Tink Stephenson: The birth of ElementAll

Posted on May 30 2016

Tink Stephenson

ElementAll has been a long time in development. It is a labour of love and, in many respects more crucially, persistence. It began with me sitting on the floor of my bedroom as a little girl drawing clothes, particularly ballgowns inspired by flowers I’d find in my parents’ garden. It continued as doodles in lecture theatres while I studied law and art history at Victoria University. 

ElementAll began to take a much more focussed shape while I worked for an international animal welfare organisation in my thirties, travelling in and out of very different climates and social situations. I found myself wanting a small, highly versatile capsule wardrobe that could be rolled up and stuffed in a cabin bag, shaken gently out in a hotel room and transition from meeting with government representative to an encounter with a bear in a wildlife sanctuary. 

Several years later, back in New Zealand, I worked with a pattern maker (at this point I should own up to the fact that the only things I’ve ever sewn are a pillow case and apron at school) to develop the prototypes to take with me to the Costa Rican rainforest. I wanted to see how the pieces would perform in high humidity, knee deep in the jungle and then in a much cooler, more urban Vancouver which is where I was off to after my course. Long story short, they worked well. And continued to perform well as I made changes to the prototypes, gave them to friends, got feedback and made improvements.

So here we are, several years later, and in all honesty there have been many times I’ve thought that for me ElementAll has been as much about the process of design as the outcome. If it wasn’t for the decision to follow a design dream, I wouldn’t have ended up giving an annual lecture to fashion design students on sustainability and the apparel industry. I wouldn’t have travelled to Costa Rica to study biomimicry. And I wouldn’t be living on a beautiful piece of land on the Kāpiti Coast developing a permaculture farm. Such as been my process. However this creation, it would seem, has a life of its own and refuses to be let go. Friends have continued to order pieces share their stories, and squawk with distress when I’ve raised the possibility of winding it up, so I’ve decided to see what happens if I talk my walk, and spread the word more widely. 

Welcome to ElementAll, I’m so glad you’re here.

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