Draya Michele Is a Woman of Her Own Design
Since leaving the cast, Draya continues to flourish as a fashion designer, actress, and mother, and with not even a glance at her haters. She’s too busy taking meetings or finding inspiration for her three clothing lines to be bothered.
When you look at her, she doesn’t want you to see the reality star, but instead a woman who is unafraid to speak her mind and can make anything happen.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child, I wanted to be a musician, I thought I was going to be a singer or something.
Nice, do you have a good voice?
I do not have a good voice! So, you know, the singing career never actually flourished for me.
When did you decide that you wanted to get into fashion?
It was something that I was always interested in and always tried my hand at. I used to draw pictures of clothes as a kid and then I eventually bought a sewing machine and I attempted to learn how to sew. I mean, it didn’t fully click until about 25 years old and then I was just like, I gotta get out of Pennsylvania and I gotta do this and I have to go to the next big city that I can get to and make it happen there.
How many clothing lines do you currently have?
The three clothing lines I currently have are my swimsuit line which is called Mint Swim, I have an urban girl’s line called Fine Ass Girls, and I have a women’s clothing line called Beige and Cocoa that I just launched. They’re three completely different lines. They all have their own fan base. For Mint Swim and stuff, the girl is a summertime or adventurous type of girl, and we have a variety of sizes, so we cater to almost everyone. Fine Ass Girls is a very young brand so it’s for girls that are influenced by pop culture, influenced by social media, stuff like that. And then Beige and Cocoa is my more mature and sophisticated line for women, that’s the stuff I kind of moved into for myself so that’s why I created that.
What inspires you when you’re creating new pieces for them?
Definitely social media is one of the things that I get a lot of ideas from. I really love Pinterest and a lot of times I will just search a specific thing. Like sometimes I’ll just search gray sweaters and I’ll look at them for hours. Sometimes I search for things that aren’t clothing and I get inspired by that. I get inspired by watches, I get inspired by cars, jewelry inspires me, but pretty much it’s a lot of social media, it’s a lot of Pinterest.
Pinterest inspires me too! Haha. Tell me something interesting about the way that you create.
Interestingly enough, I sketch everything out myself first. It usually looks like a Kindergartner did it and then I send it to a professional sketch artist so that they can re-sketch it the right way but I do try. I want people to know they may never get to see my sketches but they exist.
Who are your favorite designers?
I really love Tom Ford, really love Zac Posen, and I really love Victoria Beckham.
Overall who inspires you?
That is going to go back again to Victoria Beckham. She’s definitely like, the GOAT of this life. She’s a mom, she’s a wife, and she does all these jobs and she never has on flat shoes. She’s doing all these things in heels and a big giant purse and she’s just kind of magical. It’s like, how does she do it all?
What middle school fashion trend do you regret?
Oh my gosh, the Soda sneakers! Like the big old platform Spice Girl shoes! The white ugly ones.
Oh, haha, they look like Bratz doll shoes.
Yeah, and they look like they might be for someone who’s handicapped. So I wore those, and I used to wear those teddy bear backpacks like from Clueless. Those were bad.
What has been your favorite aspect of being a public figure?
I appreciate that people trust me and they trust my judgment. Being that I’m the head of a few brands, it’s really important that you have a fan base first, but also that you have a fan base that trusts you, and mine really does. They don’t think that I’m going to try to sell them any crap because I’m not. For my companies, or for any other companies, I’m not going to endorse anything I don’t believe in.
What do you dislike the most about being a public figure?
I guess the privacy. Privacy is hard to obtain so people feel like you owe them a lot because they feel like they know so much. When there’s something you decide specifically you want to keep from the public, it makes them kind of want to know about it even more. And it’s just hard to keep a secret in this industry.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about you?
