How many years have you been in business in LA?
How did you get your start and what was your initial inspiration?
When I first moved to Los Angeles from design school in Chicago, I got a job working for Costume Designer Debra McGuire from "Friends" and "90210" fame. That was an incredible introduction not only to the design world, but also to Los Angeles itself. During that experience, I had the opportunity to frequent the garment district in downtown LA, and see bits and pieces of the manufacturing and production going on. In school, I always felt most at peace when I was in the studio doing my patternmaking, draping, sewing, and even ironing hah! So I knew within one second of being in that setting that it was a side of the business I wanted to be a part of.
Debra was kind enough to set me up with a job at a small start up company, and within a year and a half I had learned every single angle of manufacturing in Los Angeles, from working with the best pattern and sample makers, to creating full seasonal collections, working with showrooms and sales reps, to production and distribution.
From there, I knew I was ready to begin my own line. Helena Quinn was actually my senior thesis in college. The name comes from my two grandmothers names, who each possessed a balance of strength and femininity that I wanted the collection to embody. I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by strong women for my entire life who showed me that strength and feminity are not mutually exclusive qualities, and so I wanted the line to be an homage to them. No one gets anywhere on their own, I strongly believe we are a product of the support system surrounding us (whether by blood or by choice), and so Helena Quinn was my way of saying thank you to those women.
What do you feel differentiates you from others in your field?
A few things, first and most importantly is what I like to think is the “spirit/soul” of the company, which is solely to make women feel beautiful and confident in themselves. If the only thing that this company accomplishes is to help one overworked, exhausted, and time-deprived woman have a moment of respite, self-confidence, beauty, and peace within herself, then I will have succeeded.
The other aspects that differentiate Helena Quinn are our prints, which are hand painted by myself and our graphic designer in Los Angeles, and are exclusive to Helena Quinn. Our fabrics, which are 100% silk and finished to have the softest hand and lightest drape over your skin. And our price-point, which was/is a very important aspect to me. You will notice that most other silk companies have a higher price-point (especially those who also produce domestically in downtown LA or NY like us), but it was important to me that our product be available to a range of women, and that we offer “affordable luxury”. This goes hand in hand with the spirit of the company.
What do you feel gives you longevity in this big city with so many options?
Relationships. I genuinely believe that the network of women you surround yourself with is essential to both success and longevity. I read an article recently in which Jen Atkin (The Ouia) was interviewed and said, “women succeed in groups” and I can wholeheartedly say that I would not have made it to this point without a tribe of women connecting, encouraging, and propelling me forward.
How do you positively impact your clientele?
I hope that when a client puts on Helena Quinn, they feel confident, beautiful, sexy, and at peace with themselves.
What is your favorite part of your job?
When the above impact happens for a client.
What is your favorite secret LA spot?
The trails café in Griffith Park
How do you benefit mamas?
This is interesting because since Helena Quinn began, I’ve had the opportunity to watch both my sister and some of my dearest friends become mothers. And having watched them transition into this phase of life, I can safely say that you are all Superhuman warriors. The amount that is on a mother’s plate in any given day is almost incomprehensible. So when a mother puts on a silk robe at the end of a LONG day and feels a moment of restoration and rejuvenation…I think that can be hugely beneficial to both their own psyche/sense-of-self and in turn, to their family. Also, for expecting and new mommy’s, the robes are a super comfortable garment to turn to as you grow, and perfect staple for breastfeeding…easy access.
Pay it forward and name your top colleagues in the same field or related field
Reservoir LA - The most well curated boutique in Los Angeles and Alissa and Aliza are the most supportive owners of both young and established designers.
How You Glow - Tara and Jessie are my go-to girls for all things related to elevating your health, energy, and spirit.
Create and Cultivate - I love Jaclyn’s Johnson’s concept and vision for this organization and how it’s turned community into a scalable business opportunity for women to come together and propel each other forward.
Nandita Khanna - Editorial Projects director at GOOP, @dresslikenan, my go-to-girl for everything cool, my wine therapist, and my inspiration to take a few risks in life and shake things up.
Anine Bing - I’m so inspired by her business model, growth, and pay-it-forward mentality.
What is the best advice anyone's ever given you?
The best advice always comes from my Mom, and I’m not just saying that! We speak everyday, and everyday she has some wisdom to refocus, re-center, and re-motivate me.
But I think the most helpful advice she gives me on a consistent basis is to, “put a bookmark in it and move forward”. I tend to be a worrier/over analyzer. Sometimes that can be a helpful trait, but sometimes it’s paralyzing. So when she hears me mulling over something I can’t control (whether it be a big life decision or small), she reminds me to “put a bookmark in it”, and move forward. It’s a good lesson to not get stuck, not worry about the things you can’t control, and to always just come back to the moment.