FROM THE BEGINNING
Tinka the Label started when a young teenage girl was in desperate need of finding the right accessories for her high school formal. Unable to find what she envisioned, she instead decided to make it. What had started as a means to an end, Erin soon found herself spending every spare minute and dollar she earned, developing her newly obsessed craft.
But with travel always on her mind, it would be years of backpacking off the beaten track and curing those itchy, unsettled feet, before she would relocate to Australia and find a new home in Melbourne.
With her worldly heart and eye for detail, Erin’s passion for design was driven purely by the desire to create jewellery that would accurately express her and her many personalities.
IT STARTED WITH A GIFT
"Making jewellery was just something I loved"
Before Tinka was even a thought, let alone a business, Erin designed purely out of passion. Although she didn’t realise the potential at the time, the one thing she never questioned was the symbol of her designs.
“I gifted this piece for my sister's bday when I had returned home from travelling & picked up my tools for the first time in years. I had bought a random gift box and drawn my “logo” onto a piece of paper, stuck on with glue”.
And if memory serves her well, this may be the very first piece in which she discovered the repurposing of vintage goods.
"All the pieces in this necklace were from Mum's old jewellery. Some earrings, some necklaces. I dismantled the lot & salvaged what I could. It made the piece more special for my sister as it was handmade by her baby sister and included parts of Mum"
ONE MAN'S TRASH...
With pieces made of vintage and recycled components treasured by loved ones of the past or found in charity stores, Erin loved the idea of the story that these pieces brought.
"Each piece has a story, some I know, others a mystery, but I find that interesting, knowing that these materials have experienced another life of some sort"
Due to the nature of the materials, these pieces cannot be replicated, which Erin believes adds value to the piece.
"Knowing only you, and you alone would have that piece, makes it all the more special".
And having witnessed her sister's reaction to Erin's first upcycled piece, Erin knew this was an experience she wanted to relive.
THAT'S A WRAP
But before the signature pink & gold box, Tinka's gift packaging had a far more homely appearance.
"I wanted the packaging to look as though it was gift wrapped by a loved one"
With this in mind, Erin had her jewellery encased within an ivory organza pouch, nestled within a brown paper-mâché gift box, sealed with linen & mesh ribbon, and made complete with a hand-tied bow of gold twine.
Adding to the personal touch was a thank you card with the inscription "you are one of a kind". A play on words for at this stage in business, all of Erin's designs were one of a kind.
"As I started to make more sales, I realised making only 1 of each design wouldn't be a viable business".
Not wanting to make mass amounts, which Erin admits is not only because it goes against her beliefs of sustainable fashion, but also because she hates repetition (the very idea of making the one-piece multiple times is like nails on a chalkboard).
"I'm a Gemini so naturally I get bored easily".
With this in mind, Erin decided instead to make her jewellery of limited editions, keeping only her upcycled collection exclusively as one-off designs.
THE NAME GAME
"Your name represents who you are, what you stand for".
To some, this may appear to be a relatively easy task, but for Erin, deciding on her brand's name was one of the hardest decisions she's had to make.
Having played with a handful of potential names, including the use of her full name Erin Browne, there was only one that remained strongly in mind, Tinka. Undeniably Erin's favourite Disney character, Tinkerbell was unlike the other childhood heroines we grew to love and idolize; she was sassy, fearless, feminine, and beautiful in her unique way.
"I resonate with Tinkerbell in many ways; not only her personality but the very thing her name stands for".
Unable to sketch or draw her visions, Erin's design process lays all in the manner of experimenting with objects until creation is made, making her the very definition of a tinker.
With both the characteristics and definition of Tinker working seamlessly together and her name now ruled out as a contender, Erin felt as though she still needed to connect personally to the brand's name; and she knew exactly how she was going to do it.
THE LOGO MOTION
Despite the uncertainties that came with naming her label, Erin never questioned the brand's logo.
As a child, Erin always dreamt of being famous and would romance the idea by practicing her autograph. With her freehand creatively cursing her initials, she soon pictured the 'E' and 'B' resembling wings of a butterfly; a creature Erin has always felt deeply connected to.
Illustrating both her name and the symbol of the free, at twenty-one, Erin had this tattooed on her left wrist to serve as a reminder to never forget who you are.
With the brand's name and logo a natural fit, only one thing remained, crossing the "T" and dotting the "I". With the 'eb' butterfly succeeding the title, it sits carefully positioned ready to take flight as it embarks on a new journey.