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Artist in addition to Surf Shop Owner Letty Nowak's Creative Key West, Florida Life

Artist Letty Nowak together with friends bask a beautiful twenty-four hr current inward Key West, Florida.

“You never know who you’re going to meet,” says creative mortal Letty Nowak of why she loves her domicile on the tiny isle of Key West, Florida. From bumping into Florida celebrity Jimmy Buffett to beingness introduced to her fine art dealer inward New York, Letty says the tight-knit community only shy of 5 miles long is a melting pot for international movers together with shakers that seasonally supply to the island’s crystal blueish waters to relax.

The scene on the primary thoroughfare, Duval Street inward Key West. 
On the street past times Fury Surf Shack. 

The colorful characters of Key West were an early on inspiration inward Letty’s icon career. Straight out of fine art schoolhouse inward Michigan together with moving to Key West, she embarked on a serial of paintings over the course of report of 5 years titled “Faces of Key West” that encompassed 100 dissimilar portraits of local people. Her adjacent serial inward progress, “Faces of Surfing” adapts that same concept to surf community personalities. “My Dad owned surf shops inward Michigan [where I grew up] thus it is pretty particular for me to convey that manufacture into my icon career,” says Letty.

Left, portrait of surfers Debbie Beacham together with right, Maya Gabeira painted past times Letty Nowak. 
Letty with her paintings. 

On peak of her icon career together with managing her ain fine art gallery, The Lemonade Stand Gallery inward Key West, Letty also co-owns 3 Fury Surf Shack stores together with the late opened lifestyle boutique called Key West Sunshine Club (where Seea is sold).

Seea caught upward with Letty betwixt her nonstop move schedule (she has an fine art studio inward La Jolla, Calif. together with is often traveling for fun) to acquire the within scoop on the hidden gems of Key West, her journeying equally an creative mortal together with bringing California designers to the Florida Keys.

One of the Fury Surf Shacks that Letty co-owns. 

Why exercise you lot dearest living inward Key West?

Key West is its ain petty place. It’s a 3 together with a one-half hr drive to Miami together with it’s ninety miles from Cuba. People from all over the Blue Planet — artists, concern people, people who pass fourth dimension betwixt Key West together with NYC — everyone lives inward the same neighborhood together.

What is Fury Surf Shack inward Key West together with the novel Key West Sunshine Club where Seea is sold?

The Fury Surf Shacks are 3 surf shops I co-own with Marius Venter inward Key West, Florida. They accept been opened upward straightaway for 7 years. We stock the big centre surf brands.

Key West Sunshine Club is a construct novel boutique nosotros only opened that is surf-inspired, but actually select inward brands that I accept discovered through living inward California. I had to innovate them to the Key West/South Florida market. I wanted them gear upward apart together with inward their ain space.

View from the exterior of the Key West Sunshine Club at night.
Inside the Key West Sunshine Club. 

What is the women's surf scene similar inward Florida?

North of Miami, it is definitely prominent. I late surfed with Frieda Zamba who was an amazing athlete. South of Miami together with into the Keys, it is to a greater extent than of a SUP scene. It’s surrounded past times reef, thus no waves. When the water’s actually still, its Caribbean Area blue. There’s lots of manatee, dolphin together with wildlife.

Where exercise you lot usually surf?

I'm lucky plenty to hold upward surrounded past times waves inward San Diego when I'm at that spot thus you lot tin unremarkably honor me anywhere betwixt Grandview together with Mission Beach.

What sort of back upward exercise you lot encounter from other women inward the surf community?


I accept late started having neat conversations with Coco Tihanyi who owns Surf Diva inward La Jolla with her sis Izzy. It's been neat to compare notes together with ideas with her. Florencia Gomez of Greenpacha together with I accept tossed a lot of neat ideas around almost art, business, together with the surf industry. Lisa Anderson only said yeah to beingness painted. Lyndie Irons of Acacia has also been a dependent area of mine together with an inspiration.

What were the keys to your success equally a co-owner of Fury Surf Shack stores?

