Mark Morgan Photography @mxmsurfphoto
We love the No Shoes, No Worries website and so we asked Andy Kovszun to tell us a bit about her life as a surf & lifestyle blogger.
Andy, tell us a little about yourself, where are you from and what’s it like growing up there?
My name’s Andrea, but my friends call me Andy. I grew up on a small island in the Caribbean called St. Martin. The island is half French and half Dutch, you may have heard of it, it’s considered to have the most dangerous aeroplane landing strip in the world – the planes land right next to a beach! I spent most of my childhood on the island, on the French side. I always had sand in my hair, on my feet, in my school bag. Growing up in the Caribbean is probably very much how you’d imagine it to be; we would go to the beach every afternoon after school, surfing and bodyboarding were pretty much considered an extra-curricular activity. The island is very small, and everyone knows each other. It’s a happy, care-free place to grow up. I’m very fortunate and grateful to have been a part of it.
I’ve lived many places after that, like Florida, France and now Australia. I moved to Sydney on my own, 5 years ago. Half way across the world from everything and everyone I’ve ever known. It was the scariest, and best decision, of my life. Travelling has always been second nature to me, but Sydney feels like home more than anywhere else. I became yoga teacher qualified, and found my passions in teaching and writing. Somewhere between all that I started No Shoes No Worries. I’m about to graduate from a Masters in Journalism, it’s been a whirlwind couple of years!
Photo: Lucy Douglas @somethingaesthetic
What inspired you to start No Shoes No Worries?
No Shoes No Worries is the idea of a lifestyle I grew up with. It describes the life of yoga and surfing, two things that don’t require shoes and that bring me the ultimate joy. I’ve had the concept for a while, it first started as an Instagram page my first year of university, where I had to wear shoes every day, in a city, My feet hurt, and I missed my island. I wanted to bring together all the women and girls who have a relationship with the ocean and the mind-body-soul connection it brings. I like to call these women my Salt Sisters. I wanted a place to talk about yoga and the benefits they bring to my everyday life, whether its surfing or just the state of mind I find myself in. I guess in a way, I started No Shoes No Worries to materialise the world in my head. It’s also a place where I want to encourage women to be strong, brave, adventurous, and elegant in everything they do. Most importantly, a place that inspires them to make themselves and their dreams their #1 priority.
Where have you travelled to in the last 12 months?
I went to Sri Lanka this year, which was the most amazing, nourishing trip for my heart and soul.
The surf, culture and people were all so genuine and beautiful. (Read Andy’s article in the latest issue of SurfGirl).
Last year at around the same time, I drove across Australia from Perth to Sydney, it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences I highly recommend. Australia is a such a vibrant, diverse landscape. There’s so much to see and explore.
This summer I’ll be exploring Indonesia, looking into some less crowded spots. I’m excited to be spending some extended time there, Indonesia is such a special place and getting a genuine feel for the culture and people is a really great experience.
Is that your only job, if not what other work do you do?
I’m a freelance writer and yoga instructor here in Sydney. I’ve had many jobs in the last couple of years, some great, some small, some I’d rather forget! The past year I’ve dedicated my time to growing No Shoes No Worries, writing and teaching yoga. It isn’t always easy, and I sometimes have to pick up odd jobs here and there, but it’s much more rewarding to live your passions every day, than to go about a daily grind that leaves you flat and uninspired!
What’s the five things you’ve learnt from being a blogger?
Patience – nothing is built in a day. It’s all about acknowledging the consistent build up of small wins that make your project, and not focusing on the huge wins and huge losses. It’s like my mom always said: “You build a house one brick at a time”.
Consistency – This is something I have struggled with, and I’ve made it this year’s resolution. Being consistent with everything that you do says a lot about your character and the way you handle your business. It’s also what keeps people coming back.
Authenticity — I don’t think I can emphasize how important this one is. If the content your creating doesn’t come from an honest source within, you’re setting yourself up for failure. What attracts readers to your blog is that it’s a genuine piece of you.
Know your worth: People will ask you to do things you’re not comfortable with, or that don’t align with who you are. Maybe you feel like their taking advantage of you. Go with your gut and know your worth. It’ll get you out of a lot of sticky situations. And don’t be afraid to say no.
Just go for it: There is no room to be shy. Send that email. Get in touch with that person you want to know more about. Ask for advice. Similar to what I’ve said above, I’ve learnt the worst people can say is no. And I can live with that.
What tips would you pass on to others thinking of becoming a blogger?
The hardest part is starting! Sometimes you just need that extra little push to get yourself going. After that first step of deciding you want to do it, you’re already halfway there. Remember that no idea is ever too silly or too stupid. Chances are if you’ve thought about it, someone else has too, so it’s up to you to act on it. Have fun, and make it your creative outlet, first and foremost. Be as genuine and authentic as you possibly can.
What does your daily routine consist of?
I don’t like to be too rigid with my routine, and it does vary depending on the season, if I’m teaching in the mornings or afternoons. I’ll usually wake up early and do one hour of yoga before the day starts. I need to wake up and get my body moving first thing after I wake up.
Other mornings I’ll wake up and go for a surf with my girlfriends or for a run and swim, if it’s a beautiful, sunny morning. I’m lucky enough to live by the beach so will go for a dip in the ocean at least once in the day. Then after breakfast I usually settle into a café and start writing, answering emails, prepping content for the week and meeting deadlines. I usually teach in the afternoons/evenings in yoga studios across Sydney — it’s good to keep things flexible!
Where’s your favourite place to surf?
Such a tough question! In Australia, there are many, many amazing spots to surf. I guess if I had to boil it down I would say Cellito Beach on the central coast, about 4 hours from Sydney. I’ve had some of my funnest surfs there and the beach is amazing. Wategos in Byron Bay is another favourite, as is Rainbow Bay on the Gold Coast. It’s so hard to pick just one!
Dawny or dinner date, which would you prefer?
Dawny with my surf gals, any time. There’s no better feeling than surfing with your girlfriends first thing in the morning.
If you could have a super power which one would you have?
Tele transportation. Being able to be anywhere in an instant … sounds amazing and such a time and money saver!