Who is Ylondra Marrero? For many years I asked myself that very same question, searching for answers in all the wrong places, wanting acceptance and validation from all the wrong people. Looking outside of myself for what was already within me all along. This quest to find and understand myself through the eyes of others placed me in a very dark place in my life where I lost my identity and fell into a deeper sense of loss and disorientation.
I inherited my love for fashion from my maternal grandmother in my early childhood years. She lovingly designed and created hand sewn dresses that first she designed and later allowed me to. We would sneak away to the fabric store to buy material and I would describe my designs and she would bring them to life. Now I oftentimes reminisce on those beautiful moments and wish I had more time with her because there were so many things I failed to see, understand and express in those moments. Today I would love the opportunity to just sit and have a conversation with her, ask her advice and let her know how instrumental she was in the formation of the woman I am today. She showed me deep and true love and was the first person to help me see my beauty and then rock it with her beautiful dresses. Today I can easily say I am Ylondra Marrero, fashion aficionado because of Antonia Rodriguez.
My journey in the fashion world has been challenging and very bitter sweet to say the least. For years I fought with myself trying hard to be the woman everyone else wanted me to be instead of embracing who I already was. No one understood my passion for fashion or my love for the runway. I was constantly judged, ridiculed, mocked and even forbidden to pursue my dream. I look back now with sadness realizing I wasted so many years trying to please everyone else and understanding only now that I was betraying myself in the process. I cried rivers of tears filled with pain and disappointment when I should have been loving life and living it my way. I allowed the negativity of everyone else to cloud my thoughts, limit my vision and doubt my own ability to reach greatness. Back then I was unable to understand that I was given a special gift and it was for ME to see, believe in and understand… how could I expect everyone to see it if it wasn’t their dream to see?
During the process of finding my identity and becoming the new Ylondra Marrero, I knew I had to let go of what was hindering my life and holding me back. I had to face the realization that I needed to start loving myself and doing what was right for me. That was a turning point in my life where I finally started loving the little girl inside of me. I lost her at the very young age of 12 with the loss of my baby sister Kristal. That’s when my life started to unravel and the moment I began to forget who I was. It took my discovery of self-love to begin to understand that the little girl inside needed and wanted to be accepted and loved by others but never once looked in the mirror and loved herself.
My journey into self-love brought me great healing and clarity, without it I could not see my pathway. I learned to stop listening to the lies that made me doubt myself so that I could start loving myself and start believing in myself. I was determined to live the life I wanted to live despite the ugly and sometimes monstrous comments spoken about me. I was told that I was too old to model, that as a single mother I needed to concentrate in being a mom and caring for my children. I was told that I wasn’t tall enough, not pretty enough and not slim enough. In their eyes I was never good enough and the most difficult part about hearing these words was when it came from those who were supposed to love me the most, because they were my own family. But what they failed to realize is that their harshness and negativity was the very fuel I needed to become my momentum and propel me into my own greatness. Because of their inability to see my beauty and strength I climbed even higher mountains and reached brighter stars.
As the proud mother of three beautiful girls going down this transformational road I had to come to the realization that I owed it to them just as much as to myself to find the courage to leave the old Ylondra behind so that I could allow God to mold and create the amazing role model I was trying to be for them. How could I speak power and strength into them if I wasn’t willing or able to leave behind the life that was holding me back and believe in myself enough to bring my greatness into fruition. How could I expect greatness and wonder from them if I wasn’t strong enough to give it to myself? It was this responsibility and great commitment as a mother that pushed me to really shed the old me and step into this woman you now see before you today.
But the journey into finding greatness and becoming who I was destined to be was not an easy one. However, now I see it as a very necessary one for in those thorns I discovered my strength and found my lost crown. In that process of shedding not only the fear, self-doubt and judgement of others I also had to lose the physical. I reached a point so low where I lost everything. I lost my house, my car, my marriage and all my material belongings. But in the end the victory was mine because it was in all that loss that I finally found myself. It really is true that sometimes we need to find rock bottom in order to rebuild ourselves new because once you’ve hit ground level there’s only one way to go from there and that is up! From that point on I made a promise to myself to never, ever lose myself again. I discovered and embodied tenacity in my pursuit of success and became very persistent in my journey. I knew in my heart I had God at my side and he ultimately had my back so I could not fail. It was, after all, Him who gave me the vision at the age of 14. That’s when He planted the seed in my heart of becoming a fashion model, opening my own boutique with the underlying purpose of promoting self-love and self-acceptance to all women and men.
Fast forward to the present and I look back in awe and admiration at that journey, although difficult and painful also very rewarding and beautiful. I have had the honor of being featured in numerous magazines. I have been blessed to model for many designers such as Peter Nygard, Ralph Lauren, Alice in Wynwood and many others. I have proudly walked the runway numerous times in Miami, NYC, and Virginia. Just recently I was able to travel to both Italy and Greece for the promotion of my own JEM Fab Fashions clothes line. Earlier this year I celebrated the launch of JEM with a beautiful Gala and Fashion Show. It was the culmination and the realization of my longtime dream and an amazing moment I will forever treasure.
As the newly transformed and ever evolving and growing Ylondra Marrero of today, my mission is to be an inspiration to anyone and everyone to see my life and my journey and know that if I did it, so can they. If I was able to face unimaginable and unsurmountable obstacles and difficulties in order to become this new me, anyone can. My goal is to utilize my JEM line to promote self-love and help others embrace their beauty within.
Now I want to speak directly to you – I want YOU to Rock your Fab and not only look beautiful but feel beautiful exactly how you are and wherever you are in your own journey at this very moment. I want you to understand that you can achieve whatever your heart desires regardless of your situation. You are already beautiful, courageous and deeply loved by the most Highest. You are already enough. Don’t allow anyone to steal your identity, diminish your dreams or discourage you from your journey.
It’s your life, live it the way you want to live it and above all, live it with gratitude! Now pick up your crown my Queens and Kings! You got this!
We believe you should feel good in your clothes and you should love the body you’re in! Our goal is to help you find the perfect outfit that accentuates your beauty and helps you celebrate your life in a fabulous way!
The Celebration of You!
JEM Fab Fashions is all about celebrating and inspiring beauty through fashion in all walks of life. Fashion isn’t about age, shape or size. It only requires that you dare to Believe… – Ylondra Marrero