This March is Girl Surf Network’s five year anniversary and we’re going from strength to strength. We thought it was about time you got to know the Founder of the Network and the origins of GSN, how you can get more involved and what the plans are for the future of the Network. If you have been keeping up with our latest articles, you would have read one of the most popular posts of all time, Boss Ladies of the Surf Industry, Part 1 posted in late 2016. Kim’s bio in part 1 went something like this…
Kim Eulenstein. Founder – Girl Surf Network established in 2012, continues to be one of the largest womens surf platforms in the world. Since it’s establishment in 2012, GSN has been an unbiased hub for female surfers of any age, skill level and location. The Network continues to inspire, motivate and create opportunities for females in various roles. Kim also established the largest women’s focused sports management & marketing agency in the country and looks after some of Australia’s highest profile surfers, snow athletes and a range of female sporting stars. She has over ten years experience across various sporting organisations and global swimwear manufacturing companies. More recently Kim has been involved in major brand partnerships, social strategy, marketing, event management, advertising, public relations and communications all within the sporting and related corporate arenas. She has also published a womens specific surf book The Love of Surf featuring the likes of Layne Beachley, Sally Fitzgibbons & Stephanie Gilmore. Kim is a dedicated advocate for women in sport and mentor to up-and-coming female athletes.
GSN: What exactly is GSN?
Kim: I get asked this one a lot. ‘So what exactly is GSN? What do you do?’ In short GSN is an online platform for every female around the world that has an interest in surfing. We are passionate about ALL aspects of female surfing. We feature grass-roots surfers, competitive surfers, free surfers, elite professional surfers and the young-at-heart. This is a platform for girls around the world to connect and share their love of surfing. There is a core team of people in various professions including journalism, marketing, film, photography, ocean sciences, nutrition, travel, health, surf coaching and fitness. GSN isn’t just the opinion of any one person. We have a growing amount of contributors from all around the world. Basically if you are a female surfer GSN is anything you want it to be. It’s a platform for your voice and your opinions. It’s a place to connect and share your passion for surfing and also learn and hopefully grow as a surfer.
GSN: Tell us a bit about GSN and how it started?
Kim: I launched GSN as a simple Facebook page in March 2012 when I was in hospital with a shattered elbow. I was in there for a week waiting for parts to be shipped in to put my arm back together. I think they were coming in from Japan..? I couldn’t really tell you. I was so drugged up on painkillers at the time. What I can clearly remember is that I was told by various doctors, surgeons & specialists that I wouldn’t be able to surf again as the injury was so bad. It would take multiple surgeries to get it somewhat functional again and even then it would continue to be painful, unstable and arthritic.
A week in hospital on heavy drugs waiting for surgery allowed a fair bit of ‘free-time’ to work on the foundations of the Network. I drew on years of experience as a free surfer plus a background in various sports, marketing & management positions to build the platform. In short, I wanted it to be for all females around the world to connect and share their passion for surfing. I wanted a platform run by females that surf, for females that surf, not by a brand that sells product off the back of the surf lifestyle. I wanted to promote female surfing as a sport, lifestyle and all of the positive aspects that go with it. Most of all I wanted a platform that was unbiased to any one look, style, demographic, nationality and skill of surfer. The platform is for females to speak up and promote themselves, their sport, their way of life without having someone else dictate how they should look and act.
GSN: What is an average day for you with GSN?
Kim: GSN is all about surfing… So it would only make sense that surfing comes first. If it’s pumping, I surf. If not, I work. That’s the same for all the girls that work at GSN. As GSN is a network, there is lots of networking to be done. Lots of emails, phone calls, board meetings (in the water), photography, videos, talking with sponsors, pro’s, groms and researching travel, hardware, nutrition, skills etc. You always need to have your finger on the pulse. There are lots of late nights and early mornings watching live streaming of QS and CT events online. But I don’t think of it as work as I love it. There are a few Team GSN girls based around the country and some are overseas in Bali, Maldives and Samoa. They do a lot for the network by contributing articles, imagery, film and spreading the word.
GSN: How has the female surfing community responded to GSN?
Kim: It’s been unreal! What started as a little Facebook page in March 2012 has now grown into a large active network with girls all around the world getting involved. We have since launched a website, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube channel. We do surf camps around Australia and overseas and have a variety of contributors including pro surfers, film-makers, nutritionists, health and fitness professionals, surf coach’s, surf forecasters and professional photographers. I get a heap of emails everyday from frother’s all around the World passing on their positive comments. Its mind blowing!
GSN: Did you, or do you receive any kind of funding to run GSN?
Kim: I’ve never had any external help in terms of funding for GSN. It’s only been self generated or family funds. I won’t lie here any say GSN is a big money spinner. It’s not. We currently don’t have any of the ‘big brands’ supporting us or government grants or anything like that. In looking at the future of GSN I’ll likely have to source some external funds to start moving into some bigger and better projects, but at this stage it’s all independent.
GSN: Where and when did you start surfing?
Kim: I started when I was about 14 years old. A late bloomer, yes. I grew up about 1.5hrs from the nearest beach and there was absolutely no interest in surfing from anyone else in my family or group of friends. I bought a 2nd hand surfboard from a mate for $160, which I saved up for by washing my neighbours car for a few months. I taught myself to surf and just asked other guys in the lineup for some pointers every now and then. I’ve never had a lesson in my life. It probably shows too!
