Our Story - Karen

You might be surprised to hear Colour Elements  was  established because of Karen’s complete ineptitude at putting outfits together…

 

Usually fashion business stories involve a founder who has always loved fashion and was constantly styling her friends and family but this story is the complete opposite.

 

Karen stood in a boutique in Greenwich Village, NYC, with a gift of money from friends for her birthday.  She’d been asked to spend  the money on clothes for herself, not her kids, but she felt at a complete loss and labelled herself a failure.

“I always loved to play around with my identity through clothes, I was the girl that wore her great-grandmother’s  full-length, velvet opera coat everyday outerwear.  But although I thought that I was being individual I now realise that I looked to everyone else for guidance on how I should be – whether that was copying friends or looking at magazines to be told what would be in fashion next season.  Working as a paediatric nurse gave me a uniform to wear at work and as I settled into my 20’s I opted for variations of jeans and T shirts when I was off duty.

 

After studying at university and having three children I questioned my initial career “choice”.  My fascination had always been people – how they operated, how they interacted, how they coped with difficult situations.   My work abroad and studies in social anthropology had increased my interest in how people tick, but my decision to pursue a career in style happened after a night out with my future business partner.  We had 5 children between us so we planned a business that involved regular “me-treats” and training in New York!  A year earlier I had bought a skirt in a fabulous Greenwich Village boutique but it still lay unworn in my wardrobe.  It was time to re-visit that disaster and gain the style knowledge to ensure I knew how to dress myself in the future.

 

Since training in NYC in 2006 I’ve worked with over a thousand customers and my interest in identity and how we see ourselves has only increased further.  I really love working  with customers as they explore who they are, give themselves time to think about their current lifestyle and consider how their appearance can be developed to reflect all of these things.  That process can seem quite daunting but fashion brings  creativity and energy into the mix.  I’ve discovered that it’s not that difficult to work out what clothes work best for our body shapes and style preferences.  It just takes a bit of time, that’s the tricky bit – giving ourselves permission to work out what works best for us.  I still make occasional mistakes buying clothes but I make far less than before.

 

Developing a system to make our service available to customers online has been pretty crazy, there’s been a lot of soul-searching!  But it’s also been a fantastic experience. There’s power within each of us to do amazing things and sometimes just seeing ourselves from a new perspective is enough to convince us of that.  That’s why Colour Elements exists, there would be no point to it otherwise.  It’s to make it easy to wear clothes that reflect all that’s wonderful about the person wearing them.”

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