• findSisterhood

Helena Fogarty

CEO & Founder of MI OLA


Tell us about your career and how it all started?

I got a pre-med degree from Penn… and then pursued something COMPLETELY different. I moved to NYC, got a job in publishing and sang in a few rock bands. I promoted music for a while. Then I found – a bit of – a path. I started working for a digital agency on fashion brands. Fashion had always been an interest of mine, but I grew up in the Midwest and wasn’t sure I would be able to make that happen.

I continued focusing on fashion. Got my mba. Started working for Zac Posen, while in business school. Then Ferragamo. Then Chanel. I was up for a promotion. It was a super exciting time. I remember being at the temporary Chanel Museum in Central Park at our Christmas Party and colleagues were coming up to me telling me that I was going to get the new job. So fun! So glamorous! I went into the meeting the first business day after Christmas, at 9AM, dressed in head-to-toe Chanel, ready for my promotion. Instead, I got laid off – at the start of the great recession. OOF!

I had learned to surf a couple years before this and was obsessed. Between losing my job and the break-up of a long term relationship, it was time to try something new. So I moved to Costa Rica…without a plan beyond surfing every day, studying Spanish every day, and figuring out my next move.

Along the way, I started 2 businesses – a production company where we helped US companies shoot commercials on the beaches of Guanacaste in Costa Rica, and then MI OLA- swimwear for adventure. I also met my husband after moving to Costa Rica and we now have an 8 year old badass babe.

What does sisterhood mean to you?

Acceptance, love, support and peer-ship.

What's your personal mantra?

Keep going.

What is your superpower?

Persistence. And nerves of steel.

Tell us about women that inspired you and your female role models:

Janelle Monae inspires me in the purest way, musically and style-wise.

Sara Blakely inspires me via her Spanx story.

What would be your advice for women who are building careers in your industry?

*Whatever you think you are ready for? Push past it and aim higher.

*If you are starting a company? Either grow it profitably or go for massive growth with outside funding. If you go the funding route, raise early, raise as much as possible, and then use those resources to make BIG moves. Don’t be cautious.

One piece of advice for your 18 year old self?

Put aside fear and expectations, and go for it.

Follow this badass babe on social to stay up to date on her journey:

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