Eritrean twins Hermon and Heroda Berhane’s lives were changed in an instant at the age of seven when they were playing in their back garden and suddenly stopped being able to hear. ‘At first our mum thought we were ignoring her when she called us, but then she quickly realised that something was wrong,’ recalls Hermon. The family first went to Ethiopia, then America, for tests to confirm that they were deaf (no cause was found), before moving to England at the age of eight. ‘At the time it was all overwhelming,’ says Heroda, ‘It has made us very close; over the years, we have often felt stronger together, as if we can take on the world because our bond is so strong.’
Fashion and lifestyle bloggers Hermon and Heroda Berhane are deaf twins with a close bond.
"It has made us very close; over the years, we have often felt stronger together, as if we can take on the world because our bond is so strong."
This was especially the case when it came to their education. ‘We went to a boarding school for deaf children, which was like being part of a family where we were able to communicate easily with British Sign Language but when we started at the London College of Fashion, we were suddenly thrown into the hearing world. Although we had note takers and interpreters, there were lots of barriers,’ continues Heroda. ‘It felt like people often looked down at us because they didn’t have awareness of what deafness actually meant and that destroyed our confidence. Similarly, when applying for jobs in the fashion industry, deafness was a discriminating factor.’
Heroda spent a decade working for John Lewis while Hermon began a career as an actress. Then, three years ago, the pair reached a turning point when they decided to set up their own fashion, travel and lifestyle blog Being Her. ‘We were frustrated by the fashion industry’s lack of accessibility and felt like our dreams were being diluted by our deafness. We want to push for equality and encourage people to discover their own individuality,’ explains Hermon. ‘I think that people have been inspired by our story because we’ve been honest about what we’ve been through,’ continues Heroda. ‘We are proud of who we are and our deafness is a huge part of that.’
One day they might post about a trip to Morocco or San Francisco, the next, the latest fashion trends hitting the high street. Travel is important (we recently stayed at the Moxy in New York which really matched our personalities; it felt like our little bubble away from the madness, says Hermon) as are pushing their own boundaries, and the pair has collaborated with all kinds of brands, including giving talks at the Stella McCartney head office and starring in a fashion campaign for River Island. Social media is such a powerful way to be able to express our message of inclusion. So far it’s working but we have a long way to go – we aren’t finished yet, concludes Hermon.
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