October 26, 2021
Capturing the essence of old California with confidence and ease, Iron and Resin is a reflection of the rugged spirit of the untamed American West. It’s no wonder that founder, Thom Hill, knows the better side of life – whether he’s surfing, riding motorcycles, or on any other adventure that begins where the pavement ends.
It was our pleasure to catch up with Thom about his source of inspiration, what shaped his brands, and the groundwork he’s worked tirelessly to establish.
How did Iron and Resin get its start?
I was born and raised in North Carolina, and came out here when I was 18. I told my parents I was going to school, but I really just wanted to surf. After UCSB, I started an apparel business, mostly just doing screen printing for bands in the music industry. I had a background in action sports, so a lot of my friends had skate shops. I started doing design and private label branding for retailers, which grew to the point where we were creating designs for nearly 1,000 surf shops across the country. We were deep in that for a long time.
Iron and Resin started as a passion project about 15 or 16 years ago in Santa Barbara, then we moved things down to Ventura. I grew up surfing, riding motorcycles, and spending so much time in the outdoors that we wanted to start something closer to heart. I put a small line together and it took off from there, and next thing you know, here we are all these years later.
From Ventura to Santa Barbara, what makes our stretch of the coast so special?
Growing up, the mountains and the beach were both 5 hours apart, so I could never get enough of either. Here, you can play in the mountains and the ocean on the same day, which makes this place really unique. We’re fortunate that we have access to all this beautiful, incredible outdoor space that’s right in our backyard – the ocean, the mountains, and everything in between.
A lot of our inspiration for Iron and Resin comes from that, and Ventura. I’ve been here for many years now and fell in love with this gritty, blue-collar town. We have an eclectic mix of great people in a tight-knit community, from surfers and cowboys to Hell’s Angels and oil workers.
Tell us about The Salt Ranch.
That’s all Laura. We both come from a ranching background, but Laura’s is more interesting than mine. She grew up as a Captain’s daughter on big commercial fishing boats, around ranching and horses. I didn’t have much exposure to that side of life until I met her. My background is surfing, moto, and the outdoors. Her’s is surfing and coastal ranching. The Salt Ranch is another lifestyle hybrid brand that started as a passion project. We’re both really into history and love the story and romance of Old California.
Are there any family heirlooms, souvenirs from past travels, or pieces in your home that carry a lot of meaning?
Now that all of our kids are out of the house, we’ve downsized. Well, we downsized and then made a sideways move. Right now, we live in La Conchita. It’s a really cool house with a small footprint. Everything in our home holds some kind of personal meaning to us. Momentos from travels and things that connect us in some way.
We recently bought a ranch in a remote part of the county, and have been spending a lot of time there. It’s been really cool connecting with the stories and history around us. Our neighbor has been there since 1850, from the Spanish Land Grant, and they’re still running cattle the same way they always have.
Over at Iron and Resin, we’re big fans of things that last. This means that if you’re going to buy something, buy something you can have for the rest of your life. Each fixture in our stores is either 75 or 100 years old. It’s probably repurposed from something I salvaged and turned into a retail fixture. The idea of longevity and having things that hold personal meaning from your travels, or a family member who has passed something along to you – surrounding yourself with these things is really important.
What can we expect next from Iron and Resin and The Salt Ranch?
Well, our store has been closed since COVID started. We’re in a 100-year-old brick building that’s conjoined with the space next to us and had to go through a massive earthquake retrofit. We knew we would close for 3 to 5 months while they did all the work, but the timing was a little funny in how it all worked out. We moved out our merchandise, but the pandemic started a week later, and the construction was pushed out 5 months. We’re hoping to finally reopen in November, which will be pretty exciting.
Out back, we’ll have three 40 ft. shipping containers that have been converted into a cafe. Next door, our neighbors have a speakeasy that you can enter through our backyard. That’ll be a whiskey/bourbon room with lots of outside seating. We’ll do events and things like that back there. It’s been a project we’ve been working on for about five years that’s finally coming to fruition.
Photos courtesy of Iron and Resin & The Salt Ranch