Twin Fashion Influencers From Eritrea Are Challenging The Fashion Industry To Embrace Deaf Artists More And Make Excuses Less
With trendy outfits, beauty tips and the message of sisterhood, Hermon and Heroda are teaching us the meaning of being true to yourself
BeingHer, a fashion blog spearheaded by twin sisters, Hermon and Heroda Berhane, flaunts the very fabric of female empowerment and being comfortable in the skin you were born in.
The fashionistas from Asmara, Eritrea, are making their own wind and blowing down barriers for the deaf, women of color, and artists of all trades with their colorful personalities and apparel.
Hermon and Heroda established their platform for the advocacy of disabled individuals being accepted into various fields, and for their passion of affordable, but trendy attire that represents their African culture and unique personas.
Though the ladies have desired to step out on their own and develop their brand for quite some years now, the blog is still new and has begun to receive major traction in media.
But for their story, that is only the tip of the iceberg.
At the age of seven, both Hermon and Heroda became deaf...on the same day.
Because of the civil war that was ravaging their country at the time, their parents saw it best to relocate to the United Kingdom where better education, safety, and more opportunities could be available to the girls and their younger brother. This is when Hermon and Heroda learned BSL (British Sign Language).
The cause of their hearing loss remains a mystery, however.
Their peculiar testimony makes their story distinctive from other fashion influencers, but it does not define their uniqueness, their poise, or their exceptional sense of style.
In an exclusive video with Ai-media, the best-dressed ladies on the web gave a glimpse into their lives and the barriers they have experienced in the fashion industry unique to those with disabilities.
They explain that because of their struggle to find fashion-related jobs, they both decided to launch a blog that accompanies the pieces of clothing that appeal to them without breaking the bank.
"It's not about looking perfect," says Hermon in the video. "We want all people looking for a real inspiration so we are being ourselves to show our work."
"We don't want to rely on the magazine to be like them," adds Heroda.
In a candid interview with Blavity, Hermon and Heroda discussed how while many see deafness as a hindrance, having a disability can actually be more beneficial than burdensome.
"We believe that us being deaf separates us from the rest of the bloggers out there and that our disability actually enhanced our popularity within media. We never allow being deaf to limit our ambition and disability doesn’t mean inability. We had to do something about it and make our voice heard!" exclaimed the Berhanes.
"Being Her is about twins with one lifestyle and two different personalities," says Hermon and Heroda when introducing the theme of their blog.
Just because they are twins with shared interests, Hermon and Heroda want the world to know that they are not the same.
Hermon is outgoing, adventurous and laid back, while Heroda is creative, sensitive and caring, according to the sisters.
"Hermon always bossed me around because she still thinks she’s one minute older than me," said Heroda.
Both Hermon and Heroda have had a strong passion for fashion at an early age, however, within their blog, the ladies have expressed their various interests that expand across the creative world.
"I have always wanted to be an actor since young but didn't have confidence skills in me to go in that direction yet," says Hermon about her acting career. "Four years ago I was traveling in South America to explore my perspective, I realized I had to do something about it. After returning I joined a short course drama group to develop my confidence and skills and finally found my hidden talents."
She is now a professional actress with roles in theater and on-screen productions.
Though Heroda pursued work in the fashion industry, she loves the arts in general and even aspires to become a commercial model in which she recently landed her first role.
Heroda further explained that while she was able to work within the industry for some time in recent years, she 'felt opportunities were more limited.'
She gave an example of designers and companies jumping the gun and refusing to hire hearing impaired individuals such as herself:
"I had an interview with a well-known designer and they decided to reject me after mentioning my deafness but I can speak fluently," she said. "So I tested myself for another interview with a different designer without telling them that I was deaf, and funnily enough, they offered me a job. They never knew about my deafness."
They told Heroda that they could not hire her because they didn't believe they could trust her with the clients.
Whatever that means.
This is only one of the many examples that showed the Berhane sisters that maybe their greatest obstacles would not be their inability to hear but of the people who doubted their skills and abilities.
"If you follow your passion and don't give up, be patient, take a risk and see what happens, start from a small step," says Heroda.
Hermon and Heroda, through their message of self-love and perseverance, want to set the record straight and debunk myths about those with hearing disabilities.
"In reality, when it comes to communication we find it hard when it comes down to levels of background noise, people mumbling (making it hard to lip read) or not getting your attention to tell you important information. Their full face must be visible. If they turn away it makes it harder to understand. While we are in a group, it's very easy to drop in on a conversation and add something. But without understanding what people say, the chance you can do that drops to zero. This is especially problematic in meetings or group conversation."
Because of such, they believe that the fashion industry, in particular, is apprehensive about hiring deaf people 'for fear of the burden and expense of communicating with' them.
However, hiring an individual with a hearing disability may not be as much of a burden as one might think.
Per a Huffington Post article, deaf/hard-of-hearing employees rank among the highest safety rating in the workforce and tend to have overall positive performance evaluations due to them being viewed as dependable, patient, and responsible by their employers.
Hermon and Heroda, who strive to educate people on reasons why they should embrace the deaf community, especially in the workforce, stated, "They don’t realize that the government provide grants for access to work, to support disabilities people to achieve their careers goal. There are some simple things that people could do, just by being and supporting deaf awareness campaigns, that would make life so much easier for people who are Deaf or have hearing loss. Perhaps even hosting their own campaigns for deaf awareness."
"There is much worry about disabilities generally and not enough focus on their talent skills. This mindset people carry is outdated, especially in the world we live in today where being different is much more accepted and tolerated. We believe our fashion blog could help challenge our attitude and make people more open to disabilities and we shouldn’t be invisible to the fashion world just because we are deaf. We are all equal," they continued.
Hermon and Heroda are shedding light on a subject often times glanced over: that those with physical disabilities have ambitions and dreams as to those that do not.
"Being deaf doesn’t stop us from what we want to do because we can do anything except hear."
BeingHer, which is a playoff of the bloggers' names, features stunning outfits, beauty and lifestyle tips, and gorgeous portraits of the future fashion icons sharing unforgettable moments while traveling the world together.
When asked about what they envision for BeingHer in the future, they both replied, 'more'.
"Our vision is to get more campaigns, brand collaboration and sponsored, also motivational speaker for those with disabilities to achieve their goals in life. We always wanted to be fashion designers since we were young. Only time will tell where we will be and we've learned the best thing to do is just go with the flow."
Despite apparent obstacles, Hermon and Heroda started their blog to inspire individuals to believe in their dreams, to take chances and for the line that causes a disparity between the hearing and deaf to be blurred.
"You have to have the courage to believe in yourself. If you truly want to follow your dream and make it come true. Go for it because you only live once, so make the experiences a good and memorable one. Cherish it and capture every opportunity, as much as you can. You have to accept rejections because if one dream dies, another dream comes," said the Berhane sisters.
"We have learned if we get knocked down, get back up and go again. We are not going to give up yet, not now, not ever. Be patient. Don't be afraid to embrace it. Don't let fear stop you from taking risks. DO IT!"
With their fashion blog which launched in 2016 and their Youtube channel receiving recognition worldwide, Hermon and Heroda Berhane are an inspiration of finding the good in every situation, the importance of sisterhood and to let your obstacles be your footstools.
Follow Hermon and Heroda on their travels and see where to find these trends at BeingHermonHeroda.com.