Hardship pushed UWI student to start fashion line

June 22, 2017
A daring piece produced by fashion designer Robinette Hemley.
Fashion designer and university student Robinette Hemley.
A bold swimwear piece from the Nire Era clothing line.
Another Robinette Hemley design.

A student of the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, has launched a clothing line to help put herself through school.

Robinette Hemley, the person behind Nire Era clothing, is a second-year student who majors in economics.

Hemley, who hails from Clarendon, said she would not have been able to initially attend university had it not been for the Student's Loan Bureau.

The loan, however, only covered tuition. Hemley said that she turned to sewing in order to get money for her boarding fees.

She said that her first year fees were paid by a combination of the income she got from sewing and her mother's partner draws. Hemley said her father, who lives in New York, also helped.

"My father did as much as he could to help me. He paid my miscellaneous fees and bought the things I needed for my room. But he is paralysed from the waist down, which is why he can't really help much," she said.

However, Hemley was confident that she could rely on her hands to not only make fashion but to provide well-needed revenue.

She said she learnt to sew by watching her mother hand sew pillow cases and her grandmother working as an assistant to a dressmaker.

Hemley said she never took sewing seriously until she started university and had to help fund her schooling.




She told THE STAR that when she first launched her line, it was called Chic Era. However, she recently changed her brand name to Nire Era.

"Chic was chosen by me and my silent investor back in sixth form," she said. Hemley explained the name changed when she encountered another designer with a similar name.

She noted the word 'chic' was frequent in clothing and hair and she wanted to be different. Nire means 'my' in the Basque language so the line became Nire (My) Era.

The line is made up of mostly swimwear but she designs and makes clothing as well.

"Designing is definitely a big part of Nire Era. The only time I don't design is when a customer comes to me with a design and I just make what they want," she said.

Hemley said Nire Era is not just a clothing brand "it's a business, it's my talent baby and it's a family."

"I am looking to branch out into everything woman and watch that become fruitful before anything else. It's not just something I do because of financial issues. The financial issues are just an extra push," said Hemley who, in January, won a tuition scholarship.

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