I’m asked this question often, and, well, the answers requires a bit of a story…. (pauses dramatically). A nerdy story.
When I’m not researching and reproducing historical sewing, one of my other great loves is linguistics. My first language is English, but I did the majority of my schooling from kindergarten onwards in French, and from there I have dabbled in Spanish, German, Japanese and Italian. Lest you begin to think this is an impressive feat, you should know it was more a practice of quantity over quality that in the end mostly served to muddy my ability to form proper English sentences, rather than making me eloquent in others. I enjoyed the connection to other cultures and worlds it offered. Although, my own shyness meant I was always better at listening than finding the words myself and speaking. Having not used these skills recently, these languages now sit dust-covered in a dark cobweb-filled corner of my brain ready to be re-awoken one day. However, my love of language remains a constant.
A few years after I had finished my studies, when I had finally worked up the courage to maybe try and make this passion for bringing beautiful clothing to life a “thing”, it came time to pick a company name. I was drawn to the idea of “Atelier” because I liked the focus on craftsmanship it captured. Though my atelier/workroom at the time was really just a corner of our tiny old townhouse apartment, it worked for me.
As I was passing through a brief foray into old norse at the time (I did warn you this was a NERDY story, right?), I was drawn to a word I had found- Elska. It was an old word that was not only a great deal of fun to say, it also had a beautiful history. Early versions of this word meant something along the lines of to cultivate, cherish, love. (If you’re interested, you can have a bit more of a read about the word itself here.) A little more care and love is exactly what I wanted to bring to fashion. It was perfect. A workroom/atelier cultivating, cherishing, and creating things from a place of love. It spoke to me. I threw in the “D’ ” from my minglings with the french language (to capture that “from”ness), and tah dah! Atelier d’Elska was born. Awkward? Yes. Should I have gone with some sewing-related play on words instead? Probably. But it was a name beloved and cherished by me. It reminded me of what I was doing at the heart of it all. It helped put a bit of extra spring in my step waking in the morning to start the work of the day. So business naming rules aside, I kept it. I gave myself at least SOME business points for the alliteration of “D’Elska Dressmaking”.
In 2017 I dropped the apostrophe, and updated my business name to simply “Atelier Delska”. So it has proudly remained. And there you have it, a complete business name origin story!