Allison Ockenden, DNA Artist

You’re a DNA Artist? What is that and WHY????

When meeting new people the question “So what do you do for work?” is inevitable to be brought up in the conversation at some point. I personally love hearing all of the answers to this question. I’ve often followed their answer up with an inquisitive “Oh that sounds interesting, please tell me more.” Some may think I’m nosey but I genuinely enjoy learning about industries and professions I've not heard of before. I enjoy learning about new things even if it’s something I may never have the need for. Knowing it exists makes me feel like I'm always learning and not being complacent. I also know that when the question is aimed at me the chances are it won’t be a quick response.

My first reply to the “What do you do” question is always “I’m a DNA artist” to which the confused look on their face leads me to continue with “I take DNA such as breastmilk, dried placenta, umbilical stump, hair, pet fur, and embryo ash and cremation ashes and turn it into beautiful wearable keepsakes aka jewellery as well as display pieces for your home. I also use other materials like sand, flowers, fabrics and more for those times where DNA isn’t available.” There’s usually only two reactions to this. 

1)  Ewww that’s gross or 

2) wow that sounds really interesting.

 I swear you can see their minds ticking over contemplating as they decide on which side of the fence they initially stand while also asking themselves why? Why would anyone do this and why would anyone ever want to buy this for themselves? 

This is where I could go on about how this industry has actually been around dating right back to the 16th and 17th century Europe where rings and brooches were set with gold, black and white enamel heads or skulls where they served as a reminder of the inevitability of death. Instead I try to give some real life examples to help them understand why I’m so passionate about what I do so if you’re sitting back with a cuppa reading this I ask you to keep in mind your own life’s memories and experiences and which one’s you’d love to be able to hold onto.

Who am I and what on earth made me choose this as a career?

My name is Allison. I am the owner and founder of Today Tomorrow & Always. I am a Mum to 4, Grandma to 2 and I also have a furbaby. I am also an ex-military member and ex-military wife.

 TTA was founded in memory of a man named Emanuel Teixeira, a man who my children and I miss each and every day since his sudden passing on September 18th, 2015.

Manny was an incredible man. He wasn’t just the man my children looked to as their Step Dad ( a role he took on without question without even having met them in person due to living in different countries), or my best friend but also my future. Now don’t get me wrong, he was one of the biggest kids I'd ever met and he certainly knew how to push my buttons when he wanted to. He made me cry both from laughter and pain over the years but he was my other half. Not a description I ever thought i’d give the man that catfished me by using a different photo for the first 18 months of our friendship, but by the time i saw the real him i’d already grown so fond of the person he was on the inside that after much anger and lots of choice words, i mean LOTS, it really didn’t matter. Now that whole story is a long one with a rollercoaster of ups and downs, laughter and tears that when i think of now all i can do is smile because no one could make this stuff up but that’s a story for another time.

Losing Manny was the most painful thing I've ever lived through. At times I wasn't sure how anyone survived that level of pain but somehow we all got up each day and put one foot in front of the other. Somehow the world didn’t stop, it didn't seem to realise what it had just lost. 

Fast forward 2 years and I came across breastmilk jewellery. Having breastfed 4 kids at that point, as well as having bottle fed throughout the years too, I thought it was a beautiful way to celebrate just how incredible our bodies are. To not only grow an entire tiny human, to not only make milk to nourish that little person but to adjust, adapt and change to meet the nutritional needs along the way too. As I looked into it more I discovered that this art form wasn’t restricted to breastmilk but hair and ashes of loved ones and I knew this was what I was meant to do. Not only to help others but to help heal my own heart and soul. 

To honor the man that, even in his passing, found a way to help support our family, Today Tomorrow & Always was launched on September 18th 2018, 3 years to the day of his passing. This was deliberate so that each year as the anniversary of losing him rolled around we could turn our grief and sadness into a celebration. A celebration that we knew him, we loved him and all the great memories we carry with us and that even though he's gone we still talk about him every day as well as the reminder that we now help other families who've lost loved ones to not be in our shoes, to allow them to keep a piece of them to hold onto.

So that’s part of the why. The other part was to ensure no other family has to go on without something to hold of their loved one like we do. 

Ok so back to the DNA artistry questions...

DNA? Yes you heard me right, DNA. I craft with many forms of DNA, and that in itself can be weird to some but whether using breastmilk, hair, placenta, umbilical stump, pet fur or embryo and cremation ash, i’m turning a moment or memory from someone’s  life into something they can hold and cherish for...well….today tomorrow and always. (see what i did there?)

