I was born in Homs, Syria. A beautiful country with beautiful art, delicious food, genuine people and ancient history.
(The ancient city of Palmyra, outside of Homs)
It was in Homs, in elementary school, that I won my first art award. My art teacher framed and displayed my navy/maroon Persian rug painting in the hallway and showed me few new techniques. This early experience taught me two things: to believe in myself and that art is a journey one must continuously work on.
In my teenage years, my family immigrated to the United States and ever since San Antonio became home. I attended John Marshall High School and went on to obtain my Architecture degree from UTSA. I enjoyed working in the Architectural field after college but gradually gravitated towards industrial design and business.
(Cardboard chair project/UTSA Architecture School)
"First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage" : ) Shortly after I was married, my entrepreneur 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. Our company grew from a 6,000 sf building to a 40,000 sf building. 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 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 Abe due to cancer. Life became tough but I still opted to keep Helmy Plastics going and I assumed the role of CEO.
My years at Helmy, as VP or as CEO, 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 business and manufacturing aspects were 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 to have been featured on TV, Radio and 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)
However during those social distancing evenings, I had to de-stress and self entertain so I challenged myself to paint as much as possible 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. And so I took it a step further, went public, started selling and doing art shows which led to the creation of MonaHelmyArt!
(In my cozy studio)
As an artist, my favorite medium is acrylic and my style is abstract. I adore vivid colors!!!.
From time to time, I also 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 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.
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 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... xoxo... Mona Helmy