Draya Michele is many things: a top model, a former reality star, a mother, an actress, an entrepreneur, an Instagram influencer with more than 8.7 million followers. But Michele is best known in the fashion community for her design aesthetic and stunning eye, culminating in luxe swimwear brand Mint Swim which celebrated its 10-year anniversary last year.
Below, Michele opens up about the inspiration behind Mint Swim, where she finds the best design inspiration, and shed light on all her former jobs in life that led to her success.
The Knockturnal: What inspired you to found Mint Swim?
Draya Michele: Growing up in Pennsylvanian didn’t give much of a vacation or beach experience. So I was determined to create a career that enabled me to travel the world and do what love while getting a great tan, and that’s why I created Mint Swim.
The Knockturnal: How did you harness your previous work experience into designing?
Draya Michele: I literally worked almost every job you can think of, from fast food to retail stores… I was even a bank teller. I think I always knew those jobs were “Plan B” and I was just doing them until the time was right to execute “Plan A.”
The Knockurnal: Who is the Mint Swim customer?
Draya Michele: Women that have followed me on social media throughout the years and have grown with me and the brand. She’s fun, and confident, and most importantly, loyal.
The Knockturnal: Where do you find inspiration for the brand aesthetic?
Draya Michele: Traveling always sparks creativity for me. I usually sketch on napkins during the flight home from a tropical vacation.
The Knockturnal: What are some of your favorite fashion houses, outside of your own?
Draya Michele: I’ve been a fan of Tom Ford since the good old Gucci days. And as far as swimwear, Mara Hoffman has always been killing it in her space. And for newbies, I’m loving Dion Lee and Cult Gaia.
The Knockturnal: Where do you hope to see the brand in 5 years? What’s next this year for spring too?
Draya Michele: We’ve held off on going into retail up until now, so hopefully you’ll see us everywhere — at least where swimsuits are usually sold. We also plan on expanding to mens, kids, athletic wear, and sun care.