Photos by Dan Lidon
The Delaware lifestyle brand aims to eliminate fear of water and foster a love for the waves by funding swim and surf lessons.
More than just a retail collection, Raising Surfers is fulfilling its mission to shape a community that embraces the water. By funding swim and surf lessons, their goal is to both eliminate fear of the ocean and reduce the number of childhood drownings.
While working as a schoolteacher in her native Philadelphia for 12 years, Kristin Manchin became acutely aware of one of the most common causes of death among children and adolescents: accidental drowning.
Each year, an estimated 3,960 kids ages 14 and younger die from unintentional drownings, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s 11 per day.
Meeting siblings of several such victims, Manchin—the daughter of an avid surfer who grew up watching her dad shred waves at Indian River Inlet, as well as the wife of Kyle Manchin, a well-known skimboarder from Dewey Beach—looked for ways to sink this frightening statistic.
In 2020, they were shaping plans for Raising Surfers, a company centered on surf lessons and merchandise in Delaware. “But then I thought, what about swim lessons?” Manchin says. With that, a new mission took off.
All company proceeds would now benefit families nationwide who struggled financially, covering the cost of swim lessons at their local YMCAs. During the summer, surf instruction is offered through East of Maui and at special events where anyone in the community is invited to come out and learn to surf for free.
“Being a surfer and ocean lover is a core value,” Manchin says. “Raising Surfers was designed with the mindset of the coastline being a connector to all things good… We want to help more people fear the water less and love it more. We’re here to bring the stoke.”
Raising Surfers’ retail side launched in 2021 with a small collection of swimwear, wetsuits and hoodies, and quickly expanded to a jewelry line designed “with intention,” Manchin explains. “These pieces serve a purpose.”
During the pandemic, the couple and their three boys (a 13-year-old and 8-year-old twins, all skimboarders) spent a lot of time on the beach, “feeling so fortunate to be there,” Manchin reflects. “The ocean is a constant for us, always there in times of need to bring peace and healing. That’s a message we want to share with others.
“We fully understand that fear and intimidation are reasons more people do not try to learn to surf. We wanted to make the opportunity exciting and inviting and full of acceptance. The community that rallies behind us is what makes the difference, and Raising Surfers is a vessel.”
Two jewelry collections together comprise almost 300 pieces, and a handful of new styles are added each week. The bohemian OG Collection (think gold and natural stones in earthy shapes like moons, rays and vines) is handmade by artisans from 26 different countries. The Surf Jewels pieces, many designed by Manchin herself, are also gold but more eclectic in style. Appealing to those living the beach life, they are waterproof and tarnish-free, and are often named for local “people and places who connect to this movement,” says Manchin, who regularly wears the Amanda Ring and Mother Gypsy Shell Necklace.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Most are transitional—dainty layered necklaces, stackable bracelets and rings that take you from beach to street, day to night—and they are affordable.
“These styles connect all generations in a mission that makes a difference,” Manchin says.