I think that people think because I come from a reality TV background that the highlights of the show are my highlights. If you could watch the best of Draya on a reality show, it’s gonna show you these really crappy highlights that aren’t my best moments, they’re just the best moments of the show. And I think a lot of people may think that that’s how I really am and think I’m a little bit aggressive or violent. You could take it a whole bunch of different ways depending on what you look at but none of those are me. I was literally put in an environment with women I did not know that did not like me so it was very hard to go to work every day and be happy about it, so a lot of the time I seemed very miserable and I’m not anymore.
How do you deal with haters?
Haters come in all forms. Haters come in the form of friends and those kind of people who I feel like are friends or frenemies, I try to get away from them. I try to minimize the people in my life that are not full supporters of me and my ideas and stuff like that. I don’t want any yes men but I don’t want any haters around me. And then there’s hate on social media and it used to bother me when people gave me negative comments and now I just leave them. I used to delete them, I used to write back, and now I’m just like whatever, people are entitled to their own opinion. It is what it is. Everyone’s not gonna like my dress, everyone’s not gonna like my shoes, everyone’s not gonna like my caption, and that’s just the way of the world. I can’t just filter through to block the haters out, I gotta let them live, so that is how I deal with them. I let them get their little shine on in the comments.
What would you say is an insecurity you have learned to accept and how have you learned to accept it?
I always had insecurities about how people viewed me. I used to be afraid to speak around certain people that I felt were at a higher level in life than me because I felt like if I said the wrong thing, I’d be judged for it and I just didn’t want anyone to think that I was stupid or uneducated or just plain ignorant. A lot of times my insecurities made me seem quiet to where I may have had an opinion, I just wasn’t confident enough to say what it was at the time. I also had insecurities just about being unable to hold an educated conversation with educated people. I learned that opinions are unique to the individuals and people want to hear what I have to say and if they’re having a conversation with you, that’s the first sign that they want to hear what you have to say. I’ve learned now to just speak my mind and to say things that I truly believe in, that way when it’s time to defend myself, I can because it’s real.
What’s a day like in your life?
I get up, I have some coffee, I play with my baby a little bit, feed him breakfast, and then I go off to work. I usually work all day and my work days consist of different things. I have all these brands so I dedicate different days to different brands. I also do phone interviews and take meetings, answer emails, and I have personal errands that I try to squeeze in. I like to fill my days up and I love to be busy. When I don’t have anything to do, I don’t feel productive.
What do you carry in your every day bag?
My phone charger, a portable charger just in case I’m not around any electricity, lip balm, so much change in the bottom of my bag that it’s unbelievable, and candy. I eat these old-fashioned wild cherry hard candies, you can only find them at Michael’s Craft Store, and I love them. They’re amazing. And that’s it. I need my lip balm, and some money, and the candy, and that’s it.
What is the most important aspect of your self care?
I definitely think that getting enough sleep is the most important thing. It gives your mind a rest and my mind runs daily, sometimes my thoughts keep me up at night and sometimes I go to sleep to escape my thoughts. I think sleep is very healthy, it’s very soothing, and a lot of us need more of it than we’re actually getting.
What is the biggest thing that you hope people learn from you?
I hope that people learn that you can come from anywhere in the world because I come from a small city that people haven’t even heard of and I had goals and I reached them. I still have more goals and they are what motivate me to get out of bed every day and keep going. I think that girls, especially, need to know that the world is your oyster and you can be whatever you want to be.
What is next for you?
Besides my clothing lines – I’m still developing the Spring and Summer collections – I’ve tried my hand at acting and I really enjoy it. I have a lot of acting projects coming out. I have a movie coming out called True To The Game that should be out soon, another movie called All In that should be out soon, so I’ve shot a few projects that I’m just waiting now to see the final results.
Photographer: Ben Duggan
Creative Direction: Michael Mann
Stylist: AKIxMANN (@michael.mann & @tylerjacobmusic)
Assistant Stylist: Stacy Akiyama
Hair: Tiger Bahmb
Make-up Artist: Akasha Haze
Location: The Lash Night Club