Meet Helena Dunn of Tuulikki: Surf-Wear's New Leading Lady
For ages, the surf world has been a male-dominated industry. From the photographers to the athletes themselves and the brands that dressed them, it was rare to find a female in the picture. Luckily, however, times are changing and women are becoming more and more prevalent within the surf community around the world. A perfect example of this is Tuulikki, the first East Coast women’s surf-wear brand of its kind brought to you from New York's own Rockaway Beach.
Taking its name from a mythical Finnish goddess responsible for preserving the harmony between man and nature, Tuulikki adopts a layered, “more than a bikini, less than a wetsuit” approach to swimwear, with considered detail afforded at every point of each garment’s life cycle. Using the highest quality, environmentally responsible fabrics – Tuulikki has partnered with the most cutting edge New York based manufacturers to deliver premium surf apparel to a broader demographic of female surfers currently served by the US market. Tuulikki is also committed to delivering high performance surf apparel while serving the environment in equal measure.
Therefore, when we at The Tidalist heard of this rad new brand and the badass babes who wear it (think Lisa Detemple, May Kwok, Emily Anderson, and Kumara Sawyers), we decided to get to know the leading lady behind it, Helena Dunn - a fearless woman who went from working at luxe brands like Philip Lim to creating her own surf-wear brand.
What is your full name and where are you from?
My name is Helena Dunn and I grew up in Wiltshire, which is in the south west of England. The town itself is pretty small and industrial, but it's set in some the most beautiful countryside. We are close to Avebury, Stonehenge, Barbury castle which is an Iron Age Hill fort - that landscape really captures your imagination as a kid, takes you back to a simpler magical place that feels out of time.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
The thing people don't know about me is that I can be really shy… I'm definitely outgoing and social but I'm blushing during 80% of my interactions. It's a weird split in my personality.
Favorite city to live in / visit?
I love living in NYC but my favorite city to visit is definitely Marrakech - the smells, the color, the hustle, the call to prayer echoing through the streets - at every time of day it's enchanting.
3 words that best describe yourself?
Determined, loving and sloth-like (I would like to point to my friends who will laugh in agreement at this last one that sloths are slow on the land but very fast in the water so watch out!)
Last concert you saw?
Blac Rabbit Band in Rockaway last night was the last gig I went to.
If we hacked onto your Spotify, what would we be listening to?
Lately I've been doing a deep dive into music I grew up listening to with my family - A lot of Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Leonard Cohen. Their music grounds me when there’s a lot going on in my life – like launching a surf-wear brand.
I moved out to Rockaway around 4 years ago so I hit up a lot of local places like Uma's, which is absolutely delicious. Whit's place up at Riis is always on point and the concession stands at 98th street boardwalk take you around the world in about 5 minutes. De Maria was set up by a dear friend in Nolita and it does the best brunch anywhere in the city
Beauty product(s) you live by?
70+ sunscreen, Moroccan hair oil, Cocoa Butter.
A brand we should know?
Mathys Sinclair – it’s a rad contemporary clothing line founded by my insanely talented housemate Thembi Hanify and her bestie Rachel Sinclair. Their ethos is 'Look cool. Be nice' and everything they make is awesome.
The one store I will go out of my way to visit is Jill Lindsay in Fort Green, which I never want to leave the minute I step in there because of all the beautiful local product, events and major good vibes…oh and incredible wines!
Favorite surfboard maker / place to surf?
My surfboard is a custom 7.2 ft fun gun made by St. James and Nature Shapes. I really like FireWire boards too. My favorite place to surf in New York is probably Lido beach.
Person you most look up to?
There are a lot of people I look up to who shape my worldview, but I mostly look up to my mum and dad, and my grandmother when she was still around. Corny but 100% true. They give the best advice and I really respect their values, so as long as they're proud of me I feel like I'm on track.
My favorite watches are Nixon.
“Honesty without tact is cruelty” because it's true and people generally need to develop more grace when it comes to communication - myself included.
Workout(s) of choice?
I really love boxing but I don't do it enough - I like that feeling of power in my body.
Something you are most excited about for the future?
I'm really excited for the rest of summer and seeing how this brand unfolds. Also planning a big trip to Sri Lanka next year, which is going to be a great adventure.
Designed in Rockaway and made in New York City, Tuulikki NYC launches from the heart of the Rockaway female surf community. The first East Coast women’s surf-wear brand of its kind, Tuulikki is committed to delivering high performance surf apparel and serving the environment in equal measure. Addressing sustainability at every level of the supply chain, Tuulikki uses the most progressive innovations in recycled fabrics and are a ‘1% For the Planet’ certified brand.