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HS-Expo-Brett 10-17-06 From Jewels to Gems Helen Brett expanded from bringing two jewelry shows a year to New Orleans to staging a huge Gulf Coast rebuilding-oriented expo here following Hurricane Katrina. By Kara Nelson When she founded her company in 1946, Helen Brett's mission was to produce and promote market-driven trade shows and conferences throughout the United States. Though headquartered in Illinois, Helen Brett Enterprises has been a part of the New Orleans economy for more than two decades.

The Helen Brett International Jewelry Fair/ General Merchandise Show was launched in the Crescent City in 1984. Now held twice a year, the expo typically features about 700 exhibitors displaying jewelry as well as apparel, gifts, home decor and cosmetics, primarily for commercial buyers and local merchants.

Hosting a show focused on building and remodeling resources may seem like a bit of departure for the company, but according to Helen Brett show manager Ken Hajduk, the idea was very much a response to Hurricane Katrina.

"Having ties to New Orleans' economic community for so many years, we wanted to do something to contribute to the recovery effort," explains Hajduk. "Businesses [in New Orleans] relate to Helen Brett, and we to them. We wanted to help these people and give them more options as they rebuild."

Hajduk says that the company is promoting the expo not only in New Orleans but throughout the entire Gulf Coast region.

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