Sunday, January 24, 2021

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Faithfull The Brand (FTB), a global fashion mark, caught up recently with Rock-blooded mother and daughter design trio Shevanne, Danielle and Michelle Helmer to weave together their design inspiration, Helmer Lifestyle, and their core values in philanthropy, sustainability and responsible luxury.

FTB: Who are the Helmer women...

The Helmer Women (THW): We are a strong multicultural mother-daughter team — Shevanne, Danielle and Michelle — that decided to pool our energies, our talents, our education and our passions into a family business that is based on creating and producing lifestyle products that are with all our intentions, made as ethically as possible and made by local artisans and women from around the world whenever possible. Our product lines include handbags and accessories and, recently, loungewear for men and women, handcrafted rugs from Morrocco, and coming soon, children wear and homeware. We are inspired by the Missoni brand that is also a lifestyle brand and has strong female presence, with the grandmother, mother and daughters working together. Our goal is to be the first international black-owned mother/daughter/family lifestyle brand.

FTB: Where do you seek inspiration for both your daily lives and your business, Helmer Lifestyle?

THW: The absolute beauty of working together and being three is there is never a lack of inspiration and motivation. We pick each other up and one of us is always coming up with something new. However, our inspiration comes from our multicultural roots, with our vibrant Jamaican heritage, our cool Nordic roots and our quintessential chic French childhood, and not to mention the influences of travel and interacting constantly with people from around the world. We are inspired to become the change that we want to see in the world, as we can't expect change and growth to happen if we ourselves are not at the forefront of actually doing these things. We aspire and are motivated to create a more just, a more peaceful and a more loving world where our children and grandchildren can grow up in a harmonious society and in union with the natural world. Thus, our business model is based on working in harmony with the local artisans and giving back to the community by actively donating to a local charity.

FTB: Collaborations with local artisans are essential to you. What's your most recent and how did it come to fruition?

THW: Our most recent collaboration came about with our intention to make a rug for our office space about 1 1/2years ago. After visiting Marrakesh in October 2019, we found a women cooperative in the foothill of the Atlas Mountains that makes Berber rugs in the same tradition that they have done for over 100 years. We commissioned them to custom-make our signature rug with our logo as the central theme. This was originally meant to be used just for us, but the response was overwhelming so we have started producing custom-made orders.

FTB: Philanthropy, sustainability and responsible luxury have always been at the core of Helmer. What are some of the ways you action these methods?

THW: Our goal is to first of all work with whatever material we can find or source locally, so we try to cut down on unnecessary imports as possible. We started producing bags made from exotic leathers in Bali as these were the most readily accessible materials we could find as they are native to the island and Indonesia. We lined our bags with local batik fabric as this was also locally made and readily available there and we used local silversmith to make our brass logos. Recently, we have started producing our loungewear, also inspired by the ease of Balinese life, and here we also buy and print our fabric locally, and now have the pleasure of working with women to make our collection.

As a family, our ethos has always been about giving back; these are inherent values that our grandparents on both sides have imparted to us and are part of our heritage. We have always supported different charities throughout our lives and naturally, we have incorporated this principle in our business, We endeavour to establish a personal and financial relationship with a charity in the country that we work with. So in Bali we started out by supporting the Safe Childhood Foundation and then moved to the Bali Mother and Baby House. In March 2016, we received the Philanthropreneur Award from the Global Gift Gala. Hollywood actress Eva Longoria presented the award in Madrid. This was and still is the highlight of our business.

FTB: How would you describe working as a family?

THW: We are a boisterous, very opinionated, happy, close-knit family that truly enjoy each other's company and operate from a space of mutual respect. We each bring our different personalities to the table but try to leave our egos behind. As women we have been programmed by society to compete with each other and to develop this sense of mistrust. Shevanne has actively worked to dispel any such behaviour and has always endeavoured to create a loving and nurturing atmosphere similar to home. We are not shy to speak openly but have learnt to speak intentionally with positivity and love, as we have learnt that words can be misunderstood and misconstrued and can be used against us. We seek always to build each other up, as we seek to use our brand and our image to build up and support other women. Our roles are always changing and we have learnt to be adaptable and flexible. Although we do not always agree, we have learnt the power of unity and knowing when to back down and support each when necessary.

FTB: Your outlook for 2021 is...

THW: Last year we were asked to take over the famous blogger, fashion icon and stylist Bettina Looney's Instagram page for a couple hours every week for six weeks, where we could speak about issues that concern us. This was an amazing opportunity for us to feature and interview a series of black women from different walks of life to discuss a wide range of topics, from art to racism to entrepreneurship to philanthropy to spiritualism. This was very well-received.

In this spirit, our pledge for 2021 is to continue to share information that will elevate, excite and challenge the conversation and how we think as women. We pledge to evolve as women and to continue our journey of self-discovery and to continue to work with more and more women and to continue to update our growing product variation to feature more handcrafted items made by women. We pledge to incorporate our growing spiritual identity in our brand and use our platform to inspire spiritual growth.


Words & Photographer: The Helmer Women

Brand: Helmer Lifestyle

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