Jillian Mercado loves the way fashion makes her feel. The radiant colors and inventive designs whisk her away. "Every spring there is a lot of metallics and iridescent fabrics going on, which I absolutely love," she told HLN in an email interview.
Jillian is a fashion blogger in the epicenter of American fashion: New York City. She writes about the potpourri of styles and cultures she sees every day amid the city's tall beige buildings and neon night life.
Jillian was born with cerebral palsy, a disorder that affects movement, muscle tone and posture -- but it has not slowed her down one bit. She credits her parents with instilling in her a limitless determination and confidence to try new things and be herself. Among her favorite hobbies? Skiing.
"I love adventure and taking risks. Skiing is just extremely adrenaline-rushing and freeing," she said.
Freedom is important to Jillian, who has been wheelchair-bound since she was a child. In fact, last year, the 25-year-old's life turned to stoic grays and the blues when the unthinkable happened: Somebody stole her wheelchair.
"Honestly, it was one of the worst experiences I've ever had in my life because someone took my way of living," she said. "My wheelchair is my form of traveling and moving around, so having that taken from me was as if they took my life away -- I wasn't independent anymore, which is a huge part of my life, being independent. I felt hopeless and even lifeless."
An inspiring Indiegogo campaign got her another one, and she's been moving ever since -- and making big moves.
In addition to blogging for her own site, Jillian writes for several websites and has been featured in top-notch fashion magazines. "I did my first Elle article on Elle UK magazine, which is the April issue with Rihanna on the cover of it, it's a profile story about me. As far as Allure Magazine, this was my first magazine internship. They...were the first to welcome me into the fashion world."
Jillian said she was first attracted to fashion in high school, when she stumbled upon a magazine interview with Betsey Johnson. "She immediately became one of my first designers I loved," she said. "We as New Yorkers are always into a mindset of wearing black all the time yet with her she has so much fun colors and textures, it really opened up my eyes to different mediums."
This is Jillian: Fashionista, full-of-life New Yorker, and enthusiastic about the bouquet of wonderful palettes that fashion affords people to wear. She is living life in full color.