Katherine Donnelly | 06.13.2018

As part of Outdoor Project's Women In the Wild series this summer, I have had the honor of working with outdoor women from all over the industry to dig a bit deeper into who they are, how they got to where they are now, how they approach the outdoors, and more. These women are all rad in their own right, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, or how "badass" they might be. Whether they're mothers, daughters, sisters, professional athletes, beginners, weekend warriors, "instafamous," or anywhere in-between, their unique stories, journeys, opinions, and perspectives are incredibly valuable and insightful as Outdoor Project - and the industry as a whole - progresses and evolves to become more inclusive to every type of outdoors person. 

Through in-depth and often thought-provoking interviews, I hope to highlight these women's stories, their work, their adventures, and so much more with an eye toward giving them their well-deserved share of the spotlight while inspiring and empowering even more women to get outside!

In this feature we talk to Mary Osborne.

I have to admit that, even as someone who's only surfed once in her life, I definitely got a bit star-struck when talking to this Woman In The Wild. She may be best known as a champion longboarder and professional surfer, but these accomplishments only scratch the surface of what she has done so far in her life. Get the full scoop below.

OP: Give us the skinny on who Mary Osborne is. 

Mary Osborne: At this point in my life, I am a former professional surfer who loves the outdoors, loves life, owns a few small businesses, and continually loves to explore new opportunities and cultures around the globe

OP: When did you first know that you were going to spend your life in the outdoors?

Mary Osborne: I grew up on the beach, and my family had a beach house in Ventura. I knew I loved the outdoors as a kid running wild on the beach and enjoying Mother Nature.

OP: What does it mean to you to be a woman in the outdoor industry?

Mary Osborne: When I think of women in the outdoors, I think of the words leadership, strong, sexy and unique.

OP: What has the outdoors done for you, and how do you pay it back?

Mary Osborne: Because of my passion with the outdoors, I was able to travel the world and learn what this beautiful globe has to offer. I used surfing as a way to travel, explore other cultures, and learn about different societies. Now I own and operate a surfcamp in Ventura and host various travel trips around the globe. I giveback through teaching my passion to others and showing them places off the grid that they would never get to see when traveling alone.

OP: Conservation and protection of our public lands are central themes in today’s outdoor recreation narrative. As someone who spends a significant amount of time outdoors and on public lands, what role do you think surfers - and outdoor enthusiasts, in general - should play in this evolving conversation and landscape?

Mary Osborne: We use mother nature for our pleasure and businesses. It only makes sense for us to giveback daily and protect what we love for our future generations. It is our duty as outdoor enthusiasts to be role models and continue to be a voice for protecting what we love.

OP: Who has inspired you along the way?

Mary Osborne: Culture inspires me. I love meeting people from around the world and asking them lots of questions about their life. Everyone I meet educates me in some way, shape, or form. I always talk to those people who live a different lifestyle than I do because I feel like I will learn from them. I also am inspired by people who can figure out a way to make their passion their living. It’s not a easy thing to do, so I am always impressed when they figure it out.

OP: What does adventure mean to you?

Mary Osborne: Adventure means traveling to a new location, or a place I have visited before that I love. It means finding unchartered territories, getting dirty, laughing, discovering, fulfilling my soul. Adventure is what I strive for… to push yourself to new limits and discover with this earth has to offer.

OP: What does the term "badass" mean to you?

Mary Osborne: I love the word badass…hahahah. It just sums up everything- cool, unique, strong, sexy…you're badass!

OP: How have you managed to align your career with your passion for the outdoors? And do you have any advice for someone who is looking to do the same?

Mary Osborne: It is tough at times, and a tricky thing to do. You will fail, you will win, you will be broke, then you will have money…whatever it may be, always go back to why you are doing what you are doing. So many times I have wanted to give up and get a corporate job, but I knew deep down that wouldn’t fulfill my soul. When I am getting frustrated, I go outside..take deep breathes… and remind myself of why I am doing what I am doing. Follow your passion and what you are good at. If you do, the money will come, happiness will prosper, and your life will be full of great things always.

OP: We are seeing a shift in what the term woman or female might bring to mind (LGBTQ), both in the outdoor community and throughout the world. What does being a woman mean to you? Femininity?

Mary Osborne: We are at a very interesting time in the world with females taking action, being outspoken, and finally being heard. I think being a female is a very special thing. I was raised with all boys, grew up a tomboy, but I think I am a very feminine female (I love heels and dressing up). In society, I think we need more positive female role models in the world. It’s our time to shine in the world. 

OP: What mantra or set of words do you live by?

Mary Osborne: Live, love, be inspired.

OP: What is one thing that you never leave home without?

Mary Osborne: I hate to admit it, but my iPhone. I can work from anywhere with it and run my businesses.

OP: If you could give one piece of advice to yourself when you were just starting out with Mary Osborne Surf Camps, Escapes & Travels, what would it be?

Mary Osborne: Trust that it is all going to work. Be creative… ask for help!

OP: In a world seemingly run by online personas, how do you approach social media, and how does it play into your lifestyle - both work and play?

Mary Osborne: I use social media as a platform to showcase my businesses, my passion, and spread important issues. I also use it to educate myself on social issues and trends. I don’t live by social media, and I think no one should. It can easily consume your day-to-day life. However, if we can use it as a tool and look at it that way, it's not a bad thing.

OP: The world of surfing is rapidly progressing. How are you stepping things up to stand out from the crowd?

Mary Osborne: At this point in my life, I am trying to grow my camps, retreats and teen programs. I am always looking for ways to be more creative and unique. I started my Surfari programs for young teen girls because I realized there was nothing like it. I had the idea to create a week long program to get girls outside, off their phones, to educate, inspire, and motivate them to be healthy. I wanted to create a week that is full of everything from outdoor activities to visiting local businesses and learning from other female role models. The Surfari was a hit and is still growing every year. This year, I put on four overnight Surfari camps. They are always in different locations with new itineraries and various key influential female speakers. My goal next year is to get sponsors so I can take them from state to state. I think we are at a very unique time where young girls need this type of program and can really learn from them.

OP: What’s next for you in the coming months and years?

Mary Osborne: As we approach summer, I always stay home in Ventura and run my camps. After camp season, I got to surf a tidal bore in China which is always a crazy unique experiences. From there on out I have no clue. My goal is to slowly build my businesses so they can go global. 

OP: Tell us one thing about yourself that no one knows.

Mary Osborne: I am learning to fly, and it's scary.

OP: If our readers were to take one thing from this interview, what would you like it to be?

Mary Osborne: Stay motivated. Follow your passions…be creative…and don’t take no for a answer.

Learn more about Mary, her accomplishments in the world of surfing, and her surf camps, retreats and teen programs here. Follow along on her adventures by checking out her Instagram


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