Celeste, born and raised in San Diego, California has a strong connection to Belize. Her mother, Adela Pederson is originally of the Corozal District. Some years ago, Celeste visited Belize with the intention to remain one month in San Pedro but the Jewel’s charm turned her stay into one year and that’s where the company name Barracuda Bikini was coined. “I wanted a name that would identify my brand as a Belizean brand without being too blunt, like Bikini’s Belize,” said Celeste. She thought of things that are abundant in Belize and iguanas came to mind but Iguana Bikini was a no-no. Then barracudas came to mind and that led to Barracuda Bikini. She confesses the name made sense “because I don’t wake up early and whenever I go [by] the docks to buy fish, all they have is barracuda.”
People who hear the name think it’s catchy, as are the company’s products that are bold, personalized, and distinctive. Celeste herself is quiet and she believes she is an introvert but her creations are nothing short of daring, creative, effervescent, affording its owners a unique expression of their own personalities. Celeste’s keen eye for detail has paid off: “Just by the way that someone wears their hair or their posture you can get a feel for how they are, like how elegant or how laid back, and just by talking a little bit. Usually that’s enough for me to base it upon and give them a bikini and usually, they’ve always been thrilled with the results.”
Barracuda Bikini’s consumer-flattering designs showcase in San Diego during Bikini Week, a big bikini fashion runway event across the US. In its early years when Barracuda Bikini was participating in its first Bikini Week, Celeste was disappointed to see only 4 of its designs on the runway for the opening event. She thought “were they not good enough? Did they not like them? I had no idea what was going on. So I was devastated. I was heartbroken.” But it turned out to be a case of saving the best for last. “Then at the end of the show, for the grand finale, then all my bikinis came out. So they actually ended up being the pick of the show, so that was exciting!” said an enthusiastic Celeste.
Having come so far and now looking forward to a bright future, Celeste says Barracuda Bikini, along with its Marketing manager Richard Serrano will continue to do what it does, meaning focus on organic marketing devoid of the big marketing campaigns with billboards and magazine ads, characteristic of the major brands. In fact, barracuda Bikini got started with social media (did someone say Facebook?). The company, according to its star designer prides itself in taking time to build the brand, ensuring that all its customers are very happy.
And while the company continues to expand its customer base internationally, Belize will continue to loom large in the future of Barracuda Bikini as according to Celeste, the company plans to shoot yearly promotional videos in the Jewel, having partnered with Conch Creative out of San Pedro. She is currently in Belize shooting this year’s marketing campaign. The Barracuda Bikini models will be hosting their after party on June 18 at Karma Lounge.
Beyond Barracuda Bikini activities, Celeste’s mom, Adela, also promotes Belize abroad. She is the President of the Consortium for Belizean Development in San Diego that fosters Belizean culture and keeps it alive for Belizean Americans who have not been back to Belize. They host weekly meetings featuring everything Belizean, including food and music and Celeste herself participates in teaching Punta to the San Diego community.
The self-made designer has come full circle from what she wanted to become as a child to the career she is currently pursuing. With her interest in sewing, at a very young age, Celeste wanted to become a fashion designer like her older sister. That later changed to being a doctor or pilot simply because it seemed those were the money-making careers. But she has actually ended up doing what she loves, and profitably so! Despite the love of her trade however, she had to work pretty hard, pulling off all-nighters in her kitchen with her sewing machine. She admits she is surprised at how far the company has come.
As an accomplished young entrepreneur, Celeste’s advice to youth with big dreams is “If you love something do it; and you’ll be surprised the money will come along later on. Just do it because you love it!”
(Barracuda Bikini’s products can be purchased online at www.barracudabikini.com)
Article written by Alindy Amaya, KREM Radio News Editor