By Shea Parton
Photos by Lonelyleap.com
An early rise lead us to meet 38-year old Israeli surfboard shaper Hani Ovadia. We met at his shop for a gritty cup of home brewed coffee and a tour of his seven year old warehouse in Tel Aviv’s Old City of Jaffa. Mutual American friends e-introduced us a few months ago, it continues to be such a rich part of traveling to new destinations is the new friendship that transpire along the way. In 2001 Hani began pursuing shaping after a three-month mentorship with renown California shaper, Michael Andrews. Hani has generously become our Israeli surfboard caddie, equipping us for any swell and with his shop a few blocks away from the beach we stationed our car in his entry way to escape Tel Aviv’s beach parking nightmares.
As lunch drew near we finally connected with our Israeli co-op managers Lindy-Lu Victor and Shlomy Azolay. After two years of regular Skype calls to refine the process in creating our Leather Co-op Sandal, it was really a pleasure to sit down and officially get some quality time with two people that we consider being a valuable addition to our brand and the key reason this trip has transpired. After an amazing eclectic lunch at Puaa in the marketplace of the Old City of Jaffa, we headed to Lindy-Lu and Shlomy’s nearby home. Between managing Apolis’ sandal production, working on their own local brand, surfing religiously and preparing for their August wedding – this power couple stays awfully busy but is well known for a light hearted and energetic presence.
I really enjoyed sitting down and spending a few moments hearing 34-year old Shlomy Azolay’s story. Azolay was born in Morocco and raised as an Israeli citizen, the youngest of four siblings. Shlomy participated in his mandatory Israeli military service from 1998 – 2001 as a fighter. Over the past 16 years Shlomy has been perfecting his craft as a designer, focusing on leather work. In 2011 he attended a school in Tel Aviv for shoe, bag and collection design. Today Shlomy continues to design and consistently improves his craft thanks to an old mentor in Tel Aviv. We enjoyed visiting Lindy-Lu and Shlomy’s work & live studio in the Old City of Tel Aviv that they have occupied for three years and are currently looking for a new space to expand their independent business of six people.
As the afternoon faded, Lindy-Lu rallied the troops for an evening surf. We joined Hani, his family & employees for a quick evening surf and ignored the training sirens for slowly escalating Syrian threat. We continue to be blown away by the community of Tel Aviv and are so excited to share our daily stories.