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St. John's-native Tiffany Elton (a.k.a. Luka-Sky) has launched her first clothing line from Montreal

Tiffany Elton describes Luka-Sky, her alter-ego, as "definitely feisty, happy-go-lucky, everything I was too shy to be when I was younger. Artistic and a little bit dark - but fun." Elton, 26, was born and raised in St. John's. A singer, songwriter, musician and visual artist, she was given her nickname at 15 - from Luka, the Suzanne Vega song she played relentlessly on guitar, and the day she exclaimed, "Look at the sky!" Her friend put the phrases together, and Luka-Sky was born.

"I started drawing pictures of Luka-Sky and a little comic strip, and she became sort of an artistic outlet," Elton says. "When I drew her, I drew her wearing clothes I wanted to wear." Now Luka-Sky Designs is a line of funky, punky, and well-priced clothing for women, complemented by Loki, clothes for the "perfect partner in crime."

By 19, Elton was a hairstylist in St. John's, but, with the encouragement of some friends, she moved to Montreal and enrolled in a one-year intensive fashion-design program at the International Academy of Design. She went on to LaSalle College for courses in fashion marketing. ("Math finally became relevant to me, in a fashion-buying and accounting kind of way," she laughs.)

After a few years of working in the fashion and hairstyling industries in Montreal, Elton decided it was time to make a move. Full of ideas, energy, and determination, she applied for and received a grant from Jeunes Voluntaires, a Quebec-based organization. The grant gave her 10 months to ramp up her business and develop a website and an initial offering of clothes. Those 10 months are almost up, and Luka-Sky.com is a professional, working web boutique.

"This line, which is basically my artwork printed on clothing, is a gateway to start getting the Luka-Sky and Loki names out there," Elton says. "With the images, it's easier to get a style across so people can understand what it's all about." Elton says she's inspired by "old-school skateboard graphics. I grew up around skateboarding and comic books basically, it's everything that's in my head. I do a lot of goddesses too; I'm interested in Buddhism and Zen-type things inspire me. "And I'm really into hardcore rock 'n' roll "

The end products - hoodies, T-shirts, skirts, tanks and dresses - are decorated with a creative mix everything from skulls and guns to swallows and flowers to Jesus. There's also an '80s-inspired Madonna dress, a nod to the days when Elton was doodling early designs, complete with "lots of peace signs and fringes."

Although Elton admits she wasn't quite ready to leave Newfoundland at age 19, she's glad she made jump. She says being in Montreal is a constant inspiration and a huge factor in her success. She's made connections and friends with other designers - and still plays music whenever she can.

"There's a lot of funding here for fashion and art, especially independent designers," she says. "And people here are less afraid to be different. They're more avant garde with their fashion, not afraid to wear something different. I see a lot of different styles and fashions on the street. There's a lot of music, a lot of shows, and different styles I know there's a lot of really good music at home, but here there's just more. I was scared to death when I came here, but now it's more like home. I wouldn't take it back, at all."

Now that her website is up and running, and her marketing efforts on the way, Elton is excited to get back into production. She's itching to see her designs come to life. "I'm going in for another grant, so I'm hoping to ad the made clothes (designed and produced by Elton) and I have ideas for a jewelry line I've got a lot of fitted jackets for women, rockabilly style clothes I really love the femme fatale look, pencil skirts and baby doll dresses. Very cute but classy."

But always, Elton watches her home province from afar. Whether or not she eventually decides to move back east where her "heart will always be," she hopes the market will be right to accept some of her designs. "I think St. John's is getting back to more authenticity," naming a handful of local designers as well as Twisted Sisters Boutik, Johnny Ruth, and the Anna Templeton Centre as places to be excited about.

"People are getting away from the malls and back to the little shops it's back to authenticity. There weren't many resources for me when I left, but that's changing. "I do feel like bringing it home."

Give an interesting and unique gift to someone you love for Christmas (while supporting Newfoundlander Abroad upstart). You can shop conveniently on line by visiting www.luka-sky.com

By: Stephanie Porter