PHOTOS: Helen Ainson celebrates 40 years in Darien
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 40 years,” says Erica Jensen, the owner of Helen Ainson. “I’ve had numerous opportunities to dress customers for the Oscars, White House dinners and special foreign affairs dinners, such as with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles.”
“Recently, I found myself having sold a mother of the bride dress to someone I sold a prom dress to years ago,” Jensen said.
Many people don't know that Helen Ainson was actually named after Erica’s mother, Helen Ainson. Helen opened her first shop in New York City in 1948, and next year will mark the 70th anniversary of the brand. During high school and college Erica worked in her mom’s Greenwich, location.
In October 1977, Jensen opened Helen Ainson Darien.
Part of Helen Ainson’s mission is to give back and help those less fortunate. For ten years Helen Ainson raised thousands of dollars running successful Breast Cancer Fundraisers benefiting the Smilow Breast Health Center of Norwalk Hospital. "Helping others always brings joy to my heart," Jensen said. For the past four years, Helen Ainson has put together a fundraiser benefiting the OPUS for Person to Person, The Darien Arts Center and the Darien Community Fund sponsored by 10 local stores. This coming December will be Helen Anson’s third annual fashion show to benefit Toys for Tots. Last year alone Helen Ainson donated over $2,000 worth of toys to children who would not have had a toy otherwise at Christmas.
On a personal level, Jensen said she loves to talk about her connection to the Darien community.
“The town has been very good to me over the years so I feel that I always try to give something back," she said.
She has dedicated countless hours to the town over many decades, and has been involved with the Darien Chamber of Commerce and was vice president and chairwoman of the retail committee for many years in the 1980's and 1990's. Jensen has won awards for "Business Volunteer of the Year" three times and has received a "Certificate of Appreciation" from the Darien Chamber for her 25 years of service running the Darien Sidewalk Sales and Family Fun Days. Jensen is also a style consultant for the Life Solution Center of Darien, a consortium of business professionals where, under the direction of the founder Maud Purcell MSW, LCSW, CEAP, she helps women feel more confident through their style and personal appearance.