The meaning of the name Helsi is:
“Independent, confident, and ambitious. You are active, vital, and adventuresome, always seeking new experiences and challenges. You are willing to take chances”.
It's also the name of my mother, the person that I admire the most in this world because she possesses those exact qualities.
At eight years old, I came to the United States along with my mother, two sisters and brother as war refugees from El Salvador. My mom worked two to three jobs at a time as a seamstress in downtown Los Angeles, which was the only profession that would employ her due to the lack of education and understanding of the English language. As soon as she had the opportunity to bring work home with her, she took it, so that we would not be alone all day. I was 11 years old when I started to sit with her, keeping her company and while learning how to sew. I learned in order to help her in any way that I could, which would allow her to go to bed earlier than her usual 1:00 am. From the age of 16-25 I worked multiple jobs at the same time, which varied from Subway, LAX, the Sheraton Hotel, and the Aeromexico ticket counter.
My 20’s was a time for discovery, from struggling to accepting my sexuality to realizing that I needed to create my own opportunities because college was out of the question. At 25, I re-discovered sewing. It felt different this time because instead of a job, it was a form of self expression. After making tank tops to go out clubbing with friends, I found that people wanted to buy what I made. That is when I understood that sewing would be our salvation all along. It was truly a gift.
In 2000, I started a lingerie company out of my mom's garage called Hot Sauce, and within a couple of years we employed 24 people. I loved what I did. I loved the creative side of it and the fact that I was making a difference in other people's lives by employing them. I soon came to realize that it was just one more stepping stone in the direction of where I wanted to go.
Even though i was more successful then I would have ever hoped, I was unhappy. It wasn’t the product that I wanted to make. In my dreams, I would be sitting in a fancy restaurant and would see this incredible woman walking in wearing one of my dresses. I wanted to create something people respected.
In 2011, I had the opportunity to pursue my dreams by joining with a business partner. That is when Dress The Population was born. After two years of struggling, Nordstrom came along and saw a huge opportunity with our product. Just as I was ready to give up, they believed in us and gave us a chance. Within two years, we were in every Nordstrom store and online. Within three, we were in almost every major department store and were employing 190 employees. I was living my dream.
The day did come when I was sitting at Bottega Luis in DTLA and saw a gorgeous woman walk in wearing one of my dresses. I cried that night!
Like millions of others around the world, 2020 was the hardest year of my life. I was forced to walk away from what I had created and had given my life to. Dress the Population will always have a special place in my heart. After a year of feeling lost and directionless. My husband and family, along side our friends, gave me the strength to start all over again.
Helsi is not just a dress line. Helsi is a dedication to all women, to be independent, confident and ambitious. To be active, vital, and adventuresome, always to seek new experiences and challenges to take chances. Above all, to never give up. Every dress that I make is dedicated to women like my mother.
Owner and Designer