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Rising Stars: Meet Kristine R. Surla

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristine R. Surla.

Kristine, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I consider myself a visual storyteller, creative, strategist, social entrepreneur and holistic wellness lifestyle advocate and transformation coach. I believe that every person is and has a gift to share with the world. When it comes to my portrait photography sessions, I always believe in “capturing one’s magic and essence”.

I consider myself a global citizen – born in the Philippines 🇵🇭 and grew up and raised here in the US, I straddled both worlds and both my Filipina roots and my American upbringing have helped carve the lens by which I see the world. I grew up in the Philippines as a little girl, and we immigrated to California when I was in 1st grade. I went to probably nine different schools growing up and finally graduated Valedictorian from Carlsbad High and then went to Stanford University for both my undergraduate and Masters degrees. I started my career in NYC working for PBS for the first year, transitioned into independent film & production working as an associate producer for Diane Paragas (who recently released the award-winning film Yellow Rose via Sony Pictures) and then got recruited into the business world.

I ended up working for a firm in the World Trade Center (Tower 2) and on 9/11 ran for my life as the 2nd plane hit the south tower while I was standing in front watching people jump from Tower 1 to escape the fire that the first place had caused. It was a surreal day. That day then leads me to ghostwrite our CEOs letters to our investors and shareholders handling crisis communications and helping focus efforts on raising over 1 million dollars for the families who lost loved ones during that tragedy. I then joined the International Division of the company and was part of the team that helped launch both the London and Hong Kong offices. During my time working as the strategic marketing manager of the International Division, I was also studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and received my certification in Holistic and Integrative Counseling/Coaching. I then moved to Hong Kong, had a short stint in Bali focused on art & jewelry design while living in a sustainable eco village created by an architect who had worked and studied under Buckminster Fuller. I eventually moved from Hong Kong to Manila and taught at the university level at a college focused on business and entrepreneurship called Center for International Education (affiliated with Cambridge University). I focused on Leadership, Personal Development and Business ethics.

When I returned to the United States, I started my own Eco focused company and we produced several eco-inspired events and programs such as an Eco Fashion Show in Malibu and the Green Gourmet Eco Series which showcased chefs and restaurants that shared the importance of understanding the connection of food, land, sustainable development and holistic wellness. I then joined an Entertainment focused company with clients such as NBCUniversal, CBS, Marvel, etc. I also launched a Social Enterprise called Artisan Made International in 2016 with our first curated capsule collection called: Artisan Made Philippines 🇵🇭 which partnered with several Social Enterprises from the Philippines working with several tribes, women’s groups and empowerment organizations to provide livelihood and continue to support indigenous arts, trade and crafts. We had a successful launch Pop Up event that brought Eco Fashion Show, Social Enterprise Speakers Panel, Live entertainment and culminating with a VIP Kamayan dinner. When I became a mom, I decided to start a jewelry line and also focus on photography in order to work from home and focus on being a full-time mom. The past few years, I’ve consulted for various companies shooting for brands such as Philippine food brands: Jollibee, Chow King & Red Ribbon to other brands such as Pinkberry, Shahk a Los Angeles based men’s clothing brand and other various artists and talent.

I also launched several passion projects called: 1) Goddesses and Heroes 2) Age is Just a Number and 3) Role Models* {real everyday heroes} I consulted as the Marketing Director for an organization focused on the authentic and realistic portrayal of women and girls last year. Since the pandemic hit, I’ve pivoted to bringing my Goddesses and Heroes and Role Models* Series to life via IGTV Lives. I’ve also launched a new brand called Wellness Goddess Warriors (wellnessgoddess.org) that focuses on Holistic & Integrative Wellness. I recently participated in my first ever Writers Lab called “Social Impact Writers Lab” and started working on my first screenplay. I’m excited about diving into this side of the entertainment industry as both a writer, producer and creative. And with organizations such as Geena Davis Institute in Media and Free The Work, I hope to dive into Directing as well.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Many obstacles from 9/11 to moving across the world, starting from scratch every time I moved from LA to NY, NY to Hong Kong then Bali, Manila and then back to LA. Each transition has had its ups and downs. Motherhood has been my greatest adventure. Bringing a child into this crazy world of ours has definitely refocused my perspective and my priorities.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I consider myself a Creative, a Visual storyteller, a Social Entrepreneur and a Holistic & Integrative Wellness and Transformation Coach. I wear many hats and juggle multiple projects that encompass everything from Photoshoots, Strategic Marketing for clients, Jewelry design, and supporting individuals to transform their lives by living in their fullest and most authentic expression. I always aim to capture the magic in every moment and the essence of every person and organization that I work with.

What matters most to you?
Love for humanity and creative expression – for each of us to truly know and understand and remember the gift that we are and the gifts that we bring to the world. Also, the future of our children and creating and leaving a world better than when we first became part of it. I think there’s so much we can do and I’m hopeful for the future state of our planet. I’m also very focused on Women’s Rights and women’s empowerment.

Contact Info:


Image Credits:

All images Kristine R. Surla for Sur LA Creative. Only photo not taken by me is the photo of me: that photographer is Sam

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