Behind the Brand- Little Ray

With a background in fashion, Celeste Kinkead-Weekes had a dream to create her own sustainable swimwear brand for children. Little Ray reflects the same value that she puts on family, connection, quality and sustainability
 
The inspiration behind the brand’s name came from a story that her grandmother told. She said that at the time Celeste was born she was listening to the song “A little ray of sunshine”. Growing up she would say “your smile is as warm and welcoming as a little ray of sunshine” and that was the inspiration behind the name Little Ray. 
 
Celeste wants her customers to feel warm and welcome and adds “Imagine walking into your friends back garden where children are running around and jumping in the pool. You are met with radiating smiles that welcome you in. The smell of sunscreen and BBQ is in the air. There’s watermelon on platters and the drinks are cold. Friends are talking and laughing into the late afternoon. The sun is warm and golden and the sky is as pretty as a picture. This is Little Ray.”

Congratulations on your first range for Little Ray Swimwear! 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BRAND AND HOW IT CAME ABOUT? 

“In 2018, we moved from Melbourne to a coastal town in the Bellarine Peninsula. The surf was good, the community was small and the pace was slow. This change in pace gave us the time to reflect on what we wanted in our professional and personal lives.
 
I took a year out from my full-time job as a social worker and started working on a sustainable swimwear brand. I worked with an agency that aligned us with ethical manufacturers in Bali because It was important for us to work with a business that was connected to its employees and the community.
 
As a consumer and mother, I want to buy with a conscience. As a designer, I want to sell my brand consciously. That’s what Little Ray is all about.”
 

With a focus on a slower pace and sustainability, WHAT ARE the key principles of Little Ray Swimwear?   

“The pace of this business is not fast, but considered and reflective. Little Ray uses regenerated nylons from reused fishing nets and oceans plastics from a company called ECONYL. Our board shorts are made with REPREVE®, another amazing company that recycles plastic bottles.
 
We will continue to work with companies that focus on improving their practices around the production of regenerative fabrics.

What is your mission?

“Little Ray supports the growth and awareness of ethical manufacturing. We are committed to using products that will not contribute to landfill.
 
We want to create connections with our clients and the people we work with to create beautiful, ethical, sustainable swimwear.
 
Being new to this business we may make some mistakes along the way. The sustainability landscape is forever changing. We see this as an exciting opportunity to challenge the norm and succeed in creating a sustainable and ethical brand.”

We love the mix of prints and colour blocked styles. Tell us about the design process and what inspires your collections? 

“After studying art and fashion design, I went to London where I worked on international and Australian labels. I attended Paris Fashion Weeks and that period in my life definitely influenced my style. Combine this with my love of the 70’s and for Frida Kahlo and boom… you have Little Ray!
 
The prints we offer are two of my great loves. The liberty-style floral takes inspiration from the colours of the Australian coast. The vintage 70’s wide stripe is a signature print for Little Ray which will appear in our coming ranges.”

What are the biggest challenges of owning a business? 

“Running a business means daily challenges! I find it’s important not to see challenges as negative because challenges and change are a constant in our lives. I’ve found they always teach me the most.
 
I was accepted into The Difference Incubator, a Melbourne based organisation that works with small businesses to assist with identifying their mission and goals for social impact change. This experience has guided me through various challenges of starting up a new business.
 
Although the industry is embracing ethical and sustainable practices, it will always be a challenge to find suppliers that embrace an ethical way of working.”
 

What is the most rewarding part of your business? 

“I’ve loved getting to know the Balinese culture, the people and their warmth and kindness. I am proud of Little Ray’s commitment to sustainability and reducing our environmental impact by choosing not to be a fast-fashion brand.
 
Also: 
The people I have met and the time I have been able to spend with my family
All the love and support I have been awarded in this process and discovering the exceptional skills of my friends
Seeing the photos from my first ever campaign was so special. 
Truly, the list is endless.”

What is one piece of advice you wish you had known prior to starting your business?  

The biggest piece of advice would be to ask for help. Accept it when you don’t know something or don’t feel confident enough to undertake it. Talk to people who have different skill sets. In the process, I have either educated myself or have understood that certain tasks need to be outsourced!
 
Another piece of advice is to listen to your inner voice.
 
I had the opportunity to work with a large manufacturer who had 30+ years of experience in the industry. Given that it was Little Ray’s first collection I wanted everything to run smoothly. So going with that manufacturer might have been the easier option. But, I always felt strongly about working with a small manufacturer with the same values as Little Ray. Now I am proud that I didn’t take that road and instead, listened to my inner voice and trusted in that.”

What are your hopes for the future with LITTLE RAY?

“I am focused on nailing the product styles, shapes and fits, and the prints. We have some fun resort wear items coming soon so keep an eye out for that! Little Ray is looking at diversifying and expanding the product range. We want to have fun with more prints and shapes. There may even be some personalisations in the future.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Nikole Ramsay

Similar Articles

Leaf Grow Baby Rocker
Bright Minimalist Bedroom
Smallist 2nd Birthday Giveaway

Minty Magazine 15 is here!

All the latest inspo for your kids rooms and more!

Shop Brands We Love

Our smallist directory is a curated list of Australian kids brands that we love.

Search