For Johana Hernandez, hard work and dedication have seam the fabric of her creativity and passion for style, with the threads of philanthropy and her humanitarian vision to help the less fortunate. Her persistence to give back have led her to become an established fashion designer, launch her own fashion collection, and create a fundraising charity.
Hernandez was born and raised in Compton, California, one of the most impoverished and rough neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Her parents migrated from El Salvador, and worked in factories sewing clothes for major brands like Guess, Calvin Klein and GAP.
“My mother would take me to her job, she made dresses for me and I grew up in that environment. I grew up loving fashion.” Hernandez said.
After graduating high school, she attended FIDIM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) not far from L.A.’s fashion district, where her parents worked.
But Hernandez’s initial career goal wasn’t to be a designer, “I wanted to become a merchant and buyer because I never thought I could be a designer. I felt I couldn’t become a fashion designer because I lived in Compton and designers don’t come from these type of areas.” She said. It wasn’t until someone saw her portfolio and reassured her of her potential as a designer that she decided to jump for it.
At 18 years of age, Hernandez had become head designer for Seven7 Jeans, and later, worked for a fashion corporate company, where her designs were available worldwide at major retailers such as Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Lane Bryant, Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, and Target.
Maria Elena Bravo, a junior high school friend of then 24 year old Hernandez, suggested her to create a charity fashion show to raise funds to help children in Latin America.
“We wanted to help kids in Latin America, in Mexico and in El Salvador. The idea was to give back to the place where our parents came from.” Hernandez said.
At the time, she worked for a company, but was unable to showcase her work for the charity. So she spawn the idea to create and showcase her new designs to raise funds through a fashion show, Latinos con Corazón. As she explains, her friend’s encouragement and the desire to give back allowed her to continue with the project.
After a very successful show, she started gaining attention from the media and women that wanted to wear her designs. Essentially GLAUDI by Johanna Hernandez line was formed from her desire to help the impoverished children of the place where her parents came from. The name of her collection GLAUDI, was inspired by her mother’s name Gladis, which also happens to be her middle name.
The transition from working for an established company to launching her own collection was a frightening experience, as she described it. Ultimately, she wanted to continue supporting Latinos con Corazón, her first fundraising fashion show now turned charity, to help non-profits in El Salvador and Mexico, where they help children, women and the elderly.
Hernandez, now 27, is ready to open the first GLAUDI store this fall in Los Angeles. She says it will be “lifestyle store” for everyone but specifically for modern Latinas.
For Hernandez the biggest motivation to keep doing what she does is her family, her faith in God and being able to be a role model to other Latinas.
When asked what advice she would give other women, Hernandez said, “Honestly, it doesn’t matter where you come from or whatever you think your obstacles are, if you have a passion and really want to make a difference you can make anything happen.”