GSN: What do you love most about surfing?
Kim: Hmm, this is a hard one. Well it’s hard to make it a short answer anyway. I just love to surf because it makes me happy. I’m up most mornings before dawn for an early session. Even in the middle of winter as I dive under the first wave and feel the cold water seep into my wetty as I paddle out towards the rising sun, I always seem to find myself smiling. It’s hard to explain. But I surf because it makes me happy.
GSN: You do a fair bit of travel. What is your favourite surf spot or surf travel destination?
Kim: For me one of the reasons I travel is to explore, experience another culture and find some uncrowded waves. One of the coolest trips I’ve been on was with my husband and a small crew to a tiny village in the Solomon Islands back in 2013. That’s a whole other story in itself. Apart from that I can’t go past my local. Surfing with friends is always awesome. Even when the swell is shocking and its cold and raining. If I’m out there with my mates its better than any tropical reef break without them. I know a few would beg to differ but for me, happiness is only real when shared.
GSN: How did you get involved in sports marketing and athlete management?
Kim: In my early 20’s I picked up a job at a huge sports management company in Sydney which gave me my first taste of the corporate side of sport. I’d see hundreds of major playing and sponsorship contracts in rugby league, rugby union, AFL, golf, soccer, basketball and surfing. I also worked in a fair few sporting organisations while studying at uni which gave me a good overall understanding and a stack of experience in the sporting world. I was a pool swimmer and did a bit of SLS in my youth so I was pretty stoked to pick up a job looking after marketing and PR across Australia and New Zealand for Zoggs. They are one of the biggest manufactures of swimwear and swimming products in the world. I worked heavily in product ranges, conferences, B2B and B2c marketing and public relations. I studied a lot around marketing and consumerism but this real world experience was a huge eye-opener. I loved my time at Zoggs but that was also around the time I picked up a few too many athletes to manage whilst working a full-time corporate job. I made the decision to leave my dream job to focus full time on my own business. I was looking after Bec Woods at the time. She was in her eighth year on the ASP World Championship Tour and after parting ways with her long-term sponsor Billabong, Bec was someone I really wanted to help in terms of funding and athlete support. It wasn’t long before I had a full house of clients around surf, snow, models and a variety of brands.
GSN: What is the best thing about your job?
Kim: I get asked this one a lot. You wouldn’t really be surprised at how many men offer to leave their big paying corporate jobs to become a sunscreen applicator at my photo shoots when they find out I work with female surfers. I think a lot of my friends just think I’m a lady of leisure who surfs all day and travels the world chasing waves with pro surfers. It’s funny how people see your life when they just see your social media. What people don’t see is the amount of meetings I go to or the hours of phone calls, emails, paperwork, reporting, driving and just standard boring stuff I do. But hey, I’m not complaining at all. I love what I do, but I also work hard.
GSN: What are you most proud of when it comes to Girl Surf Network?
Kim: In looking back over the past five years some of the things that really stand out would be building a womens surf brand off a Facebook page while in hospital. Having that grow into a globally recognised brand among grass-roots surfers, right through to the elite World Tour ranks is pretty amazing. Self publishing a book, The Love of Surf that celebrates womens surfing all around the world. Working with a range of amazing women in the industry, creating a variety of roles and pathways for women to pursue their career goals. That part always warms the heart. I’m proud to have helped a fair few professional surfers with sponsorships, funding and general athlete support for their competitive surfing aspirations. One of the coolest things I’ve done to date would have to be speaking on behalf of 4 x World Champion Wendy Botha at the Sally Fitzgibbons Gala Night last October at the Novotel, Manly Pacific. Speaking for a legend of the sport is one of the greatest honours I can think to have in my career.
GSN: What’s next for GSN?
Kim: Growth! According to a report published by sports research agency Gemba in 2010 there are around 810,000 female surfers in Australia alone. We currently have close to 40,000 on the Girl Surf Network Instagram page. I’d love every female around the world to know that this platform is here, for them. I’d love to see a lot more stories, articles, imagery, movies etc from females around the world. We are always open to contributions. All you have to do is send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Internally we are going to continue to make films, test products, share surf information, run a variety of surf camps and events. We have also become the 2017 media partner for the Women’s Sailor Jerry Surftag which is exciting. We have a few big events coming up this year but I can’t give too much away here. In general we hope to continue to promote and support womens surfing all around the world.
You can follow Girl Surf Network on Instagram at @girlsurfnetwork. Join in with the conversations, flag your surf images by putting at #GIRLSURFNETWORK on them. You can also find Girl Surf Network on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/GirlSurfNetwork.
There is also a brand new Girl Surf Network Group on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/GIRLSURFNETWORK/
This group is for female surfers only and is pretty much a notice board and conversation started for everyone in the Network. Just ask to become a member through Facebook and fire away!
GSN: Anything else you’d like to add?
Kim: Something I’ve really come to appreciate over the years is how lucky we are to be able to enjoy the ocean. It really is a gift and should be respected and taken care of. We really do a fair amount of irreversible damage to the planet which is concerning. I’d love to do a lot more to help organisations like Take 3 for the Sea and SurfAid (just to name a few) in the future. Open to ideas here! Over the years it’s been awesome seeing a huge increase in the amount of female surfers in the lineup. It’s great to see surfing brings as much happiness into other girls lives as it has to mine.