An interview with kiteboarder and swimwear entrepreneur Sensi Graves
20 questions with the lady of the hour Sensi Graves. Still Stoked is delighted to be part of the Sensi Graves Bikini family – producing our very own surf bikini for her line, named The Alexa!
Sensi Graves is professional kiteboarder and overall legendary water and business woman. Juggling life as an athlete and entrepreneur is not easy. Sensi tackles this challenge with her awesome swimwear company Sensi Graves Bikinis which Still Stoked reviewed and gave a shining 3.9 stars. We caught up with Sensi to ask 20 questions to reveal some of her success secrets in both the kiteboarding and business.
Sensi has kindly offered Still Stoked readers 10% off all her bikinis! Use code STILLSTOKED on check-out to get this discount!
20 questions with Sensi Graves
#1 Why Kiteboarding?
Kiteboarding has given me so many things. It’s the best workout, provides so much opportunity for growth and is a moving meditation. I remember first learning how to kite and becoming completely infatuated with it. I grew up with a board sports background and that, combined with this ability to create your own power, your own lift and to propel yourself seemingly anywhere is totally addicting! The explorative side of it makes it so boundary-less and I love that.
#2 What is your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement is inspiring others.
#3 What mantra do you live by?
Just laugh. Life comes at you from every which way and dishes up so much-from unexpected events to frustrating situations. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with it all. Oftentimes, the best approach is to just laugh. You can’t control the situation but you can control your reaction to it. It’s all about your attitude and your perspective.
#4 Do you think Kiteboarding should be an Olympic sport?
#5 What made you want to start your own beachwear brand?
I started my kiteboarding career as a kite coach in North Carolina. I’ve always loved swimwear but in those days I was in the water every single day. I surfed, kited, coached and played on the beach, all in my bikinis. I loved the fun, flirty silhouettes that the swimwear brands provided but there was nothing on the market at the time that was actually made to work. I found it so tough and frustrating to be out on the water coaching all day and constantly having to adjust my tops and pull up my bottoms. I wanted confidence that the products I was wearing would stay put, be super comfortable yet still maintain that flirty, sassy side of swimwear that’s so youthful and fun. When I couldn’t find it, I decided to start designing it myself.
Read: Surf Bikini Review – Sensi Graves Bikinis for girls that rip (& get 20% off with “imstoked” code!)
#6 In a sports bikini, what is more important, following fashion or ensuring function?
Without a doubt, ensuring function. It’s so important to feel good in your bikini. If you’re constantly distracted by pulling your suit back in place, then you aren’t able to focus on catching the next wave or diving for a volleyball. That being said, a lot of women value fashion and choose that over function, which is totally fine. I’ve found it’s all about what makes you feel good in your body and what will give you the confidence you need to get out there and charge. I believe my line is a perfect fusion of cool-girl fashion and ultimate function and in that case, you get both!
#7 What advice would you give to a young or new entrepreneur?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many resources out there. So many people have been in the same exact place you are, ready to jump but not quite sure how strong their wings are. Alomost everyone who I’ve asked for advice has given it very willingly. Oftentimes they’re honored to share what they’ve learned.
#8 How do you carve out your day to make room for everything/ balance?
It’s all about priorities. Where are you choosing to put your energy? It can feel overwhelming and like you can’t get it all done, but it’s ok to let some things slip to the wayside. Identify your non-negotiables and let everything fall into place from there. For me, one of my top non-negotiables is exercise. I have to exercise to feel good in my body, maintain a clear head, ensure a good nights sleep and stay at the top of my game.
#9 What is you favourite recipe to cook?
It’s such an absolute pleasure to get to play, live and work here in the Gorge. This photo always reminds me of the pure, awesome beauty we have here and makes me so thankful to be able to build my company in the #pnw. What a great community we have here. Looking forward to sharing that with everyone tonight from 6-8 at @theruddyduck / Hope to see you there! ?by the uber talented @lance_koudele
#10 What diet works for you?
