Designer Johana Hernández: From Humble Beginnings to Fashion Powerhouse
Johana Hernández’s story is a testament to how a positive attitude, faith, and hard work can lead to amazing opportunities. Hailing from a small country and a humble background, Hernández never let anything stop her from pursuing her dream in fashion. She accomplished some incredible milestones along the way — launching her own boutique Glaudi Collection, dressing celebrities, presenting her collection during Paris Fashion Week, and becoming one of the most important Latina fashion designers (the only one with her own store in Beverly Hills). Find out how she did it.
What made you decide you wanted to pursue a career in fashion?
Johana Hernández: I think I always had it in me since I was a child. My mom made dresses for me as a little girl; she and my father both worked in clothing factories so clothing has always been a part of my life. I always liked to dress extra and at a young age, I realized that every girl is beautiful. It’s just that some girls have better style than others. I like how through fashion we can all be confident and feel better about ourselves.
Did you have any mentors developing your brand and how did they help you move forward?
The crazy thing is that my first job when I was 19 years old, was as head designer of a fashion company — I had no mentors. My mentors were my parents really. They were telling me about sewing machines, needles, and stitches but I never really had a mentor. Even now I don’t have one. I just learn through people and through the process. I would like to get a mentor now that I’m growing and becoming bigger, someone way bigger than me so I could learn something. As you grow your business you have to grow yourself too!
Were you accepted into the fashion world or did you have to fight her way in?
I think everyone has to fight for themselves in some way. I grew up in Compton and then I lived in Downey. I didn’t come from a famous family. I’m Salvadorian, which is a minority even in the Latino community. Salvadorians aren’t known for their fashion and now I’m breaking barriers as the first Salvadorian presenting at Paris Fashion Week. I’m making everyone proud, not just Latinos but everyone coming from a modest upbringing. It’s always been a challenge because I look different. I look like a Latina girl, I don’t look like a top model. I’m just a normal person. In the fashion world, people expect you to look a certain way, but to me, my talent and my designs have opened doors for me. In fashion everything is visual, so it’s not easy to break into fashion if you don’t have tough skin and character. It’s been a challenge, even now. I’ve tried to get into Vogue; I want to be in it as a Latina girl and I want to be respected in high fashion. I have a store in Beverly Hills and I’m the only Latina designer there. My store is next to Chanel!
Who is the Glaudi woman you design for?
The Glaudi woman is a woman who’s not afraid to be herself and she’s a woman who doesn’t want to be like everyone else. Every Glaudi dress is unique and that’s what motivated me when I started my collection. That’s why my pieces are worn by celebrities because celebrities have to be different. My clothes are made for women that want to stand out.
How was your experience taking your brand to Paris Fashion Week?
It was a dream come true! I remember being in Bible study and I told the other women to have dreams bigger than ourselves, something that you could only reach with God’s help, and to me was to be part of Paris Fashion Week. I didn’t know anyone that could lead me there and I had no connections so if it happened, it happened. I was interviewed by a magazine in Germany and the woman that featured wanted to invite me to Paris Fashion Week but I would have to go the following week. I went and shot my first campaign there and from then on I’ve been invited to present my collection. I’ve now presented during three seasons of Paris Fashion Week.
What advice do you have for people that want to break into the industry that don’t come from an affluent background?
I think you just have to put yourself out there and use social media. You have to create good relationships — I think relationships are the most important, you have to build them since you never know who’s going to be the next big thing. People always talk and recommend you. As far as money, you have to start small, with your friends and family. There’s going to be people that like you and people that don’t. The world is really big so don’t feel sad if you get rejected. We all get rejected all the time and we move on and continue growing.
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