Maya Angelou wrote, "a woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing." For Danielle Black Lyons, the profound power of water to move and connect us is an inspiring force. And with her collective Textured Waves—a group of women working to bring greater inclusion and community to surfing—she works to make it accessible to all. We were lucky enough to spend a morning with Danielle to learn more about her journey, how she’s turned the practice of surfing into a transformative tool, and how she’s cultivating change in her community.


Danielle wears the Deia Jumpsuit in Black 





Where did you develop your connection to the ocean? Can you share a particular moment or a memory that's shaped your personal history?

I have been a water woman all of my life. My family lived in northern California in the Bay Area, but we would travel to my father's country, Jamaica, in the winter. I remember swimming in warm Caribbean waters as a child and snorkeling the reefs chasing tropical fish with my big brother in the lead. I have always been drawn to the sea and surfed her waves in one form or another. 

How and when do you feel the most supported in the work that you do?

When you are doing something that is counterculture it is difficult to measure success. My husband is my biggest cheerleader and my toughest critic. I rely on him heavily to give it to me straight and he always does it with kindness, humor, and honesty. I tend to work off of emotion, if something feels right and brings me joy that is enough reason to continue for me. His support is my measure of success. I know I'm on the right track if my toughest critic supports what I'm up to.

We think of surfing as being in communion with water. What has your relationship with the sea taught you most about yourself?

Having a strong swimming background and deep respect for the power of the ocean has taught me to trust myself. I don't typically panic if I get stuck in a rip or if I'm in a swell that is above my pay grade. I have learned so many lessons from being in this element in my lifetime, sometimes things are out of our control and the ocean is no exception. I try to relax my body and calm my mind and just let the sea take me. There is always a lull or a break in the waves when you can plan your next move.






Danielle wears the Vanessa Romper in Natural







We're interested in the reminders that help us remember our most honest ways of being. What helps you re-connect to yourself?


Surfing is a huge part of my life and I rely on it heavily for my mental health, fitness and overall happiness. My family respects that and gives me the space to make that connection each day so that I can show up for them, myself and my community in the best possible way. Surfing makes me a better partner, mother and friend. It is the most pure form for me to find myself everyday.


Textured Waves is helping make visible a history in surf culture that includes women of color, with an emphasis on inclusive camaraderie in the surf community. How do you build and continue to build on this ethic with the organization?


Community is a big part of our ethos. We are all spread out in northern and southern California and Hawaii, so since we can't always be together we have created community in our individual areas. Luckily we all live in pretty iconic surf towns; Santa Cruz, San Diego and Honolulu. We work in collaboration with local organizations to bridge the diversity gap, we create creative content to mainstream visual representation of POC in the water and we surf at our local breaks regularly to normalize diversity in the lineup. Living in this skin and surfing in a white dominated sport is still seen as an act of rebellion in a lot of ways, but for us it's just like breathing. We need the sea like we need air to breathe.



Read more about Danielle's work here, and follow her on Instagram here. Photos by Alexa Miller.






Danielle wears the Vanessa Romper and The OZMA Sisterhood Bandana. All proceeds in August and September from the Sisterhood Bandana go to support Brown Girl Surf

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