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The Spindrifter Series :: Carole El-Rahi

T H E   S P I N D R I F T E R   S E R I E S

Today we are excited to introduce you to Carole El-Rahi a French Sydney-sider who has a passion for both surfing & fashion.  Her mission for her business Phocea Surf is to design bold, feminine and beautifully printed wetsuits for fashion loving girls. Carole realised that finding a wetsuit that was flattering and fashionable – but functional– was a challenge, so with her signature enthusiasm, she decided to design her own, fusing French-girl chic with bold, colourful Sydney beach style.

We caught up with Carole this week to find out more…

How did you come to be Surf Wear designer?

My background is in fashion marketing so  I always have had an interest for fashion design. I worked at ASOS for a long time and was really lucky to work alongside so many talented and fun fashion professionals. When I moved to Australia about 5 years ago I took on surfing and couldn’t understand why fashion wasn’t a part of surfwear the same way it’s part of swimwear or beachwear. So I decided about a year and a half to design a line of wetsuits that I would want to surf in with bold prints, feminine shapes and a comfortable fit.

↠ What’s your big vision // dream for the next few years?

I would like to  see more female surfers embrace their personal sense of style in the water using products that are both stylish and don’t compromise with their surfing performance. I’d love to help female surfers feel empowered in the water wearing sportswear that they feel and look good in. I believe Phocea Surf can be part of this journey.

Tell us what typical day for you looks like?

I currently juggle a full-time job, the launch of my business and I have a baby on the way, so I’m pretty busy! The key is to compartmentalise. At work I’m really focused and during the evenings / weekends I dedicate time to my business. My partner often works weekends so I guess it’s a little bit different for me because I have spare time with no distractions.

When you’re not busy with your business, where can we find you?

My happy place is by the ocean. I love the Eastern suburbs, it’s such a buzzing place but I’m most attracted to quieter spots. You’ll find me most weekends in Cronulla. I find the surfing beaches varied with lots of different spots suitable for almost all weather. The local surfers are really friendly, it’s a tight community. They’ve always been so helpful giving me lots of surfing tips and even came to my rescue once when I got stuck in a really bad rip. Now that I’m pregnant you’ll find me by the beautiful rock pools. You can’t beat it!

↠ What has been your most important & defining moment so far?

I sold at the Bondi Market last weekend. Seeing people interact with the wetsuits in real time and in front of me was an invaluable experience. I’m a digital marketer so it was a very different experience for me to sell physically. I was so delighted to see people like the collection. It as was very important for me to validate my concept.

↠ Tell us about your personal connection to our wild and beautiful natural world + what do you do to minimise your impact on it?

I’m a surfer so I feel a really strong connexion to the ocean. I pains me so much to see the beach and ocean polluted. One of my big objective this year is to reduce the waste I produce. I want to purchase less things and keep them for longer. It’s a difficult task for me because I love fashion and trends so much, but I’ve moved house not too long ago and was really shocked by the amount of things I no longer needed and that ended wasted. I recycled and donated as much as possible but there still was too much waste. We all need to take responsibilities and think durable rather than disposable. I think that’s the biggest way I can make an impact.

↠ What two key things have you learnt in your path which continue to push you forward?

I’ve learned not to seek external approval as a way of motivation and embrace my self-worth. Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely experience and it’s easy to get caught in your own mind, It’s important not to identify with external factors because they’ll always fluctuate.

Who / what do you look to for inspiration?  

I love Sheryl Sandberg. Her book “Lean in” had a real impact on me and boosted my confidence. I’m really big on gender equality and she is such an amazing advocate and activist. I hope to meet her one day. I also love Serena Williams. Her tenacity, talent and hard work are incredible.

What is your favourite quote and why does it particularly resonate with you?

“Comparison is the thief of joy” Theodore Roosevelt

In this day and age we spend so much time on social media, it’s hard not to compare ourselves to our friends, peers and even strangers. I believe this can create frustrations and prevent us from being content. The search for more is endless.

What’s next on your horizon? // What can we expect to see?

Right now I’m concentrating on launching my label in Australia. However the summer is almost over but about to begin the northern hemisphere. I have had some interest from Californian girls. I’d like invest time and effort to launch in the US.

What advice would you have for someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?    

Don’t give up and don’t feel discouraged. People underestimate how hard it is to launch a business, myself included. Having strong support for from your family & friends is really important. I felt like quitting several times but my husband wouldn’t hear it. I’m glad he pushed me, I’m really proud of the collection and product quality. It was a lot of work but really worth it in the end.

Thanks so much Carole, its lovely to meet you. You can find Carole over on her website https://phoceasurf.com or on social media here…

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/phoceasurf

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/phocea_surf/



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