From SoCal to NorCal: Talking with Julie Cox

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Julie works on her cross step, somewhere in Mexico.
As a young veteran of the surf community, most women (and men) surfers cross paths with Julie Cox sooner or later. She’s been a dedicated local in the waters of southern California, a former professional surfer for Roxy in the mid 2000s, an instructor for Las Olas Surf Safaris in mainland Mexico and researched surf legends as operations manager at the California Surf Museum in Oceanside—which is where we first met her.

The next place you might see Julie is up in Northern California. She lived up there during the time she was pursuing a degree at UC Santa Cruz and traveling to compete in surf contests, and has recently returned to the bay area to be the manager/buyer of Mollusk in San Francisco. She is also Seea's Northern California sales rep.

We talked to Julie back when she was studying women’s surf history for the “Women and the Waves” exhibit at the California Surf Museum. This time, we had a conversation with Julie about women’s surfing in the current era and her new adventures in San Francisco.

Shown left, Julie with Ashley Lloyd Thompson at the Logjam in Santa Cruz. Congrats to Julie for taking 2nd place and Ashley for taking 1st. 

How did you come to work at Mollusk in San Francisco? 

Last year, I decided it was time to move away from Oceanside and explore the San Francisco Bay Area. I thought Mollusk would be a good fit and a good landing place for me. Thankfully, the owner did too and created some room for me within the company. Mollusk is similar to the museum in a lot of ways, but at Mollusk my job is pretty focused on a few things, whereas at the museum, I did a little of everything.

You went to school at UC Santa Cruz and have traveled around California a lot. Now settling back up in the Bay Area, why does it feel like the right place for you to be now?

It feels great to be back in the Bay Area. It feels right to be around the stunning natural beauty, the amazing restaurants, the progressive and artistic culture; the most sustainable city in the USA. I felt like I was ready to grow more and had always wanted to live up here. Timing felt right to take the plunge.

Even though surfing is a hobby of yours, working with people who surf, and brands that serve surfers is also a part of your career. What do you love about working with people who also surf and share the same kind of way of life as you?

I have surrounded myself with surfing for a long time, in many different types of jobs, but it comes down to being surrounded by good people. I feel lucky to have surfing be a part of my career path.

Angles and colors, Julie finds a photogenic spot to sit.

Who are some of the women surfers that are inspiring to you today and that you look up to? 

I look up to Ashley Lloyd because she is a great surfer, great shaper, great human. Bev Sanders (founder of Las Olas Surf Safaris for women) has always been supportive of me and of women learning to surf. Both of those women are putting such positive energy into surfing and women's surfing. Jeannette Prince is also really fabulous. She surfs great, is super creative, and has stayed stoked on surfing throughout her life it seems.... Donna Matson is another early lesser-known pioneer. She is a mentor to me because she has lived life on her own terms and has amazing stories about surfing, sailing, scuba and her business (Western Instructional Television).

During the 1990s, it was a big deal for Lisa Anderson to be the first woman on the cover of Surfer and it was still a very male-centric sport. How do feel it’s changed from when you were surfing professionally around that time?

I think there are many more women surfers now and Lisa Andersen, along with the surf industry's women's lines, have helped inspire more women to get in the water in the 1990s. I used to know just about every girl in the line-up, but now I don't. There are so many! It is rad.

You made a line of women’s surfboards with shaper Jed Noll. What are some of the differences in making a surfboard for women than for men?

Jed and I created the Jule Collection to help support women in surfing and give them some fun options for boards made with women in mind. Dimensions are created based on my surfing, Jed's shaping experience, and also my experience teaching women how to surf.  We make boards for a variety of conditions, body types and surfing styles. Guys like the Jule boards too, but our marketing and esthetics are focused on the women.

From seeing women surfers every day at Mollusk, what advice do they most frequently ask you for, and what do they want in surfing clothing and equipment? 

Women are really stoked on the Seea suits because they are so cute, the styles are refreshing, and they are functional. I hear that some women are looking for more surf buddies to go surfing with. I think we are more social and want that camaraderie and support.

Coming from Southern California, how is the surf culture in Northern California different? 

The surf culture is different up here for sure. The Santa Cruz surf culture is thriving and strong, but in SF it is more low key. There is just less surf industry, fewer stickers on cars—that kind of thing.
But the surfers up here charge! The waves are bigger and gnarlier and surfers are as dedicated and stoked. There are so many waves up here and lots of adventure to be had.

Julie in the Hermosa brown shell/navy.

Julie inside Mollusk San Francisco.

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