With Her UPF50 Shred Guards, Rachael Wixom’s Mission Is to Keep Your Grom Sun-safe and Cool

The salty life.

  • Category
    People
  • Written by
    Tanya Monaghan
  • Photographed by
    Joel Silva Photography

A California girl through and through, Rachael Wixom grew up in the San Francisco Bay area but has lived in Manhattan Beach for many years. As a mom of three young towheaded boys, she was often seen running with them in a stroller—with her perfectly bronzed skin, sun-kissed hair, sparkly green eyes and bright smile. Being outside in the South Bay is one of her great pleasures in life.

The Wixoms are a beach family. They live in Manhattan Beach, where Rachael and her husband, Tim, first met. “We have a small house, so the beach is like our yard,” she says. “Cooper, my eldest, grew up in the water. He would be in it from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on summer days. He would only get out to switch a surfboard and then go back in.”

As surfing became a huge part of their lives, Cooper would often come home with a sunburn and rash after spending so many hours a day in the water. Rachael looked for something he could wear underneath his wetsuit to act as a barrier, but she couldn’t find anything that would work the way she wanted it to. At first she settled on a Speedo but then thought she’d make one herself—but more her style.

“I’ve always loved prints,” she says. “Even as a little kid, my mom and I would always rotate different wallpapers.”

She went to work with a graphic designer to create one-of-a-kind prints for her line of rash guards, which are not only UV-protected and chlorine-resistant but also made from recycled materials. She made her first run in a print, and it started selling. “I started out small and kept my goals simple: If we turn a profit, I’ll do another run. And fortunately, I have squeaked by.”

Looking back at her journey, the dots connect but her path to swimwear entrepreneur was unusual. She attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, earning an economics and accounting degree, and spent a few years working financial jobs in San Francisco during the dot-com era before she met Tim.

She found the financial world unfulfilling, and it was a financial services recruiter who first pointed out that she was in the wrong industry. During the dead of winter in San Francisco, Rachel arrived for her interview in a crinkled, linen, pin-striped BCBG ensemble—amidst a sea of black-suited job seekers. “She took one look at me and said, ‘You don’t belong in finance. I have a job you will like a lot better,’” remembers Rachel.

That job turned out to be for fashion giant LVHM (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton), and the recruiter couldn’t have been more right. After her time at LVMH, she worked several other retail jobs, which gave her experience in merchandising and buying. Eager to learn more, Rachael made the move to Los Angeles and enrolled in design classes at L.A. Trade Technical College and Otis College of Art and Design. When her boys were born, she put her career on hold. But eventually it was her caring for them that inspired the Salty Grom line.

Featuring items for infants through kids size 14, her line has both delighted and protected young skin in equal measure. “The infant suits—little onesies that cover the body with an easy zip—are some of my best sellers. No one else seems to be doing them,” she shares.

The Tribal Collection, Hibiscus Collection and Birds of Paradise Collection make up Salty Grom’s most recent line for Summer 2021, available at ET Surf or on her website, thesaltygrom.com.

“Whether it’s on the beach, surfing, skimboarding, playing in the salty ocean waters or laying poolside,” Rachael smiles, “we got you covered.”

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