INTERVIEW: Isabella Manning

We first met Isabella Manning this past summer at our pop-up at Traveler Malibu. She is equal parts charming, funny, stylish and super cool. Read on to hear about how she balances urban living and city dreams with connecting to nature.

How did you get into surfing?

I moved to Southern California from Sacramento, my guy friends all surfed and taught me how. They just threw me into situations and I had to figure it out. Honestly the best way to learn. 

Where is your favorite surf spot? 

San Onofre. It’s just the best.

What’s the most important thing surfing has taught you? 

Surfing has taught me so much honestly. I’ve learned that I need only a few simple things in life to be genuinely happy. It has shifted my future goals and dreams in the best way. I used to really desire only an urban lifestyle, really believing that this was the only place that would keep me entertained, excited, and happy. Surfing has held me responsible for nurturing my connection and love to nature. Now, I understand that I need to be able to surf wherever I live and have some sort of natural sanctuary for myself.  Most importantly, I’ve recognized that my job doesn’t define me, but how hard I work does. Now, I am just exploring ways to find that balance between an urban, career driven lifestyle and surfing as much as I can. 

What influences you?

People influence me so much. Meeting new people and understanding their life routines and rituals, really keeps me moving forward. I am also very influenced by music, food, and fashion. I am swimwear designer, and I have been super influenced by surfing in my designs.

Please school us a bit on style! What are your rules of engagement? 

I think you are referring to surfing style? Honestly, I can’t think about it too much or I start blushing. I really just try to stay present and laugh throughout the whole session. However, I will say… I do ballet and this has definitely helped my surfing, sometimes I find my arms in Pose. Who knows what that looks like! 

Who or what brands do you think are killing it in fashion today? 

Hmmmm I love all these little brands  like Paloma Wool. I just love all their campaigns. Miista kills the shoe game. Ganni is so rad and fun. The queen is Cecilie Bahnsen,  an exquisite brand from Copenhagen that successfully balances femininity and Stephen King style dresses. That is my dream design job. I love brands out of Copenhagen.

If we’re coming to Southern California, what do we need to hit up?

Hi, me in Long Beach! Long Beach has some sick thrift stores, authentic food, and lovely people. Besides that, San Onofre, Bear Flag and get the poke burrito (extra Tommy sauce), Courage Bagels (Silverlake),  and good old Bolsa Chica where I learned how to surf ;) 

If you could change anything about surf culture what would it be? 

I wish short boarders were nicer. Stop whistling, if the big one is coming, we can all see it. I’m generalizing, but sometimes I just wish I could pass a joint around out there and people could just get a little looser. Maybe have some snacks too.

Last 3 songs you listened to:

Oh god… Surrender: Suicide

Kick in the Eye: Bauhaus

Desire: Kamasi Washington 

What are your parting words of advice for ladies wanting to surf? 

Get ready for some nip slips …

No, but just get out there. Don’t stop going and tell people you are learning. You will be surprised how excited and supportive people will be. Even the really cool stylish ones that intimidate you to the core. Don’t let that fool you because I believe no matter how good you get, it’s all about how you are feeling out there and how present you are. Just like a yoga class. Enjoy the utterly painful awkward beginning, that excitement and simple pleasure is a beautiful thing. 


Photo Credits:  

Ridge Ben