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Ormond Beach Observer Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021 3 months ago

Standing O: Emily Jones aims to empower women through paddle boarding

Women Making Waves is not just her business. It's helped Emily Jones to grow as a woman.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

Integrity. Kindness. Community.

Those are three key words by which Ormond Beach resident Emily Jones lives her life.

As the founder of Women Making Waves, an outdoor adventures and paddle boarding excursion community for women, Jones loves what she does. The mission of Women Making Waves is to bring women together with the aim to empower them to be themselves through a paddle boarding experience. Jones leads her "tribe" out to islands in Ormond-by-the-Sea, Winter Park, New Smyrna Beach and Oak Hill where the women then drink wine and sit around a circle. 

“The circle symbolizes that we’re all connected in some way," Jones said.

She always starts the conversation with how Women Making Waves got its start, dating back to July 2016.

Jones had started a paddle board and kayak rental company earlier that year, now called Paddle Florida Now. She had been living in Florida for about two years, and yet still struggled with meeting new people, especially women. She took a shot in the dark and posted an event on Facebook, detailing her plans to drink wine and get to know other women while paddle boarding. 

Three women, all who didn't know each other, showed up. It was a refreshing experience, Jones recalled. 

The next week, 18 women showed up to paddle board. Now, Jones has met over 2,200 women who have gone on a Women Making Waves excursion.

“I’ve heard all their stories and seen people transform, including myself," Jones said. "I’ve transformed in a way I never knew possible because I have the perspective of all these other women, from [ages] 21 to 82.”

Kyra Altes, one of our 2020 Standing O's, nominated Emily Jones for the recognition. Courtesy photo

“I first discovered Emily from her Instagram page wmwtribe, 'Women Making Waves Tribe'. I thought to myself, 'Who is this girl bringing together over a thousand woman in this community through paddle board adventures? I need to meet her and hear her story.' Emily has a heart for bringing women together of all ages and stages in life to find community, empowerment and adventure. Challenging them to step out of their comfort zone and share in each others struggles of life. They have so much fun and I can’t wait to get more involved. This is something the Ormond Beach comunity and the whole world so desperately needs more of — unity, togetherness, more now than ever. I want all the women in this area to know about Woman Making Waves and know they have a place in this tribe."

Kyra Altes, owner of Fluid Form Fitness and 2020 Standing O.

Many stories told while in that circle are emotional. Some are funny. Jones only has two rules: 1) If it's not about you, don't share it, and 2) listen when someone is speaking.

That's important. Having a safe space where these women can feel heard opens some who would never share any personal details, Jones said. The most common story she hears is that of women trying to figure out who they are beyond being a mother and a wife. The circle gives them a place to explore that.

Hearing their stories has changed Jones. While "who am I?" is a hard question to answer, Jones said her tribe of women have helped her become who she is today.

“I don’t know if I know who I am, but I know what I am," Jones said.

Emily Jones said she has always wanted to be a leader. Women Making Waves has allowed her to grow into the type of leader she aimed to be. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

Jones always wanted to be a leader. She used to dream about being the lady in the suit walking down a hallway with a team behind her back, and for a time, she was that woman. Before she moved to Florida in 2014, Jones worked as the vice president of operations for a home security business. She was the only woman in leadership at the time, and she learned a lot. However, Jones said she wishes that back then, she could have had the introspection of leading she has today.

“In a corporate job, I felt like I was leading, but I wasn’t the woman I needed to be to lead the way I wanted to," she said.

Women Making Waves has allowed her that opportunity. Her words for 2020 were "Lead Her" — it applied to leading herself and other women into finding who they are, and discovering a community that will lift them up.

“I have the logos on my shirt," Jones said. "'Find your tribe and love them hard,' and being the best version of yourself means you can love in the best ways.”


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