T2TR X Seawitches
Inspired by the community of waterpeople, Seawitches
publishes a magazine dedicated to telling their stories.
Meet Margaret Seelie, the founder and editor of Seawitches, a zine for waterpeople. She is passionate about building inclusive communities around water, telling intrepid stories, and dying things with indigo and natural inks. When she’s not working, you’ll find her surfing, letterpress printing, shaping, avoiding plastic, or listening to vinyl records.
Hey Margaret, how's it going amidst this pandemic?
Hi Fillip, tough question. Several weeks ago, George Floyd was murdered by white police officers. Having to move through this horrendous injustice on top of losing over 100,000 to covid-19... well, it's a lot right now. I guess in general, I've been contemplating my privileges as a white woman. Wondering how I can be an advocate. Seeking out books and resources to try and emerge from this a better person and a more informed advocate. I've also been thinking a lot about how to use my platform, Seawitches, to enact change.
This is heavy. We are living through strange times right now, but let's transition and hear a bit about you. Where are you from and how'd you get into surfing?
I’m from Cleveland, Ohio and I moved to the Bay Area about ten years ago. Growing up in a landlocked city, I dreamt of becoming a surfer. My childhood home was right by Lake Erie so I grew up sailing, swimming, and being a wild child in the water. My bedroom was covered in Roxy ads of girls hitting the lip in bikinis. I thought that was the only type of surfing, and surfers, out there. Blondes in bikinis riding perfect waves on thrusters [laughs]. When I was fifteen, my mom took my brother, sister, and me to San Francisco and I immediately fell in love! We spent some time in Santa Cruz and I got to see the cold water surfers at Cowells Beach and I was mesmerized. Fast forward to 2009, I was living in San Francisco and eager to become a surfer. I’d get rides to the beach with friends and borrow boards from surf shops. I remember wearing this horrible men’s wetsuit from the 80’s that I bought at the thrift store. Let’s just say, it was a steep learning curve with surfing. But today I am grateful to have a wonderful community of waterpeople.
That's rad! Tell us how Seawitches came about.
Seawitches was born from a project I started in 2015 called the Other Side of Surfing. I moderated a conversation with four women in the surf industry called the Other Side of Surfing. I remember being so nervous because the place was packed and I was talking to these famous surfers who I admired. My panelists were Ashly Lloyd the shaper, Julie Cox the pro longboarder, Bianca Valenti the big wave surfer, and Tiffany Campbell the filmmaker. The event was amazing and a bunch of people contacted me to ask when the next one was. So a few months later, I threw a fundraiser for Skate Like a Girl. I kept putting on fundraisers, film screenings, and live conversations. In 2017 – I launched Seawitches Magazine!
(Spread from Seawitches 4 including an interview with the Managing Editor of SURFER, Ashtyn Douglas-Rosa.)
I've always believed that inclusivity is a major part of Seawitches. We're striving for inclusivity as well with T2TR. Your content is fresh and different from what we typically see in mainstream surf magazines. What made you want to publish that type of content?
I was reading mainstream surf mags and getting kind of bored and frustrated because it seemed to me they were only covering a small portion of the myriad of stories out there. Back in 2017, it was rare to see a woman featured, or even mentioned, in most mags, much less a person of color or someone who is LGBTQI+. I was meeting all kinds of water people with incredible lives and stories that I thought were worth sharing. In August, we’ll release our fifth issue!
I remember surfing with you and a rad crew of people up in Montara, CA on a gloomy day. I admire the adaptability of surfers in NorCal, and the homemade vibe with making their own boards, wax, or even sunscreen. How do you see Seawitches having an impact on this community?
That’s a good question. I feel like I’m typically so busy producing the magazine or events I rarely get the chance to reflect on the impact Seawitches is having. Our release parties are where I get to see some of that. I love meeting new people who are stoked on the zine and getting to celebrate the people who contributed to each issue. And then some of our authors, poets, and artists get picked up by other publications which makes me really happy because I hope their creations get shared far and wide beyond the pages of Seawitches. And we’re no longer only in NorCal. It’s taken years, but I’m stoked to have contributors and fans from all over the world. A bookstore in Lisbon Portugal is carrying the zine! And we’re connected with a rad women’s surf community there called Malorie Knox Surfers. I shipped some zines to someone in Switzerland last week. It’s pretty cool.
That’s so awesome, I love that. Thank you for contributing to such a great cause Margaret!
Yeah! Thanks for the opportunity!