A West Philadelphia native, Milan Harris comes from humble beginnings. She is one of two siblings to a single mother and incarcerated father. Throughout her life, she displayed leadership characteristics with a hustler’s mentality, destined to “make her dreams a reality”.
After launching Milano Di Rouge in 2012, Milan had no idea how large her brand would grow. It is now a 7-figure lifestyle apparel brand. Being worn by some of the most notable entertainers to date including – Lil Baby, Cardi B, Lil Durk, Lili Reinhart, Ciara and her children, Rick Ross and more, the Milano Di Rouge brand has become a staple in the streetwear industry.
21Ninety caught up with the supermom to talk all things ownership, adversity, postpartum, dreaming big and more!
Liz Smith: So for those who aren’t familiar with who you are, can you briefly tell us who Milan Harris is?
Milan Harris: Milan Harris is an entrepreneur, philanthropist. I am a dreamer.
LS: No lies told, that you are. Now I’d be remised if I didn’t say congratulations again on celebrating a decade of business with your amazing luxury streetwear brand, Milano Di Rouge. Who are what inspired the brand?
MH: I was inspired to create Milano Di Rouge, because I would always wear my boyfriend’s clothing. I started with a unisex line because I was always that girl to just wear his stuff. Whenever I would put on his clothes, I felt like I would make a sweat suit sexy just by adding some heels to it. So that’s where I got the idea from.
LS: Gotcha. And I’m sure being a black woman in this industry is no easy task. So can you tell us about a time that you faced adversity within your business and how you overcame it?
MH: I face adversity now. Like what’s the difference between Milano Di Rouge and Tommy Hilfiger? We’re both unisex streetwear brands, unisex premium brands at that. But what’s the difference? We’re both doing really well. I know that that they’re a staple and they’ve been in the game much longer, but we sell and carry the same type of items. So what’s the difference? Why don’t we have the notoriety that the other brands have? I felt like this when I started, and even now to this day. I was having a conversation yesterday with my team and they were like, “Why don’t we have any coverage for the show? Like, look at all the amazing things you’ve done over the years. Not even just financially, but you have almost all the celebrities in it, you have a really dope brand, your brand has a message and it’s empowering the community. Why aren’t you being seen at the CFDA awards?” I honestly think that it was just meant for me break a barrier. I need to create it and that’s what I’ve been doing.
LS: I absolutely love that you can acknowledge the issue and you aren’t blind to the adversity either. You take the negative and flip it to see the positive and find a solution. What has the journey been like growing this brand over the past 10 years, what was one key element?
MH: I think my faith and my mindset, I feel like mindset plays the biggest role on everything. I always say, don’t look at things as like, “why is this happening to me,” instead think what is this meant to teach me and prepare me for. Having a good mindset really helped me out and I was willing to sacrifice a lot of things. I know that in order for me to grow into this person, I had to change who I was, I had to make sacrifices. I couldn’t go to the parties with my friends or hanging out. I had to miss out on a lot of things but I knew I had this goal. I had this vision, so I just had to stick right with it.
LS: Whew, I feel that!
MH: Everything is a sacrifice, you know? Sometimes you got to sacrifice the good for the group. I’ve been making sacrifices this entire time. I had to sacrifice my personal life for my professional life and sometimes it gets hard but I know what I want! I know my vision and I know the bigger picture. So like, ultimately, God doesn’t make any mistakes.
LS: So true and well said. Now, let’s get into the celebration happening this weekend. I’m so excited! The Fashion Show will be held here in Atlanta, Georgia. So what can attendees expect?
MH: Okay, so this show is going to be amazing! So crazy that you even mentioned poetry or dance, I’m going to have both of them in my show. I’m so big on really wanting the audience to feel the energy in the room. I want them to leave more inspired and empowered than ever. Milano Di Rouge means “Making Dreams Reality.” I want people to leave knowing that, like, if she did it, I can do it, too! We have this amazing visual that’s going to play during the fashion show and it’s so amazing.
LS: So happy for you, I’m super excited. The theme is “The Dream Continues.” Where did that come from? What inspired you to choose that theme?
MH: In 2020, after I had my baby, I texted my team about an airline theme and I was thinking about an airline because I of the Wright brothers. The Wright Brothers created the airplane and I was thinking about how many times I’ve been doubted. I can just imagine how many times they’ve been doubted! They told the world that they were going to travel by air and no one believed them. So I really wanted to make this show be symbolic to the airplane snd show that dreams are real. Don’t want limit your dreams and once you make one dream a reality, you dream some more. You dream bigger, better but you never stop dreaming. So that’s my life. Once I reach one goal, I just continue to dream. So “The Dream Continues.” It resonates in my soul.
LS: Speaking of dreaming, I’m a big believer in affirmations and speaking life over myself. I’m sure you are as well! Are there any affirmations that you go by daily that have made an impact on your life and in your career?
MH:I typically just say to myself, “Never let the praise get to your head, and the criticism gets to your heart.” That just helped me keep the perfect level and a perfect balance.
LS: Oh I’m using that! Now speaking to ownership, what does ownership mean to you? And how have you implemented that into your life?
MH: Ownership to me means freedom. I was making millions since 2017 but I didn’t own anything until the year 2020. It wasn’t until I had my son that I started to think about ownership. I had a store but didn’t own it, I had an office but didn’t own a building. I only owned materialistic things like watches and jewelry and bags. When I had my son, I was thinking about my legacy and what I will leave him. All this money sitting in the bank is no good and the bank is not accumulating the wealth like. So I literally started buying property and I started investing in property. I bought my, new store and then I bought my mom and sister property, I bought my house. Then I bought my son a property for his first birthday and I just bought 12 properties in 15 months span!
LS: Congrats! Huge accomplishment! Your baby boy, he’s so precious. After giving birth to him, how did you manage postpartum symptoms? How did you not only accept this new reality, but also embracing the new woman that you became?
MH: What’s so crazy, is that I didn’t have postpartum depression, Thank God. When I was pregnant, I would do so much research, because I wanted to know what were the signs and what can I do about it, and just prepare for it. After doing all that research, I ended up creating the Mamanaire Club. I wish I shared my postpartum process a little more. When I was going through it I didn’t feel 100% myself and I didn’t know that it was okay to feel that way. In hindsight, that was a beautiful journey that I should have shared because so many women could have been inspired by that. Nothing fit me right, I just didn’t like it but I had to learn to embrace it.
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LS: I’ve enjoyed this conversation, I know we could go on for hours but I won’t keep you any longer. Where can people shop Milano Di Rouge? Also how can everyone keep up with you and support your future endeavors?
MH: You can shop Milano Di Rouge at shop.milanodirouge.com. You can follow me on Instagram @iammilanrouge. You can download our app, Milan Di Rouge and just stay connected. We also have a huge black Friday sale.
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