It's the best job in Ray Kelly's life
THE TWISTS and turns of life have delivered Ray Kelly into the Eumundi Markets family where his hand-made sandals are easing him into his senior years.
At 68 Ray is a pretty chilled kind of guy. Still a surfer at his home beach near Noosa twice a week, he is at work at the markets turning his eye and creative spirit to his unique offering of Nedz Sandals.
It's one of the very special characteristics of the markets that are celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
Ray says since he started visiting the markets over 20 years ago to enjoy the food and live music a lot has changed with the number of stalls almost tripling.
It's vibrancy and growth encouraged the former builder five years ago to revive his 70s leather-work business and open Nedz Sandals at the markets.
"I am the only one there that does it and because it's a hand-made product, people like that rather than buying an import which isn't as comfortable and not as well made," Ray said.
"I make them there on site. I bring all my soles and leather bits. People go off for coffee and something to eat for about 45 minutes and I custom-make to suit larger or smaller feet."
The leather is soft, the soles are padded to make them gentler on the feet and mould to the foot shape, and the colour choices are broad.
And if you have one foot bigger than the other, like a lot people, Ray is a magician at catering for that too. "I did shoes for one lady who had one size six foot and one size seven foot."
He's had customers come back after three and four years, still wearing their Nedz Sandals.
"It's not hard work, it's creative and it keeps the mind active," Ray said.
"The good thing about the market is there is always many new people and it's a very social atmosphere. It's like a big family with all the other stallholders.
"It's a very pleasant place to work, in fact, it's probably the best job I have ever had in my life."