You probably know her from beachwear brand Roxy's Spring/Summer '13 campaign, where the surfer girl recreated the whole Californian vibe, complete with a sunkissed glow and beach waves. Meet Ishita Malaviya—India's first female surfer and co-founder of Shaka Surf Club in Kodi Bengre, Karnataka.
Ishita's first tryst with the waters took place in 2008, courtesy a foreign exchange student at Manipal University, where she was studying Journalism—a moment which can only be described as serendipity. Once she had a taste of the sand and the sea, there was no way she was going back to 'ordinary life'. So, she and her boyfriend, Tushar Pathiyan (much to the dismay of their parents), sold everything they owned to buy a surfboard (which they shared for the first two years!), and established India's first-ever surfing school. "For us, it has always been about spreading the aloha spirit," she chirps.
Ishita's fearlessness lies in the fact that she has successfully managed to transform her passion into a living. As a first-generation surfer in the country, her focus is not so much on competing as it is on teaching, which she finds empowering, "We want to dispel the myths around the sea and help kids build a connect with the natural environment. Despite growing up along the coast, you'd be surprised by how much they fear the waters and how much they harbour dreams of some day moving to the city. Having bequeathed urban life, we want them to realise just how fortunate they are," she reveals. For Ishita, giving back is as much a part of the plan—and small steps are making a big difference. Local women provide the meals at Shaka and the kids at the school regularly help with the beach clean-ups. "It's all about promoting a sustainable lifestyle," she smiles.