Local Gem In Laguna Beach: Ruby Mint’s Erin O’Neil

Newly Minted

When you envision the archetypal California girl, it’s likely a lithe, Laguna Beach lady like Erin O’Neil whose smile is as sunny as her hometown. Who better to swoop in and singlehandedly upgrade the beachgoer’s towel game than a former swimwear model that spent her formative years splashing around in the Pacific surf? After recognizing a serious draught in the upmarket beach blanket category, Erin went to work researching quality fabrics, dependable manufacturers and fresh designs. Soon after, Ruby Mint was born. An intersection of fashion and function, this is the kind of entrepreneurial origin story we just can’t get enough of. So we met the budding businesswoman on the shores of Victoria Beach to talk margaritas, homemade potato chips and the wisdom of ‘the more, the merrier’ (and had a blast in the process).

‘Laguna’ like a local.

I love La Sirena for gourmet Mexican bites and the best margarita in town. Zinc Café is my go-to for coffee and pastries. Another favorite: tidepools at Victoria Beach with my daughter. We orient our days around high tide lately to make sure the pool is full. The Saturday morning farmers’ market in downtown Laguna is always wonderful – you’re guaranteed to find fresh ingredients, and you’ll run into longtime friends and colleagues as well as new friends made at the park or the beach.

In stores and online.

Locally, The Shop. has an incredible selection of beach-chic goodies, from swimwear to sunblock (and of course, RUBY MINT beach towels!). And Laguna Supply is a great resource for elevated basics. I LOVE Shopbop for all things stylish – talk about expertly curated. I’m also a big J. Crew and Madewell fan. 

Welcome to the club.

The beach is where I go to recharge – it’s also the driving force behind RUBY MINT. Travel is a major influence for our designs. Late last spring, I traveled to the South of France and was super inspired by the beach club lifestyle. As a result, I based my 2016 collection off of ‘classic beach’: think bold hues, umbrella patterns, and fun stripes.

Life (and work’s) a beach!

Growing up in Laguna, I spent nearly every afternoon after school at the beach and in the ocean. The beach lifestyle has been and continues to be a significant and inspirational component in my everyday life. A couple of years ago, I noticed the lack of quality, luxury beach towels on the market. Great swimwear was plenty accessible, yet beachgoers were still toting their ratty old towel from the 90’s to the beach (myself included). When I had my daughter Ryan Ruby in early 2013, it was the perfect time to start researching the market and manufacturers. One year later, the brand was launched with two styles. This year, year two, there are six.

Born, raised and thriving.

Laguna is so special to me in so many ways. I grew up here, made lifelong friends here, started my family here, and now my business. I’ve found the community to be so friendly and supportive, in both personal and business relationships. I love to ride the trolley around town in summertime, stopping at local coves to snorkel – that’s classic Laguna to me. In terms of traditions, we try to get down to the beach for sunset as often as possible.

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Barbecues and sandy toes.

Entertaining in Laguna is casual with an “anything goes” feel. Especially during the summer, our home tends to be the go-to for gatherings, as everyone heads up from the beach to our house. There is never a set dinner time. Meals usually consist of something barbecued, and include fresh ingredients from the Saturday morning farmers’ market. Since we all have little ones, everyone is out of the house by 9 – it’s PERFECT.

No taco left behind.

When it comes to having people over, I’ve embraced ‘the more, the merrier’. At first, I struggled with this concept and wanted to have a solid head count, a set table and an organized menu. My fiancé has broken me of this habit, and I’m really starting to enjoy a more relaxed entertaining style. I do, however, like a little theme, be it Mexican with tacos and margaritas, or Southern-style with fried chicken and mashed potatoes. We always produce too much food: no one leaves our house hungry!

Worth her salt.

We always have plenty of wine in the house: our new go-to is chilled red blends. We either have the Paul Simon or Hawaiian Pandora station on. And pink Himalayan sea salt is our pantry secret: equally great for margaritas and Caprese salads.

Cashing in the chips.

My fiancé just started making homemade potato chips and they are ridiculously good! Think rosemary sea salt or truffle oil. We are also really into the simple, delicious Caprese salad: tomatoes, mozzarella, smoked sea salt and basil. And fresh made guacamole tends to be a guest favorite (the secret is lots of fresh squeezed lime!) – of course best served with locally produced Have’a Corn Chips.

On an island in the sun.

I love Kauai – it’s easy to get to, the water is warm and the poke is great. I am dying to get over to Australia. I just love their style. I never go anywhere without sunglasses. Even if it’s slightly drizzling, I’m wearing them.


Looking for more Laguna stories? See the full Gather Collection.

Contributing Photography: Helen Brooks

© Gather’s Local Gem interview with Laguna Beach beach towels entrepreneur Erin O’Neil of Ruby Mint.