Empowerment Series: Netflix Star of “Designing Miami,” Founder and Creative Director of Sire Design, Eilyn Jimenez Shares her Dream with AW
The road to our dreams is never easy. We are discouraged by rejection, delays, naysayers, and the challenges presented along the way to success. Eilyn Jimenez says that “With tenacity, dedication, and hard work, anything is possible.”
About 5 years ago, Eilyn dreamed about where she is today and the experiences she is living. Her career, as Founder and Creative Director of Sire Design, is on fire. The Netflix series, “Designing Miami” in which she stars with her husband, Ray Jimenez has become a hit! He is the Founder and Creative Director of Raymond Nicolas Design House. How is that for competition? The Cuban and Dominican dynamic duo are a winning combination on screen and in real life.
AW sat with the talented designer to talk about her dreams, her influences growing up, woman empowerment, the popular series, and what is next for the power couple.
This interview is dedicated to the dreamers and families that come to the United States with not much more than a dream in their pocket.
Millions of dreamers don’t get to see their vision come true. I have no doubt that you had to overcome your own barriers to get here. You said that you dreamed about where you are today. Can you share with us when and how you came to this point? As individuals, we all have dreams, goals, and aspirations. Some of those are tangible, where you feel “Yes, for sure I got this.” While others are like “Wow, this is a dream come true.” These are the ones we feel, may never happen. I had a vision of what I wanted to do and accomplish but I never knew exactly what the path was to get there. There was one thing that was always consistent which is hard work and a good heart. I know putting my best foot forward and doing the work with tenacity can accomplish almost anything.
When we found out that Netflix picked up our show, it was an a-ha moment. I thought “Oh My God! This is what I’ve been working for all my life!” Getting the recognition and doing things I’ve been wanting to do is amazing. Being able to do this in the first round, getting the first season, and doing the show on such a huge platform was something we did not expect. We wanted to contribute something authentic and doing it this way was really beautiful. I do not have hair, glam, and make-up every day, my house is not picked up all the time, and everything is not always peaches and peonies in the office, but that is real life!
On the other side of the coin, you have beautiful experiences like creating these spaces with the clients and working with so many Latinos. We wanted to show all this coming together, and seeing the realization of that was a very serendipitous moment for me.
It takes passion and commitment to bring our dreams to fruition. As the daughter of immigrants, I believe that our dreams have become part of our fabric. My parents came to The United States from the Dominican Republic dreaming of a better life. I feel a lot of that was passed on to me. Now, I get to give the baton to my daughter, as she goes out to pursue her own success. How have your parents influenced your life? What has been the most valuable advice you received from them, as you go after the life of your dreams? That is a great question! I am making this up, don’t know if there is such terminology but I think there is such a thing as “immigrant syndrome.” When you come to this country as an immigrant, you know there are dreams you can accomplish and others that are untouchable. It isn’t uncommon, the perception that certain dreams are not meant for you, not for Latinos. Oftentimes, you are urged to “choose a normal life.” Do the thing, get married, have kids, work a 9 to 5p but dreams are not really spoken about as a real option.
I refer to it as “immigrant syndrome,” believing you have reached the motherland, we have gotten here, and this is as far as we can get. But I think as children of immigrants, we now see things differently. We are feeling grateful, saying “Thank you for your sacrifices but we’re now going to take it up a notch, take this a bit further. Vamos agregarle un poquito de sazon!”
I believe this ideology was something taught to me. I see my father, an immigrant, and who he is as a person. I see him as an adult and how he limits himself out of fear. Working from this mindset of wanting to be more but feeling like “Ok, this is enough.” I have wanted to break this cycle. I was born here and can do whatever the hell I want! I could do anything, as long as I set my mind to it and do the work.
As immigrants and Latinos, one of our greatest strengths is the refusal to give up. It is generational, it’s in our blood and DNA. Quitting is not an option, determination that comes from our family. Our parents sacrifice so much to come to this country looking for possibilities. Now, we take that baton and pass it on to future generations.
One of the things, I love about Sire Design is the team you have built! The women are all about female empowerment and supporting one another. You mentor and give them an opportunity to prove themselves, allowing space for growth. Did you have the same opportunities coming up the ranks? Were there women who helped you with your dream? Unfortunately, can’t say the environment I have today is a model taken from my experience. Never, was I in a scenario surrounded by women that empowered me and pushed my dreams. On the contrary, as a woman and Latina in an industry that is primarily led by men, you are often belittled. Plus, if you have some nice hair, a pretty face and you are kind or nice, you’re taken as someone who may be ignorant but attractive, again, dismissed to a certain point. Although deep down I have a soft heart, it all helped me develop a thick skin.
