ELÍSABET ELFA ARNARSDÓTTIR
Adventurous. Inquisitive. Creative. Driven. Elísabet Elfa is hard to pin down – because of her unending energy – but easy to describe. She warms you with her smile, impresses you with her perception and quickly becomes a person you want to be around.
Perhaps because her native Iceland is so small, maybe because it’s so wild and raw forcing you to focus, but Elísabet sees the details in the everyday. It’s by seeing the details that she’s won awards for her designs; it’s by seeing the details that she’s be able to develop products to fill market gaps; it’s by seeing the details that means she will go above and beyond what’s required of her.
The outdoors is her inspiration and where she feels most at home. When she was little she didn’t need man-made toys or entertainment. Nature was her playground. This playfulness continues today. Whether ski-touring, climbing or hiking, Elísabet always has a spring in her step and a curiosity that leads her off the trail and into the unknown.
She first voyaged into the void by designing her own outdoor gear as a teenager. She was fed up with oversized hand-me-downs from family members. She wanted to feel feminine, to look feminine, but still venture out in rain, wind and snow in comfort.
Studying design, however, was not a natural evolution. Elísabet’s passion for all things wild and free led her to natural science studies. But a last minute change set her down a different path. One that would eventually allow her to combine her love for nature with her passion for design.
Studying in Denmark, away from home, away from nature, Elísabet longed for the ruggedness of Iceland. To feel the wind whip up her hair, leaving a salty taste on her lips and glowing cheeks. But she persevered, studying sustainable design and kindling a new-found enthusiasm for all things eco.
After competing on a TV clothes design show in Iceland, more studying, travel, and work in an outdoor apparel store in Reykjavik, Elísabet took the next giant leap. This one took her across the Atlantic to the warm, sunny shores of Southern California and to one of the world’s most iconic outdoor brands: Patagonia.
The internship opened doors. But, more importantly, it opened Elísabet’s eyes. It was possible to combine all the things that inspired and excited her into one life and career. Dreams don’t just happen while we sleep. Now was the time to capitalise on everything she’d learned, the people she’d med, the experiences she’d been through. Back to the Nordics she went, this time for a full-time position at Fjällräven.
Elísabet’s designs have come to define the modern trekking collections at the Swedish outdoor brand. Her Abisko Trekking Tights even created a genre, winning her awards and recognition – and a much-needed confidence boost – in the process.
She continues to develop, both personally and professionally. She has faced hardship and come out of it stronger, more mature and wistful. She continues to inspire her friends, family and colleagues. She will always bring a smile to my face, that’s for sure. She’s one of those people that will start the day as your colleague, but will end it as your friend.
By Sarah Benton – friend first, colleague second
Social Media Manager & Digital Copywriter at Fjällräven International
Elísabet Elfa is a designer at Patagonia. Her design aspirations go beyond creating a perfect product to encompass its minimal or even positive impact in terms of sustainability. Elísabet completed her studies in 2013 with a Bachelor's degree in Sustainable Fashion Design at the Copenhagen School of Design and Technology and spent the first six years of her career as a member of the Fjällräven design team. Her products have won numerous international awards, for example as the overall winner and recipient of the sustainability award at the Scandinavian Outdoor Awards, the ISPO Award for Outer Down Layer and Best Backpacking Equipment of the Year by Backpacker Magazine. Alongside her other work, Elísabet was involved in the design and development module of the so-called Higg Index, a web-based tool for teaching and evaluating products with regard to various environmental factors. (January 2020)