ESSENCE Fashion House: Jamillah Davis Hernandez and Devan Wallace On Mental Health In Black Fashion



Despite the increasing presence of Black individuals across various sectors of the fashion industry, significant challenges remain. These challenges include discrimination, limited opportunities, wage disparities, and a higher risk of burnout compared to our non-Black counterparts in the workplace. Let’s hear what two entrepreneurs have to say in Essence Fashion House’s Free Your Mind: Mental Health and Wellness Behind the Scenes in Fashion

Jamillah Davis Hernandez serves as a Vice President at Saks, while Devan Wallace specializes in public relations at Louis Vuitton. Despite their impressive career accomplishments and ambitions, they prioritize life over work.

“I try to start (my day) with some meditation, stretching, and breathing,” Davis Hernandez said. “And then I get right to it. It’s all about business. I’m in business fashion; my job is always punching numbers. It’s 80 percent numbers. A lot of times you’ll be buying and picking out amazing things, but a lot of times you’re calculating how much these things cost, if you can make the sales plan, there’s a lot of math.”

Wallace’s daily responsibilities are equally demanding. She said that she starts her day with more than 100 emails, given her dual role in both menswear and womenswear.

“My job is a mix of having great people skills because nothing ever works,” Wallace said. “You have to be able to be able to deliver bad news with a smile…I’m a problem solver. You have to be used to working with people in different time zones.”

In addition to working one of her dream jobs, Davis Hernandez has two other passions: her children. While she’s worked at Saks for over 20 years, Davis Hernandez prioritizes her mental health and showing up for her kids.

“As a mom, a lot of times I want to be present with my children,” Davis Hernandez said. “I’m really proactive about my calendar. Sometimes that calendar doesn’t overlap. Yesterday was the first day of school, I was not at work. I was with my children, so I took the day off. That’s how I said no.”

Senior Fashion Editor Devine Blacksher, also the moderator for Essence Fashion House conversation, said she also experienced burnout and exhaustion despite doing meaningful work in the past. 

In conclusion, Davis Hernandez and Wallace stressed the connection between personal and work life, noting that if you’re struggling in one, it can negatively impact the other. Prioritizing mental health is essential for fostering a healthy mindset in the workplace and personal life alike.  


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