Shaping a sustainable future
Lou Dever is an unassuming Sunshine Coast entrepreneur and mother of two who’s slaying it in life’s ‘choose your own adventure’ arena. While she’s had her fair share of health and personal setbacks and could have decided to stick out a job she hated to make ends meet, she decided to make a deliberate life change on the back of something she loved… surfing. “I was so bored working in accounting. It felt limited and confined and I felt so trapped. I’d get depressed,” Lou said. “So, I bit the bullet and decided I’d just suck it up and be broke for a few years. I made the change and headed off to uni to study International Business – and that’s when I saw the boards from France.” “The boards” Lou’s referring to aren’t just any boards. They’re eco-friendly surfboards made from natural and recycled material, flax fabric, and coated in cork. They’re sustainable, twice as strong as regular surf boards, super durable and easily repairable. But they were also being made in France.
“I almost gave up a few times, but once I’d made the financial commitment, I pushed myself to go.”
Lou initially messaged the manufacturers, Notox, in March this year, and organised for a 5’6” board to be sent out to Australia. What arrived in the post was monogrammed as the ‘Lou Slayer’ – a board so impressive she sold her car and jumped on a plane to visit the factory for herself. It wasn’t long before she’d set up an online store, Eco Surf Supplies in a whirlwind entrepreneurial move which would impress the likes of Branson. Just six months later, she’s chatting to international surf brand managers, pro surfers and surf magazines about her boards. The business also supports the community, providing trial boards for surf schools, surf clubs and sponsoring the Noosa Festival of Surfing. “You need to have a triple bottom line on your financials or you’re going to get left behind,” Lou said, referencing the need to achieve social and environmental targets in addition to monetary success. Her new moniker of the ‘Lou Slayer’ has stuck and she’s just recently been made Australian sales manager for the Notox brand. Lou insists she’s no eco-warrior, although she’s always had an awareness around the environment with her daughter Anne-Marie, 8, having allergies to fragrances and antibacterial products. Lou's business path to date has been more of an accumulation of factors, including a health condition which meant she struggled with high-impact exercise. She’d also suffered a stroke without realising it, which left her with under half her vision in her right eye. “I was advised to do horizontal sports like swimming and surfing. I grew up as a kid swimming but I wanted to do something more fun,” Lou said. So two years ago, Lou signed up for nine months’ worth of surfing lessons. With three classes per week it was quite a commitment both financially and time wise, but one that’s changed her life. “I almost gave up a few times, but once I’d made the financial commitment, I pushed myself to go. “It’s a good thing I didn’t learn to surf when I was a kid or teenager, or I’d have been a complete bum and never done anything else. I knew I needed to change my life so I could surf all the time, and in a business I could run myself.” In addition to Notox surf boards, Eco Surf Supplies now includes a range of ecofriendly products: sunscreen from Hawaii, Revolwe leg ropes designed in Sweden and Byron Bay’s Five Ocean fins made from recycled waste from Indonesia. She specialises in products which support the ocean she now both plays and works in. “Fibreglass boards break and pollute the environment. And fibreglass shaping is such a toxic environment, including carcinogenic chemicals such as acetone. “If I had my way, every pro surfer would ride a flax surfboard. They’re more durable and just as lightweight as a fibreglass surfboard plus the Notox boards don’t break so they make really good travel boards,” Lou said. Lou said the sunscreen is amazing too, and her children (Anne-Marie and Toby, 11) now refuse to use anything else. These days Lou’s the mum at school all the kids are pointing at saying “that’s the one with the cork surf boards.” Which, pro surfers aside, is just about as cool as any mum can get. You can find Lou’s range of eco friendly products at www.ecosurfsupplies.com or www.instagram.com/ ecosurfsupplies/
Shaping images, Johann Garcia Photography.