dRA Designer Diana Ra's DTLA Shop Is a Globally-Inspired Sanctuary
Welcome to Mama Shops, an FM Journal series that highlights beautiful stores owned by mothers.
Photos: Ruby Nichols
Ladies, if you want to look flawless without looking like you spent hours getting ready, look no further than LA brand dRA. Few labels can claim designs that are cool, casual, affordable, and seen on Beyoncé – all probable reasons that its first flagship store just joined trendy lifestyle center ROW DTLA.
Think sexy, sophisticated dresses in vintage silhouettes, structured jackets in versatile prints, and classic, flattering shapes for everything in between. The pieces are a harmonious blend of dissonant worlds that always carry a sense of ease. The shop also stocks an array of goods from other brands, like Nomah Project from Latin America and Skinesque from Korea.
Designer Diana Ra (hence, dRA) is a mother of two toddlers and killin’ it on the fashion scene. We caught her in between the madness to talk about the new shop, side projects, and her secret mama weapon to make it all happen.
You launched dRA about four years ago with your partner, Shawn Azad. Did you ever dream you'd be opening your own store now? How does it feel?
It was always a dream of mine to open a brick and mortar store so I can't believe it's become a reality! I'm excited and really proud! I'm really grateful to my team and partner, but also to all the brands in the shop, for believing in dRA and supporting our vision.
The shop is super cute. I'm sure your design aesthetic was a major factor in the decor, but where else did you look for inspiration?
Pinterest and from the brands we carry! I love everything about Local & Lejos; their products are beautiful and their aesthetic was a huge inspiration.
What are some of your favorite pieces in store right now?
I use the markado tote bag from Nomah Project every day. It fits a lot of diapers, wipes, and change of clothes and is so easy to wipe down. Their hats are also great, because sunspots stress me out. From dRA, I love our Laurel Canyon dress.
About a year ago, you teamed up with blogger Carly Cristman on an innovative collaboration where you designed an exclusive capsule collection. Do you have plans to do more of these types of collaborations?
Shortly after our collaboration with Carly, we did one with Kelli Murray. She's a beautiful illustrator and created original content for our collection which we turned into prints. This year, we launched a travel-friendly capsule collection with Sheryl from Walk In Wonderland. I have a few ideas for next year, but we're still working them out! Stay tuned!
How many little ones do you have, and what are their ages? Describe them in one word.
Sophie is 4 and she's truly a girly girl — obsessed with all princesses. Jake is 2, and he's a gentle monster. He also owns me.
How has becoming a mother impacted your career, if at all?
Becoming a mother has made me learn to prioritize, simplify and be my most efficient self. I stare at my calendar every Sunday so I can mentally prepare myself for the week (also because I have forever mommy brain and forget everything). Also, I now appreciate silent moments so I don't listen to anything when I drive. It clears my mind, and that's usually when I come up with my best and craziest ideas!
You're a busy mama; you also just launched the Modern Artisan Marketplace in LA this year. Can you tell us more about that and what inspired it?
I co-founded MAM with my good friend (also a Fashion Mama) Ahyoung Ko earlier this year. MAM is an outdoor pop-up marketplace that showcases a community of inspiring brands and entrepreneurs. Our mission with MAM was to bridge the gap between artisanal markets and an elevated retail experience by offering convenience and great amenities! Our next event is on September 30th and October 1st at Platform in Culver City! We have amazing brands participating, like Local & Lejos, Noble Carriage, Lunya, A Question of Eagles, and others. We also have workshops with Rolling Greens, Coconut Yoga, and so much more!
What's your secret weapon when it comes to motherhood – the thing that really gets you through those tough times?
You know how everyone says it takes a village? I completely understand that statement. My secret weapon is asking for help. I have no shame in asking my husband, nanny, mom, in-laws, best friends, brother, and even his new fiancé - for help. Like all the time. Shameless. I don't know how I'd do it otherwise.
What else can we look forward to from dRA?
We have so many events in the works at the dRA store! Beauty workshops, sample sales, mommy & mini days... It's going to be fun!
dRA is located at ROW DTLA, 777 Alameda St., Los Angeles, CA 90021. Hours: Monday through Saturday from 12 to 6pm and Sunday from 10am to 5pm.
Ruby Nichols is a Fashion Mamas LA member, the founder of Almanac of Style, and mama to Dash.