Lesa Milan may mostly be known as one of the extravagant women on “The Real Housewives of Dubai,” but she also happens to be the mind behind Mina Roe, a high-end fashion brand focused on maternity wear.
When the label launched in 2016 it offered an array of clothing options for pregnant women, ensuring they are able to look and feel stylish, sexy and comfortable in their skin.
Mina Roe came about when Milan realized there needed to be a more expansive collection of maternity wear when she was pregnant herself as a 24-year-old.
“I started the brand because there was a hole in the market. There was no trend-setting maternity wear,” Milan told WWD. “I love that Rihanna was out there with her bump, being sexy and bold because that’s what Mina Roe has always been about — celebrating your pregnancy rather than hiding it. You can still add that fashion twist and your own personal style to your bump. I think that’s the hole that 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 toyed around with baby girl names while she was pregnant with her second son, hoping it would be a girl. The word “Mina” is common in Dubai, meaning “light” in Arabic. The latter part of the name was inspired by Milan’s gynecologist who, at the time, had welcomed a granddaughter named Monroe. She wanted a letter to fit the logo design, so she just used “Roe” to complete it, with the “R” being in the shape of a pregnant woman.
Recently, Milan expanded Mina Roe’s collection into non-maternity wear, so that women of all shapes, sizes and experiences could wear the brand regardless of their respective stage in life.
“Branching out into a whole different space was a bit challenging because I had to work with other creatives,” she said. “We took a risk introducing pieces from other designers, manufacturers into our brands. So far it’s been overwhelmingly positive. I’m so happy that we transitioned because it makes sense. You get pregnant, we do nursing, then how do we keep customers coming back 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 into 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 align, so she decided to hold an event independently, which she managed successfully with the help of another fellow 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 her and they ended up killing it. She was really helpful backstage as well. Overall, I think for our first show, I survived it.”
Eventually, Milan hopes to expand her brand into shoes and body care tailored to pregnant women, offering comfortable styles and body butters and creams for stretch marks and more.
With only a few more episodes remaining 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 confessing to being a fan of “The Real Housewives” prior to joining.
“Coming into it, I was a little 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 actually been really good. The fans are super fans and they’re so invested and so supportive. It actually has surpassed my expectations.”
When asked what viewers should expect from the conclusion of the show, Milan didn’t reveal too many details.
“I feel like the viewers have not really gotten to see us have a lot of fun as a friend group,” she said. “I think you guys are in store for a lot of fun. A lot of laughs and some more drama, of course.”