Helfrich Collective isn’t just another activewear line—it’s a brand with purpose, heart, and style, all rolled into one. We recently had the opportunity to chat with the founder, Brianne Helfrich herself. Her story is one of resilience and innovation. Brianne shares her personal mental health challenges which act as a stepping stone for creating a brand that truly stands out. She seamlessly blends comfort, advocacy, and fashion.

Adding to the brand’s allure, Helfrich Collective’s pieces have been embraced by celebrities like Emily Ratajkowski and Alex Cooper, who have been spotted sporting its cool girl designs.

Helfrich Collective Stands Out for Standing Up

Helfrich Collective

Helfrich Collective Spotted on Emily Ratajkowski

But here’s the thing about Brianne—she’s far from being just the founder of a buzzing brand at the age of 26. She’s also vigorously pursuing a PhD in Bioethics and lighting up the airwaves with her wellness podcast, Welcome to the Collective. Through her work, she continuously empowers women by reinforcing the message that potential is limitless. 

Auburn Lane: Can you tell me a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Brianne Helfrich: When the pandemic hit, I was sent home from the University of Arizona and was in lockdown back home in Canada. My disordered eating habits got worse. I got rejected from medical school and I went through a breakup. My mental health started to spiral, and I needed something positive to put my energy into.

During this tough time, I always told myself to “trust in it.” This means to trust in the fact that everything was working out for me whether or not I saw it at that moment. As a girl who adores sweatsuits, I decided to create a hoodie that would raise awareness for mental health. I want to share my struggles so others might feel less alone. Working to create a product (that we were all living in at the time), and representing how I was feeling seemed like the best way to do it.

How to Start Something- The Helfrich Collective Way

AL: What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company?

BH: The response I got from our first hoodie — the Trust In It. Local news loved my story, the community loved the mission and the product. It made me realize that this could be something much bigger than I thought! 

Helfrich Collective Sweats

AL: What do you think makes your company stand out?

BH: Our advocacy, the quality of items and my story. Helfrich Collective donates and advocates for various organizations. We have the mindset that if we have a platform, we should use it to do good. The quality of our items makes us known. The level of comfort, softness and structure of Helfrich Collective is something I take a lot of pride in. Our customers feel the same way.

My story is very relatable to the community. Mental health is something that many of us struggle with, so having a brand that was founded on it is impactful! Being a 26-year-old CEO, who is also pursuing a bioethics PhD, is almost viewed as a reminder to others that you can do multiple things in life and have many passions that you pursue.  

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AL: In your experience, which aspect of running an eCommerce brand tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

BH: The time and effort needed to run it. When I first started, I thought it would be so relaxed and easy. Now, three years in, I’ve realized just how much goes on behind the scenes that so many people don’t see. Each collection takes months to conceptualize and create, and learning to manage a team has been the biggest adjustment. Most of my time is spent thinking about new business ventures for Helfrich Collective, working on new items, communicating with my team, and engaging with our community.

AL: What else do you have planned for 2024? Anything you can tell us that you’re working on?

BH: Some super exciting things are coming including a collaboration with a big Toronto wellness brand and more collections on the way – basically, you’ll be seeing a lot more of us – in and outside the home.

With every collection drop (and there have been nine so far), Helfrich gives back a whopping 10% to causes like Ronald McDonald House and the Canadian Mental Health Association. How cool is that?

All images courtesy Helfrich Collective. The interview may be edited for length and or clarity.