Family-run businesses require a unique balance of dedication, perseverance, complete honesty and talent – and being best friends helps too. Luckily for luxury accessories brand Helmer, the mother and daughters team of Danielle, Michelle and Shevanne Helmer encompasses all of these qualities. Inspired by a trip to the almost otherworldly beautiful Bali beaches, and discovering the quality of the craft of local artisans, the Helmer women combined their expertise to create a beautiful, luxury accessories brand that empowers women and encapsulates everything that the modern women needs.
Working together from London, Paris and Oslo (their European and multi-cultural influences are evidential in their unique range of styles, with their love for Bali often transpiring through design detailing), the Helmer family run a tight ship: Danielle is creative director (dealing with design and production), Michelle is the CEO, and Shevanne is the creative mastermind pushing the company to the next level. Working together as a family unit, the Helmer women have the same dreams and the same motivations, coming together to make their mutual Helmer creative and business vision a reality.
From the Helmer liberty purple Shevy clutch bag to the khaki Adele shopper, Helmer’s collection covers you for every eventuality. With every style, size and shape of bag you could possibly need, all made in a soft and supple python skin with a batik lining, Helmer have got you sorted from dawn ’til dusk. Harnessing the incredible talent of the Bali artisans and looking towards inspiring, powerful women, Helmer create designs that are both timeless classics and ahead of the game.
You are often inspired by your travel experiences – what places have particular made an impact and how has that transpired into your designs?
Yes, we do get inspired by our travel experiences, actually our main inspiration is at airport terminals. Seeing how women travels around the world, the way we are all becoming more nomads going to different places with such ease, it has become much more accessible. We wanted to make bags that we could bring along with us to our travels. A bag that was multifunctional in it’s aesthetic: elegant but not pretentious and practical: light and easy to fold.
Apart from travel – what else are you inspired by?
Inspired by women. We are 3 women in the family working together and we hope to empower other women to follow their dreams. I think it is very important right now in this time to be united. We create handbags for all the modern women out there.
How did you find the brand aesthetic?
We did not find the brand aesthetic, rather I would say it is a culmination of our different styles (Dani, Mimi, Shevy), our lifestyle and our organic journey.
How do you find working as a family team?
It is a privilege to be able to work together, deep down we know we have the same motives, the same dreams. We are also very close we are mother, daughters, sisters and best friends to each other so it’s so much fun to build your dreams with the people you love. It can be challenging at times but that’s the common story for all the start ups, we face up and downs but in the end we have each other and that gives us the courage to fight for what we want.
What are your trademark design features? What makes a Helmer design stand apart?
Our handbags are great classics and we try to move away from the It bags and monogrammed bags, we focus on the simplicity, quality and price by offering timeless pieces. Also all our handbags have a personal touch, which is the inside lining made of Batik material, a little tribute to our love for Bali, the place where everything started, where we produce our handbags.
You live across three countries – how do the influences from each city you live in find their way into the designs?
Paris was our main inspiration as we have lived there for many years our sense of style is very Parisian inspired, nonchalant chic! A type of “je ne sais quoi” which is why our bags are very minimalist in their designs. Once we moved to London we saw that colours are great in accessories – you can still dress up quiet conservative but have a pop of colours to bring a quirkiness to your wardrobe. London really has this sense of fun when it comes to dressing up and it’s much more expressive which gives us more opportunity to play around with our models and expand.
Why did you choose Bali as the crafting place for your bags, and why do you think the artisans you work with are so well suited to Helmer?
Everything happened quite organically, we never planned to produce there but when we visited the island 4 years ago we fell in love with the people and the island, we met the right people at the right time and it made sense for us to produce in such a creative open minded place with such a rich culture, the people and their work ethic got us wanting to work with them. We just did what we knew best: handbags.
How do you feel your design aesthetic has changed and grown over time?
Throughout the years, we have become more and more influenced by Bali and its rich culture but at the same time we have improved the quality of the craftsmanship of the bags. Our manufacturers, who were used to producing for a more local customer, have grown with us and our demands for perfection, and are now producing top quality hand crafted goods for an international clientele.
How did you get involved in the Safe Childhood Foundation and why do you think it’s an important cause?
Our family ethos has always been about giving back and as a family we support and have supported many charities. So when we started to produce in Bali we thought it was important to give back to the people and the island that has given us so much. We wanted to find a cause that was related to kids as they are our future. When we read about the Safe Childhood Foundation in a local newspaper and after checking their website, we were determined to help. This lead to a tearful meeting with Natalie, the head of this foundation and after hearing about the plight of these abandoned and abused kids we knew we had to help in some way.
Can you tell us about your involvement with the Global Gift Gala?
This began with a chance invitation to a GGG event 3 years ago and meeting Maria and Aline the two founders of the charity. We were both fairly new and after a couple meetings, we found out that we had a lot on common, especially our determination to give back. We decided we would pool our efforts together and that is how we became one of their sponsors for two of their galas.
What have you got in store for us with your future designs?
We are working on a leather collection as we have gotten quite a bit of requests. We are also developing more small accessories that will be unisex, like passport holders, computer/document holders, duffle bags and gym or small traveling bags. This is all keeping with our theme of travelling.