Managing a Windsurf Center in Croatia, being an Biotechnologist and a badass Windsurf Girl: that is of Nika Cuculić and we are very excited and thankful to share her story with you!
How did you get into windsurfing and when did you start?
I have a feeling everything happened accidentally. I was sailing in Class Optimist as a kid (until high school) and we were training at the same spot as windsurfers. Back then I wasn't very attracted to it but I knew windsurfing community exists in my hometown. When I went to university I started thinking about windsurfing and how I want to try it because I missed sailing and wanted to try something different. I contacted a boy I knew from sailing and high school because I knew he was windsurfing at that time if he could tell me how to start windsurfing and show me some basics. That boy was Enrico, he became my boy and still is and that's how I never stopped windsurfing since then. It was super hard in the beginning and wanted to give up million times but I am glad I haven't.
Are there many windsurf girls in Croatia/ in your region? And would you say the number of Girls starting windsurfing is rising over the last years?
I would say no, but I am working on it haha. We opened our windsurf centre last year and since then we have 4 or 5 new windsurf girls and I hope that number will get higher with years. So right now there are maybe 10 of us and we are all very good friends. We windsurf, travel and hang out together and support each other. I am very thankful for them!
10 years ago, did you see yourself working in a managing position in a Windsurf center? How did it happen for you and when did all of this start?
Definitely no. 10 years ago I moved to Ljubljana, Slovenia to study Biotechnology because I wanted to become a badass scientist. I got my Masters Degree in Biotechnology and spent one year in Lueven- Belgium being part of an exchange programe, where I was attending Bioscience engineering program. I really enjoyed my studies but after all those years abroad I wanted to come back home. Finding a job in such a specific field of work in Croatia was a bit of a problem. After searching for a long time, I started working as a Medical sales representative for pharmaceutical company. It wasn't my dream job and I wasn't very happy even though the work and my bosses were cool. One day, Enrico asked me what else would I love to do and would make me happy. And that's how we opened the Windsurfing Centre.
What do you love the most about your job and what do you think is important to be successful in such a buisness?
I love sharing the passion. I usually work with complete beginners and I am so fulfilled when they start windsurfing on their own. Since we opened we were able to win more than 15 new windsurfers. We are all good friends now and they are part of our community. I would definitely say that this is the best part of my job- popularizing windsurfing in my hometown. I think the most important thing- to be successful- is to have quality lessons, to be approachable and able to help them at any time. That way they will leave happy, come again and the next time bring few friends along!
You are also traveling a lot with your partner Enrico and support him during trainings and competition! What is your `recipe` to balance all of this and what is it like to be the partner of a professional Windsurfer?
He supports me and helps me a lot around our Centre, so I love to give some of that back. During winter I am usually not working so I am able to help him as much as I can. I love traveling with him, especially when we go to El Medano for his winter trainings because during summer I can not windsurf at all so this is my time to enjoy the sport, learn and improve. I find my little joys in everything. I can not say it was easy before but with this 'set-up' it is kind of natural.
If you look back at all the things that you have created professionally and privately so far- what would be the most important life lesson you had to learn?
Probably to enjoy the process. Hard work and patience are very needed in any aspect of life because things don't happen over night and that's why, for me, it is important to acknowledge where I am now and to enjoy every moment.
All photos and rights: Nika Cuculić