The California Surf Museum is located in Oceanside, California and was founded in 1986 to honor and preserve the history of surfing. We spoke to the newly-appointed Director of the Museum, former pro longboarder Julie Cox.
What were you doing prior to working at the California Surf Museum?
Previously I was competing in professional events and teaching surfing in mainland Mexico at a surf camp for women called Las Olas. I was also competing at international events like the Noosa Festival and the Roxy Jam in Biarritz.
During that time, I also started a line of women-specific surfboards with Jed Noll called the Jule Collection. It was a spin-off from my teaching days at Las Olas. I realized the next step for my students was to buy a board with all of the new skills that they had learned. And I was working at two spas doing massage therapy.
How did you first learn about the Museum?
I actually found the job on Craigslist. I was looking for a steady job and a friend knew that I was looking and thought that it would be perfect for me. I interviewed with Jane (Schmauss), she liked me and they picked me out of 17 applicants.
How long have you been with the Museum?
I did one year at the former location and haveabout three years at the new one. I started out doing visitor services and dong whatever needed to be done, three days a week. Once we moved from PCH to our Pier View Way location, I was ready to take on a bigger role. The museum needed someone to manage the staff and the building.
Tell us about your newly appointed Director position at the CSM.
At the time, we didn’t have a director for the museum and once again I was ready to take another step in my career. Now I basically oversee everything. I manage the staff and volunteers, oversee everything from events to exhibits, to the museum store. And I look after our communications – from the newsletter and website to social media like Facebook.
What lessons from surfing can you apply to your new position?
Everything can relate to surfing. With so much going on here, sometimes it can be chaos in the storm with double overhead conditions. And some days it’s 2-foot, glassy and sunny – the Museum is mellow, everything is positive and working smoothly. And just like surfing, I’m stoked to paddle out everyday into such a great community. With so many cool people – everyday is a new experience.
Any shout outs?
It’s a huge team effort here. I get to be like a conductor of this talented symphony where everyone plays with such talent and ability. From the board members to the staff and volunteers at events. And we rely on the gifts of people like our co-founder Jane, Sam who just stepped into a full time position, Michelle our membership coördinator, and Todd who manages the store.
What’s are some of the upcoming things we can look forward to from the CSM?
We’ll be doing a movie series every other week called “Big Wednesday.” We’ll have the movies playing with guest speakers with people who are associated with the film. We might even have live narrated films like back in the day. We will present smaller, more intimate educational events like the one we had with Aaron Chang, who recently did a presentation about his water housings. We are also working on launching a new website and our swap meet is at the end of the month. In September, the Museum will be honoring Hobie Alter with a special display and exhibit.
What is the feeling you want a visitor to experience after they visit the museum?
I want them to feel inspired. Nostalgia and history is great, but I want to inspire them in the present to pick up a board and try surfing. And to take care of and archive their own experiences – to share and tell their own stories.