I don’t love the idea of a diet. I try to view food in two categories: as either something that will fuel my body or deplete it. If you think about what different foods actually do (or don’t do) for you, you’ll be more aware of what you should be eating. I also try to focus on what to add in as opposed to what I can’t eat. It keeps me focused on all the good stuff and maintains a mindset of abundance rather than deprivation. There are only so many calories you can eat in a day and if I focus on getting all the good-stuff in, there simply isn’t room for a bagel.
#11 Who are your idols in and out of kitesurfing?
Out of kitesurfing my idols are Marie Forleo, Kris Carr, Farnoosh Torabi, so many smart women doing good in the world! Within kitesurfing, my good friend Colleen Carroll is such an inspiration and constantly pushing the female side of the sport. I also really look up to Bruna Kajiya and Karolina Winkowska who are both so incredibly talented and yet so down to earth. On the male side of things, my boyfriend professional kiteboarder, Brandon Scheid has taught me so much and I really admire his work ethic within kiteboarding.
#12 What does a training fitness session look like for Sensi Graves?
Variety! I get bored easily and turn to lots of different workouts to keep me excited about doing so. If I’m training for a contest I’ll focus on core-work, incorporate more cardio (I’ve been really into jump roping lately), and building arm and leg strength with free weights. If I’m exercising for fun, I’ll mountain bike, surf, snowboard, practice yoga or run.
#13 Where is your favourite place to kiteboard?
I love where I live in Hood River, Oregon. We have one of the only public kite slider parks in the world, which makes living here a huge opportunity and blessing. I also love Maui for its waves and Brazil for its endless wind and flat water.
#14 How do you ensure the business of Sensi Graves bikinis is always improving / growing?
Identifying our next steps and goals. We regularly revisit our big picture goals as well as our short-term goals and think through the steps it will take to get there. That being said, I caution everyone in becoming too attached to goals that they forget to celebrate the wins. As you meet your goals, no matter how big or small, celebrate that! It will help build your confidence and inspire positivity throughout your business.
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#15 How important is your team of athletes in product development?
Our team of athletes is crucial to product feedback and development. The more women we can get in the suits, the better our products will be and our athletes test the pieces in the best way we know how-out doing what they love!
#16 What is the best advice you have ever been given and who gave it to you?
Some of the best advice I’ve been given (it’s hard to identify THE best), was from my business coach, Melanie McCloskey. We’ve done a lot of work on creating systems and identifying pain points and she’s taught me not to become unglued when faced with stress or threats but instead to see them as challenges. Every negative can be a positive opportunity.
#17 What is one thing you would change about women’s kitesurfing?
I’m constantly pushing to see more coverage of women in kiting, whether that is in magazines, online or in videos. It’s inspiring to see women charging and we deserve to see more female role models in the sport. I would also change the stigma I think a lot of women have about kiteboarding. That it takes a lot of strength or that it’s a male sport. It really doesn’t take a lot of arm strength and in fact, women often learn quicker than men! I hope to inspire more women to get out there and try it.
#18 What do you put in your smoothies?
Almond butter, cocoa powder, chia seeds, flax seeds, maca powder, vegan protein and hemp seeds and greens! But, not all at once!
#19 What is the key to becoming a successful business women?
I’m always asking myself this question! I believe it starts with self-confidence. Believing that you are successful and that you do have the skills to make it happen will lead you down that path. I also think a strong network of advisors, mentors and teammates to help you when you’re feeling down is key.
#20 Who is your favourite swimwear and fashion designer?
My favorite swimwear designer is my friend Julie Stone from Posh Pua. She makes the most incredibly beautiful pieces. I love Donna Karen for her drive and vision, Tory Burch for the empire she’s created and Mara Hoffman for her ability to combine prints in fresh and exciting ways.
Thanks Sensi. Such a great insight into your life as an athlete and swimwear designer.
Use STILLSTOKED for 10% off any Sensi Graves produce on the website!
Read more 20 questions with pro athletes:
- 20 questions with Tarnea O’Meara – Surf idols, recipes & rituals
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