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Designer Spotlight: Sonja den Elzen

By Meg | Women
Posted Feb 18, 2013

Thieves Boutique offered a carefully curated collection of the most innovative, quality ethical fashion for men and women in Toronto. It was the spring of 2012, when this gem shut its doors as a commitment to practicing values integral to sustainability.  Closing one door opened another.  Now living part-time in Tulum, Mexico owner/designer Sonja den Elzen tells us about the future of Thieves and her new sustainable yoga line Zen Nomad.

How did you explain winding down Thieves to your fans?

It was intended as a sabbatical. It is a story with a pause for thought and recharging, to bringing it back to its creative core and inspiration.  My nomadic sabbatical journey has brought me to realizing the importance to have peace in my life and taking time to nurture things that bring me this.

Was there a catalyst that made your pursue a sabbatical?

No particular catalyst; at a certain point a call for life balance was kicking in.  Designing is my passion, but the other aspects of the store were taking up 90 percent of my life and making me feel stress and disconnected.  I decided that connection and peace of mind, body and spirit had higher priority over working long hours for the satisfaction of ego.

What was the hardest part of shutting down the boutique?

The hardest part was realizing that I was ending an era. I really loved the space that was created there; having that space to host events, and a gallery to create a dreamscape to offer as an experience to people.

What attracted you to Tulum and yoga?

When I decided to close the store, I wanted to travel. This was the perfect opportunity to do a yoga teacher training, a longstanding intention. After I travelled [to] Mexico, one of my last stops was Tulum. Here I find it easy to be in the moment, to go with the flow of life without being attached to the things or ideas of the ego that seem to be deeper set in city life.

How does Zen Nomad fit into the yoga apparel landscape?

Zen Nomad connects to what yoga is all about. Zen is a state of being; of non-judgment, of non-harmfulness… the ability to observe and be.  It is about being connected to the flow of nature and beauty. Being at peace with the perfectly imperfect just as nature is perfectly imperfect.

Tell us about the future of Thieves and Zen Nomad.

I am slowly returning to the desire to create unique, limited pieces for Thieves. It will not be in line with the current fashion calendar, but in my own calendar of galactic timing.  I will release them as they are ready online, through gallery shows and in collaborations with like minded artists. Thieves will become my artist’s playground.

Zen Nomad will be the line I nurture as a business. The yoga line it will follow more of a business schedule and roll out through retailers in North America, as the team that will be connected to it builds. I have realized that it is important to work collectively with projects in order to grow and still enjoy life!


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