What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Travelling the world surfing on my own from the age of 18 has been an amazing experience and one I have learnt so much from. It was something that when I was younger I could only of dreamt of as I came from a family surviving on benefits.
Running my own business and bringing joy to people! But ultimately it has to be my daughter, bringing a new life to this world is a rollercoaster, but the most amazing thing I have ever done.
What motivates you to do what you do?
Selfishly I get great joy from bringing others joy! When I see people achieve something they didn't think they could, even something that might seem small like putting on a wetsuit, I can see a new sense of confidence and empowerment which I know they will take away with them. It is something very special. I try to create a safe, joyous space, which encourages and embraces, enabling this special process.
I feel at home in the sea and nature and anytime I'm there it feeds me. To have this as part of my job is my dream, so I'm following that and it seems to be working! Over the years I have had some of the most amazing experiences and comments from the women I have worked with and this motivates me every day.
I also believe passionately about working with nature, protecting it and harvesting its fruits. By sparking a love for it we can then spark a passion for protecting it.
I decided to work with women as I saw a real lack of confidence in many women and girls I worked with or have met in my life, including myself. A lack of confidence to try something new, be physically active or have a healthy sense of looking after ourselves. We are constantly bombarded with images of how we should look, behave and act. Most of the time it’s totally unrealistic and can cause a lifetime of low self-confidence, eating disorders and depression. I want whole heartedly to conquer this in the women I meet. I believe we do this by supporting each other, creating a community of women and girls where we celebrate our uniqueness, all shapes and sizes, ages, disabilities, mental health disorders those that have suffered abuse, deprivation, bullying, we are all wonderful in our own way, and I hope to in some way uncover this in their hearts.
What do you owe your mother?
My Mum grew up on a council estate in Doncaster, she left home at 19 and went her own way as a hippy, embracing music, community and self-discovery. I respect her bravery, for stepping into the unknown and doing her best. She brought three kids up pretty much single handedly, which is no mean feat!
Which women inspire you and why?
Unfortunately I don't have enough female icons, I do feel they don't get enough attention or media coverage, that's why I think what the Hypatia trust is doing is so very important.
But I'd say the early black women blues singers, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. They weren't only dealing with the discrimination of being black and then also of being female, but they were in a male dominated industry and yet they got up there uninhibited and sang from their soul, that inspires me.
I would also say, it has to be the girls I meet that are going their own way, following their dreams, even if it doesn't conform. I often see guys doing this in the media and they are held on a pedestal, but as soon as a girl or women is going her own way, doing something differently, I feel it can get the opposite kind of attention or none at all. Well I say go girls, no matter what people say, always follow your dreams.
What are you reading?
Pema Chodron an amazing female Buddhist monk. She comes from New York and lived a totally normal life with kids and a husband etc. Her husband left her for another women and out of her breakdown she discovered Buddhism. It's great as she really understands our everyday problems and tailors the teachings to be able to bring it into the West. I highly recommend her.
What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?
As regards to surfing, when I first started surfing there were only two girls that surfed Sennen and they were already very good. I was so nervous it took me a year of deliberating until I finally got out there. I think if I hadn't been so strong willed I would of never have made the leap. This really motivated me to create my first girls surf group, enabling young women to not have to face that fear as I did.
It's interesting though, as when you do get out there it's often not as bad as you first thought, its just you and the sea :-)
I have been in many surf shops and they have straight away taken me to the learner board section before even asking me my experience level. It usually takes me about twenty minutes of talking to them before they finally half believe I can surf. I think things are changing though!
As regards to being a women, I think career options, running my own business and being a Mum have all been very difficult, but this is a broad subject and I think, again, the more we support each other and the less isolated we feel with these problems the better it can be.
How can the world be made a better place for women?
Real women in the media, inspiring women talked about more to help inspire others. Problems shared not covered up, to make us believe there is something wrong with us, being a mother, a carer, and a housewife all of these things are actually hard and should be given a lot more respect.
Describe your perfect day?
Laughing, dancing, singing and surfing.
We've noticed there really aren’t many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall - who would you see remembered?
It would have to be one of the amazing women that work in some of the special organisations here. Those that work with vulnerable and disadvantaged women and girls on a daily basis, they are making such a huge difference to so many and need to be remembered. Perhaps a book published with their names and some stories of those they have helped.
Give us a tip?
Don’t take life to seriously (easier said than done!) and at the same time, try to remember what an incredible miracle it is! and even if its little by little, face your fears, it will reward you I promise.
Jessica Antonia Cox is a mother of one living in Penzance. She grew up in the town and has been a semi professional surfer whilst setting up and running her own business and social enterprise Sirens Surf.
Sirens run bespoke surf and yoga retreats, surfing courses, private surf tuition also accessible through social media. They hold community wellness events, which reach out, to vulnerable and disadvantaged women and girls often collaborating with community groups and organisations here in Cornwall.