Santa Fe newlyweds Diane Dorsey and Ronald Helman are embarking this month on another new venture: an online apparel and accessories company.
Their luxury, casual clothing will be available on their website,dorseyhelman.com, which is expected to go live Feb. 14.
By design, this is a mostly New Mexico operation. The pieces in the clothing collection are sewn in Albuquerque by a women’s collaborative. The minimalist palette and styles are inspired by New Mexico artists such as Agnes Martin, whose former home is near the couple’s studio in Galisteo.
The tote bags are made in Silver City by a New Mexico saddle-maker. The coffee mugs are fired here by a New Mexico potter. And Dorsey herself makes one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry using beads from around the world. Yes, the scarves are silk-screened in New York — but they’re hemmed in New Mexico.
Even the fashion models are New Mexicans, as are many of those working on the business side of the operation.
Nothing they sell is made in China.
Dorsey and Helman say they have invested their life savings in their online endeavor. “I wanted to take a risk and make something by myself,” Dorsey said.
Helman, 62, is a life coach and jazz trumpeter who has lived in Santa Fe since 1997. Dorsey, 50, moved here from Columbus, Ohio, five years ago and has a background in arts education.
Their clothing collection includes 27 pieces. There are T-shirts, plain or with original graphics, made in cotton modal; simple dresses with a mandarin collar and bell sleeves that can be worn with leggings or heels in a viscose/lycra fabric; and French terry sweatpants.
The flowy fabrics, including some with tone-on-tone dots, are custom-made in Los Angeles by Texollini.
The pieces come in soft blue (stormy weather), pink (lotus) and off-white (birch), as well as green (kelp), beige (prairie sand), rich brown (peat moss) and black. All items are machine washable. They are made in sizes 1-5, which corresponds to extra small to extra large.
All will be sold primarily through the online store. Dorsey and Helman will have no brick-and-mortar retail outlet, although Santa Fe Dry Goods, Workshop, the spa at the Inn and Spa at Loretto, as well as Substance in Taos have placed orders for some of the pieces.
The clothing prices range from $60 to $295.
Helman describes them as the kind of things for “relaxing at home or going out with friends.”
The tote bags in butter suede come in both a large ($375) and a purse size ($325). They’re sewn by J.S. Saddlery in Silver City. Each features a mark of a New Mexico bird petroglyph — which is laser-branded on the bags. The same image is used in sterling silver and 18-karat gold pendants.
All 1,600 pieces in the clothing collection were sewn at the Southwest Creations Collaborative, an Albuquerque contract-manufacturing business founded by Susan Matteucci, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Organized as a nonprofit, it also sews for Sense, a local resort wear company, and makes the kimonos used at Ten Thousand Waves, among other things.
The nonprofit helps its 40 employees, many of them immigrant women, to earn GEDs, gain citizenship and offers paid time off for them to go to their children’s schools. On-site child care is available for 25 cents an hour. The family-friendly company also has a grant from the Kellogg Foundation to offer workshops in Albuquerque public schools on what families need to do for their children to be successful and graduate from high school.
Dorsey and Helman have “done everything they said they would,” according to Matteucci. “It’s the kind of start-up business we love.”
Reorders will depend on online sales, Helman said. On the Feb. 1-2 weekend, the couple is holding an open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at their Galisteo studio, 5614B Highway 41, when items will be 20 percent off.