Lesa Milan on Mina Roe Brand Expansion, ‘Real Housewives of Dubai’ – WWD
Lesa Milan may be best known as one of the extravagant women of “The Real Housewives of Dubai,” but she’s also the mind behind Mina Roe, a high-end fashion brand focused on maternity wear.
When the brand launched in 2016, it offered a range of clothing options for pregnant women, ensuring they could look and feel stylish, sexy and comfortable in their own skin.
Mina Roe was born when Milan realized they needed a more extensive collection of maternity clothes when she herself was pregnant at 24.
“I started the brand because there was a hole in the market. There were no trendy maternity clothes,” Milan told WWD. “I love that Rihanna is out there. with her bump, being sexy and edgy because that’s what Mina Roe has always been about – celebrating your pregnancy rather than hiding it. You can always add that fashion touch and your own personal style to your belly. I think that’s the hole we filled with Mina Roe.
With a background in fashion, Milan first designed things for herself and eventually one thing led to another and Mina Roe was born.
The name Mina Roe materialized after Milan played around with baby names while pregnant with her second son, hoping it would be a girl. The word “Mina” is common in Dubai, meaning “light” in Arabic. The last part of the name was inspired by the Milan gynecologist who at the time welcomed a granddaughter named Monroe. She wanted one letter to match the logo design, so she just used “Roe” to complement it, with the “R” being in the shape of a pregnant woman.
Recently, Milan expanded Mina Roe’s collection to include non-maternity clothing, so women of all shapes, sizes and experiences can wear the brand regardless of their respective stage of life.
“Branching into a completely different space was a bit difficult because I had to work with other creatives,” she said. “We took the risk of introducing pieces from other designers and manufacturers into our brands. So far, it’s been extremely positive. I’m so glad we made the transition because it makes sense. You get pregnant, we breastfeed, so how do we retain customers from a business perspective? It was a no-brainer that post-pregnancy was the next thing.
In “Real Housewive of Dubai,” viewers get a glimpse of Milan’s fashion empire, including working with her husband, Rich Hall, and hosting her first fashion show for Mina Roe last fall.
Initially, she was asked to be part of Dubai Fashion Week, but the dates didn’t match, so she decided to organize an event independently, which she managed with the help of another housewife and former model, Chanel Ayan.
“It was super hectic,” Milan said. “I’ve never done a fashion show before, but it was so good. Thank god I had Chanel Ayan. I booked all my models through him and they ended up killing him. She was also very helpful behind the scenes. Overall, I think for our first show, I survived it.
Eventually, Milan hopes to expand its brand into footwear and body care suitable for pregnant women, offering comfortable styles and body butters and creams for stretch marks and more.
With just a few episodes left for the first season of “Dubai,” which is currently airing Wednesdays on Bravo, the fashion designer and former beauty pageant contestant reflected on her experience on the franchise so far, even admitting to being fan of “The Real Housewives” before joining.
“Going into it, I was a bit apprehensive,” she said. “My kids are on the show with me, my husband, and I want to protect them at all costs. I was really nervous, but so far it’s been really good. The fans are super fans and they’re so invested and so supportive. He actually exceeded my expectations.
When asked what viewers should expect from the end of the show, Milan didn’t reveal too many details.
“I feel like viewers didn’t really get to see us having fun as a group of friends,” she said. “I think you’re in store for a lot of fun. Lots of laughs and a bit more drama, of course.