Tabea Oppliger is the visionary and pioneering spirit behind the social business A.I.R. - kitepride. She is married to Matthias with whom she founded Glowbalact, an NGO that is actively committed to the goal of ending modern day slavery. Since 2014 they live in Tel Aviv starting up the A.I.R. - kitepride, which offers safe employment for ex-victims of the sex industry. They have three children. Two sons - Leron 12. Ruven 10. One daughter. Liora 7.
Q . How did kite.pride come to be?
…Tabea O… The idea of a social business initially began with my family and I moving to Israel in 2014, but kite.pride itself was actually not put into place or became a working business in Tel Aviv until 2017. It originated from a Swiss kite surfer who knew about our cause of making old and broken new and beautiful which is the nature of the people we work with. She founded kite.pride but felt like she couldn’t take it to the next level of making it a business which is where we came into play. She knew we could make that happen so she handed it over to us, and here we are today!
Q . How do you view ethical/sustainable/green practices and how do they relate to you?
…Tabea O… I make sure I buy clothes for my family that are ethically made and fair trade, and for all my American readers out there check out “How many slaves work for you”
Personally I try to reduce the use of plastic bags to a minimum and recycle anything I can. Also I purchase food which is locally grown and in season and fairtrade.
At work, it obviously is something close to our heart because it is a huge part of what we do at kite.pride. Instead of trashing kites, we recycle them to be used again. We want to make a difference by reusing something to make something new which cuts down on pollution. We use someone else’s trash as our treasure to create jobs for those who others consider trash.
Q . Is what you do an occupation or a life love?
…Tabea O… It is a life love. I don’t have a choice because it’s such a deep part of me.
My biggest heartache is that people aren’t free. That leads me to my biggest passion which is to see them living in total freedom as is their right as a human being. That is a desire that never stops burning inside me. Never will.
Q . What was a major turning point in your life?
…Tabea O… That would have to be the moment I met a victim of trafficking face to face. She asked to kiss my infant daughter. She began to weep because she had all three of her children taken from her. I could see the pain in her eyes and hear it in her voice. That is something that will stay with me always.
Q . Who inspires you or is a role model in your life?
…Tabea O… I have always been incredibly inspired by Mother Theresa. Her entire life was centered around seeing the one and she didn’t mind getting her hands dirty. That is my goal. To always see the one. I have also been a great admirer of Rosa Parks because she was such a fierce fighter for justice even in the midst of the challenges of being a minority and a woman.
Q . What is some practical advice you would give to anyone following in your footsteps?
…Tabea O… First of all you need a team to make it happen. That is non-negotiable. It is absolutely impossible to succeed without a committed team around you. I would next say start by talking about your passion and see who captures the spark. That is where you find your team. The ones who catch the spark of your vision and are on fire about it with you. Lastly, I would say do what is in front of your feet with what you have and don't go looking too far. The big picture can be overwhelming. Take one step at a time. Good things take time. Don’t rush the process.
Q . Do you consider obstacles as opportunities to quit or to grow?
…Tabea O… Always an opportunity for growth. The word “quit” is not in my vocabulary. It is so vital that you surround yourself with people who see obstacles the same way so that you can push and encourage each other. No time for excuses or negativity.
Q . Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
…Tabea O… My whole goal is to inspire others to be the change they want to see in the world. And personally, I want to have opened more kite.prides in different cities on the globe so that we can help as many people to freedom as possible.
Q . What lasting impression would you like to make for kite.pride?
…Tabea O… It is my heart that I would have made everyone feel seen and heard and that they felt they had true freedom of choice.
Q . What goal do you have for your vision and for those carrying your vision?
…Tabea O… People above profit. It's always about people. Those on my team must have that same mindset.
Q . What would you want to be most remembered for?
…Tabea O… That I loved and lived. Fearlessly and selflessly. But most of all, that I added value to everyone who crossed my path. If I can accomplish that, then I will feel I have been successful. It is what we give not what we get that makes us a champion.
... To finish our conversation - who would you want to play your roll in a movie about your life?
…Tabea O… My daughter Liora. She is mini me and we have a very special bond. I would hope that I have lived a life that deeply inspired her and that she would want to emulate.
Q . What movie would best portray your heart and life?
…Tabea O… That would probably be The Blind Side for its theme of deep caring, courage, integrity, and lessons in perseverance.
Q . Where is your favorite place you have traveled?
…Tabea O… That's a hard one. I loved Hawaii and Australia and any tropical island where you can surf and kitesurf but I think it would have to be South Africa and Capetown is one of my favorite cities in the world. I really wouldn’t mind living there one day.
In 2018, we upcycled 420 kitesurfing kites, 23 sails AND provided 9506 hours of rehabilitation employment to men and women exiting the sex trafficking industry.
That is H.U.G.E.!