How a Melbourne-based creative turned a spontaneous DIY project into a thriving business

Image via Ocray44

Words by Stephanie Chadwick

Sun protection you actually want to be seen in.

You have probably unknowingly seen an Ocray44 cap appear in your Instagram feed thanks to the wonders of the algorithm, or if you are like me you have stalked its page to determine which colour would best suit your aesthetic (you can’t go wrong with the orange).

Founded by Melburnian Zoe Crow, Ocray44 was initially created in the spur of the moment when she realised she didn’t own any caps she liked. But it’s quickly proved itself to be the ideal hat to wear to practically any location – the local pool, a cute dinner out, a seedy house party or to shield your face from potential eyewitnesses on hungover mornings. 

Keep up to date with emerging, Australian brands over at our Fashion section. 

No two hats are the same becauseZoe hand bleaches each and every one, so you never have to worry about accidentally twinning with someone. Ocray44’s signature floral caps have, however,  become a conversation starter amongst wearers and sparked new friendships. 

Zoe has big plans for the brand including stocking Ocray44’s products in stores and soon expanding into apparel. I grabbed a little bit of her time to find out what it’s like to run an Instagram page turned flourishing eCommerce business.

Where does your brand’s name ‘Ocray44’ come from?

I was actually at a friends house when I wore the hat and they were like you should make an Instagram for it and sell them! I was trying to come up with names and I was a bit drunk and thought of my last name but in pig Latin. The next day I looked it up and it wasn’t actually my last name in pig Latin but I thought it was at the time. Then 44 is just my favourite number – it’s a favourite number in my family that has been recurring in our lives. We are not very superstitious but we all love that number! So yeah, I sort of just put the two together and that’s my brand name.


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A post shared by Rachel Cornelius (@cornstagram_)

What initially inspired you to start hand bleaching caps?

I came home from uni one day, it was a really sunny day and I started walking around thinking I don’t have any caps in my house. I don’t really know where it fully came from – I just sort of sat down one day and I had some bleach in the laundry and I was like ‘Oh I might try a design on my hat.’ I remember doing it and thinking ‘Oh that looks really cool, I might buy a couple more and sell them on Depop. I went to my friend’s that night and they were like “No, sell them on Instagram!” The hats were originally just a design I made for myself to wear.

When did you first realise Ocray44 was a viable business?

It was when I started having orders coming through and I was doing it all through Instagram before I had a website. One of my housemates helped me make this really big Excel spreadsheet. I remember sitting up one night until 2am just filling out this spreadsheet and making sure all the orders were right. I had about eighty on the spreadsheet and started freaking out thinking this is bigger than I ever thought it would be. So I ended up getting a website but that was definitely a turning point. It was a very stressful time but it was also a heartwarming time.

Where do you find the inspiration for your designs?

I remember actually in uni one day we were looking through a lot of archival Commes Des Garçons pieces. I think that is subliminally where it came from because I saw this really beautiful Commes Des Garçons jacket with all these like messy flowers on it. I think that could have sparked the inspiration for me for the following week.


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A post shared by @ocray44

Why did you choose to centre your current collection around a floral design?

I definitely think the way the flowers have been styled and I guess the pieces have been styled, I think is what I really love about it. I feel it’s very similar to me, I feel like I definitely have a lot of that mix between very feminine and also very edgy. I think putting something so feminine like a flower on something like a cap which is usually not the most feminine article of clothing and seeing the way people style it as well. It is really beautiful seeing people mix the two.

Do you hope to expand Ocray44’s collection to include apparel in the future?

I’ve been looking at doing hoodies and scarves for winter and hopefully doing beanies. I do want to keep the floral design but I am thinking of trying something new. I think hoodies will be a good next step.

What is it like seeing your caps out in the wild?

I think that is the most rewarding part of what I’m doing at the moment. It’s so crazy, I’ve met so many cool people who I see wear them out every time I go out to a bar or a club which is super fun! I remember one time I was wearing my cap and I met this girl, a really confident girl – she was so funny. Her name was Summer and she ran up to me and said “Oh my god, I have the same hat!” and I was like “That’s so nice, it’s my brand!” We ended up having such a fun night and she bought a drink for me. That’s my favourite part about the brand I think, seeing people wear them out and connecting with them in that way.

Check out Ocray44’s hand bleached accessories range here.

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