Birthed from one of the most inspired characters in all of literature, Helena +Troy, is a handbag collection where art meets fashion, fashion meets function and function meets luxury. Designer, Helena Chraime, felt incomplete with a degree in the generalized study of fine arts, so she took the summer off to venture to Italy so she could indulge in the culture and, of course, the food! Strolling through the leather market in Florence everyday turned out to be a magical accident. It was there that the love for leather and the construction of handbags sprang up inside of her. By the following fall semester, she was enrolled at Fashion Institute of Technology as an accessory design major.
Fueled by her summer spent roaming through the charismatic landscape of Italy, her first class at FIT, a creative vision and a dedicated drive to succeed: anything was possible. A year into her new major, Helena+Troy was created for women attracted to whimsical fun. Her fall 2014 collection presents this vision perfectly. Breaking her collection into three sections allows for the suiting of different whimsical personalities. Charmed Tassel offers a balance of black with shades of brown or metallic pewter. On the other hand, Sterling Garden, inspired by a garden of hardware, creates a dreamland of handbags adorned with metal flowers. Ironically enough, Bauble Berry stemmed not only from Helena’s disdain of the color pink, but more from the idea of creating something she could love out of something she dreaded. Amazingly enough, Helena+Troy also offers the option to customize your order.
I got the chance to discover more about her, not only as the brand’s founder and designer, but also as Helena the person.
Who’s your favorite author, novel, short story or poem?
One of my favorite books and one of the most informative books I ever read is the Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. It taught me a lot about life, business, and how to navigate the world as a whole. But my real guilty pleasure right now is a compilation of poetry by Tyler Knott Gregson, Chasers of the Light. It’s a great balance of romance and sexiness.
Snow or sand?
Definitely sand, as a native New Yorker, I grew to hate the cold weather. I will always choose the beach over skiing!
Name a moment where you were the most proud of yourself.
Probably when I sold my first bag to a store; to be recognized by other business-minded creativetypes is an exciting thing.
Where is the one place you would love to live and why?
I grew up in New York and can never imagine living anywhere else. I truly believe there is no place like it in the world. But if I were to live somewhere away for a year or so, I would choose Florence, Italy. I lived there when I studied abroad and found it to be beautifully quaint and full of culture and history and most importantly, good food.
Name two of your favorite hobbies.
I’m a twin; so spending time with my sister is something that is very important to me. We’re both very creatively driven so we love to bounce ideas off of each other.
I’m very close to my family, so I spend most of my free time with them. We all share a love of food, so we spend most of our time in the kitchen cooking and making up new recipes.
If you could have a power, which would you choose?
I would definitely choose to travel through time. Having the ability to witness other times in history, to find inspiration through truly experiencing the life of another time would really be one of the greatest gifts.
What is your greatest strength? Greatest weakness?
I would say my greatest strength is also my greatest weakness: my fearlessness and confidence to never accept rejection. I always had the outlook in life that if I wanted something I would get it. It definitely has turned out in my favor the majority of the time, but as a designer and as a creative person I had to get used to constructive criticism and disapproval.
Which bag from fall 2014 most speaks to your personality?
I would say the Charmed Tassel Mini Drawstring. It is perfectly functional as well as beautifully surprising and fun. It has mini pockets for when you need them, but has tassels hanging from the bottom if you want to do a little dance.
What’s something no one knows about your handbags that they should?
The way my design process works is primarily based on trial and error. Some of my most amazing pieces stemmed from mistakes.
For anyone looking to embark on your dreams, take it from Helena, educating yourself, either in an institution, by physical experience, or both, are as important as not procrastinating. If you want something, stop waiting and go after it with a strong sense of confidence!