Evelyn Ginossi of Marine + Vine
Meet Evelyn Ginossi, founder of Marine + Vine, a California-based body care brand inspired by the South of France.
Born from Ginossi’s time summering in France, Marine + Vine’s debut launch, a dry body oil that features Tahitian Monoï Oil, is an homage to French Polynesia. While building Marine + Vine from the ground up and growing a body care brand that encompasses her love for both The South of France, and her Los Angeles roots, Evelyn also works in real estate law, and runs a law practice, taking her brand from side-hustle to full blown empire while managing another business during the day.
As Marine + Vine grows, Evelyn continually takes on new challenges, from ingredients and packaging, to formulation, and the perils of outsourcing tasks to contractors. Throughout those challenges, she’s worked to solidify a name for Marine + Vine as an indie beauty brand, bringing a little taste of France to the Western world.
I chatted with Evelyn about everything from the inspiration behind the brand’s signature Tahitian Oil, to how she juggles running both a startup and a law practice.
THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED AND CONDENSED FOR BREVITY AND CLARITY.
WHAT LED YOU TO START MARINE + VINE?
“ I was born and raised in Los Angeles in the South Bay, so the beach has always been a really integral part of my life. I went to UC Santa Barbara and then I went on to LA for law school. The LA lifestyle has always been a good fit for me. And then about 10 years ago, I needed a change and decided I needed to re-design the next 10 years of my life and see if there was something else that I could do. I decided to move to London, which was a huge leap for me, but something I had wanted to do, but put on the back burner. Once I moved there, I started my own law practice and it was tough; there were a lot of changes and I got really homesick and I mostly missed the beach because London doesn’t have much of that. By chance, I ended up going to the South of France and I loved it and felt really at home. Starting from that point, it really changed my point of view and perspective on everything, being able to go to France every Summer and spend a few weeks there. While I was there, I started trying a lot of body care products. I really loved different oils that I was finding, and it really clicked for me one day that there’s isn’t really anything like this in LA and it’s really hard for me to get these things back home, so what if I brought some of the South of France back to LA? It was really that curiosity that developed into a passion, because I researched the different ingredients that were used and I learned about fragrance and I wanted to built something bigger than just a small-batch body care brand. That’s how everything started, I started buying ingredients myself and mixing things, experimenting with fragrance, and learning everything I could about all of the different pieces. It took me about 2 years to put all of the pieces together in a way that I was proud of, and that was my best representation of my life in the South of France.”
Tell me more about some of the ingredients that are in your signature tahitian oil.
“The primary ingredient that we use is Monoï Oil, which is a coconut oil that is infused with the Tahitian Gardenia, it’s called the Tiaré flower. It goes through a very special process which is protected by French law, so essentially, real Monoï Oil can only be made in French Polynesia. Because of that, I thought it was a really special starting point. It’s something that’s often used in different body care companies in France, it’s used as an all-purpose oil for hair and body, but I really wanted to focus on Monoï as a coconut oil for body care because it’s so rich in fatty acids and there are so many nutritive benefits. Playing with the idea of having this French Polynesian ingredient, I really wanted to heighten that sense as well, and i wanted to pair it with an equally tropical fragrance that was representative of French Polynesia, but also soft and not so harsh tropical floral. I wanted to get the right balance, a delicate balance of a light tropical fragrance that was also very summery. I also really wanted to heighten the benefit of different tropical oils, so I decided to blend the Monoï with Kukui [oil], Macadamia [Nut Oil], and Passionfruit Oil, which are all amazing in their own right, but together, the blend is really high and potent in Vitamin E and Omega Fatty Acids, which are essentially what bring nutrition to the skin. The other part of it is that the experience of using a body oil is a little bit messy sometimes, and so that was something that I also struggled with because sometimes I would buy body oils and it takes forever to rub it, or it feels like it never really absorbs into your skin. I’ve had summer dresses ruined, I’ve stained clothing, etc. So I wanted to create a dry body oil experience from natural ingredients. So, [Tahitian Oil], it’s lighter than traditional body oils, so you’re able to spray it through a fine perfume bottle, and it also rubs in really well; there’s a natural ingredient that’s used in order to give better absorption into the skin, so that after you shower and use Tahitian Oil, it leaves you with a soft finish that’s not overly greasy. That was really important for me.”
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU AS AN ENTREPRENEUR?
“A pretty early start. I can’t help but tackle emails first thing in the morning. I always make time to workout. At the moment, I’m still juggling my profession, my law practice, as well as running Marine + Vine, so days are super super long. There’s no avoiding that right now, being a new company and trying to get traction and develop relationships with the right people and make sure that the brand is still true and authentic to my vision, it requires a lot of groundwork from me. After the gym, it’s back to working on different aspects [of the brand]. It can be anything from answering questions from my PR, to coordinating on different sales issues, working on social media - I work with that really closely, all of the product photography was initially done by me. I like to fine tune my eye and my vision of what I see for Tahitian Oil because it’s still a young company, there’s a lot that I feel I still need to nurture in the business to make sure that it grows properly and is authentic to my original intention.”
MANAGING MARINE + VINE AND ALSO YOUR LAW PRACTICE, WHAT TOOLS DO YOU USE TO STAY ORGANIZED AND MANAGE YOUR TIME?
“It’s funny, I am still old school and I love pen and paper. As much as I try to become 100% digitized, I always think quickest pen to paper, so I’m able to outline and I’m able to draft things, sometimes map out what I want to see. I use a lot of pen and paper, but that is the quickest way for me to organize my thoughts. I spent so much time in front of my computer, it’s almost a welcome break to step aside and go back to a blank sheet of paper and map out everything that I need to do in a day and then work out a plan from that point. I haven’t found anything that’s quite as effective for me.”
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG WOMEN WHO ARE LOOKING TO START AND BUILD THEIR OWN BRANDS AND COMPANIES?
“I learned this the hard way when I was younger, you need to learn a little of everything and you can’t rely on other people having 100% of the answers for you. For one reason, if it’s your vision, you need to be hands on, on a lot of different aspects and you’ll get so much further if you have a little bit of a sense of what goes into [your business]. For instance, if you know nothing about web design, it can become a very expensive exercise and with an end result you might not be very happy with. At least knowing the foundation of building a website, a little bit of legal sense, accounting, etc., all of that comes together and it might not save you time, but in the end, what you build is something that you can depend on and has a stronger foundation when you’re overseeing the pieces. A lot of women don’t have the luxury of being able to outsource everything. The most expensive lessons I’ve learned have been giving up control in an area too soon when I could have done a little more research and legwork to figure out exactly what it was that I needed. That being said, in terms of research, it’s all about talking to people and picking peoples brains, not just reading online. Figuring out the best past for you is pretty integral, and along the way, you might meet the right person who is gonna fit perfectly into your business and is going to help you grow, but initially, you need to do the legwork.”
WHAT BIG PROJECTS DO YOU HAVE PLANNED FOR 2019?
“I guess the biggest project is the continued growth of Tahitian oil and expanding our wholesale and retail presence. Also, being a new brand, there’s a lot of foundational growth that needs to happen. I’m also working on the second formulation for Marine + Vine, that entails both formulation, and packaging design, bottles, etc. It’s going to be really busy, but we’re looking to really grow this year and start to make a name [for the brand].”