Crystal Cooper

A late-night conversation between father and daughter cemented a deep desire within Crystal Cooper to build a career around her lifestyle, rather than the other way around. And for Crystal, that meant surfing.

Beginning her competitive career as a teenager, Crystal found that as much as she loved being in the water, she was inspired by the brands that sponsored her. That inspiration soon blossomed into Salty Sweet Clothing, a brand that, according to Crystal, is “about going surfing with the boys, but having a pretty pedicure, too.”

What began as a garage-based screen printing business is now one of the industry’s only by-women, for-women brands. Building Salty Sweet from homemade t-shirt shop to worldwide online retailer has been a crash course in business, as well as in balancing life in general. “Salty Sweet is all about balance,” Crystal explains. “If you have a positive attitude, it’ll create balance naturally.” 

Live every day with intention. Just get up, be thankful for what you have and enjoy what you do.

What inspired you to launch your own surf wear company?

This has been something I've wanted to do for a very long time. I began surfing in local contests when I was about 15 years old. From that point on, I was sponsored by different companies, including Angel Eyewear, Cobian shoes and Lost Clothing. Being a member of surf teams made me want to have my own. It was a natural progression for me. I would go to the Surf Expo and just listen in on how they showed their clothing lines to potential buyers and kept notes of what worked and what didn't. I guess I just always knew deep down this is what I would end up doing, so I was constantly planning for it. 

I had my daughter in 2006 and lost my father (and biggest supporter) in 2007. Losing him at age 50 made me realize how quickly life can go by and to really enjoy the time I have and follow my dream.

I managed a health club for five years so I could keep my daughter at work with me and save up some money. Once she was old enough to go to school, I started a screen printing business out of my home. This allowed me to create anything I wanted in my garage and also earn a living while learning the apparel industry and still be a mom. I sometimes worked in the garage until 2 a.m., but it was always worth it.

There is no one in the surf industry that is really owned by and dedicated solely to women surfers. Salty Sweet fills this hole; we are about the camaraderie between all of us girls who love the ocean. To support and encourage one another is the message we share.

What does your job involve on a daily basis, and what types of responsibilities do you have in your position?

It varies day to day. Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of my time editing photos from our last studio shoot, designing our new racks for retail accounts, printing, packaging and shipping online orders, keeping up with our social media accounts and budgeting. We’re ready to start selling wholesale to surf shops and boutiques, so a lot of my time is now spent preparing for that step.

What is your favorite part of running your business? 

Every day, I get to do what I have wanted to do my whole life. From planning photo shoots and editing photos to printing one-of-a-kind shirts, creating the collection's designs and seeing strangers out and about wearing my clothes. There’s so much I love about Salty Sweet.

What challenges keep you awake at night?

I used to stress a lot more than I do now. Now I feel a sense of control over it all—but I went through a couple years of sleepless nights to get to this point, though! Then I learned to take problems and road blocks one step at a time and grew confidence in myself and my work ethic.

Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?

Salty Sweet is about balance. I believe that balance is key to happiness. It can be very stressful, but I always know it will pass and to just try to take things gracefully. If you have a positive attitude, it’ll create balance naturally.

Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I can't believe I have this job?" What was it?

I've been having a lot of those lately! We’re finding our place in the huge world of online clothing stores. Waking up to orders from all over the world is a great way to wake up. It's just now starting to get real for us and I’m so excited! We’ve laid the foundation for the company and now we’re experiencing one exciting opportunity to grow after another.

What are some of the rules you live by? 

Live every day with intention. Just get up, be thankful for what you have and enjoy what you do.

What qualities does one need to possess to be successful in your line of work?

You have to be willing to work when everyone else is playing, that's for sure. Having my supportive boyfriend beside me, as well as all the people who have supported us since day one, is the reason I've made it this far. You have to keep pushing through when you feel like you can't do it anymore. Stay focused and surround yourself with inspiring and strong people.

What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?

Write down your goals and always believe you can achieve them.

Why will our readers love

When you purchase from us, you know you’re supporting a small, privately owned company created for all the right reasons. We take pride in every single piece we make and it shows. You feel good when you wear our clothing and you instantly become part of the Salty Sweet Family.