We've launched our first size-inclusive swimwear range this year and been shooting the campaign together. You were a stunner in front of the camera, and now we want to get to know you a little better!
How did your surfing journey begin?
I’ve been wanting to learn to surf for so long, but I lived in Jakarta where surfing is not accessible (big city life). I eventually had my first surf lessons on a 2-week trip to Bali in 2019, just after graduating from University. I got hooked and knew this is something I wanted to pursue and so I decided to move to Bali and go for it.
What have you been surprised to discover about yourself after you began surfing?
I discovered that I’m much stronger than I thought. Growing up, not seeing any plus size surfers I doubted that I could ever surf. I doubted that I can do pop ups, I doubted that I could paddle, I doubted that I could surf a wave. But when I tried it, I suddenly knew that those thoughts were just on my mind. I’m stronger than I think, I’m more capable than I think, and I’m more competitive than I think. It might take longer for me to learn but as long as I stand up again after getting washed, as long as I keep paddling, all this is worth it.
How did your modeling career begin?
The first modelling gig I had was a while ago in Jakarta for a beauty brand. It was when I moved to Bali, that I had several brands approach me for shoots. I think Zealous was one of the first ones who asked me to model in Bali for their swimwear collection and I’m super thankful for the opportunity. Now I have my own content creation agency where I help business owners with their content shoots with or without me as a model.
Describe your personal sense of style..
My personal style changes over time but for now I like to mix feminine and masculine pieces - I love to call it feminine with an edge. I love dresses (for the sake of comfort of not wearing pants) then using combat boots with lace socks. That’s my go to for work days. If it’s more casual I love to wear bikinis as tops then wear pants or shorts with an oversized shirt , again with the boots. This might sound ridiculous but boots are my go-to shoes in Bali.
What is most important to you when it comes to choosing a surf bikini or one piece?
Support and functionality! I want a bikini and one piece that stays put no matter what kind of waves I surf, so I don’t have to worry about it. Other than that, cute looking ones, cause life is too short for boring bikinis!
What are some tips you can give to women with curves who want to get in to water sports like surfing?
JUST DO IT! It might seem scary at first, you might doubt yourself at first, but nevertheless you will be able to do it. Your learning process might be slower or even faster than the others, but the only one you should compare yourself to is your past self. It feels so grounding whenever I surf and it’s part of my self-care.
What are some of the biggest challenges, personal or work related, that you’ve overcome and how did you push through those obstacles?
For me, the biggest challenges I’ve had in my life is my kidney disease. I’ve been having a kidney disease since I was in 3rd grade, so super young. That means I need to eat medications such as steroids ever since. The effects of the medications and how they change in my body are bizarre and knowing that I don’t really have control of my situation was just heart breaking. It took me a while to make peace with myself that I’m basically sick and not a normal person. It took me 9 years, till I was in 12th grade, for my AHA moment. That yes, this is me, I have a kidney disease, I need to have steroids and immunosuppressant medications all of my life, I have stretchmarks all over my body because of it, and it is fine.
I think one principle that I always try to hold on to is that you need to focus on what you have control on, what you can change, rather than what you don’t have control over, what you can’t change. That believe is so powerful.
What are your plans for the near future?
It’s funny cause whenever someone asks me about my future, I don’t know what to say. I used to be the one who always had her 5-year and 10-year plan sorted out, but with me being sick I realized how life can change in an instant. Workwise, I want to develop and focus on my content creation agency for now. For my personal life, I want to surf more, play tennis more, get more active, travel more, and connect with people more. My motto for the future is: Do more of what makes you think ‘Heck yes, I wanna do it!’.
Finding an outfit for the day is one thing. Finding the best women’s surf swimsuits that are practical yet stylish for the lineup is a challenge on a whole different level. Is your surf swimwear holding you back?
Have you ever wondered what goes into a design collaboration, or how surfers manage to create their very own swimsuit design? In this interview we ask professional surf instructor, content creator, and entrepreneur Zala Cuden how the Zealous x Zala One-Piece was created! Keep reading to find out why she now „literally lives in it".