Leonelle is the beautiful brand of Australian boss babe, Britnee Rees. Her love affair with nature and all things beachy inspired her to create her dream label, at just 23 years of age. She knew that a change was needed in the fashion industry, which led her to take a sustainable approach to business. Timeless styles and bold cuts, sweet hues and high-quality finishes is the goal that Leonelle continually works towards.
1. What inspired you to design swimwear?
At first, I thought I was crazy to even consider designing swimwear (Having no fashion or design experience). The thing that really pushed me was the lack of affordable, high-quality swimwear available in the market at the time. I wanted to create pieces that were comfortable and that would last more than one summer. Growing up I was lucky enough to always have a pool, I quite often lived in my bikinis through out the warmer months. It was imperative that I invest in the best swimwear fabrics available to withstand the harsh Australian elements. I am all about creating quality products that are affordable and accessible to everyone.
2. You mentioned that you had no design experience, how did you overcome this challenge?
Research! Research! Research! I attended google university (I don't think I have graduated just yet). It was a long and slow start. I was very much out of my comfort zone. I had this tunnel vision of how I wanted it all to look. I was focused on just making a start despite my lack of design and business knowledge. I taught myself how to use Adobe Illustrator and the rest was history. I found a wonderful manufacturer in Bali that really helped bring my vision to life. When people say that passion fuels purpose, it is 100% true! The passion I have for my brand has helped me overcome so many challenges.
3. Do you think you will expand your product range?
Yes! when I first started I thought I would only do swimwear. I had a full re-brand just 6 months after launching. I dropped the original name as it didn't fit my overall vision. I realised I didn't want to restrict myself to one particular product. Having a sustainable product range is always at the forefront of my mind, so researching and learning about the materials does take a bit of time. It is definitely something that I will be working towards.
4. How did you come up with the brand name?
It was an interesting process. I wanted a name that would evoke feelings of being a carefree, fierce female. Thanks to my good friend google, I found that the 'Latin' meaning of Leonelle was lioness. I instantly fell in love with it. You may notice the little lioness figure inside the 'O' of Leonelle. It serves as a reminder to always be fierce. Also, I am a Leo. It really aligned with me.
5. How do you want other girls to feel when they wear Leonelle?
From the moment they put on a Leonelle bikini, I want them to feel inspired and confident. To me, confidence radiates from within. I don't want to hear the phrase "I'm not bikini ready". That is something I use to hear a lot in my late teens and sometimes even now. Once you allow and give yourself permission to feel good, you will feel confident and that is where true happiness begins. Let out your inner glow girl!
6. When can we expect to see some new styles?
Soon! very soon... I have been working hard behind the scenes. The upcoming collection is actually Leonelle's first ever print. It is highly anticipated and almost a year in the making. It will be available in six sizes (new sizing). It will be produced in very limited quantities and launching just in time for Australian summer.
7. Why is sustainability so important to you?
Having a sustainable brand is the way of the future. If we aren't collectively trying to minimise our environmental impact, what hope do we have to create positive change. Leonelle may be a small business but it is a brand built with sustainability at it's heart. The swimwear is made from regenerated nylon fiber from fishnets and other nylon waste found in the sea. Not only does this eco-friendly swimwear help reduce waste and landfill, but it also helps save the lives of animals we share the oceans with. I am proud to also be supporting One Tree Planted, a tree is planted with every order. Click here to learn more.
8. What do you like to do in your down time?
I am a very simple gal. I love a good sunrise/sunset and spending time in nature. Whether that is sitting by the ocean or camping in the wilderness. Enjoying amazing food with great friends. It's life's little moments that truly fill my soul.
9. What does your morning routine look like?
I love moving my body in the mornings. I try to dedicate an hour to read, exercise and meditate. It is my hour of power, it really is a great way to start the day. It helps me stay focused on my goals and sets me up for a productive day.
10. Are you a sweet or savoury kind of girl?
Definitely savoury everyday of the week. If you ask me, would I like fries with that... The answer will always be yes!
11. If you could pick one place to travel to right now, where would it be?
That is a tough one. There is so many places in the world I would love to go. Right now, I am really wander lusting over the Greek Islands.
12. What piece of advice would you give to those who are looking to launch their own online swimwear business or just go into any business for themselves?
Start before you are ready. If you are sitting back waiting for everything to be perfect, you will never get anywhere. When you decide to go for it and just make a start, you inadvertently turn your emotion into energy, your energy into action, and your action into something meaningful. This is when momentum steps in and lends a hand.
You can find me on Instagram at @britneerees