In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to feature the designer duo of one of my favorite lingerie lines, Only Hearts. This team is quite special because they’re a mother-daughter team — how lucky are they, to spend so much time and so much of their lives together? In answers to my questions, Helena and Kaya open up about their teamwork, favorite lingerie pieces and Mother’s Day traditions.
Of course, I couldn’t help but share some photos of my own mom and I (at the end of their interview). Love you so much, Mom Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mamas out there!
Helena, can you describe your background and what lead you to open Only Hearts?
I studied at FIT but I caught the bug much earlier than that – growing up in Italy with my mother modeling I have been around beautiful clothes and beautiful fabrics my whole life. I originally opened Only Hearts as the first themed gift shop in 1978, as I have been a heart collector since I can remember. The synergy between the two is what Only Hearts is today – I started designing and manufacturing the kinds of things I wanted to wear but couldn’t find to buy for my shop about a year after opening.
I’ve read that Helena started the company more than three decades ago (amazing!) and Kaya joined later – what prompted the decision for Kaya to join? Was it mutual? An easy decision?
Being able to work in a family business is an opportunity I could not ignore. I did put it off – I pursued a career in NYC restaurant scene before making the full commitment. That was over 10 years ago and I haven’t looked back.
Kaya, can you tell me about your background and how it helped you choose to help your mom at Only Hearts?
K: When you grow up immersed in something – it becomes a part of you and your everyday language without you even realizing it.
How would you describe your working relationship? (Do you assign responsibilities, one handles PR the other designing, etc?)
H: We have to split tasks as there is just too much to get done! But ultimately we try to come to an agreement with each other on everything we do.
What characteristics do each of you possess that makes you complementary to one another?
K: I’m very organized. H: And I’m not!
How has your familial relationship changed after deciding to work together?
K: Has it – I don’t know, we’re like old friends.
Favorite part of working with mom / daughter? (Dare I say least favorite?)
K: It’s the gift of getting to know my mother in a different role – getting to know her fully as a person who has made her way in the world.
H: I get to see my daughter almost every day!
How does your husband / father factor into all of this (of course, if this is not a good topic of conversation I’ll leave this one out.)
K: He’s just really supportive
Kaya, do you have a favorite piece of all time? Helena, what is yours?
K: We both love our silk slips! My favorite is a knee length bias cut crepe de chine that I layer and wear as a dress but also love to sleep in.
H: I always wear a mini silk charmeuse slip with lace insets… under everything!
Do you hope to have Only Hearts in the family for generations to come?
K: We have to see – no one to speak of in the next generation yet!
How will you be celebrating Mother’s Day this year?
H: A late family lunch at grandma’s table – a tradition!
And last but not least, where can we find the new collection?
Intermix, Shopbop, Amazon, Fred Segal, Bloomingdales, Anthropologie… !
A big thank you to Helena & Kaya for sharing Mothers’ Day with that je ne sais quoi! In honor of my mom, who is definitely the most amazing woman I know, I’d like to share some pictures!
photography of Only Hearts by Alexander Berg
photography of mother and moi by Aaron Kellner