Maya, Former Model & Entrepreneur

Interviews & Portraits, Lifestyle, Zoom

Maya Persaud is an American in Paris. A few years ago, this former top model, who grew up in Hawaii, created Lotty Dotty , a  children’s clothing brand that met a huge success since its launch.

On top of that, this mother of two is very involved in charities, notably  helping the refugees from Syria.

TSÉ: Where are you from?
Maya: I’m Afro american and Indian. I grew up in Hawaii, then came to DC. I lived in New York for a while then came to Paris to follow my husband.

TSÉ: How do you embrace your blackness? Was  it a long journey for you to get there? If yes how did you do it?
Maya: Today, i would not change 1 thing about myself. I fully accept who i am as a creation of God just like everyone else. It was a long journey however for me to fully accept who i am. Growing up in Hawaii, i never thought i was different- innocence of being a child, openess because of very multi cultural community?
However, when we moved to Washington, DC, i saw immediately that i was different. I was teased a lot because i was tall, skinny and very dark. People called me Ethiopian and various other names referring to Africa, etc. At the time, i just wanted to be accepted and to fit in.It was through studying History and travelling that i learned about the great African civilizations- especially my trip to Egypt. I also learned through my experiences that being different was actually to my advantage as a fashion model, etc.

TSÉ: What does it mean to be  a black woman today ?
Maya: Since i was a young child, i wanted to be like my mother who is a beautiful black woman. So although i had experienced racism, it was never deeply rooted because i had strong role models of black women in my life since birth. I see being a black woman today in my case as an advantage.
I don t expect people to be racist, so perhaps i don’t see it. Also, if someone is racist, it is his/her problem, not mine.

TSÉ: Could you describe one of your typical day?
Maya: I wake up at 7AM (if I Wake up any later, my day is gone!), get kids ready for school, have a fruit smootie for breakfast, do my  « things to do » list to organize my day, go on the Internet to look for content on the refugee crisis whether it be through volunteer testimonies from Lesvos, Idomeni, etc, portraits of refugees from Humans of the refuge, or articles written in the press, prepare content for Open Homes, Open Hearts (Facebook page set up by a group of Americans to create awareness about the refugee crisis concerning mainly Syrians), spend the next few hours working on Lotty Dotty, have a light lunch, continue working on Lotty Dotty and in between work on the refugee crisis (i get bored and need to do several things at the same time !), arrive home at 6 :15 PM to make dinner and prepare the kids for bed, collaborate with fellow Americans on various ways that I can help in the refugee crisis     

TSÉ: What are the living personalities that inspire you the most (both professionally and personally) … also in style?
Maya: The ones that are invisible in the media, that you never heard of- Giada, Alicia, and hundreds of others that dedicate their lives to helping others. Also, the refugees and migrants that I’ve met in Calais and Paris. Despite all they have been through- war and then total rejection and humiliation in Europe- they still have hope and smiles on their faces. They are the most wonderful people I’ve ever met. Humanity is in Idomeni, Dunkirk and Calais, etc.  Those are the people that inspire me personally and professionally.

TSÉ: What is the thing you miss the most since you left the US?
Maya: American optimism!

TSÉ: And what the thing you value most since you live in Paris?
Maya: American optimism!

TSÉ: How did you became entrepreneur after being a model?
The life of a model is difficult. I wanted to be a model in order to travel to different places- that’s it ! After finishing school through my job search, I was unable to find the « dream job », so I thought « why not create it ». I wanted to create a social entreprise, but it was very difficuly and costly. The idea of Lotty Dotty came from my childhood memories of playing with paper dolls. The concept of dressing a doll on a T-shirt via mini applique was novel and after partnering with a fellow American living in Paris, the company took off quite well in Japan and Italy.

TSÉ: What is your morning beauty routine like? What is your first ritual?
Shower..haha ! I don’t really have one. I use sunscreen (doctor’s orders) and a little powder from Bare Minerals and mascara and a little gloss for the lips!

TSÉ: Do you wear perfume? If yes what is your fragrance?
Carnal Flower by Frédéric Malle and Jardin Sur Le Nil by Hermès.
Frédéric Malle reminds me of a flower from my childhood in Hawaii. Jardin Sur Le Nil de Hermès—don’t know why…love the scent!

TSÉ: How would you describe your personal style?
Maya: Casual with a little edge… I like Martin Margiela– it’s comfortable, discreet with a little edge…

TSÉ: What is your basics ?
Maya: Leggings ! I only wear leggings ! I also wear a lot of black

TSÉ: What are your beauty essentials ?
Maya: – Face: sunscreen from time to time, Cetaphil to cleanse
– Body: coconut oil
– Hair: Frizz Ease
– Make-up: Bare Essentials, YSL mascara, YSL & Dior lip gloss

TSÉ: What are your favorite places?
– Shopping: London Bond street and in that area…you find little treasures, Groucho (friperie in Toulouse), méat Market in New York
– Restaurants: Yoko, Brasserie at Mandarin Orient (Paris), Sola (Paris), Zuma (Miami and London), Katsuya (Miami) for ceviche, Huahua (Miami) for Mexican take out
– Librairies –WH Smith in Paris

TSÉ: What are your favorite travel destination?
Maya: Maldives, anywhere I have family and friends, Sardinia, Jordan, Egypt 

TSÉ: What advice would you give to young people willing to create willing to become an entrepreneur?
Maya: Be tenacious and as long as you enjoy what you are doing and passionate about it, you will be successful!

Cover Picture by Jeffrey Sales

Cet article est disponible en: Français

Jan. 12, 2016

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