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Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Roxy Davis

Roxy Davis: Founder of Surf Emporium | Founder & Director: Roxy Davis Foundation

Roxy DavisRoxy is a nine times South African Surfing Champion, Professional Surf Coach, Business Owner, Mother and Founder of the Roxy Davis Foundation. Roxy started surfing at the age of 12, which is widely regarded as being rather late in life. However, she very soon started achieving exceptional results throughout her competitive surfing career. Progressing from school champion to club champion and then rapidly progressing to both Provincial and National champion. Today Roxy is a professional surfer.

She has won numerous awards including the Western Province Surfer of the year and Surfer of the South African Surfing Championships. Roxy has had the honour of captaining and coaching numerous Western Province Surfing Teams to victory at South African Championships. Roxy has represented South Africa at numerous Surfing, Longboarding and Stand Up Paddleboarding World Championships. In 2017 Roxy made surfing history in South Africa with her selection as Captain of the South African Longboard Surfing Team, becoming the first individual to represent South Africa as a Shortboard Surfer, Stand Up Paddle-board Surfer, Longboard Surfer, National Surf Coach and National Surfing Manager.

Roxy has an illustrious surf coaching background, having coached and managed Development, Provincial and National Teams within South Africa and on tours abroad. Roxy holds an International Surfing Association (ISA) level two Surf Coaching qualification. She achieved the accolade of finishing in the top two of the Cape Town Surf Coaching, Lifesaving and First Aid British Surfing Association (BSA) Coaches Course Level one and two.

Roxy is an International Surfing Association (ISA) Coaching Course Presenter. Roxy has also been an active administrator in the sport of surfing. She served as a member of the Western Province Surfing Committee as Vice-President and acting President for many years. Roxy is currently involved in running the Western Cape Inter Schools Surfing League.

Roxy’s passion in life is surfing and teaching people to surf. She is inspired by the opportunity of giving back to surfing all she has received from this amazing sport. Roxy founded her Surf School in 2002 with an umbrella on Muizenberg beach and a clear vision of where she wanted to go with the concept. Her dreams became a reality far sooner than she had anticipated. Growing from a dream of teaching forty girls a week, quickly turned into 200 girls within the first programme intake. The umbrella soon gave way for a share of half a hardware store for storage, and later into opening her own Surf School facility, which she aptly named the Roxy Surf Club. With the support of the Roxy Brand, the Roxy Surf Club’s infrastructure continued to improve, culminating in a move into a prominent beachfront building in the famous Surfers Corner of Muizenberg.

In 2007 Roxy launched the Roxy and Quiksilver Retail Surf Store as well as further expanding the Surf School component. Today the Surf School and Surf Store continue to go from strength to strength and have amalgamated under the Surf Emporium Brand. Roxy’s hard work and tenacity has resulted in her Surf School now being the biggest Surf School in South Africa and one of the biggest in the world. The Surf School remains one of only a few Surf Schools accredited with Surfing South Africa and works closely with most of the schools within the Western Cape.

Out of the water Roxy has achieved a great deal academically. She has completed an Honours Degree in Psychology and Communication through the University of South Africa (UNISA), building on her initial qualification in Sports Psychology. She is registered as a Psychological Counsellor with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. Roxy is also a qualified Chef, having studied at the world renowned Silwood Kitchen. Roxy has also tried her hand in journalism, writing a weekly column, “Beach Break” for the Friday edition of The Times Newspaper as well as contributing to the development of the editorial pillars of the successful woman’s surfing magazine, Salt Water Girl Surf. She went on to become the Regional Editor for Salt Water Girl Surf magazine for the region stretching from Namibia to Jeffreys Bay.

How did you get into surfing?

In December 1996 I entered an “anything that floats” surfathon and the rest is history! I took out an old surfboard of my dad’s that was in the garage. Spent the entire day in the ocean and fell in love with surfing.

How did your company come about?