One day I'm crafting a bead with breastmilk and the hair of each child that a Mumma’s body grew and her breasts nourished. A bead that for this Mum oozes nothing but pride and unconditional love and a trophy given to herself to show just how bad ass she truly is.

The next day I may be crafting a bead or ring using the hair of a 21 year old son, killed after an innocent night out with friends when the night took a sudden turn and this mother was forced to plan the funeral of her son but wasn’t ready to let him go and wanted to keep a piece of him with her as she went through the grieving process. A piece purchased for her by a sister in law who just so happened to know a lady (it’s me...I’m that lady). 

Sadly there have been many days where I've crafted with a loved ones ashes. The ashes of a bride's father who was lost many years ago added to a crystal that will hang from her bouquet that will now lead and guide her down the aisle giving her away to fulfil that childhood dream she thought she’d never be able to. Not the same as being arm in arm but a literal piece of him with her as it should have been.

Maybe a small display heart for grandchildren to help them understand that their grandmother won't ever be able to hug them close again but that it’s their turn to hug and squeeze her.


Another day I’m crafting with no DNA at all but the importance is just as significant as if I were. The initials MR & MRS using the sand they were standing on as they became husband and wife. Sometimes it’s MR & MR or MRS & MRS, no matter the combination these keepsakes are truly unique, a keepsake from the very moment, the very second they began their lives as a married couple.

A plaque containing our clay babies that are made to scale for each week of pregnancy from 5-13 weeks for a mother who’s been left feeling empty with nothing to show for each time she saw those 2 little lines indicating she was finally pregnant only to hear the words “I’m sorry but it appears there’s no heartbeat” a few weeks later.

You see, what I do is so much more than the keepsakes I hand make. It’s the physical version of the happiest memory or of the lowest moment of people's lives. I’m giving people the chance to celebrate the achievements in life that to others seem small and insignificant, until you’re the mum sleep deprived and up at 4am, 5am, 6am and so on breastfeeding a sick or teething baby. Or wanting something to hold onto a loved one just that little bit longer as you walk the path of grief. 

Breastfeeding journeys that reach personal goals, the wedding proposals that took weeks of planning, the wedding of your dreams and even the holiday of a lifetime, we are here to turn that moment into something you can touch.

Life is full of moments, triumphs and pure joy,  remembering the happiest and proudest moments in life and reliving them is one of the most magical things we can do. Pregnancy, birth, weddings and graduations are just a few of the incredibly special moments in life that we get to be part of by memorialising your memories into something you can hold.

Each piece is handmade with your story in mind. I want to hear your stories and understand the reasons behind each piece. Does it make a difference to my work, well no, but it sure does fill my heart  and make me feel connected to each family that joins the Today Tomorrow & Always family.

Choosing a DNA artist to entrust with your precious inclusion whether it be the last bag of breastmilk, the first lock of hair from baby's first hair cut, fur or ashes from your beloved pet or something special to remember a loved one that has passed on can be a very hard and emotional decision. I work with those I know I can help through the journey of having a keepsake made. It’s an emotional journey like no other.

What makes us different? It's simple. We care.

I take the time to get to know the story behind each piece I craft, the babies born too soon, the pets that cross over the rainbow bridge , the magical moments in life that make up the story of your life. I don't see people as clients, I see them as new members of our community. A community that's filled with love, support, encouragement and an uplifting spirit.

I turn these memories into keepsakes you can hold and cherish for many years to come. I  understand the grief process and know exactly what it's like. This experience has left me with a unique perspective while going through these darker moments in life.

The mission of TTA is to rid the world of the sentence "I wish I knew you existed when.....". I hear this so often it no longer crushes my heart, it fuels the fire within me to spread the word of what I do and how I can help families celebrate and/or commemorate their lives. I can’t be everywhere and so created a program for others who believe in what I do so much that they’re willing to share it with people they meet in their day to day lives called the Angels of TTA. I offer them a percentage of any keepsake orders made because without them I wouldn't be able to reach everyone that needs me and my services.

Beyond the exceptional quality of each piece we make, our consideration and care is expressed in a profound commitment to deliver the highest quality in both service and product to each and every one we deal with. We treat every inclusion that is given to us to use with the utmost care and respect as if they were priceless.....because they are.


As you sit here reading this, how many moments from your own life have come to mind where you find yourself thinking “I wish I knew about this when….?” 

Would you like to join our Messenger program?

If you have a moment in time you’d like to be able to hold onto, please contact us today and let’s create you the perfect keepsake to treasure for today, tomorrow and always.

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