We each have a story... allow me to share mine...
I was born in Homs, Syria. A beautiful country with majestic ruins, beautiful art, genuine people and ancient history.
(Suburbs of Homs)
(House I was born in)
It was in Homs that I won my first award for an elementary school Persian rug art competition, a special memory until now. Though I had no hopes in winning, my Navy/Maroon rug painting entry won second prize. Ms Hayat, my art teacher, displayed my painting in the hallway and showed me few techniques to improve my skills. This experience taught me two things: one, to believe in myself and two, that art is a journey that one must continually improve along the way.
My family immigrated to San Antonio in my teenage years and ever since San Antonio has been home. I attended John Marshall High School then SAC and UTSA. I obtained my Architecture degree and enjoyed working in the Architectural field after college but gradually gravitated towards industrial design and entrepreneurship.
(John Marshall HS Graduation)
(Chair project/UTSA Architecture School)
During my last year at UTSA I got married and shortly after graduation my husband, Abe, and I co-founded Helmy Associates, an Industrial design and plastic Manufacturing company. Together we spent the next 20 years building a company and also building a family.
(Abe/History of Helmy, in "Making San Antonio" Book)
Our company grew from a 6,000 s.f building and couple of clients to a 40,000 s.f building and numerous clients. Our family also grew and we were blessed with the birth of our first born, Sara, and second born, Jonathan.
(Halloween with my two kids, Sara and Jona)
Life was hectic and challenging but life was good. Then 2009 arrived! The year of the great recession and also the year of the untimely death of my husband and business partner due to cancer. And despite these hardships, I kept going for the sake of my family, my business, my team and to honor Abe's memory. Looking back at that year and the struggles in the few years after, I can proudly say, as Paul Anka wrote and Frank Sinatra sang, "I faced it all and I stood tall And did it my way".
Currently, and since 2009, I am CEO of Helmy Plastics. My years at Helmy have been very fulfilling. However due to long hours, my art output was limited. Time only allowed for private collection work here and there. And though the art aspect was lacking, the manufacturing aspect was flourishing. I enjoyed working with great clients, vendors and team; enjoyed leading and mentoring. I also humbly enjoyed many achievements. Those were the years that defines me as a business owner and as a community leader and for that I'm forever thankful.
Some of the Awards I was honored to receive include:
- 2020 Induction to San Antonio Women Hall of Fame
- 2020 San Antonio Manufacturer's Assoc Manufacturer of The Year
- 2018 National Assoc of Women Business Owners Woman of The Year
- 2018 North SA Chamber of Commerce Business Leader of The Year
- 2018 North SA Chamber of Commerce Manufacturer of The Year
- 2014 San Antonio Business Journal Business of The Year
(San Antonio Women Hall of Fame, Class 2020)
I am also proud and humbled to have been featured on TV, Radio and in magazines and news articles including:
- San Antonio Woman: Women Breaking The Glass Ceiling
- Plastic News: Women Breaking The Mold
- San Antonio Business Journal: From Syria to San Antonio, How her immigrant roots helped one CEO flourish.
- San Antonio Business Journal: Factories in the Fight, plastics manufacturer working to shield medical workers from coronavirus
When it came to Art, 2020 is the year that changed things for me, in a very positive way.
When COVID arrived, I was on a mission to help the community. And thus, I led Helmy Plastics to pivot by re-tooling and converting manufacturing lines to produce much needed medical face shields for first responders. A project that kept me very busy during the day.
(Cover of San Antonio Business Journal, Adapt or Die Article)
In the evenings, I had to de-stress and self entertain during those social distancing days so I challenged myself and made it a goal to paint as much as possible during COVID and produce as many "Art Babies" as I can.
My passion for painting was reignited. Old techniques were improving. New ones were learned and an abundance of work was created. I took it a step further and that led to MonaHelmyArt.com.
(San Antonio Skyline Collection)
As an artist, my favorite medium is acrylic. I adore vivid colors, contemporary and abstracts.
I enjoy working with metal and plastics and creating limited editions multi media art.
Each creation is special to me and becomes a joy and a baby. But I have learned that it is also a joy to send these "Art Babies" to others to enjoy and collect.
My inspirations are normally culture, memories and imagination. My mission as an artist is to create pieces that inspire, put smiles on faces, bring back happy memories, awaken the imagination and simply speak loudly. As they say, the most special piece of art is not necessarily the most expensive one but the one that speaks loudest to you.
(Each painting is one of a kind)
Originality is king but to me it must be paired with uniqueness and quality to make it worth collecting... because "God is in the details". I use quality canvases and paints, finish all edges, seal and varnish, cover back and install hardware/wire so each creation can be enjoyed as soon as it's received by collectors.
(Art for Charity)
One thing I wanted to incorporate with my art is charity. I have an art for charity mentality. So I make it a point to donate my art to non profit organizations to auction off at events and galas, (so if you see my creations, bid high :)) and I also participate in exhibits with percentage of sales donated to the charities. It is a cause I truly enjoy and help support thru the sales of my art.
Other interests of mine include the love for traveling and experiencing other places and cultures, spending time with family and friends, all different types of food and cuisines, good conversations and a great cup of coffee anytime.
Life is life and is truly what you make of it. My journey will always include working hard, playing hard, loving hard, giving plenty, and being super grateful that my glass is always half full. Enjoy your journey...