Where are you from?
Tell us about your connection with the ocean.
Being from a small island in the North Atlantic, the ocean has been a constant in my life, gracing my everyday view. Its vastness has instilled a sense of openness in me, and its absence makes me feel enclosed, a feeling akin to claustrophobia. The ocean is not just a scenic backdrop but a vital element, connecting me to a boundless world and grounding me in my roots.
What is your greatest inspiration and drive to protect mother nature?
My drive to protect nature is rooted in hope, and I think the best description of how hope drives action can be found in Rebecca Solnit’s writing: „Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognise uncertainty, you recognise that you may be able to influence the outcomes – you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists adopt the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It is the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand.“
What is your favourite Abysse piece / Why do you love Abysse?
I love what Abysse represents and how it supports and highlights amazing women from all over the world. My favourite piece is the Pam rash guard and Parry shorts. Most swim- and neoprene suits don’t fit me because I have really long torso, so the Pam and Parry combo are perfect for me.
What characteristics do you think make up an Abysse girl?
Fearless, warm, joyful and ambitious.
Tell us about a typical day for you, how do you incorporate the ocean on a daily basis?
I live by the ocean in Reykjavík and really enjoy evening walks by the coast. I am the founder of a start-up called Melta. We are an all women team focused on producing nutrient-rich fertilizer from food waste. Our unique approach fuses fermentation and UX design to transform rural waste management, decentralize fertilizer production and, most importantly, rejuvenate soil ecosystems. My days fluctuate between office work and field engagements, interacting with users and applying our organic fertilizer to degraded soils in Iceland.
Though seemingly unrelated to the ocean, our work at Melta does contribute to its conservation. Synthetic fertilizers lead to dead zones in oceans, where excessive algae growth depletes oxygen and suffocates marine life. By producing organic fertilizers that are accessible to farmers, we reduce dependence on synthetic fertilizers which protects both the soil and the sea.
What is a fun fact about the ocean that you love sharing?
Whenever I meet people from diverse backgrounds, I'm always curious about their cultural bond with the ocean. In Iceland, we have a saying: „hafið gefur og hafið tekur“ which translates to „the ocean gives and the ocean takes.“ This adage is not just a reflection of our reliance on the ocean for survival over the past 1200 years, but also a somber reminder of the many loved ones we've lost to its harsh, cold embrace. I'm always fascinated to learn about how other cultures perceive and interact with the ocean, contrasting their experiences and sentiments with ours.
Do you run or have a favourite foundation towards Ocean protection / conservation ? What is your mission? Are you running a whale tour expedition with Karim?
My favorite ocean conservation organization is Kogia, a nonprofit media library and production studio dedicated to protecting marine life. What makes it truly special is its accessibility; it’s free to use for small ocean conservation organizations, marine scientists, activists, and artists who are working to protect our oceans. It’s an initiative close to my heart as it’s founded by my husband, Karim Iliya, and Nessim Stevenson. To me, Kogia exemplifies the joy of combining your passion and skill to contribute to our planet’s protection.
Next project, expedition or travel for this year?
My next big project is pre-seed fundraising for Melta and I’m incredibly excited to meet amazing investors dedicating their funds to protecting our planet.
What is your most memorable moment underwater?
Playing for hours with a juvenile humpback whale in Tonga. He was so curious and energetic and playful and I fell head over heels in love with him. It’s hard to describe the feeling of locking eyes and interacting with a whale, they’re such precious and magical beings.
Fav place to dive in the world?
I am very new to diving but I’ve been lucky to explore Swallows Cave in Tonga and Silfra fissure in Iceland and both are absolutely gorgeous.
All credit photos: @karimiliya