Hello everybody ! My name is Jawel and I'm 36 years old. I am of Algerian origin, born in the center of France and I live in Guéthary for 6 years.
The story that led me to become shaper is completely surreal.
Very early, all the water sports were forbidden me due to a medical error where I lost my right inner ear at the age of 4 years old. Naturally, I turned to mountain sports. My first love was climbing. That's how I found myself in the Alps, in Grenoble: the Mecca of climbing in France!
After a serious fall on the ground, I stopped almost a year and I took advantage of my reeducation to make a winter season as a perchman where I had my second love at first sight: the Snowboard. I spent 15 years riding the most beautiful spots of the Alpine massif , including 7 years in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc.
At the end of 2009, I was transferred to the South West of France in order to market climbing products equipment for the company I was working for at that time.
I never left again.
- Tell us about some of your hobbies and passions.
As you see, my passions are my lifestyle! There is no difference! If I'm not in the water or in the mountains, I'm in my shaping-room. Regarding my hobbies, I have simple pleasures, playing the guitar with friends and have good food, especially when it happens at others (ha, ha!). I also love to escape while reading or watching movies. Very typical!
- Tell us how did you get started and involve with WILDCAT SURFBOARDS?
I launched WILD CAT SURFBOARDS in June 2016 under the insistence of my relatives. I was just beginning my training that the first requests for repairs arrived! From buddies first, then buddies of buddies, then neighbours and then in September,
I had my first repair request coming from my FaceBook!! While I am typing this, I am finishing up my first order, a minimal 7'6.
- What do you like the most about shaping a board?
Wahoo !!! Inspiring question! It is hard to find words! It's beyond Shaping and surfing! It is a feeling that surpasses me. An impression of freedom and connection erasing doubt, fear and the very notion of space-time. The boundaries soar to leave room for creativity as I learn. It is incredible as a sensation, I wish it to everyone!
- Shortboard or Longboard and why?
For me the only reason to prefer the shortboard is that it is less tiring! The last board I shaped was a log in 9'2 and I remember struggling through all of the stages and thinking to myself "This is the last time I make a longboard !!!!! » And you start all over again ... hahahahaha
- Favorite board you've shaped?
This is the one I am currently working on. It is my first order and it is intended for my sister so I take particular care to check all the steps of the shape !!! There is a lot of love in this Mini Malibu!
- How its for women to be a shaper, do you feel you have your place in this industry?
Honestly, it's like life! There are advantages and disadvantages like everywhere. Indeed, the physical side of it can make a difference. I asked myself that question. It's like everything, we start having aches and over time, we almost do not feel the weight of the machines! And then, at worst, for the girlies who want to remain amateurs, there are pre-shapes in CNC machines that avoid you all the part of unraveling, the most physical part of the craft. As for the surfing industry, I do not care. I am a far away from . My goal is to focus on a more eco-friendly production, while mass production does not match my values. Regarding sexism, I have not yet felt or heard anything about the feminine shape. It is rather the opposite, all the shapers that I met my opened their door with such kindness.
- Who and what inspire you in your work ?
The shaper that inspires me most is Matt KINOSHITA from KAZUMASurfboards. I wish I could spend a few weeks in his shaping room. For me it is the master Yoda of shape! And what inspires me is the beauty of the perfect curve and this perfect lift for every spot you seek your whole life ...
- How do you see the surf culture now?
It is a great debate but I do not like today’s Surf Culture. It represents just the supremacy of money and capitalism to excess! Not to mention mass tourism and the carbon impact generated by surf trips and boat trips. There is no reflection on this subject, no one talks about it and I find it insane! If you're a surfer, you have to respect the planet and think about your shopping and travel behaviors.
For me surfing is neither a sport nor a leisure, it is a way of life.
- As a shaper, any tool you can't live without?
This is my electric planer! First because it is a gift and second because it is the tool that pulls out your board from its raw form. It is at this moment that I begin to have eyes full of stars! Moreover, when the tool becomes an extension of your body, you feel almost naked when you no longer have it in hand!
- Where would be your surf dream destination ?
Hawaii to visit all the masters shapers of the island and its waves !!!!!!!
- What was you're biggest chalenge you had recently as a surfer/shaper ?
The biggest challenge I had was to get started!
Apart from the fact that I did not have the level of surfing giving access to the fundamental knowledge of the shape, nor the money to invest in the material, nor the local, nor even the legitimacy to become shaper because of my origins and my path, I was in a very precarious financial situation. I did not even have enough to eat properly. For me, the life I led was already a little "death". I was working as a cleaning lady and I had to get up at 5am for a salary that only allowed me to survive. I had nothing to lose. One day, a colleague and friend handed me a planer and a sander and said to me: "Here, it's a gift! Now go for it! He had enough confidence for the two of us! It helped me to built my rack and I made my first board in the middle of winter in my micro flat !!! When I think about it !!! So I am warning everyone:
"NEVER SHAPE IN YOUR LIVING ROOM !!!
I thought I was going to lose a lung! I was able to launch Wildcat thanks to the fact that my neighbour gives me his garage for the time to get me started. All the universe conspired for me to become a shaper, it feels like! Ha ha ha !
And as a surfer, it was my first friendly competition at my home spot Parlementia! I do not have a great surf level and i’m very wild, ah ! ah ! i don’t like expose myself. But I met extraordinary men and women. I'm glad I took the step.
- What would you like to be doing in 10 years from now?
In 10 years, I hope to create an eco-friendly and sustainable beach house with my brand of surfboards in Central or Latin America. I feel close to this culture. But I do not know where exactly yet! I still have so much to learn!
- What advice can you offer to women that want to become a shaper?
The only real advice I can offer is to believe in oneself and always do what you like! The rest will always follow !!!! This is a real problem for women. We have such an instinct of self-preservation that we don’t give it a try! You have 2 arms, 2 legs, a brain, and if you want to be a shaper, then shape! Do not hesitate to ask for help, these gentlemen are not that macho, at least the genuine ones ! J
- Your favorite surf spot?
Parlementia, home spot, OF COURSE !!!!
- Anything you will like to share with us?
To conclude, I would like to thank Guilhem Rainfray of Guéthary Surfboard who took me 2 weeks in his studio where I worked on my first board and as soon as I need, he is always willing to share his tips and tricks with pleasure and humility.
I would also like to thank Johan Leconte of Clean Cut Surfboards who opened up the doors to his shaping-room. And finally, NOTOX for their ethics that show the way towards a more eco-friendly shape!
But also all my friends, my IG and FB supporters who have been feeling the hollow moments of the wave!
And a big thanks to Akela surf who gave me the opportunity to express myself!