In the competitive world of modeling, Gladys Lobillo is a standout. The striking Guatemalan/Cuban beauty overcame debilitating adolescent self-image issues to become a face for brands like No Label Watches and Jovani Dresses, culminating in representing the U.S. in the "Top Model Of The World" pageant in Egypt this year.
Determined to be a businesswoman in addition to a pretty face, Gladys has created an empowering apparel line called Young Queen. True to her New York City "street but sweet" aesthetic, the brand currently consists of fitted hats and jersey dresses with immediate plans for expansion. From the runway to the boardroom, the sky's the limit for this bright young talent on a mission to inspire.
Why did you create "Young Queen"?
“I started using Young Queen to keep me focused on my own goals and dreams. I thought it would be relatable to other women striving to reach their goals and dreams. A 'Queen' to me has so much power and it's easy to forget how much we are able to accomplish when we first believe in ourselves. When we treat ourselves with the highest of standards and utmost respect, so will others. I wanted to create something both women and men can relate to and wear on a daily basis to remind themselves of their dreams. For men to look at their women as the Queen they are, and vice versa.”
What are your expansion plans for the brand?
“As for expansion plans, I currently have a few things in the works. I don’t want to speak on them too much though; I prefer actions to speak for themselves.”
You're a beautiful mix of Guatemalan and Cuban heritage. How connected are you to the cultures of your parents?
“I love my countries very much I've been to both a few times and it's always been an amazing time. As I've gotten older I want to know more about my heritage, so I'm learning as we speak.
In addition to a budding fashion designer, you're also an aspiring model and actress. Your bio says you struggled with self-image from childhood to early adolescence. How did you pull through those hard times?
“I think all females struggle with self-image, especially during adolescence and kids can be mean. We're constantly bombarded with images of perfect models that at that age, you don’t know are airbrushed and Photoshopped. You start to believe you have to live up to that. I'm blessed to have a supportive mother and strong friendships with other strong-minded females.”
If a young woman's going through a rough time without a strong support system, where might she look for help and inspiration?
“It sounds cliché, but you really have to look within yourself for strength. Once you start to believe in yourself, your outlook can really change.”
What's a favorite quote that you live by?
“My favorite quote is by Oprah Winfrey. ‘Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.’ My motto for every day is: ‘Do the thing, and you shall have the power’ by Jeff Olson.