My friend Kat Mortimer first told me about the challenges she encountered as a female glasser on a camping trip a few years ago. Kat was the first woman ever hired at her surfboard factory. There, the staff bathroom was a large tree in the middle of a neighboring field. So she had to negotiate the dilemma of how to pee and change without being seen by her male coworkers. The dudes didn’t have to figure that one out. Situations like this popped up frequently. As a result of that experience and others like it, Kat wanted to create an environment that enabled her to exist happily within a masculine space. When I heard her story, I instantly saw a parallel with my experience working in the film industry. It invoked a deep curiosity to discover other women forging their own paths, and Las Shapers began to take shape. (Pun!)
Soon after, Kat, a group of our surfer friends, and I decided to grab cameras and camping equipment and drive from Los Angeles to San Diego to meet two incredible women from different walks of life. They both opened their studio doors and shared their stories with us. Kat, a professional glasser interviewed Cher while our team captured their magical conversations.
Las Shapers is a documentary that celebrates three women (Kat Mortimer, Cher Pendarvis, and Valerie Duprat) at different stages of their lives, forging a new path in the world of building surfboards. Each woman’s unique approach to board building reflects the way they navigate life’s obstacles – with resourcefulness and creativity. Through their stories, we learn the importance of finding a voice that they can assert in their day-to-day life – in order to break the boundaries of traditionally gendered roles, because, let’s face it, surfboard building has long been regarded as a male-dominated trade. With passionate women like Kat, Cher, and Valerie, that’s changing. Las Shapers is also a testament to the influence and support of partners and mentors in one of the crafts where mentorship is still vital.
Our goal for this project was to create an inspirational tale for those looking to break through their fears in the quest to fulfill their true passion. Find more about them on Instagram.
Editor’s Note: The Inertia is proud to support the work of Camila Saldarriaga and Kat Mortimer, who have crafted an important and compelling short film that provides a thoughtful glimpse into the lives of three women blazing a new path in the world of surfboard building.