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Badass Molly Lockwood Founded the Surfing Magazine Sea Maven at 20 Years Old

Surfer and literary journal founder, Molly Lockwood, is not one to back down in the face of adversity. A Northern California local, she began surfing at 17, and three years later has an even greater passion for the ocean.

Molly is going into her junior year at Pitzer College in Southern California and is majoring in philosophy, politics, and economics. She began her literary journal, Sea Maven, after observing the controversy and frustration caused after another woman surfer spoke out about the societal difficulties that surround surfing. From this, Molly saw a need for a new lens through which to view and speak about surfing.

molly lockwood, portrait, sea maven

Photo by Eliza Jane

Sea Maven has since grown to encompass a range of creative works from a diverse and dynamic group, all held together by their love for the ocean. Molly has created a new conversation and uses her voice to speak up for those whom the surfing industry and culture seem to have forgotten.

Molly Lockwood is a true badass, and through her perseverance, she has built a beautiful and embracing outlet for the masses to speak their truth and make a change.

NYMM: What has been the most life-changing aspect of Sea Maven?

ML: The moment I came up with the idea for Sea Maven, I got to work and didn’t stop until it was launched. I realized that no one was stopping me from taking initiative to change the things I didn’t like. I was nervous to put myself out there and it was overwhelming at times, but as I let passion carry me forward, I built confidence. That sense of empowerment has been the most important impact on my life.

NYMM: Why did you choose to begin Sea Maven?

ML: It all started with an article by another surfer, writer, and activist. She published a provocative piece about the way societal power structures play into surfing, which was picked up by a mainstream surfing magazine and went on to become the cause of great controversy. I was frustrated with the way this scenario played out: a woman had raised her voice to say something fairly radical, something that she knew not everyone would understand – but instead of productive debate, it was met with slanderous comments, misrepresentation, and ultimately silencing when the piece was taken down.

I had experienced similarly frustrating interactions with various surf media publications, having to twist and compromise to get my voice out there. I was rarely able to generate purposeful discussion with my work, and it was very dissatisfying. Surfing is a microcosm of society, and as participants in the surfing community, we are charged with confronting the societal problems that threaten what surfing is all about.

Traditional surf magazines do a great job of celebrating surfing in all its glory, but they falter when it comes to moving the culture forward through wider perspectives. There was clearly space for a different kind of publication to emerge, so I started Sea Maven with the intent of uplifting the voices of the many.

NYMM: How does examining surf culture from a woman’s perspective change how you see the sport?

ML: At the surf spots I frequent in California, I’m often the only woman out there. Everyone experiences this differently, but for me, being “different” from all the other surfers in the water is sometimes a challenge, sometimes an asset, and most often irrelevant. Usually, I get along just fine with other surfers. But I can’t ignore the fact that women have struggled to claim their place in surfing, and while we’ve made a lot of progress, we have a long way to go.

Surfing in crowded places can be very competitive, even though it’s an individualistic sport – and because surfing is largely dominated by men, it can be extra difficult to get waves if you’re not one. When I manage to get an awesome wave, I feel as though I’m surfing for all women.

NYMM: What about surf culture do you find the most challenging?

molly lockwood, surfing, sea maven

Photo by Kimber Rome

ML: I didn’t fully know who I was until surfing came into my life, and naturally, the people, practices, and systems surrounding it are very positive for me. The global surfing community is widespread, diverse, and fractionated, but we’re unified through our reverence for the ocean. I think surf culture is a beautiful thing.

Surfing, at its core, is about the simple act of riding a wave. But it exists in a complicated world, one where capitalism rules and true equality is almost difficult to imagine. What I find frustrating is the way that the institutions of surfing – the media, the business of professional surfing, and the surf lifestyle brands – uphold the status quo. I believe this contributes to oppression in many ways, and that to move forward, we need better representation of women and minorities in surfing.

NYMM: Do you feel that your writing and photography have become stronger through your work with Sea Maven?

ML: One of the things that makes this time-consuming project worthwhile is the opportunity it gives me to learn about business, technology, and, especially, writing. Through seeking out contributors, copy editing the work of featured writers, and producing my own articles, I’ve been able to refine and practice my understanding of language and journalism. It’s very refreshing to write articles for myself; being the boss allows me to pursue my vision free of constraint, and appeal to my audience rather than higher-ups. I do enjoy working with other people, however, and I hope Sea Maven can eventually grow into a collaborative and dynamic space.

NYMM: What has the ocean taught you and how do you apply that within your own life? Have Sea Maven and surfing changed how you view empowerment, and how do you practice that in your own life?

ML: Everything that happens in surfing is applicable to life on land. It’s an opportunity to face your limits, to play, to work, to practice balance, and to experience joy, fear, ecstasy, and discipline in great measures. It’s a place to cultivate connections with other people, with yourself, and with the powerful force of nature. The pursuit of waves has never led me astray. 

We at NYMM can assure you that Sea Maven is a must-read. Regardless of whether or not you surf, this publication is a new wave of what sports writing can look like and is worth more than just a read. Check out Molly’s recent post about sustainable surf gear and get inspired!

Featured Image by Chico Lopez

All images used with permission from Molly Lockwood with credit given to the photographers.

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  1. Avatar

    Judy serkissian

    January 11, 2020 at 3:44 pm

    Great Job Molly “badass” Lockwood!! You are an inspiration!!

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    July 9, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    Molly Lockwood is so cool. She’s gonna save the ocean like Moana one day

  3. Avatar


    September 5, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    Good read! Makes me missing surfing!

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    August 23, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    Thank you for the lovely feature NYMM team! You are ALL badass!

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