You may be up to your eyeballs in snow at the moment, but the sun and beach are in sight. Spring break is on the horizon. No matter what tropical destination you’re headed to, there’s no reason to ever walk on a beach or lay poolside without feeling great about your styling fun-in-the-sun essentials. We’re talking sunnies, a good book, a swimsuit, some SPF and the oft-overlooked towel. Beach-lover, mom and maker Erin O’Neil filled us in on her beach towel business, Ruby Mint. Read on to see what inspires Erin, what goes into the towel-making process and how you can up your own beach towel game.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m originally from Laguna Beach and have lived in the seaside destination most of my life. I am a beach girl through and through: I thrive on Vitamin C, my feet are always sandy and I swim in the sea as often as I can. My world revolves around the beach and beach lifestyle. Most importantly, the inspiration behind Ruby Mint is my two-year-old daughter Ryan Ruby (hence the brand name). I started developing the brand when my babe was three months old (albeit it had been an idea for many years prior). I knew I didn’t want to go back to working 50+ hours a week at another corporate fashion/marketing job and miss out on raising my daughter on my own. For the short time my little gal has been in my life, she has taught me invaluable life, work and ownership lessons that I couldn’t learn at any other company than my own.
Why did you decide to start Ruby Mint?
I felt like there was a lack in the market for quality, stylish beach towels. I’d seen both women and men, mostly women, paying attention and spending money on all their other beach accessories including swimwear, beach bags, high-end sunglasses and sunscreens, then pulling a ratty old beach towel from the ’90s out of their chic beach bag. It was the missing piece in beach accessories that no one was really paying attention to or designing and selling.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Collections take their cue from my upbringing on the beach. My girlfriends are a major inspiration: Their beach style is organic as most have grown up on the beach and don’t just adhere to trends; they’re the women that design and create the sought-after beach style seen out there.
What does the making process look like for you?
It’s creative but also quite technical. When I sought out to create beach towels, I didn’t really understand the jacquard weaving process and its design restrictions. I spent months corresponding with designers and mills in an effort to better understand the technique and its technology.
Firstly, I sketch the pattern desired and work with a graphic designer to develop the patterns. I call out Pantone colors to get the exact hue desired. Once designs are complete, I send them in full-scale files to my manufacturer. They then dye thread samples to match the Pantone numbers and send me a few of each hue to pick the exact color I desire. Upon approval of colors, actual towel samples are woven and sent for inspection. Minor changes may be made, but my manufacturer creates superior quality products. Then towels go to production and the rest is history.
What are your perfect-beach-day essentials?
Vanity Fair magazine, zinc sunscreen, a bottle of chilled rose and smash ball. Diapers, sand toys and snacks are essential for my daughter, Ryan Ruby.
What other creative hobbies do you have?
Building sandcastles (always modern architecture) on the beach with my daughter and crafting refreshing cocktails and meals with family and friends.
Tell us how technology has changed and supported what you do.
Technology is a huge factor in my business as I correspond with overseas manufacturers, designers, press and retailers on a daily basis. Everything I do to promote and support Ruby Mint is completed via technology, whether it be email, design programs or social media.
Ready for you very own Ruby Mint towel? Visit the Brit + Co Shop!