Meet the mastermind behind social media sensation, FindYourCalifornia
11 January 2017
No matter where she is, Nico Guilis always seems to find blue skies, rays of sun, beautiful women, and a backdrop reminiscent of Venice Beach in the 70s. Or at least that’s what it looks like when you scroll through the pages of FindYourCalifornia.
FindYourCalifornia is Nico’s baby. Years ago it started out as just an idea, an inkling in her brain – and when she picked up from her home in Los Angeles, California, and moved across the country to New York, the idea started to grow.
It grew and grew, and now, over five years later, it’s an entire creative agency based on the back of the social media sensation.
We recently invited Nico to come along on a Search trip with Tyler Wright, Nikki van Dijk and Alana Blanchard, to help document the women, the surfing, and the adventure.
After winding down from the journey, we chatted all things FindYourCalifornia…
So Nico, you’ve started a highly successful creative business based around social media – how did you get to where you are today?
I am photographer / filmmaker and creative from Los Angeles, California. I started the FindYourCalifornia Instagram in 2012 after moving to NYC to be an "artist”, and in 2014 I launched my .com, and went full force into chasing my dreams. I was just photographing and filming my female friends having a good time surfing and skating, but there was power and independence and freedom behind my imagery. I could feel people being drawn to that, and the idea really birthed itself.
It feels really good to know that the waves I’m making will help other female artists find their feet. - Nico Guilis
It took a minute to find my footing, but essentially I am a photographer and filmmaker, and FindYourCalifornia is my creative agency – the umbrella under which all the little ideas come to life.
Clients hire me to re-shape their aesthetic visuals, put their brands in better alignment for a projected creative year, and be a creative ambassador – an artist. The opportunities and places I am able to go are really endless, it feels really good to know that the waves I’m making will help other female artists find their feet. It's not always as easy as my Instagram might make things look – the work and hurdles of day-to-day traveling and life out of a suitcase can add up.
Can you tell us what sets you apart from the crowd… what makes FindYourCalifornia unique?
I've never done anything for money. I've turned down very large offers for jobs because they weren't in alignment with my message or my soul’s calling. I do a lot of work that I don't get paid for – but I do it because I know that there is a higher purpose, and it's something my heart is in. If you lead your life with that as a mantra, I think that’s the way you wind up getting the jobs you never thought would come to you.
It's not always as easy as my Instagram might make things look - Nico Guilis
You work with a lot of women in surfing... what's that like, and how does it differ to clients in fashion?
Female surfers changed me, and frankly, they’re why I am able to do what I do. They inspire me and have become my closest of friends. Surfer girls are fearless – they make doing cutbacks in a tiny bikini on a 15-foot face look graceful. But let me tell you – surfing isn't a joke, and that isn't easy. They are aware of their minds, their bodies and their souls – they have boundaries and know that they are challenging those boundaries in a positive way.
That is powerful energy to constantly be around. Girls in fashion are also daring, just in a different way – and sometimes models don't have a choice in how they behave, because they have to play a part.
You recently went on a Search trip with the Rip Curl girls – Tyler Wright, Alana Blanchard and Nikki van Dijk. What did you think of The Search, and what do you think of the concept itself?
The Search? Oh, The Search is an incredible mind, body and spirit challenge. It puts you in the middle of some crazy experiences, the strangest places, all in an effort to find the best surf break in the world. It’s unforgettable.