It’s hard to imagine that a 24-mile scenic highway could inspire a company to flourish, but in the hands of the right visionary, it’s entirely possible.
The highway in question is 30A, on North Florida’s Gulf Coast, and the visionary is Mike Ragsdale. This beach-loving, Jeep-driving marketer is the creative force behind the 30A Company, a beach-focused multimedia brand inspired by the two-lane road of the same name.
Established in 2007, 30A Company encompasses a website, an app and buzzing social media pages packed with the latest info on everything happening on Highway 30A (including the tide and fishing reports). The company’s retail division includes four brick-and-mortar stores across the 30A region, but its apparel is in stock at hundreds of retailers nationwide. The licensing arm of the company even includes wine and beer.
In 30A Company, Ragsdale has managed to build a living, breathing, burgeoning brand from a coastal road—but that’s just it. Florida’s 30A community is so much more than a scenic highway.
“30A can be a lot of different things to a lot of different people,” Ragsdale says. “But one thing it is for sure is a lifestyle, the feeling people get when they’re here. It’s the beach life they wish they could lead, because that’s really what it’s about: the beach.”
He’s right. The beaches along this stretch of the Florida panhandle are some of the prettiest in the United States. The soft, snow-white sand shines in the sun thanks to quartz crystals that pool here from the Appalachian Mountains, stopping just long enough to be admired before being swept out to sea.
As beautiful as its beaches are, however, it’s the communities that developed around them that put the area on the real estate map.
“We have incredible natural resources here,” Ragsdale says. “About 40 percent of the land here is protected natural habitat; we have five state parks, 25,000 acres of state forests, and we also have a building code that restricts heights to four stories tall.”
Tucked in between those natural resources is a string of communities, each with its own distinct architectural style. Beginning in the 1980s with Seaside, urban planners and architects aimed for inspired architecture that celebrated neighborly interactions and town centers.
“Then the designers came in and began filling those homes and communities with a unique style,” Ragsdale says. “As a result, 30A is very much for people who love design.”
Celebrating the people who built this community is how Ragsdale built the 30A brand. He’s a connector, a motivator, the local who’ll drop everything if your car battery gives out on your way home.
After several business failures, he and his family moved to the area nearly two decades ago for a fresh start. To him it’s a pleasure to share his love of 30A with the world.
“There is a sense of hospitality, of politeness, a genuine warm soul that’s here,” he says. “We’re pretty much where the South meets the beach. It’s not a road or even one community; it’s the lifestyle you adopt when you’re here.”
Ana Connery is former content director of Parenting, Babytalk, Pregnancy Planner and Conceive magazines as well as parenting.com.
While editor in chief of Florida Travel & Life magazine from 2006-2009, she covered the state’s real estate and home design market as well as travel destinations.
She’s held senior editorial positions at some of the country’s most celebrated magazines, including Latina, Fitness and Cooking Light, where she oversaw the brand’s “FitHouse” show home.
Ana’s expertise is frequently sought after for appearances on “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America” and CNN. She has interviewed the country’s top experts in a variety of fields, including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and First Lady Michelle Obama.