Who we are
Founded in 2021 by designer Franklin Morales, Helsi is dedicated to bringing to life beautiful special occasion garments for our customers. Our small team of artisan cutters, sewers, and finishers craft our items in our Southern California facility. We specialize in hand work including hand placed dimensional florals, beadwork and hand placed trims. Designer Franklin Morales creates statement making pieces with sequin, embroidery, feather and pearl accents. As each piece is designed, cut and sewn in our facility, we can also create custom pieces for our customers with small fit or design changes.
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 is also the name of my Mother, who is the person that I admire the most in this world because of those exact qualities.
- Frankin Morales
Our founder's story
In 1980, the age of eight, I immigrated to this country with my mother, brother and two sisters as war refugees from El Salvador. My mother worked as a seamstress in downtown Los Angeles, which was the only profession that would employ her due to the lack of education and broken English. She worked two and sometimes three jobs just trying to make ends meet, leaving the house at 6:00am and not returning until 8 or 9:00 pm.
As soon as she could, she took the opportunity to bring work home so that we would not be alone all day. That is when I learned how to sew. By the age of 11, I began helping her in any way that I could so she could go to bed a little earlier then her usual time of 1am. From the age of 16 to 25 years old, I worked so many different types of jobs - from a sandwich maker at Subway, to driving a passenger shuttle at LAX Airport, and processing tickets for Aeromexico.
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 discovered sewing again, it felt different this time because it was a way of expressing myself. That’s when I discovered that clothing was transformative. I started making tank tops to go out clubbing with friends and that is when I realized that people wanted to buy what I made. That is when I understood that sewing would be our salvation all along, it was a gift.
I started a lingerie company out of my Mother’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 peoples’ 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 wanted to 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 that became my new goal.
In 2011, I had the opportunity to pursue my dreams by partnering up with a business partner. That is when Dress The Population was born. I gave it everything I had; it was my child. For the first two years we struggled trying to get people to give us a chance. That is when on key retailer came along and they saw a huge opportunity with my product. They believed in it, just as I was going to give up, they gave me a chance. Within 3 years we were distributed in almost every major US retailer in the United States, including Neiman Marcus. Within 5 years, we moved offices, I had my own design building and team were employing 190 employees. I was living my dream.
And YES, the day did come when I was sitting at Bottega Louie in DTLA and saw a gorgeous woman walk in wearing one of my dresses, I cried that night!
2020 was the hardest year of my life, just like millions of other people. I was forced to walk away from what I had created and gave my life to. Dress The Population will always have a special place in my heart.
After a year of feeling lost and not knowing what to do. My husband, mother, brother and sisters alongside our close 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 I make is a poem to women like my Mother.
We are a LGBTQ+ and Latin-owned Company. Our products are produced in our Southern California Factory by a diverse team of artisans. Our focus is providing a fair living wage to our employees who work in safe conditions alongside our owner and small management team.
The journey so far!
Helsi was launched in the Fall of 2021 in Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, along with our own website. Today, you can also find our products on Anthropologie, BHLDN and Free People, along with specialty stores across the US.
For Spring 2023, we launched Helsi Custom. We realized that we could help our customers make small, but meaningful edits to our items by adjusting lengths, fit, color or small design changes.
Our Summer 2023 Collection features our expanded product categories with the addition of skirts and tops that can be worn as a set, or with jeans and heels for that perfect date night look. Our Bridal category includes dresses that can be worn for pre-wedding events and intimate wedding celebrations.