We love meeting influencers from all over the country (the world!), but we also get excited when we get to host someone from our own—extended—backyard. Such was the case last fall when Raya Coleman (@rayahope) and her husband took a couple of days out of their busy SoCal lives to come visit us at Spark*l headquarters in San Luis Obispo.
During that time, we really got to know Raya, about her background, her accidental foray into becoming an influencer, and how a past that “isn’t always perfect, but it’s all mine” led her to us and to all of you.
Here, an excerpt from our conversation and what led her to create her Hope by Raya Hope Band, January 2022’s Band Together offering!
I was a stay-at-home mom and wanted something for myself. I came across Younique makeup direct sales, tried their makeup, and [was so] impressed with the quality. I grew up a huge tomboy, no experience with even putting on lipstick or any of that [laughs]. But it was about empowering women—not so much about looking beautiful but feeling better.
My daughter was three months old, and I was just trying to find …to have something for me, so I started doing that — started doing makeup tutorials, and always what I really wanted to do was spread my fashion passion. I always worked in small boutiques in San Diego and have love for that but didn’t have a lot of confidence around it. I never thought, ‘Oh, I’m good at this; this is what I want to do.’ But I took the Younique stuff and felt more confident in sharing fashion—and people started following and liking and commenting, and it was positive!
A boutique reached out started getting clothes for free! And, not to sound ungrateful, but after a while, it was like, I can’t have any more clothes. So I would reach out and say if you send me a hundred dollars, I’ll do a try on and shout you out. And there it was; I was being paid to try on clothes!! What started out as fun money — like I wanted to go to Target and pay for it — but then I was able to pay our mortgage and then our car payments, and then on December 28, 2018—I retired my husband!
Then Covid hit, and everyone was home and home, and suddenly there’s a huge arena to build a community. It was a perfect opportunity to build those relationships. As hard as it’s been over the last two years, it’s just skyrocketed—what was first impossible is a part of each day. But also, for me, it’s still about empowering women. What drove me then is what drives me now. I get to make women feel and look beautiful.
It’s not always easy. You have to get up and work. It’s gotten better over the last year. My husband also quit working because I was putting so much attention to my business, and this may sound horrible, but my kids were suffering. I could throw myself fully into work from the moment I woke up to the moment I got into bed. I would set up our daughter on her mat for tummy time or get on a live. I was placing it where it could fit it — as soon as he stepped in, it was SUCH a relief.
With [the kids] a little older, it’s a little easier. I would wake up, take them to school, and typically—just start working. I learned it’s also setting boundaries. It’s about working when you work and showing up more and being more present! I want them to be proud of me but don’t want them to resent me.
It’s better to see pieces on a more average or regular body. You see me. I’m a mom of two. I’m 32 years old; I feel like people can relate to me and what I look like and how and it’s about acceptance.
When they’re at school, I come home to start right into my workday. I go live, do my makeup first thing, and it depends on the campaigns I have lined up; I do Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, post on TikTok. I have two assistants, and they help with comments and brands that want to reach out. When the kids come home, I take a break, undo all the lunch boxes from their backpacks, go over their days—and then I get back at it.
At night I’ll answer my DMs and all my messages on Facebook— that’ll take me to about 7:30. I’ll break for dinner, eat with everyone, and the kids and [my husband] are doing homework or watching baseball. For me, it’s still working, but I get to pay the mortgage and actually be there. I help with the bath and put them to bed, and then about another hour more of messaging. About nine o/clock, I put it away. It’s a nine to nine job.
I first saw Spark*l on someone’s Insta story, and right away, I saw it was really pretty and unique looking. I think I got my first band a short time later. This was a long time ago—two years? I’m not sure [laughs]. I think I was one of the first. I liked the product — everyone’s seen the Apple Watch bands, and that’s what actually stopped me from getting one. It was like—I wouldn’t wear this. This is not my style. But with Spark*l, I got it. It was like, ‘OK, this is chic and edgy and comfortable and long-lasting. I liked the price point. I liked that it was made in California.
But with Spark*l, I got it. It was like, ‘OK, this is chic and edgy and comfortable and long-lasting.
I also feel like—and this is how I want to think about what I wear, what I put on—I want to be realistic. It’s better to see pieces on a more average or regular body. You see me. I’m a mom of two. I’m 32 years old; I feel like people can relate to me and what I look like and how and it’s about acceptance.
Though I am a planner, I don’t really have a five-year plan. Do any of us at this point? [laughs] I love doing this. I love where I am right now. I’d just love to do this as long as they’ll have me. I would love to reach a higher audience. I would love to be able to keep growing. I have a lot to give; I’m creating something for me and others. Sometimes it does feel like I’m pulled in so many directions, I don’t have the brain space, But in the end, it goes back to feeling my best and helping others do that too. That’s why I love doing these kinds of collabs. If the audience went away and it all ended tomorrow, I’d be proud. But It’d also still be there, in my room, trying on outfits, feeling my best.