Boss in the Bay State: Melanie O’Neil

June 5, 2023  | 

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Introduce yourself! Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Melanie O’Neil, part executive, part entrepreneur, 2 parts adventure seeker and 8 parts auntie.

I am one half of the husband and wife duo that founded Rustic Marlin, a home décor & lifestyle brand based in Hanover, MA. I spend my days wearing many hats (which I love!) from being the face of our business (still undecided how I like this role!), to rolling up my sleeves along the team as we work on a new store (where I’ve learned how much more talented my team is at merchandising than I am!) to creating spreadsheets (you know, the fun stuff!) and so much more. Every day is different and (usually) I live for challenges and using my innovative leadership spirit!

I grew up in Everett (yep, I’m a true city girl!), am a graduate of Stonehill College (loved!) and earned my Master’s Degree from Boston College (go Eagles!). I am now a Scituate local along with my husband and enjoy living by the sea for inspiration and recharging.

What made you want to start your business?

When my husband and I were planning our wedding and renovating our home, we couldn’t find gifts for our wedding, so we did what any DIY couple would do (right!?) and used extra wood from the project to make a few signs. These signs were a hit and we soon found ourselves fulfilling requests out of our home. We have quickly grown from just the two of us to a team of over 30 talented artisans and craftsmen, handcrafting products in our 50,000-square-foot production facility in coastal Massachusetts!

What do you love the most about working in Massachusetts?

I was born and raised in Massachusetts, so it only made sense to start our business in the place we knew best. Since the beginning, we have built an amazing network of other small businesses and mentors who have helped us along this journey and have been invaluable to our growth. Also, our entire product line is created from meaningful words and images and we live in the most beautiful location. From the Cape to Boston to Newburyport and beyond – the inspiration is unlimited!

What are your favorite small businesses to support in Massachusetts?

Oh, there are so many! I have favorite local coffee shops such as Lucky Finn and Slacktide, favorite jewelry including Nautically Northern, T. Jazelle and Allison Cole and favorite boutique stores such as The Welch Company in Scituate, Oropa in Duxbury and Locally Yours in Plymouth.

What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned throughout your career?

Hard work will pay off! There are often times when you look at those around you who may be doing the so-called bare minimum and you find yourself going above and beyond and your brain starts to wonder why you are trying so hard. I promise – you are learning something or somebody will notice and it will pay off. The knowledge, experience, and connections that result from hard work are invaluable! When I started my business, some of the leaders from Reebok where I worked in my 20s called when they saw what I was doing and said – how can I support you? I never thought this is where I would be, but those phone calls were beyond invaluable and something I will never forget!

If you weren’t in your current position, what would your next dream job be?

A power washer on Nantucket! I love how clean it looks after you power wash as it is a great sense of accomplishment, and I can listen to my podcasts at the same time. And if you are going to have a dream, you might as well do it in a place you love!

When you’re not working, what activities do you enjoy?

I love to spend time with my husband or my nieces and nephews exploring, having an adventure, or just laughing! I enjoy wine nights on the deck or the beach with my ladies or playing PickleBall with a group of friends.

Thank you for sharing more about yourself! Tell us how we can get in touch with you or find you online.

You can learn more about Rustic Marlin through our website and connect with me via Instagram and LinkedIn.

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