Draya Michele had her first big fashion show for her line Fine Ass Girls on the season four premiere of Basketball Wives LA and VH1 had an exclusive chat with Draya about breaking out of the reality TV world to with her fashion line and her swim line Mint Swim.
How did fashion come into your life?
Draya Michele: Getting into fashion was always something that I wanted to do and I started with Mint Swim. Fine Ass Girls kinda started as a hobby but I did not want it to be merchandise, so I decided to make it a real brand and it just happened to work. I never expected for Fine Ass Girls to be such a big deal.
Are you a trained designer or seamstress? How did you learn to do this all!?
No, there is no training for any of that. I think you should go to fashion school, but I didn’t. I just kinda had a passion for things that I knew I liked and that I wanted to wear, and I started drawing them and I would take my drawings to sample makers and I would have things made and then I would try them on and if I liked them I would want them to be a part of my line and I just put all of my funds together and just built it slowly from the ground up.
Are there a lot of other designers helping with this? How many designers are on your team?
I’m the only one who designs right now and I do everything. The only thing I have help with is my sketches that I actually show to the world but the first sketch is done by me. I am completely hands on and I just haven’t redrawn because the professional sketch artists are better but I do every measurement, every spec, every color wave, all of it is fixed by me.
How do you think your line stands out? How do you think you standout as a designer?
Well, it’s all made by me and I listen to the people, so I already have an audience. I am able to directly ask my people, “Hey, what do you guys want?” and then they answer and I can actually deliver, I can actually make it. I am not just making what I love I am also making what they request.
What has this transition been like for you – from single mom on reality TV to successful fashion designer?
I could not have ask for an easier transition. The move [from Philly suburbs to Los Angeles] was a little tough, being away from my family, but the success and all the support that I get makes it way easier. It’s been an incredible experience.
How hard is it to be taken seriously in fashion coming from reality TV? Is the platform too good to let go?
Well being on reality TV is a good thing and a bad thing. It has it’s many many benefits and I could not be more thankful for being on TV. It gives you the opportunity to have a free commercial, you can be a walking billboard and it helps you create awareness for your brand. Then again being on reality TV, there are some cons that come with it. In the Hollywood world, it is a little bit frowned upon. It can kind of keep you in a D-List sort of circulation but you just have to rise above that and be your own person outside of reality TV and make your own name for yourself.
Why do you think some people are able to breakout of reality TV, like NeNe Leakes and Bethenny Frankel and others struggle?
I think that you have to have something special about you that helps you transition and I definitely think that Nene and Bethany had a special sparkle about them that help them transition. Some people are made for it and some people just aren’t because you know every other reality star has tried to do other things and they have tried to do fashion lines and they have tried to do alcohol and they try to do TV and movies and everything and it just doesn’t work for them because it is just not real. Some people just want to take an opportunity to do something else because they are on TV and their heart is just not in it and I think that when they don’t succeed at it you can tell the hard work is not in it.
Who is someone that is a self-made woman that you admire and look up to?
I really admire Victoria Beckham, I think she is just incredibly amazing. She has done so many things from creating her own brand and designing the inside of the new Range Rovers. She is just like every woman but not like every woman, she is beautiful, she has kids, she walks around in high heels with this giant bag and holding her baby at the same time. She just kills! So I love Victoria Beckham.
You have always been a fan favorite on Basketball Wives LA but do ever get sick of being labeled as hot or being recognized for your looks?
No, you know a girl can never get enough compliments. I prefer to be known as funny because I am funny. It’s great that I look cute and everything, but I really do enjoy making people laugh and I do enjoy being radiant and all the other stuff.
What is Draya Michele’s ultimate goal in 5 years? Where would you like to be?
I would like for Mint Swim and Fine Ass Girls to be the biggest and the best out there and, you know, just on the big screen, maybe some movies.
And, totally unrelated but I’m just curious, were you ever able to resolve anything with Sundy Carter from last season?
No, she kinda fell off the face of the earth and that is what usually happens to people who argue with me on reality TV. They kinda fall of the face of the earth after that.