I knew I wanted to work in a place where I loved going to and where people enjoyed working. We only have one life. In America, we are taught that life revolves around our work then we go home. I did not want that for myself or anyone that worked with me. The team works hard but we laugh, have fun, and support each other. It is an environment where you are working but cultivating creativity, too. I want to see everyone be their best selves and grow with the firm.
You have a thriving business with an incredible team then comes along this Netflix series, “Designing Miami.” Was the show part of your dream? How did it come about and do we get a second season? Possibly, you have to wait and see! There is a lot in the works, conversations going on and we are making moves.
“Designing Miami” somewhat fell into our laps. Having done previous work with television, led to this opportunity. Cameras don’t bother me, probably because I am just being myself. The thought of doing television was there but I never imagined having my own show on Netflix. This is a unique experience, it’s rare to have two people that do the same thing, are married, and are also competitors. The idea was interesting to the producers, it is based on real life, and nothing is made up. A pilot was filmed and we had 3 offers but ultimately, we went with Netflix.
I will never forget the day we received the phone call. Growing up as a child of immigrants, even though, I’m a first-generation American, you think things like this don’t happen to you. This kind of world and life is only for certain types of people. Don’t get me wrong, you still get some pushback. We are Latinas in a Latino-driven show, we know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. We did not imagine it was even possible, so when it happened, it was surreal.
I believe it is important to check in with ourselves regularly as we build our dream life. There is a lot of pressure that comes with this life, prioritizing, pivoting, and replacing some dreams with new ones. You are a busy lady! Paying attention to our mental well-being has become critical. Great question! One tip I can offer is my dreams and goals, I write them down and don’t revisit them until the following year. When I open that book, I get to see all the things I’ve accomplished. Some I may have even forgotten about! I think by not looking at them, you are still manifesting but not putting pressure on yourself.
Also, it is important to understand that everyone’s timing is right. Long as you are consistently working towards your goals, whether you make mistakes, or get lazy. I can’t tell you how many days I have felt like I don’t want to do anything. It is okay, you are human. We live in a world of social media, which has a way of making us feel like we are always catching up. We have to go at our own pace and do things in a manner that feels right to us. If a dream is causing anxiety or worry, it has the wrong approach. Enjoy the process, even though sometimes it hurts because it’s not all flowing the way you want it to. If you are not enjoying the process and growing from it then you need to redirect your vision. We’ll always have our dreams, keep working on them, and it will all fall into place.
How does Eilyn take care of herself? I get my hair done once a week, and my nails done every two weeks, monthly massage and facial, champagne Wednesday, and Truffle Fries with my girlfriends. Life is meant to enjoy, and taking moments to do all those things, keeps me sane. All of those things reflect love, being a friend, and taking care of myself.
I like to end AW interviews with a mantra, quote, or advice for our listeners. What would you like to share with readers and listeners that are still working on their dreams and feel discouraged or like giving up? We all have those types of days. Life is sometimes like a boomerang and it won’t always be great. If it is amazing, quick and all peaches there is no growth or learning. The hard parts and discouragement are what build character. It is like a slingshot, you have to pull back with force to get further, this is the same thing.
Whenever you go through something difficult, process it. You know that down the line, it will make sense. It is intended to get you to where you need to be. If things don’t work out, it’s happening for a reason. Continue to do things with a good heart, and be genuine. See what the world gives you back when you do that.
AW is filled with gratitude to Eilyn for sharing her dream with us. She is authentic, relatable and so graceful when discussing her journey. Our interview came on a day when I felt my own confidence lacking from a week of disappointments. Dreamers encounter endless roadblocks on the way to realizing a vision. We thrive during times when the wins are rolling in one after the other and forget that behind them come challenges. We cannot fear or be hindered by the barriers ahead. If the dream is worth it then the grind will be too.
Share this story with anyone who may need inspiration. It is a great reminder that we can all make our dreams a reality if we continue doing the work.
For more about Eilyn Jimenez, visit Instagram@eilynjimenez_ @siredesign or http://www.siredesign.com. Designing Miami is streaming on Netflix.
*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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