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Meet Stacie Vanags of Salted Spirit in Venice Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stacie Vanags.

Stacie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My husband and I moved to Los Angeles in 2012 as a result of his desire for more sunshine and a way to combat Seasonal Depression. What’s weird about eight months of winter, long dark days, and short bursts of summer paired with painful sun-burns? All that seemed so normal to me for 30 years. As a hearty Midwest girl, I was convinced I would loath LA – but – I agreed to give it a go.

Soon after moving, he suggested we try surfing, so we headed straight to Venice Beach with our Wavestorms in hand. As a girl who grew up water skiing, catching tadpoles, ice fishing and playing in any body of water I could hop into, I made the assumption those skills would convert pretty easily to surfing. Shocker, not a chance and I spent the next three years getting beat up and humbled in mother ocean.

One day there was a beautiful swell coming through and I was eagerly tracking it on Surfline, along with some rain. The rain has never stopped me from doing things in the Midwest, but apparently the rules were different here in LA. Thanks to one of my fellow surfers, they warned me to stay out of the water and educated me about the ‘first flush;’ the first big rain in LA after a long stagnant season where pollution, chemicals, toxins, plastic and all the unspeakables run directly into the beautiful Pacific, and surfers can get incredibly sick.

I was flabbergasted at the concept that the ocean would be an open drain for all that trash and wanted to learn how to protect this resource so it wasn’t so vulnerable to human irresponsibility. I told myself I would research three ocean organizations and volunteer to give back to something I had fallen so deeply in love with, surfing and the ocean.

The first meeting was with Tina Segura, the former Chapter Chair of Surfrider Foundation. After spending an hour with Tina, I immediately knew Surfrider was for me and threw all my other votes out the window. I volunteered with Surfrider’s LA Chapter for a few years and eventually stepped into the position of Chair from 2017-2019, a two year term on the Executive Board.

Long story short, falling in love with the ocean literally inspires everything I do. I started a podcast in 2017 called the Salted Spirit where I interview water women who are defying the status quo as women and making a positive impact on the oceans. These women are surfers, sailors, free divers, kite surfers, filmmakers, entrepreneurs and artists from places like Portugal, South Africa, Australia, Columbia, Canada, the Philippines, India, the US and more.

In addition to the ocean, the next thing near and dear to my salty heart is the topic of mental health. I’ve worked in corporate mental health for 16 years, presenting to large employers on the importance of educating and leveraging mental health resources for employees in the workplace.

I’ve always felt like that was the 10,000 foot view, and I realized I strived for the 5 foot view and wouldn’t settle for less. I wanted to be able to sit across from people directly, make eye contact, hear your voice and have a candid conversation about the hard stuff.

I started hosting monthly women’s wellness events with my 1985 Westfalia Vanagon (Salted Carmela) in Venice Beach where we talk about all things wellness. This is just the beginning and I’ll be 40 this year. My story continues to take twists and turns but I’m so grateful to be able to serve my community in so many different ways, especially as a transplant to CA and to a city that has welcomed me so openly, I’m excited to be able to pay that forward. Thanks for sharing my story.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Having a podcast is incredible, but it can also feel somewhat lonely, which may sound surprising. You work hours on end to collect the stories, edit them to perfection, draft all the marketing materials and content, do the social posts, just for a single episode, and then crickets. Thankfully you have stats to track so you know people are listening, but only a few here and there will often chime in with what they think and how grateful they are for the story. I save every one of those emails and DM’s so I can revisit them often!

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Salted Spirit – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Salted Spirit currently has a few arms; the podcast platform and the women’s wellness van series. I will eventually be rolling out my own teas for waterwomen, and that’s coming down the road. 🙂

I’m most proud of continuing to be a good listener, the ability to ask thoughtful questions and extract the tough stories to help inspire change and positivity for others and our environment around the world. We need more people listening in the world.

What sets me apart is my ability to connect with women on a much deeper level, providing a safe space and platform so they find the courage to share how they worked through depression, anxiety, grief, miscarriage and sometimes even suicidal thoughts, and how the ocean was often their source of therapy. What started out as a fun surfy podcast has evolved into so much more, an unexpected gift, stories to give others hope and courage, and to feel less alone.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
The biggest thing on my radar is rolling out my own tea line, a series of teas for waterwomen to help support endurance, recovery, long hours in the water, restful sleep, and just a ritual they can enjoy.

My health wasn’t great, I suffered from consistent lower back pain and fatigue, and that made it frustrating to surf. My doctor pointed out I had fatigued adrenals and was doing something called “bookending.” Going from a stimulant to a depressant each and every day, for years on end (coffee + wine, coffee + wine, oh and sometimes margaritas 🙂

In March 2019, I realized how addicted I was to coffee and did a cleanse. I had withdrawal headaches for almost ten days. I turned to herbal teas and have been blending my own intricate teas with gotu kola, cardamon, cinnamon, ashwagandha, chamomile, and so much more. Moreover, learning about plant medicine and the stories and remedies that have existing for thousands of years, and how pharmaceuticals only came into play about 100 years ago has been eye opening. I’m excited to continue to get back to our roots, learn indigenous stories and find ways to help heal ourselves and the planet through something as simple as tea.

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.saltedspirit.com
  • Phone: 213.922.0206
  • Email: stacie@saltedspirit.com
  • Instagram: @salted_spirit
  • Facebook: saltedspirit

Image Credit:
Bryanna Bradley, Tim Aukshunas, Ryan Yamashita

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