It’s always exciting when a brand is innovative and looks to make its mark on the fashion industry. Drama NYC is doing just that. Rechama Jaffa, the founder and woman behind the brand, saw a void in the modest fashion industry that needed to be filled. Based on her own shopping experiences, she felt that the modest fashion space was not inclusive enough, as she struggled to find stylish clothing that fit all body types. This struggle led to the birth of Drama NYC, located in the heart of Brooklyn at 3121 Quentin Rd.
Jaffa created Drama NYC in 2018. Her luxury fabrics and high standards of quality are reflected in her collection of dresses, skirts, and tops. You can check out the inspirational plus-size looks @d____rama on Instagram, and shop the collection at https://dramanycplus.com. Drama NYC is giving Jewish Press readers a special discount – enter DRAMAJP at checkout for 10% off online purchases.
Michal Goldfein: Who are your biggest supporters, and have you had any mentors?
Rechama Jaffa: I think my biggest supporters are my family and close friends. I am a huge believer that family and friends should want to support each other, and they do! My family and close friends watched the whole creation of Drama in action from day one. They are always the most excited for upcoming events and the first to purchase new arrivals.
Additionally, June Aboksis, owner of Junees and Junee Jr., has been and always will be one of my greatest mentors. She is someone I have always looked up to and has been my biggest supporter through it all. She gave me encouragement and confidence when I needed it and guided me in creating Drama. She is always there to give me tips on how I can enhance my business for the better.
I have also idolized various plus-size models over the years for their confidence. My motivation and confidence has led this company from the start. I have always wanted to put on clothing and not sacrifice comfort or style. I think that motivation to find good clothing drove me to create my own line of plus-size clothing.
I loved your photo shoot. In the video, you describe how size inclusivity plays a tremendous part in the fashion industry today, but not so much in the Orthodox Jewish community. Can you explain your feelings on this issue?
I think it is unfortunate that a plus-size woman cannot walk into any store and find clothing she is comfortable and confident in. Why should someone who wears plus-size clothing struggle with fitting into a size 10, the largest size the store has? Why shouldn’t every store carry every size to accommodate everyone? I believe all stores should carry all sizes so that everyone feels comfortable and confident when shopping. Additionally, I think that this mentality of only offering options to some women and not all is teaching young women growing up the wrong values. We are dictating that beauty is strictly defined by one’s size and shape – both external factors. Children growing up should not have to feel pressured that they need to be skinny in order to be beautiful. We should be spreading the belief that all sizes are accepted, and that beauty is defined by one’s internal qualities.
Can you describe the aesthetic of your brand?
If you have visited our store, you will immediately notice the positive quotes everywhere. The walls in the store, even the dressing rooms, have quotes. I believe in spreading self-love, self-acceptance, body positivity, body confidence, and happiness. Every woman should love themselves as they are, no matter their size. One’s beauty is not defined by what you see in the mirror. You, as a woman, are enough just the way you are!
How important is it for you to provide apparel that will not break the bank?
As a woman, I know there is no price tag on confidence, and there shouldn’t be. If a woman feels good in what she is trying on, the price should not matter. Feeling good in your own skin and confident in what you are wearing is priceless. However, at Drama all our products are under $200. Therefore, people can purchase more than one item while shopping.
What challenges have you faced since starting your business and opening your store?
My biggest challenge so far has definitely been the pandemic. Obviously, my store was not open for a while for customers to walk in and browse. Additionally, even with the pandemic I still had to pay rent and maintenance. No breaks were given due to the pandemic when the store was closed.
Also, I have definitely had some arrogant customers come in from time to time. Sometimes a customer will speak to me in a rude manner, or people will direct message me through social media platforms, saying “Why don’t you just lose weight?” or “Your clothing isn’t pretty if it’s so big.” However, I know all success comes with challenges along the way and I am in for the long ride.
What are your favorite styles from your collection?
I personally love all my products, being that I designed and chose every style and detail. I wear and live in all of my pieces on a daily basis. Furthermore, I think all my clothes work for all types of women in all shapes and sizes.
What inspired you to design the Fearless Fringe dress?
When designing the Fearless Fringe dress, I had an evening piece in mind. I envisioned a dress that would be youthful and that had movement. As soon as I spotted the fringes, my dress came to life. I wanted a chic and fun look all in one dress, and I think I got it.
Where do you see someone wearing your three-quarter sleeve Luxe Layered dress?
I typically spot people wearing my Luxe Layered dress at simchas and events. Anytime I catch someone in a piece I made, I get such a happy feeling inside. Seeing others exude confidence and feeling comfortable in the clothes I design makes me feel great. My main goal with Drama is to enable women to feel confident and happy in what they’re wearing, and when I see that, I know I got it right.
How would you style your Happy Zipper dress?
Before I answer this, here’s a little secret: This is one of my favorite products. This is beyond the perfect dress for any function – it’s a must-have. This dress can be styled with sneakers for a casual look, or with a dressy flat to dress it up. Either way, it’s an easy, cute, and comfy dress.
What are some of your favorite and most popular tops and skirts?
Fortunately, almost all our styles are quite popular. A variety of people love our asymmetrical tops, while others love the bubble top better. It really depends on the women trying it on. Every top can be put together with any one of our skirts. Our Wanted skirts or Fun Flairy skirts all look amazing with any of our basic tops.
What items are you excited about for Fall?
Honestly, I cannot wait for our full new line to finally be delivered. Due to the pandemic, all our shipments have been delayed overseas for months. I was stressed out for a while about it, but now they’re on the way and we cannot wait to show everyone our new styles. The Drama team is super excited to finally be able to unpack it. Make sure to stay up to date on the website!
How important is confidence and inner beauty?
I believe everyone has hard days. Everyone has those days where they’re just not feeling it, don’t feel pretty, don’t feel good enough, and may hate their body. I have struggled my whole life with accepting and being happy where I am. I have felt unaccepted by society and a disappointment to my friends and family. I never felt good with how I looked; I never felt beautiful. However, in reality, all I needed to do was accept myself for who I was. Once I reached that point, it didn’t matter what other people thought of me, rather how I viewed myself.
The message I want to give over is that people should love themselves for who they are. One should not define her happiness by what other people define as a “perfect size.” I know there are many others who have struggled like me and I hope they all learn to accept and love themselves as they are. Nobody is perfect – perfection doesn’t exist. Many believe beauty is defined by one’s externals, size, and shape. However, I beg to differ. Real beauty is what’s inside a person. We have what Hashem has given us and we have the choice of what to do with it. We can choose to spread love and acceptance, or the opposite. I believe everyone should be aware of this and raise their children to understand that beauty is what’s inside, not just what you see in the mirror.
Furthermore, I think that confidence is the key. Acquiring a little confidence can get an individual very far in life. I had dreams for my company, and without confidence and determination I would never have accomplished all that I have done. Nothing is impossible to achieve if you have confidence in yourself.
What are your goals for the future of your brand?
My ideal goal is to have my merchandise be sold in every store and have multiple Drama locations. My end-game is to be recognized all across the globe. I want to be a part of the cultural shift in how women view beauty. I want to continue spreading self-love and body positivity to women all over the world. My entire business is based on helping others be comfortable in their own skin and building confidence. I hope to continue seeing women walk out of my store feeling happy with their purchases.