Photo: Aaron Black-Schmidt

The Lifestyle of a Self-Made SUP Star: Gillian Gibree

Gillian Gibree has always kept her own schedule. She grew up in Massachusetts and earned a love for the ocean—prone paddling, ocean swimming and surfing—as a lifeguard on Cape Cod, among other things.

"When I was younger I used to work lots of jobs in summer and then travel during the winter," Gibree says. "I always knew I wasn't cut out for something traditional."

Eventually, Gibree's travels landed her in San Diego where she started standup paddling in earnest. The burgeoning sport gave her the perfect platform to live the quintessential California lifestyle—surfing, exercising and doing yoga—all on one board.

With her charismatic, easy-going attitude, it wasn't long before tourists began asking her for lessons. Not afraid of taking a more risky, less-traveled path, she saw an opportunity and poured her entire soul and savings into SUP yoga instructing.

Photo: Aaron Black-Schmidt

"I put a bunch of boards on a credit card and stored them in my room," Gibree says. "I couldn't even see out of my window."

It was a big gamble, but her decision to pursue her passion paid off. Today, Gibree's business allows her to live the life that others dream about: making her own schedule, traveling the world and getting paid to teach others the sport she loves.

"I like teaching people and now that I'm focused on teacher training, it's even more rewarding," Gibree says.

When not instructing, she can be found modeling in exotic locales for top activewear brands such as Nike, Roxy and Athleta. While it may not be the traditional career, Gibree's entrepreneurial skills and free spirit have resulted in a life all her own.

"Paddleboarding has allowed me to do exactly what I wanted and to travel to so many beautiful places," Gibree says. "I wouldn't want it any other way." —Jack Haworth

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