Q+A with owners Melanie and Brian O’Neil
By Maria Allen
Product styling and photography by Ladybug Photography
Portraits by Jack foley
Specializing in hand-painted signs, decorative wood blocks and personalized home accessories, Rustic Marlin is mecca to seasonal decor lovers. The Hanover-based company is an inspiring made-in-America success story. We sat down with owners Melanie and Brian O’Neil to learn more about the rapid expansion of the business and the couple’s recent move to Scituate. We’ve also included a few tips for decorating your home—Rustic Marlin-style
Rustic Marlin was listed on The Boston Business Journal’s list of the fastest-growing private companies in Massachusetts. Can you give me a sense for how much the company has grown?
We founded Rustic Marlin in 2012, when we were getting ready to tie the knot. After searching tirelessly for the perfect gifts, we decided to craft our own rustic signs using scrap wood from a recent home project. The signs were a hit and fulfilling personalized sign requests soon became more than just a weekend project. In 2015 we sold over
$1 million worth of products out of our home. In 2016 we moved into a large manufacturing space in Hanover. In 2019 we expanded our product assortment to include textiles such as pillows, tea towels and totes. Our team has grown from just the two of us into a talented team of over 40 craftsmen, designers and artists.
What do you think has been the driver of this rapid growth?
When we made our first signs, we had no idea that so many people were searching for unique products designed just for them. Our American-made decor captures the essence of life’s milestone moments. Consumers want high-quality decor that is personalized and meaningful. Retailers seek premium products designed specifically for their consumers. We put a little charm and personal touch into each and every piece.
How did moving to the Hanover headquarters influence your business?
We moved in August of 2016 but it was another year before we had desks and any resemblance of a corporate headquarters. We had been living in Millis, Massachusetts. We originally moved out that way before Rustic Marlin was even an ideas. As the business grew, we had to search for commercial space to fit our needs. We looked in the MetroWest area as well as throughout the South Shore before deciding to move into the old Building 19 location. Brian grew up in Scituate and we have family in the area so this also had some influence over the business move.