Shap­ing a sus­tain­able fu­ture

Life & Style Weekend - - LOCAL LIFE - Words Ka­rina Eastway Por­trait im­age War­ren Lynam

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 at­surf­sup­ or­sta­ eco­surf­sup­plies/

Shap­ing im­ages, Jo­hann Garcia Pho­tog­ra­phy.

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