This Surf Feature originally appeared under the heading “Kool Things” in Void Magazine’s April 2021 issue.

Mia and Zoe Larson don’t have many boundaries. They never have. Whether they’re breaking barriers in the surfing world or in the fashion world, these sisters’ standout styles have made them an integral part of the East Coast’s burgeoning longboard scene.  

“Anything we wanted to wear or do growing up, our mom supported it,” Zoe says. “That gave us time to decide who we wanted to be and how we wanted to be.”

At the ripe ages of 19 and 20, Mia and Zoe have delved deep into exploring their own personal expressions through surfing, fashion, and art. 

“The whole longboard scene itself is about rebellion,” Zoe says. “It seems as if Florida is just catching on, but I think that the way we do it is so authentic. The scene is low key because it’s so small.” 

The Larson sisters are no strangers to the insular Florida longboard community. Though born and raised in Miami, they’ve forged bonds with some of Jacksonville’s most influential surfers and surfboard builders. Mia rides for Justin Quintal’s alt-surf brand Black Rose MFÇG., while Zoe flies the Clean Ocean Surfboards flag. It’s the Larsons’ one-of-a-kind styles that made others in the industry, including COS founder Tony Iannarone, take notice. 

“I always look for people that seem outside the norm. I like them to have other interests that intrigue me other than surfing,” says Iannarone . “I want them to bring something interesting to the scene, and I think that’s what Zoe does.”

Zoe first popped up on Iannarone’s radar before he ever saw her set foot on a board. It was his discovery of the Larsons’ online vintage clothing store, the Urban Upcycle Boutique, that peaked his interest.

“I came across their page and some edits that Zoe had put together for it,” Iannarone explains. “I thought they were hilarious and definitely unique, so the decision to bring her on was a no brainer.”

World Longboard Champion Justin Quintal was similarly captivated by Mia’s unparalleled style. 

“She [Mia] rides traditional single fin longboards really well,” says Quintal. “I also think that she is just a rad person and an authentic human. She has her own style and approach to everything she does, from the clothes she wears, to her tattoo art, to her surfing.” 

One-of-a-kind and vintage clothing have long been a passion of Zoe and Mia’s. The duo grew up visiting thrift stores, a practice which inspired them to seek out pieces that exuded their personalities.

“When you walk into a thrift store, you’re in a big room full of things that people decided they didn’t want anymore,” Mia says. “You’re not shopping in a specific genre of fashion, so you pick out the things you like with no exterior influence.”

THE WHOLE LONGBOARD SCENE IS ABOUT REBELLION

Both in and out of the water, the Larsons’ style is an amalgamation of femininity and grunge, one that can’t be categorized into a single aesthetic. This duo rocks vintage digs castaway by their original owners, draping second-hand threads on their tanned skin, bespeckled with the tattoo stylings of Mia herself. 

Working under the alias “Laim Tattoos”, Mia landed herself an unexpected apprenticeship in early 2020. After spending the morning seeking out a shop that would provide the girls with some impromptu ink, Mia discovered Wynwood Tattoo & Co. 

“I showed the guy my sketchbook that I draw in,” Mia explains. “He just liked my art and I had done a bunch of stick-and-pokes before then. The stick-and-pokes were all shit but the placement and the artwork is what got me that job.” 

The following weekend, Mia returned to Miami to start learning the new medium. 

“It’s really nerve wracking,” Mia shares.  “Because you know, you’re playing with people’s lives, you’re permanently marking their body. But I did discover that there’s some really nice intimacy in tattooing. Sitting around and talking to people for hours straight, literally touching the skin of a random stranger, I feel like it brings you really close to someone who you never knew you could be close to.”  

Currently, Mia is taking a step back from Laim Tattoos to focus on her surfing, reserving her designs for those closest to her. While Zoe, friends, and the Larsons’ own mother provide themselves as willing canvases for her minimalistic, black ink art, Mia hopes to spend most of her days in the water in coming months.  

“When I’m surfing, I would say my style is delicate but also angst-y,” Mia shares. “I like to tip toe on my surfboard but really express a lot of frustration while I’m doing it.”

Though the Larsons look completely at home gracefully cross-stepping on their logs, longboarding wasn’t always their primary interest. 

“I remember the first time I got on a longboard; it was my mom’s,” Mia explains. “I kind of hung five for the first time and something magical happened. I didn’t start taking surfing seriously until I was around 14, but since then it’s been like heroin to a junkie. It’s everything.” 

Zoe’s interest in longboarding soon followed, though some long-lasting injuries from a childhood car accident forced her to get creative with her surfing. Complications with her knee made it impossible to pop up on a surfboard without promptly shifting her knee out of place. 

“Mia and I are so close. I thought, we’re going to have to adapt here,” Zoe says. “I finally switched my stance to goofy and then I guess the weight difference and pressure made it to where I could surf.” 

For those of you who may be unfamiliar, this is no easy feat. Switching your dominant stance while surfing is sort of like teaching yourself to write with the opposite hand. It’s the sort of stuff that only the most persistent can master. But Zoe isn’t the only Larson sister who has overcome injuries to keep surfing. 

In true 2020 fashion, Mia wrapped up her year with a car wreck that left her battered and bruised, and unable to surf for the better part of three months. Now that she’s on the road to recovery, the Larsons plan to make up for some lost time in the water.  

“My first day back I was by myself and running down the boardwalk at Fort Pierce Inlet,” Mia says, grinning. “It wasn’t even good but I got the most childish feeling. My chest just fluttered; I felt like jumping.”

Traditional longboard connoisseurs feel this same urge to jump for joy after witnessing the talents of these two young loggers. 

“I think the next generation of Florida longboarders have a lot of talent, and are embracing their roots and identity more,” explains Quintal. “I think we have a unique surf culture here and a lot of classic characters within that group of next generation loggers. I think a lot of people in the scene are starting to recognize and appreciate what we have going on in the Sunshine State.”

This Surf Feature originally appeared under the heading “Kool Things” in Void Magazine’s April 2021 issue.