Cover Story: Draya Michele Discusses Her Blossoming Empire

Draya Michele X Hype Hair September 2019
Photo Credit: Bonnie Nichoalds // Artwork: Hannah Aryee

Many met Draya Michele for the first time in 2015 on VH1’s now-infamous Basketball Wives LA reality show. Ripe with drama and cattiness, the show had the potential to make or break a career. Draya, however, capitalized on the visibility and used her marketing savvy to build her own fashion and beauty empire, all while pursuing her love of acting, being a mother and managing her duties as a major influencer to more than 7.5 million followers.

[SEE ALSO: Style Crush: Draya Michele]

Plus, her latest film, We Belong Together (originally shot for BET), was recently released on Netflix, and several of her businesses are thriving, reminding us that there’s more to Draya than just a beautiful face. 

Hype Hair chatted with the actress and serial entrepreneur to talk about her career, growing business portfolio and the secret to her flawless style and beauty.

— Jessica De Vault Hale

Draya Michele X Hype Hair September 2019
Photo Credit: Bonnie Nichoalds

HYPE HAIR: Your film, We Belong Together hit Netflix this summer and fans are raving about your performance in it. Can you tell me a bit about what led you to this project? 
DRAYA: It was a really fun project! I am good friends with the director of the film, Chris Stokes. We have worked together in the past, and he actually reached out to cast me as “Tracy” in the film. It was my first lead role so that, in itself, was an exciting and new challenge. Tracy’s character is very dark, so it was interesting to explore her psyche and channel that energy, and then see it translated on screen. 

HH: Let’s talk about your entrepreneurial success. You’ve seen a great deal of success with Mint Swim. You recently opened a brick and mortar for the brand. How have fans responded to this move and what’s next? 
DRAYA: I started Mint Swim in 2011, and by 2015 it was a million-dollar company, which was a huge milestone for me. In the years since, social media has grown enormously in terms of social-commerce and opening up endless avenues for marketing and brand-consumer interaction. It has always been important to me to connect with my customers to understand them and their buying trends, and Instagram plays an integral role in making that connection. 

I extended the brand’s footprint into a physical space in 2018. It’s essentially a showcase for the brand that allows customers to touch and try on garments, and attend special events to experience the brand in person. I think customers appreciate an exclusive experiential moment beyond social media. It feels more intimate and it’s a completely new shopping experience. 

HH: We’ve heard that your latest venture, Brand Nails, just opened up next door to Mint Swim. What inspired you to open your own nail shop? 
DRAYA: I’m always looking for new business ventures and the nail shop is outside of anything I’ve done in terms of business. I have a professional background in beauty, and I’m familiar with nail salons as a customer and beauty tech. I hate spending a long time getting my nails done and I am very particular with the outcome, so I was inspired to create an express nail bar to get busy clients in and out quickly with flawless nails. Brand Nails opened in October of 2018, and it’s been a lot of fun so far, and a huge learning experience. 

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