“Its crazy to see how much one person can really do on their own if they’re passionate.” —Tanaya Henry.
Crazy indeed. Tanaya Henry is a model and actress that proves the old adage, “beauty is nothing without brains” is real. As designer and jewelry maker of her own company, Lace By Tanaya, Henry embodies hard work and determination. Her pieces have probably been seen on your favorite celebrity, magazine, and music video—and she’s just getting started. Flip through as she opens up about her personal success story, rumors of her romance with Trey Songz, her craziest experiences on video sets and more. — Shannon Powell
Can you tell us a bit how you started modeling Ad’s on T-shirts.
A friend of mine from Minnesota had the idea [of modeling slogans] and reached out to me to be the face. Companies paid daily for me to wear a tee shirt with their logos on them every day of the month as advertising. I didn’t start out that way, but it was a fun project and got me a little recognition!
Can you talk about how you started becoming involved in modeling?
I started modeling in Minnesota when I was going to school and eventually moved to New York alone when I graduated. I signed with Wilhelmina on the commercial board and did a few campaigns, music videos, and commercials.
What’s the craziest or most interesting thing you’ve seen on set for a music video?
I haven’t really seen anything too crazy. One time, I remember getting a my first big order from Karmaloop for my earlaces and I literally made 60 of them on set in between takes. It was quite interesting. Another time I was a sea monster painted all black, crawling around in the water. I danced so hard that I almost passed out. That music video never came out, but they turned a clip of it into this commercial. It was amazing.
Would you say you’re more interested in the modeling aspect of your career or your jewelry line?
Expressing my creativity and making others feel good is the most important to me, so if I can incorporate the two I do, but there’s nothing like seeing something you’ve made with your hands on another human..
Can you tell us about how you discovered you were good at jewelry making? Was it something you were always interested in?
I started making jewelry as a hobby while I was living in a warehouse in New York with a bunch of artists. I wanted [jewelry] I couldn’t find so I made it. My friends started buying pieces and eventually stylists were pulling it for shoots, etc. I realized I could make money off of doing something I love. I funded everything myself and modeled/acted to make money to make more jewelry.
Do you make all of you jewelry by hand? Can you tell us how you come up with design concepts
Yes, I make most of it by hand. Some things I find and alter, some things I design and make molds of. I honestly have no idea where I come up with the concepts.
A lot of celebs have been seen wearing your jewelry, who were most shocked to see wearing it?
I think Alicia Keys takes the cake and will forever. I remember one of the first weeks I had my website up in 2009, my friend was wearing my earlace earrings and a stylist got my info from her and called me up to pull them for Alicia’s shoot the next day. A few weeks later I walked in the magazine store in Union Square and they were on the cover of the last issue of Giant Magazine. I died. Kanye is next.
I think it’s a little different for me as I’ve been working on Lace by Tanaya for over four years. I built my own following and nothing has been handed to me. I think we’ve got different formulas for the way we’re doing things, but its important for all women to support each other.
There are rumors floating around that you and Trey Songz are dating. Would you like to address those rumors?
I’ve known Trey since I graduated high school. He’s one of my best friends and is someone I can act a fool with. He’s always been there for me, and supported my dreams which is hard to come by these days, but we’re not dating and I’m very single!
What are your plans for the future and what is your ultimate goal?
I’m going to elaborate on one of my best sellers again, the Lace Cuffs! I’m releasing a Spring/Summer 2014 Collection for both men and women during Fashion Week in August. Long-term I want to move into fine jewelry and complete custom collections with brands. Within the next two years I’m going to have my costume line of jewelry in 100 stores worldwide.
Any last comments?
People need to believe that they can do whatever they want, no matter what anyone says. Anything that will have longevity isn’t made over night. There is so much more to life than Instagram, wearing Louboutins, going to the club and sipping lean. Girls need to know you don’t need to be with a celebrity to be relevant and you don’t need to act ratchet on a reality show to get attention. We’re not all cut out for stardom but we can all do something positive.