Once upon a time, a Danish girl by the name of Elisabeth Rolskov went backpacking. Little did she know, that her trip would be the start of a happy and successful life in Southeast Asia.
Before leaving, her sister told her not to fall in love in Asia and never return. Elisabeth reassured the sister, that she had nothing to worry about.
Took a chance
Not long after, the then 20-year-old Elisabeth met her future husband. A handsome Vietnamese guy who grew up in Norway from the age of eight.
“To me, he was very inspiring and adventurous, with the mix of being Vietnamese while still knowing all about Norwegian culture and language,” Elisabeth tells as she is looking back.
Elisabeth did return back to her hometown Sønder Vissing in Denmark as promised, but not for long. She quickly decided to take a chance and move to Hong Kong, where she enrolled in one of the city’s top design schools.
“My husband, was living in Hong Kong at that time. He works in finance. And in Denmark we are privileged enough to be able to take those kinds of chances. So I thought, why not.”
Left Hong Kong for Guangzhou
But Hong Kong is an expensive city and the school didn’t live up to the expectations. After one year in Hong Kong, she therefore decided to move to China and continue her education there. Elisabeth managed to find Raffles design school in Guangzhou that originates from Singapore. A school with the best possible facilities for an aspiring designer.
“In China you can get almost any material you desire, which is pretty incredible as a design student,” Elisabeth shares.
After yet another year studying in China, while her future husband would commute back and forth between Hong Kong and Guangzhou, they got the opportunity to move Vietnam.
10 years with ER Couture
They both moved to Ho Chi Minh City, where Elisabeth finished design school and got offered a part time job teaching. Next to that, she started her first brand ER Couture. A clothing brand designed for western women living in southeast Asia.
10 years she spent developing ER Couture into a success. She had eight seamstresses working at her showroom along with a constructor, while she had the items exported to Denmark produced at a friend’s factory in Vietnam.
In 2019, only a few months before Covid, she decided to sell out the stock and close down her business.
“There were a lot of personal aspects leading to it and I was just burnt out at the end. I wasn’t inspired anymore and you need to feel inspired when you work with something creative like fashion.”
Covid led her back to being creative
Covid in Ho Chi Minh City was rough. City patrol would lockdown the area in District 2, where the family of now four lives. Elisabeth would therefore spend her new found time homeschooling and trying to keep her two boys busy with different creative projects. One of them was Resin.
“I saw it on TikTok. Of course, it didn’t look as difficult as it actually is. So, I thought it might be a fun project for the boys. Instead, I was the one who ended up hooked on it,” Elisabeth shares with a sweet grin and sparkling eyes.
This is now three years ago. At first resin became a hobby that had Elisabeth explore and regain her creativity. But slowly people started asking her where to buy her things. She started to realize, that this might be more than a hobby and that she should come up with a name for her new found passion.
“Here people call me Eli, and I feel like I’ve found my element, so that is why I came up with Eliment.”
It was never really her intention to start a new brand, it just kind of happened.
Eliment is a resin-based lifestyle brand consisting of mainly jewelry, but also other decorative items sold as high-end souvenirs and gifts.
“What is so exciting about working with resin is, that there are really no limits to what you can create with it. It takes it 24 hours to dry, so that gives you a long time to get the product right,” she shares.
With Eliment she gets to use her design degree, but she feels like she gets to use her creativity more freely than she did designing clothes.
“At the end, we had this standard design that was used for many of the pieces. It worked, but it wasn’t very creative. With Eliment I constantly have to be creative by finding solutions to make the design work. I think I just like to experiment. Sometimes it’s just fun not knowing how things will turn out.”
Combining Scandinavia and Southeast Asia
The design is inspired by a mixture of Scandinavian design, with the beauty of Southeast Asian nature. Depicturing tropical flowers and exotic animals, but with a modern and slightly minimalistic touch, that makes it suitable for her mostly western clientele.
“I wanted to create something that western tourist can buy as a souvenir. Something that has that Asian element, but still goes with the more minimalistic western style. Something unique and handmade,” Elisabeth explains while making it clear, that she hopes to have more Asian customers as well, and not just be a souvenir-brand.
Since she decided to officially launch the brand, she has been doing a couple of pop-up events and is now selling through different vendors in the city. Just recently she set up a Lazada-shop, hoping to reach more local customers.
“Honestly, when we first had kids, I thought we would go back to Denmark. But had we done that, I wouldn’t be here today. We may have many opportunities in Denmark when it comes to education etc. But in Denmark you have to do what is considered the “right thing”. Here you have the opportunity to follow your passion, which is what I have done.”