I sent her 6 boards last night for Bobby to look at and this morning he asked her why she hadn’t gotten back to me yet. 


For as quick as I am to point out the flaws in this industry, I have been surrounded by wonderful and generous humans who don’t hesitate to share their knowledge with me. There are some really good ones out there. 


 

Additional Information


Sasha Jane Lowerson: @sasha_jane_lowerson


Photo Credits

Mitchell Greenberg, videographer/editor/photographer: @dearbedlam

Heiko Bothe @heikobothe


© 2000-2024 withitgirl. All rights reserved. We appreciate your feedback!

Comentários


Os comentários foram desativados.
bottom of page