Surfers are a common sight when taking a stroll along New Jersey’s beautiful beaches, but Melissa D’Anna noticed something about the sport and pastime that many may have missed…most of the surfers are men. With an eye toward changing the male-dominated demographic to be more inclusive, she has opened Lucky Dog Surf Company in Sea Bright with her faithful new companion and mascot, Guinness.
“After moving back to New Jersey from Hawaii, I realized the northern shore area desperately needed a surf shop. I also noticed there were hardly any women surfing at the beaches I was visiting. It’s really a shame because women are just as capable as men in the water,” D’Anna says. “I thought, what if I opened a surf shop? We need a shop that will provide a comfortable atmosphere where everyone is welcome and feels respected at any skill level. As a woman, I may also have a better eye at picking out cute clothes and such…I realized I should do this.”
Admitting to having always been obsessed with surf culture, D’Anna enjoys the feel good lifestyle and laid-back way of living. Learning to surf when she was twelve years old on a family vacation to Hawaii, she asked for a surf board for Christmas that year. It took three years of surfing whenever she could before she found her confidence in the water, but that led her to Hawaii to teach middle school and surf as much as she could. Originally from Shrewsbury, D’Anna attended Red Bank Regional and then studied History Education and Theater at Boston University.
“I moved to Kauai after having lived in Boston and then New York City. I became super passionate about surfing while I tried my teaching chops,” D’Anna says. “I loved teaching and I am excited to use my degree at Lucky Dog Surf to teach people to surf and paddleboard. Surfing relaxes me, and while in Hawaii it became a way to connect with locals. I made almost all of my friends while surfing. It’s a wonderful way to connect with people.”
D’Anna has a love for dogs that rivals her love for surfing. She knew right away she needed to combine the two and went looking for a rescue dog to adopt that could represent the store. She eventually found Guinness at the SPCA in Eatontown. Now you can follow him, The Lucky Dog, and the goings on at the Surf Company on Instagram at @luckydogsurf or at LuckyDogSurf.com.
“Guinness was found as a stray in Puerto Rico and was taken to North Carolina where he was placed in a high kill shelter,” D’Anna explains. “He was then shipped to the SPCA in Eatontown in an attempt to rescue some of the dogs from the shelter. He was on the adoption floor for a whole 15 minutes before I adopted him. He is a super cuddler and extremely affectionate. He loves running on the beach and will definitely be trying surfing and paddle boarding this summer!”
The Lucky Dog Surf Company is now open for business and will celebrate with a Grand Opening Party on June 3, 2017 from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. with giveaways, music, treats, and a surfboard raffle that you can enter between now and then. There is also a monthly Artist Night featuring a local artist, music, refreshments, and special sales.
“I hope to create a community-driven place to visit and a symbol of pride for locals,” D’Anna says of her Sea Bright location. “I hope to foster surf and ocean education, support local artists, and make surfing more accessible to everyone.”
Lucky Dog Surf Co. is located at 1096 Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright. Visit http://luckydogsurf.com for more information.