In 2002, I spent a year on a surf charter yacht in the Mentawai Islands and upon returning to South Africa I realised I wanted to give back all that I had received through surfing. So, I decided to start a surf school. The idea was to coach part time and study a Psychology and Communications degree full time. My first intake saw over 200 girls sign up to our first Roxy Learn to Surf Programme and it quickly switched to a full-time journey with part time studies on the side. We started with an umbrella on the beach and a big dream. Today we are the biggest surf school and surf shop in the country.

Please tell us a little more about your charity organization, The Roxy Davis Foundation.

In 2019 the Roxy Davis Foundation was launched, an NPO that aims to affect meaningful change in people’s lives by improving their mental and physical well-being through ocean-based therapy programmes. Passion, Purpose, Possibility and People are at the core of the Roxy Davis Foundation. The Foundation sustainably focuses on understanding, broadening, connecting, educating and sharing evidence-based best practice principles through delivering ongoing life changing ocean-based experiences with the intended outcome of enhancing both people's physical and mental well-being.

We are so passionate about making the ocean accessible to all South Africans. For those:
• who can afford it and for those that can’t
• who are able bodied and those that have a physical or intellectual disability
• who are suffering or being challenged with mental health problems, cancer, terminal illness, PTSD, depression eating & anxiety disorders.

Everyone is welcome.

That is my dream and that is the Foundation's vision. SURFING CHANGED MY LIFE; IT WAS AND STILL IS MY THERAPY. MY MEDICINE. I want to be able to share it with other South Africans.

Adaptive SurfingWe have been running the adaptive surfing clinics for the past two years. The clinics are run once per month and the participant numbers are growing steadily. We currently have 121 Adaptive Surfers participating - (Surfers with a disability) and 135 school students that compete in the Western Cape Interschool League that runs every second Friday. Participants travel from all over Cape Town including areas such as Khayelitsha and Delft.Pam Hansford

Our youngest participant is 4 years old and oldest is 77 years old. Pam Hansford (77 years old) became physically disabled in a surfing accident two years ago. She has seen a marked improvement in her mobility and recovery from her injury and shares the importance of the volunteer team. Her experience can be summed up in her quote “They are the fuel (adaptive volunteer) and I just get to fly”. We asked one of the participants for feedback on their session and the highlight was “just being included”. Something so basic as accessing the ocean, is what we take for granted on a daily basis.

We are now getting referrals from Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and Department of Health's Rehabilitation Unit, for people with newly acquired spinal cord injuries and brain injuries.

The cost per clinic to host an average of 20 participants is approximately R30 000, excluding transport. We have successfully been running one clinic per month and by 2020, our aim is to run two per month. We are seeking partners and support from both corporate companies as part of their Corporate Social Investment and individuals that are willing to contribute, either financially or in time/skills. Our three biggest needs are: funds, transportation and volunteers. More information can be found on the website: www.roxydavisfoundation.org

Who or What has been the biggest influence in your life and why? 

My Mom – She always told me I can do anything!
My Husband – He is my biggest fan and solid rock!
My Children – They remind me daily about the goodness and honesty in people hearts.

What is your personal “motto”?

Never let the fear of failure immobilise me. Make a decision, and if I make the wrong one, make another. Keep moving forward.

What advice would you give a woman wanting to follow her dreams?

Never let anyone tell you that you can’t dream big or achieve great things. Your journey in life is your own to create. Be bold, think big and believe you can. Never Give Up. Ever!

What advice would you give your younger self?

Check in with yourself regularly. In your personal life and in your business life. Ask yourself the questions: “Am I okay? Physically, mentally or emotionally?” It is okay to say, “I’m not okay” but it's how we take action that matters the most. Striving for perfection is not achievable, be satisfied with an excellent result and take in and acknowledge both the small wins and the big wins.

Your favourite daily affirmation:

Yes, I Can – Always!

Your favourite quote:

"This too shall pass”. It's written on my wrist to remind me daily. Enjoy the good times knowing they will pass and have comfort in knowing that difficult times will pass too.

