With locations in Malibu and Pacifica, Traveler unites surfers of all kinds.
Photo Credit: Dustin Beatty
Sometimes the most simple mission can serve as a beacon for like-minded individuals. “‘Surf More, Be Happy’ is our tagline!” exclaims Traveler Surf Club co-founder Rel Lavizzo-Mourey. “You’re so much more of a happy person when you’re getting in the water often, so we want to ease those barriers.”
Both her and her wife, Julie Cox, are beaming when asked about the road that led to them to opening their second location in sunny Malibu, California.
Surfing is not only the through line for the space, but a passion the two share together. Cox is a lifer in the sport, a former professional longboarder who traveled the globe enjoying what most surfers do – the sun, the waves, the community.
But her passion didn’t stop there. After kicking out of her last wave as a pro, Cox dabbled in a number of different surf-related roles but most notably joined The California Surf Museum where she served as operations manager and director from 2008 to 2012.
“Working for a non-profit gave me the confidence to know that I can juggle a lot of things and can be an entrepreneur,” Cox tells ASN. “It was a special time in my life to get to meet all those legends and learn more about surf history and culture. Overall, it made me a rich person to have more knowledge to bring to customers who want to know more about the sport. Hopefully it enriches the experience for them. We’re not just two girls who own a shop; we know our stuff.”
After working at the Surf Museum, Cox moved to San Francisco with Lavizzo-Mourey who had also cut her teeth in business, but more so in the fashion industry. After collaborating with major designers like Marc Jacobs, Missoni and Vivienne Westwood at a previous job, she launched her own art-inspired luxury outerwear line called Silver Lining.
With experienced gleaned from both of their careers, and with support from her partner, Cox was inspired to open her own shop. She cut the ribbon on Traveler Surf Club in Pacifica, California, just outside of San Francisco, in 2016.
The carefully curated, small surf shop was an extension of Cox’s taste. It carried surf fashion and decor along with a mix of necessities that echoed sustainable practices. Quickly, Cox noticed there was something missing. Surfers at Pacifica were coming from all over, driving to the break, maybe chit-chatting in the lineup, but then leaving. There wasn’t a place to post-up and linger that made sense for surfers, and there certainly was nothing with a clubhouse environment.
“When you were younger, you used to hang out on the beach and get to know people,” adds Cox. “As you get older, you have all of these responsibilities and things to do. The environment up north is a little less conducive to just posting up on the beach all day. We wanted to create a space where we could convene with other surfers, cross paths and have that sense of community that sometimes exists more naturally at other phases of life. We wanted to recreate that.”
Additionally, the space offered both new and seasoned surfers a place to stash their stuff – especially those living in the crowded city – as well as give post-session respite from the frigid waters.
A couple of years later, and a few hundred miles south, Cox and Lavizzo-Mourey saw the opportunity for something similar, this time right across the road from Malibu’s famed Surfrider Beach. The new clubhouse location is conveniently located just steps from the world-class break, with plenty of room for surfers of all levels.
Amenities mirror the Bay-area location, with a well-stocked shop up front and surf club facilities in the back.
“We try to carry brands that are small, that are giving back to the environment somehow,” Cox tells ASN. “For example, we carry Indosole sandals, made out of motorbike tires or Sunski sunglasses that are using post-consumer plastic.”
The two have plans to bring brands like these closer to the Traveler experience by offering short-term pop-ups as a way to engage the customer. In fact, community building has been part of their mission from day one by offering activities like yoga and sound baths that all speak to the health-centric surfing lifestyle.
“We’re not afraid to have conversations about bigger issues, too,” Lavizzo-Mourey emphasizes.
Examples of that in the past include screenings and events with organizations like Brown Girl Surf and Black Girls Surf who recognize the healing nature of the sport and its ability to promote diversity and acceptance. The two promise more activations like this in the future.
While the clubhouse atmosphere in both locations is currently female-forward and attracts mainly women, Traveler encourages an all-gender atmosphere and aims to connect everyone through the common bond of surfing. While their open-door policy might seem counter-intuitive to the individualistic nature of the sport, it comes at a time when surfing – and society – needs it most.
Visit the Traveler website for locations and to sign up for a membership.