First, to accept fun.  I also had to larn to part the reigns, non exclusively with my concern partner, Marius who is male, but also with my staff. I was opened upward to endeavour their novel ideas together with nosotros were able to exercise successful shops. I also had to larn to go along a skillful remainder of trade with everything from quantity, sizing, color palettes, together with when to force the limits of style.

Marius’s parents had surf shops piece he was growing upward inward South Africa together with my parents had surf shops inward Michigan thus it is pretty cool to part some of our ain now.

What particular touches did you lot offering to the concern equally a woman? 

I accept been able to construct the interior of our spaces almost totally custom with a await that is held over into each of our shops.  Custom racks, tables, together with counters are built along with works life re-finished furniture. Most of the petty bowls together with baskets, which concur our jewelry together with accessories, accept been brought from my travels or made from my creative mortal friends.  It is the personal touches that I mean value customers appreciate inward our type of stores.  I learned this from my Dad together with want I could exercise it equally skillful equally he could.  We accept actually gone all out inward our shops, equally they are an extension of a lifestyle nosotros love.

Letty inward the master copy Malibu! 

Letty icon inward the studio.

How did you lot acquire into painting?

I started icon because I knew I had a potent attachment to my fine art together with my granddaddy told me to become for it equally I had null to lose coming out of university. It was neat advice.

How did you lot honor your vocalization inward icon portraits?

We had to select 1 style/subject for an entire semester at university. At the time, portraits seemed similar the hardest matter to larn thus I chose them to accept assist from my professor who, funnily enough, ended upward beingness an abstract painter. I works life my vocalization for portraits later the kickoff 1 I finished. I accept never looked dorsum since that class. There was something almost the challenge of taking something thus personal together with recognizable together with thus making accept it's ain life equally a 2D painted object.

You’ve painted a lot of of import people inward the surf community for your “Faces of Surfing” series. How did you lot come upward to hold upward able to pigment these personalities?

It started inward Tavarua, Fiji. My fellow took me at that spot for my 30th birthday. There, I met Richard Woolcott [co-founder of Volcom] photographed him, painted him, together with showed his icon inward New York City, which was secretly the start to the Faces of Surfing. On my adjacent trip to Tavarua, I met Bob Hurley [founder of Hurley]. I was telling him almost my operate together with he offered me an exhibit at Hurley's headquarters. The community back upward has been actually unbelievable.

What exercise you lot endeavour to capture almost a person's personality when icon a portrait?

There is non a lot of facial expression I am looking for — only pretty frontal together with honest. If I exercise it right, their personality volition come upward through equally I pigment them through my marks together with colors, leaving lines soft or hard, with the low-cal that is reflecting on them.

The Florida Keys are an slow house to endeavour kite boarding. 
Or only bask the waterfront view. 

What attractions would you lot advise to visitor coming to Key West?

[Outdoors there’s] diving, snorkeling, SUP, fishing. Take kiteboarding lessons. You’re only learning to kite board inward waist deep water. Put on a mask together with snorkel together with cheque out the fish inward Fort Zachary Taylor State Park forest.

Go to some fine art openings. The studios of Key West convey resident musicians together with accept gallery openings. It tin actually alter your sense inward Key West.

Get java at the Cuban Coffee Queen, which I painted a big mural on. For breakfast/lunch/dinner, Blue Heaven. You sit down exterior with roosters only running around. There’s a band together with they accept their ain bakery on premises. It’s inward the same expanse equally Sunshine Club, 1 of the concluding former parts of Key West with families that accept lived at that spot forever. Seven Fish is a petty eating theater exclusively opened upward for dinner that’s difficult to acquire into because its super pocket-size but its inward an former town neighborhood. Finding all the hidden gems off the beaten path is 1 of the cool parts almost Key West.

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. 

What sort of advice exercise you lot accept for women who desire to construct a living equally an artist?

"ABL," Always Be Learning. That is what I told myself from my kickoff days out of college. Nurture your style, force your limits, together with realize the possibilities are endless. Be confident together with persistent. Work towards your goal.  If you lot believe inward yourself, it volition happen.


To read almost to a greater extent than inspiring women surf store owners, cheque out stories on:

Sawyer Land together with Sea Supply inward Santa Cruz, CA.

Wetsand Surf Shop inward Ventura, CA.