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Meet Herlie Wilbanks of Hermilia Yves

Today we’d like to introduce you to Herlie Wilbanks.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My mother owned her own clothing store in a town known locally as Little Haiti in Miami, Florida. It was in that store that I learned to sew. By the age of ten, I was helping my mother with hemming, attaching buttons, and baste stitching garments. But in my spare time, I would gather the scraps from my mother’s shop, and I started creating garments for my dolls. This was when I knew that I wanted to be a fashion designer! But naturally, in typical islander culture, my mother wanted me to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a nurse. But that was not my passion.

In June of 2000, I graduated from William H. Turner Technical High School – and that same year I enrolled myself in into the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale to earn an Associate Degree in Fashion Design. While I attended the Art Institute, I participated in multiple fashion shows. I also interned with Atomic Funk as a fashion stylist – participating in many more shows, special events, photo shoots…

And I worked in the Couture, Dress Collections, and Alterations departments of Neiman Marcus. Determined to start my own business, I started off making alterations and designing custom gowns out of my apartment. At least two-thirds of that tiny one bedroom apartment was inundated with sewing equipment and supplies! I mostly made wedding gowns, bridesmaids dresses, evening gowns, and prom dresses.

And in May of 2009, I established my company, named after my mother and my father, Hermilia Yves. When my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, my business had to be placed on hold. My mother needed me at her side. This was by far the most painful time in my life. When my mother passed away, my grieving opened another chapter in my life.

But I still gathered ideas, sketched designs, and made garments for my friends and clients – knowing that this was just a season. In August of 2017, I showcased my collection in Palm Beach Swim Week for Lilyana Lovela, the co-founder of Fusion Fashion & Art. The show was a great success. I still design and create custom garments for my clients, as I’ve worked on my Next collection.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has NOT been a smooth road. Not by a long shot. A lifetime of people trying to discourage me. My mother’s second husband locked our studio, shut off the electricity, AND tried to sell my equipment (He couldn’t handle women being more successful than him).

I was swindled by people with ulterior motives – they stole my designs, used my garments and took full credit for them… But I think the hardest part has been the constant Financial struggles. I’ve been knocked down and hurt many, many times. I’d like to say none of this ever got me down – but that wouldn’t be the truth. In reality, I’ve struggled with depression and even suicidal thoughts.

But my greatest supporters have always been my husband, and my sister Magdalena. My faith in Jesus Christ has kept me stable. And of course, my three amazing children cheering me on. Having supporters has allowed me to push harder and preserver.

Hermilia Yves – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Right now, Hermilia Yves provides exclusive, custom-made attire. I specialize in ready to wear, bridal, and evening gowns. I am known for adding a unique twist in the sewing of my garments. I try to flatter ANY body type, by focusing on the silhouette and making sure the garment properly fits the client. I get a great sense of accomplishment when my client is happy.

I am also working to provide a full ready to wear line for my online clothing boutique. But Hermilia Yves takes eco-fashion and sustainability seriously. By minimizing production, we avoid clothing and scraps ending up in landfills. We also support the push for more natural fabrics, material recycling, and getting away from synthetics.

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
It is vitally important to try to always stay Humble, Respectful, and always have a Sober mind. This is how I see success.

I have to admit – even though I just mentioned staying Humble – I have been out and about, and someone notices me. Once I was in a mall, and woman remembered me from one of the shows I had participated in. She remembered my name, my clothing line, and everything.

I was featured in the fashion blog called Let’s Talk Fashion by Rachel Galvin ( and also was featured in the Atlantic Ave magazine.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Curtis Moore, Thomas Miller, Kurt Traveler (the_traveling_photographer)

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