What are your top business tips?

Very interesting question! At the time I didn’t understand how my competitive career was going to influence my business career, but it taught me such valuable tools. Competitive by nature, 4 months after starting to surf, I started competing. Always analysing, always assessing, always calculating. I realised very early on in life my capacity for resilience. I started at what was considered late at age 12. I was determined not to let that be a defining factor in my surfing career and journey. That determination got me 9 national surfing titles, and to become the first South African to have ever represented their country at the world championships in all three surfing disciplines. Through my competitive career, I have learnt there is no quick way through and perseverance through the long haul is essential. Adaptability is important as every wave is different. You never know what to expect and you have to be ready for when the environment or conditions change, and they do, by the minute.

My season of competitive surfing had been preparing me for my season in business. I’m doing business in a male dominated sports environment with great resilience. SA is celebrating 100 years of surfing this year. I have been in this industry for a quarter of it. Times are changing, what once was an imbalance in the line-up, I was determined to change - a balance of men and women shredding, carving, gliding, dancing and ripping up the line-up. We are mindful that in order to continue succeeding I need to be nurturing my existing customer while welcoming new customers and growing the business… moving forward. Our team comprises of all ages, nationalities, races, languages, skill sets - a real incubator. We need to nurture the incubator of talent…which means continuous learning and continuous teaching. You never arrive and there is no quick way through, no shortcuts.

What would you say is the secret to your success?

I grew the business organically, took calculated risks, checked in all the time. I learnt to master the art of adaptability. If you ask my team, they will tell you one thing about me - they will tell you about my attitude – yes, we can…always! There are never problems, only exciting challenges to overcome. Yes, there are hard times - the hardest being the times your customer or teammates don’t see. Behind the scenes, hundreds of hours, huge sacrifices and work that goes into the final product.

I believe these are the reasons we are successful:
1. We don’t just provide a service; we deliver an experience.
2. We build trust with our customers.
3. We balance the relaxed nature of surf culture with professionalism.
4. Our service is efficient, and we deliver on what we offer timeously.
5. We recognise that an organisation is bigger than any one individual in it.
6. What we offer changes people’s lives.

Last year we put close to 50 000 boards on the water. This number increases at an average of 20% annually. Our team is made up of over 100 coaches and shop staff. We partner with brand leaders such as Discovery, Vida e Caffè, Virgin Active, FlySafair & Roxy International because they recognise the value of delivering their message to a customer, while in a receptive space such as the surfing environment. In the current challenging economic climate many business are facing in South Africa, we are seeing steady growth. We are moving forward.

One general piece of advice you would like to share:

Surfing changed my life; it was and still is my therapy. My medicine. If you have never experienced the exhilarating feeling of riding a wave, I challenge you to do so! In the ocean your title isn’t important. Surfing is a leveller. You age, race, nationality or body shape is irrelevant. It’s the place you have to be 100% engaged and, in the moment, otherwise you will end up under the water. No cell phones, email, meetings, noise or distractions. It’s a sport where the success rate is high for a child that doesn’t excel in school, lacks self-esteem, or doesn’t conform to regular sports. Standing and riding that wave equals success, achievement. It builds self-esteem, self-belief and self-confidence. It improves muscle tone and it enhances recovery.

In closing:
I’m bringing a new meaning to the idea of wearing a suit to the office. My suit is rubber and my office is the ocean. I'm doing what I love, knowing it is supporting my family, hundreds of other families and making a real change in other people's lives. Some call that being an entrepreneur. Living life.

Contact Information:
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.roxydavis.co.za | www.roxydavisfoundation.org | www.surfemporium.co.za
Facebook: www.facebook.com/surfemporium | www.facebook.com/roxydavisfoundation | www.facebook.com/roxydavissurf
@Roxy_Davis_Surf | @SurfEmporium  | @RoxyDavisFoundation
Twitter: @SurfEmporium  | @RoxyDavisFound