Yilena Hernández knows beauty and fashion. After all, she launched her successful career as an international model at the age of 15. And throughout the past decade, as her experience grew and her visibility rose, she also amassed a wealth of business knowledge as she watched and experienced firsthand how the industry worked. Now, she is putting that savvy to work as the founder of a line of luxury lashes and makeup and has a swimwear collection in development.
Last year, she launched Yilena Luxury Lashes to rave reviews, with demand so high it spurred her to speed the introduction of her makeup line, Yilena Luxury Beauty, which released in April. Likewise, she is creating a signature swimwear collection in partnership with noted designer Willfredo Gerardo, set to launch in May.
Hernández says that her journey to business owner has been a challenging yet exciting one that started in her birthplace of Holguín, Cuba. From as early as she can remember, she says she was enthralled with acting and loved the spotlight, which led her to the beauty pageant circuit. A major contest win at age 15, gave her the confidence she needed to leave her home for the United States to pursue her dreams as a model and actress.
“It was a lot tougher than I thought it would be moving to a new country, and I certainly was not prepared for the culture shock or the extreme competitiveness of the modeling world,” said Hernández. “You grow up fast and get tough quick or you don’t last. I rose to the challenge and started with what I knew and never gave up.”
As she began her ascent to elite status as a model, Hernández decided to lead with her strengths. She began entering beauty contests and was soon dubbed “Cuban Barbie” – a title that she chose to use to her advantage rather than be offended by. When she won Miss International Bikini, she got the break she needed, catching the eye of talent scouts and her modeling career began in earnest.
Since that time, she has walked runways from Paris to Milan to Los Angeles to New York and graced the covers of Cosmopolitan, L’officiel, Playboy, FHM, Maxim, Ellements, Latina, Lifestyle and JMG magazines. She even was chosen as the face of the Willfredo Gerardo fashion brand and has been the invited guest of fashion icons like Tom Ford, Balmain and Roberto Cavalli at famed fashion events. Hernández has also appeared on a variety of tv shows like Today, Giant Saturday and Latin Angels, and Take Care of the Camera.
“It has been an incredible journey so far, and I knew last year that it was time to extend my vision to include my entrepreneurial goals and introduce Yilena Luxury Lashes and Yilena Luxury Beauty,” said Hernández. “This spring will be a very exciting time. I think consumers will relate to my new makeup products, as well as my swimwear, as they are designed for every woman – no matter their skin type, size or shape.”