“I had been getting these coasters for as long as I had been visiting New Orleans.” Says Ruby Guarnero, co-owner of RuByzaar. She learned a lot about San Antonio’s sister city through these trinkets emblazoned with famous landmarks and local hangouts. “And then I thought, Hold on. We can do that here in San Antonio. We have icons.”
On one rainy October weekend in 2015, Ruby made it a reality with the help of her now fiancé, Steven Delgado. They created several coasters with pictures of local spots they loved like The Institute of Texan Cultures.
Soon after posting pics of their creations on Facebook, Ruby and Steven got messages from interested buyers. What soon began as sales through social media resulted in a debut at Alamo Street Eat Bar on First Friday. “That was our very first ‘First Friday.’ I remember we sold 15 coasters and we were so excited.” Ruby laughs.
RuByzaar owners Ruby and Steven Guarnero greet customers during First Friday at Brick, a venue located at the Blue Star Complex. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
Most of the pictures, which they take themselves, draw inspiration from living downtown. “After we met,” says Steven, “We found out we only lived two or three blocks from each other.” To this day, their favorite activity is walking around downtown enjoying the sights. “There’s all this cool architecture that’s unique to San Antonio,” he says, “And we just really appreciate the culture.”
Ruby says ideas for new products, which now include t-shirts and Koozies, are usually spur of the moment. “One day I was on a bike ride and took a pic of the VFW, that big white house off Broadway. Another day, I was at a concert at Lone Star so I took a picture of the Lone Star Brewery sign on the building.”
Reactions to their creations range from mass appeal to personal gratitude.
“Even though it’s just a coaster,” she says, “It’s something you can look at forever.” Ruby believes that something simple can have a substantial impact. When Luis Muñoz, the producer, director and artist behind the iconic ‘I Love Tacos So Much’ and ‘I Love My Spurs’ murals, was raising money from his work to donate to charities such as CASA, RuByzaar pitched in to help and donated proceeds from coasters featuring the two iconic murals.
Steven and Ruby Guarnero pose for a photo at Brick during First Friday. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
They’ve come a long way since that rainy weekend in October 2015. RuByzaar is now a partner of the Tricentennial, and will design creations to celebrate San Antonio’s 300th Birthday. This October, Steven and Ruby will get married, exactly four years to the day after they met. “The ceremony will take place near the flagpoles at the main entrance of the Institute of Texan Cultures, with the Tower of Americas looking down at us.”
That’s what makes RuByzaar’s creations so sincere: They tell the story of the city through the story of Steven and Ruby.