The Story Behind the Dreamy Olivia + Ocean and Little Minis Collaboration

Photos: Kelly Mckee-Zajfen

When two beloved brands team up, you can definitely expect magic to come out of it. Stylish kids swimsuit label Olivia + Ocean has joined forces with cult-favorite kids fashion brand Little Minis on the sweetest little swimsuits we've ever seen. Although the limited-edition collection officially launches on Friday, May 12 at 9am PST, Fashion Mamas scored an exclusive interview with Olivia + Ocean founder Danielle Estrada and Little Minis founder Kelly Mckee-Zajfen (both FM members!) to share how this genius synergy came to be.

How did you two meet and what inspired you to collaborate?

Danielle: We met via social media. We had mutual friends and I took notice of Kelly’s twins. They are the cutest pair and so photogenic, just like their mama! I invited them to participate in our lookbook shoot for our spring 2017 collection last December, and our friendship grew naturally from there.

Kelly: I fell in love with Danielle and her story. She's an amazing business owner and mama. The more we spoke, the more we had in common and I knew we would have to do something together!

How many pieces are in the collection, what is the price point, and what is the size range?

Danielle: There are three pieces in the collection — the Malibu One Piece in Vintage Rose, the Malibu One Piece in Super Lily, and the Monica Bikini in Tropical Splash. They are priced at $85 and are being offered in size 6 months to 6T. 

Kelly: We had originally wanted two but fell hard when we saw how amazing it turned out so added one more.

What was the design process like? Was it truly a collaborative process?

Danielle: It started as just a fun conversation, like "Wouldn’t it be cool if…" and then it quickly became a real thing! I liked the concept of using deadstock fabric to create a limited-edition line of swimsuits as Kelly would for her dress brand, Little Minis. As a company, we have similar values when it comes to ethical product development. We combined those values and positioned them at the heart of this collection. All of our collaboration suits are made from deadstock fabric and manufactured here in Los Angeles. It is important to both of us to feel confident about the work environment of our suit makers and minimize our impact on the environment.

We agreed to use Olivia + Ocean suit patterns, so the next collaboration piece was the fabric. Kelly has such a great eye for classic-fun prints. She went fabric hunting and presented the patterns she was feeling. We eventually narrowed it down to three prints, together. Working with Kelly was a breeze. Communication lines were always open and we clicked as creatives and mothers. It made the entire process such a blast!  

We love the vintage feel of the swimsuits. What types of imagery did you place on your moodboard when designing the pieces? 

Danielle: When it comes to designing the suit patterns, I went old school. I have a book I keep on my nightstand and flip through all the time. It covers the evolution of swimwear over the last 100 years. I always find myself drawn to the '50s, '60s and '70s looks. They are so classic and rooted in nostalgia. I also love how they celebrate a real woman’s body. These things definitely influenced my design process.  

Kelly: I wanted the suit fabrics to be very much on-brand with Little Minis. It was so important to incorporate florals because I am such a sucker for them and always use them in every season. The suit was already perfection, but combining half deadstock and half Olivia & Ocean signature color palettes made it so fun. I think what came out of our collaboration is truly special!

It’s so cute that your girls are the models for this campaign. Any tricks for encouraging little ones to perform during modeling gigs? Besides loads of sugar, of course.

Danielle: Oh, I have a lot of tips! All of which I have acquired through learning the hard way. In my experience, four-year olds are the sweet spot. They eat up being the center of attention and can take direction really well. Always have lollipops on deck. Bring snacks and drinks for the kids that will not make a mess and or stain your product when they spill, because they will. Always, consider nap schedules. You do not want a model fresh off naptime. Separate the mamas from the shoot. In most cases, having them crouching behind the photographer trying to give direction stresses the child out. It is best if the child can connect with the photographer one-on-one, that’s when they are the most natural and you get the best shots.

Kelly: I have to say, Lily and George are crazy naturals at this! I don’t need too much bribing as they sort of just love the process and seeing their images after the fact! I tell them always to be funny, silly, and theirselves. Some of the best photos are of them being just goofy. 

Will you be teaming up on a boys collection in the future? 

Danielle: Maybe! We are open to seeing where this first collection takes us. I am currently designing a new style for boys for next spring at Olivia + Ocean and I’ve already been shooting ideas over to Kelly. As a boy mama that I trust, love, and respect, she will play a role in the new design one way or another. I truly believe that having friends like her and collaboration amongst mamas is everything. I'm so grateful to have her in my circle.

Kelly: I would love it! The conversation is already in motion and it would be so fun to get some amazing boy prints and shorts rocking soon! She is the very best. And man, was this fun and easy.

The first (of hopefully many!) Olivia + Ocean x Little Minis swimsuit collaboration launches on Friday, May 12 at 9am PST. Follow @oliviaandocean and @littleminis to follow their adventures.