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Hang 10, Hang Together!

Apr 05, 2013

When California twins Izzy and Coco Tihanyi first decided to bring sisterhood to surfing, they only had each other to lean on. At the time, the male-dominated surfing world wasn’t that open to women. A lot of people would even say, “Girls don’t surf.” But these enterprising sisters believed otherwise. After all, Izzy has been surfing since she was 8 years old!

United by their sisterhood, and their mutual love of sports, fashion, and trends, Izzy and Coco examined the surf industry and realized that no one was teaching surfing classes that specifically catered to women. The next step was as natural as riding a wave—in 1996, they co-founded Surf Diva Surf School in La Jolla, California.

Sixteen years later, Surf Diva Surf School is the top place for girls and women to learn the sport. Its students support one another, and classes are loud and wild because these surf divas have a motto: “The best surfer in the water is the one having the most fun.” Much like running a successful business, successful surfing takes a lot of practice, and trial and error, and the Tihanyi twins strongly believe that it’s never embarrassing if you wipe out. What’s most important is that you have fun pursuing your passion.

For Izzy and Coco, pursuing their shared passion means turning their students into surf divas. Even though they have very different personalities, they have fun—with purpose!—working together. Izzy is the “Surf,” so she’s in charge of the hard goods, like surfboards, and runs the school. As the “Diva,” Coco runs the boutique and fashion aspects of their company. “It’s a matter of finding someone you can work with so you balance each other out,” Izzy says. “We try to divide the tasks based on who’s good at what.”

The Surf Diva Surf School continues to swell, as the Tihanyi twins have expanded their reach and now offer summer camp surfing courses, as well as classes in San Diego, and in Central America, where students can ride the world-famous waves in Costa Rica. Izzy and Coco may have opened up some of their weekend classes to guys, but their focus is still on introducing girls and women to the wide-open wows of surfing. Girls don’t surf? “Watch us!” Izzy says.

It's Your Business -- Run It!: Izzy and Coco Tihanyi video on Teens 13-17

View our video to meet Izzy and Coco. To learn more about Surf Diva Surf School, click here. To read more about It’s Your Business—Run It!, click here, and to see other entrepreneurs in our video series, click here.