Meet Kassia Meador—the free-spirited, pro-surfer from Los Angeles, California whose love of the water and passion for the sport earned her a well-earned title as the Queen of Noseriding. But don’t let that sun-kissed tan fool you—the multi-talented Meador has an eye for photography and a knack for design. Once the face of women’s surfing with multiple sponsorship deals, Meador has since focused on her entrepreneurial instincts, turning to photography and launching her own wetsuit line, Kassia + Surf. We catch up with the designer at her studio in LA and talk life growing up in Southern California, inspiration, and what’s in store for 2016…
Describe your typical Sunday.
Sleeping in, drinking tea, going on a hike and heading out to the ocean if the surf is good. Then at night, a cozy dinner and hopefully a hot tub is in there at some point too.
Having grown up in Southern California, what is it about the ocean that attracted you to start surfing?
So many things. Most of all the expansiveness of it. The forced presence of nature. No one can get you out there. It's the ultimate escape.
Why did you choose to longboard over shortboard?
I just liked the elegance. It's more like a dance. It's subtle. I love minute moments that make something different or special and longboarding gives you that.
Surfing put you on a different life trajectory than what is the norm for a teenager, did your family’s support shape where you are today?
They were definitely supportive of me taking the unconventional route. My dad told me to follow my heart. That gave me the freedom to explore life as I wanted to and gave me the confidence to do what I am doing and to figure things out for myself along the way. When I told my parents that I wanted to live in a van in Australia for six months they were like, “Alright.” I think kids naturally want to do what they want to do and when parents are closed off they are more tempted to rebel. But, if you're given the opportunity to follow your dreams, like I was, you're going to be more successful.
Your photography captures the beauty and carefree lifestyle of surf culture. Is there a specific moment that you captured on film that sticks out in your memory?
I don’t think there was a specific moment, but there definitely is a trip that sticks out. I went on a road trip with friends where we bounced around throughout Europe between Germany, Spain, Switzerland and coastal France. I was so happy to have my camera with me and to be able to document the trip. Road tripping out of a van with my friends and exploring all these amazing places was such an experience. When I look back at the pictures I can remember all the moments we shared. I actually just did a mural series for Stance and most of the images I used were from that trip. That time period was magical.
What inspires you most in your photos and editorial work?
Light. That's definitely what inspires me the most. Growing up in California and surfing all the time, I fell in love with silhouettes. I use light as a character in my photos. Living here and having so much sun year-round I have always wanted to be outside and the visuals captured by light are the things I want to portray in my photography.
You’ve recently founded your brand, Kassia + Surf, to design wetsuits specifically for women. Beyond fit, what design elements set Kassia + Surf apart from the rest of the market?
I think for us they are the most visually dynamic and functional wetsuits out there. We use really great technical fabrics and don't have to skimp on quality to meet minimums. I design with myself in mind, putting my 17 years as a pro surfer into it. I know what makes a surfer comfortable, warm and able to move and I work all those elements into the suits we make.
What got you into pottery?
I am interested in active meditations. You lose your mind and find yourself in a different way. Surfing has always been a great outlet for me, but I needed something to do when the surf wasn’t good. I like creative outlets and using my hands to make things. With pottery, it feels good to walk into a studio and walk out with something I created.
How would you describe your personal style in and out of the water?
Casual. I like to take it slow. I am all about comfy, cozy and simple. Simple with a bit of an edge.
What do you hope 2016 will have in store for you?
New experiences and a fresh perspective. Kassia + Surf is just getting started and everything happening right now is all discovery. That is what life is about: new beginnings. Anything is possible.
Shop Her Picks
Lemay Top$248.00 $99.20
Oden Silk Blouse$268.00 $134.00
Cartel Top$168.00 $67.20
Leblanc Silk Blouse$278.00 $139.00
Conaway Top$198.00 $79.20
Susanna Sweater$258.00 $103.20
Nare Sweater$358.00 $143.20
Tamila Leather Jacket$998.00 $399.20
Morley Pants$138.00 $55.20
Stuva Linen Pants$188.00 $112.80
So Real Skinny$198.00
So Real Skinny$198.00
Nice Sandal$125.00 $75.00
Huxley Sneakers$225.00 $90.00
Lucy Booties$335.00 $134.00
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On following her own path: "When I told my parents that I wanted to live in a van in Australia for six months they were like, “Alright.” I think kids naturally want to do what they want to do and when parents are closed off they are more tempted to rebel. But, if you're given the opportunity to follow your dreams, like I was, you're going to be more successful." Pictured: Meador in the Conaway Top , Stuva Pants and Nice SandalsPhotography By Alex La Cruz
On launching her wetsuit label, Kassia + Surf: "I think for us they are the most visually dynamic and functional wetsuits out there. We use really great technical fabrics and don't have to skimp on quality to meet minimums.” Pictured: The Nice SandalsPhotography By Alex La Cruz
On moments captured on film: "Road tripping out of a van with my friends and exploring all these amazing places was such an experience. When I look back at the pictures I can remember all the moments we shared. That time period was magical." Pictured: Meador in the Leblanc Silk Blouse and the So Real SkinnyPhotography By Alex La Cruz
On finding inspiration for her work: "Living here and having so much sun year-round I have always wanted to be outside and the visuals captured by light are the things I want to portray in my photography." Pictured: Meador in the Leblanc Silk Blouse and the So Real SkinnyPhotography By Alex La Cruz
On what’s to come in 2016: "New experiences and a fresh perspective. Kassia + Surf is just getting started and everything happening right now is all discovery." Pictured: The Lemay TopPhotography By Alex La Cruz