Inspired by fashionable businesswomen like Victoria Beckham and Gisele Bundchen, Draya Michele has stepped into her new role as an entrepreneur with full force.

Her swimwear line MintSwim consistently receives rave reviews for its quality, cuts, array of sizes, designs, and editorial and high fashion touch. The former Basketball Wives LA star has now transitioned into full-time CEO of the line, planning to expand it beyond swimwear to include styles for men plus loungewear.

We caught up with Draya to talk more about making swimwear for Black women, her career dreams, her personal growth and more.

Why did you decide to create a swimwear line?
“I wanted to do something others really weren’t doing. Especially for young Black women, no one had tapped into the swimwear industry yet, so I decided to do it. I always loved the beach and I always loved water, so it made sense for me to create my own swimwear. I started to promote it exclusively to people who were following me on social media, and it took off from there.”

Were you expecting it to grow into such a large business?
“Yes! I was very intentional when coming up with the concept for the line. I definitely needed it to work out; it wasn’t a side project or done on a whim. I wanted it to be an exit out of reality television. I wanted to create something meaningful I could continue to grow and pass down to my children. I think that’s so important.”

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Your line is known for its sexy cuts and shapes. How can all women feel sexy in their clothing?
“Social media has influenced how women look at themselves in clothing. People try to fit their body into specific styles and sizes, but they should be confident in their own frame. Find things that fit you, instead of you trying to fit clothes. That’s why I made sure to include pieces for plus size women and made them specifically to compliment fuller figures.”

What have you learned about women’s empowerment since being part of reality television?
“Being the owner of a brand gives you a platform to have a voice. But the thing is, once you have that voice you have a big responsibility to the world (and yourself really) to be influential and use that in a positive way. I needed to find a way to use the platform the show gave me to make a positive impact on my life and the life of others. That came through the swim line and I’m really spreading my entrepreneurial wings.”

What’s an affirmation you live by?
“I look at quotes all day every day in order to get a motivational boost. One thing I tell myself often is my job is to like me—it’s not anyone else’s job to like me. I’m the only consistent thing in my life and I have to be me. Once you stop searching for acceptance you can stop stressing, and from there people will respect your confidence and drive.”

What kind of space are you in during this phase of your life?
“I feel excited and I feel anxious. I’m also very curious. I haven’t really expected what’s happened to me this far, from my personal life to my career. I know what I planned and had in-store for myself, but it’s all far exceeding my expectations. It’s crazy. I’m doing what I love, going to the beach and researching trends and planning my next moves. I feel blessed to be in such a fun space doing what I love.

Any advice for those wanting to step outside of themselves and take on a different role?
“Just know that when it’s time, you’ll know it. Get organized and get the behind the scenes stuff done before you make any announcements. ‘Coming soon’ doesn’t translate in the right way to people, and that’s how you get haters and doubters discouraging you before you have time to flesh everything out. Make sure you’re confident in your plans before showing the world, that way other people’s hate and jealousy won’t make you doubt yourself and not follow through.”

 

PHOTO CREDIT SAMUEL WHITWORTH/WHITWORTH PHOTOGRAPHY