INTERVIEW: At Home With Sara Fernandez
“Our homes and experiences are editorial, too.”
To some, Sara Fernandez is a model who walked Willy Chavarria’s Spring/Summer 2023 show to others she is the face behind campaigns for brands we love like Miaou, Garmette and Jordan Brand. But, to understand the weight of Fernandez’s work is to know the power that is representation.
I first saw Sara Fernandez on my For You Page wearing a flower on the tip of her ear and showing every detail of her beautiful home which resembled my own home growing up. I skimmed through all of her content and followed her immediately. Week after week, through her social media, I would either encounter another creative or model that she was amplifying — every woman completely iconic. I saw her modeling for new brands and walking my favorite designer’s show.
Quickly, the multi-hyphen creative and the people around her became so important to me because I could see myself in their content. It makes me emotional to think about what the power of representation has had on my confidence since I started being intentional with the media I consume and I’m excited to know that young girls have easier access to media with models and creatives that they can see themselves in.
Hypebae had the chance to sit with Fernandez in her beautiful childhood home and talk all things representation and identity. Keep reading for the full interview.
The TikTok you made showing the details of your Casita is the reason I followed you so being able to shoot these images in your home is really a perfect coming together moment. I saw myself in every detail you showed. Growing up, I was always felt insecure about my home, my school lunch, my clothes and my overall culture looking different to that of my friends. Did you ever feel that way? What was the importance for you for showing your home for this feature?
I did grow up with a lot of the shame that children of immigrants have. My household didn’t look like what I saw on TV, my mom was a domestic worker and I didn’t wear the latest trends because I wore the hand-me-downs from the families that my mom would work for or from the thrift store. I later went to UCLA for my undergraduate program and realized that the majority of the students that I went to school with did not look like me and definitely did not come from an experience or background like mine.
Because I missed home so much, I used my uniqueness as a safety blanket. It was my armor – I found agency and strength in it. Working in the fashion industry is kind of like being a brown student in a PWI. I am aware that I stand out and am not like these other models, creative directors and so on, but that is what makes me different and even more capable of doing these jobs, because I have worked twice as hard to get there. I walk into any set and tell myself, “Yes, I am that girl from NELA, whose mom cleans houses, who drives a 2006 Toyota Corolla, whose house is bright orange with Mexican and Central American decals in it.” This is glamorous, too – our homes and our experiences are “editorial,” too. Especially because we are the blueprint.
Growing up in Los Angeles did you ever struggle with your identity or authenticity?
Yes, I struggled with my identity so much as any brown kid did. I wanted to fit in as much as I could, but I really appreciate that I had such conscious and socially aware parents that guided me and continuously taught me the importance of my culture. They kept me involved with my community through a lot of cultural activities.
During our conversation, you were shocked at the impact your social presence and past campaigns could have on someone. Can you expand on how you feel about the influence you carry and what are some things you hope to achieve with that influence?
It makes me extremely emotional that I can create an impact on someone and make them feel seen. I never realized how important my work was until people started messaging me and telling me how much my work inspired them, made them feel represented or even beautiful. I understand now that this work is so much bigger than me and I carry my community with me on every set I go on with pride. I strive to open gateways for women that look like me and resonate with my story into this industry because we need more of us. It should not be a rarity for someone like me to be doing a job like this. It should be normal. That is my goal.
When you think of a role model, who comes to mind?
My sisters come to mind. Not only are they kind and beautiful people inside and out, but they are also the prime examples of success to me. My sisters are doctors and one is an educator and they are all passionate about their vocations. They have taught me the importance of pursuing a career that makes me feel motivated and excited.
What’s something you wish you could tell your younger self as it relates to authenticity?
I wish I could tell myself growing up that I didn’t need to impress or please anyone when it came to my persona. I was a big people pleaser growing up and felt that I had to be liked by everyone in order to be accepted. I wish I could tell little Sarita that being myself is enough.
Is there a model or creative whose influence has made you more confident in your own skin?
You are a champion of the women in your community so here’s a shameless plug opportunity just for you. Who are three women our Hypebae community would benefit from following?
What would you say to someone struggling to see their own beauty?
I would remind them that their beauty is so much more than just their looks, that they are a whole person outside of their physical appearance with beautiful attributes that people admire and love.
What’s next for you?
I used to take the bus down from Highland Park to UCLA every morning and I would always see these huge billboards on Sunset Boulevard for high fashion brands such as Chloé, Chanel and more and I would tell myself that one day I would see myself on the way to school on one of these billboards. I still aspire to do more high fashion work. There is a rise in brown, plus models in the commercial world but we still lack a huge representation in the high fashion world. I am working on changing that.