#LivingWellFridays: Drea Monique Rawal
#LivingWellFridays: Drea Monique Rawal
The definition of the word Snatched is, “A popular term referring to good looks, fierceness, or something good.” If you take one peek at Drea Monique Rawal’s presence on the internet, you will see why she has made this term her personal mantra and the foundation of her brand. She is Snatched. Drea is a personal trainer and self-esteem coach based in New York City. She specializes in athletic training—specifically track and cross-country conditioning. She works with men and women from all walks of life, and hosts group training sessions once a week in Harlem known as #SnatchedCamp. Her journey in fitness has taken her to BET, Huffington Post, Fitness Magazine, Shape Magazine, Pretty Girls Sweat, Her Success Inc, Adidas, Nike, Vida Fitness, Equinox, and ToneHouseNYC.
Good afternoon, Drea! Welcome to #LivingWellFridays with Caramel Coated Wellness. Thank you for being a part of #LivingWellFridays, which seek to remind people that living well is not just about diet and exercise, but unapologetically following what you believe to be your God-given purpose on this earth. Your journey has not been traditional, but the hard work you’ve invested and determination to stay true to who you are, has already changed lives. I can’t wait to learn more of the gritty elements of your story. Let’s get started!
It seems like a hundred years ago, but I vaguely remember you getting involved with fitness when we were at Howard University together. How exactly did you get started?
It’s so funny that you ask me that! It’s hard to think of it as a start at Howard because I’ve always been athletic. I’ve always been involved in fitness and sports, even before Howard. In 2013, I started doing group workouts at on Howard’s campus called Project Snatched.
I eventually reached out to Deborah Johnson, the athletic director at Howard, and spoke to her about how some the facilities in Burr Gymnasium were only for the athletes and not for the public consumption of Howard students. I essentially gave her the guilt trip (laughs). She worked with me, though! She helped me get a work-study program together so I could facilitate the exposure of Howard students to the workout facilities. We would charge $5 a week for two workouts or students could give donations. Those proceeds would go towards the procurement of the great equipment in the gym.
I don’t know how I missed this! When I was at Howard, I can say I was definitely the least athletic that I have ever been. After you graduated how did you decide to make this into a career?
I actually wasn’t supposed to do this at all. I was supposed to teach at a charter school in China. I went to New York to get everything started and then I found out there was an issue with the funding and they had to put the program on hold. Well…a girl still has to eat (laughs). I had a huge network in New York because I worked there in college. I actually got referred to be a part of the management team at a sports performance facility called Tonehouse in New York. I decided to work there for a year, and if I still liked it, I would stick around. After the year was up I really decided to go all-in and really make this work.
Was starting your own business as difficult as you thought it would be?
I have taken it one day and one venture at a time. New York City is the kind of place where you have to keep moving constantly. If you get overwhelmed, you’ll lose your head.
I’m in the process of getting signed to Wilhelmina Models. I’m exploring fitness modeling, commercials, basically anything I can. I’m able to spend every day doing what I love, meeting people, and working hard. The network I have in New York City, especially through the #ProjectSnatched group workouts, keeps me intrigued and motivated.
Speaking of your business, where did you get the idea to build your brand around the word Snatched?
It’s so funny that you ask me that! I actually had a freshman mentee at Howard named Montrose Tyler. I think almost every time I had been around him I would be wearing baggy clothes. One day I ran into him in a dress and he said, “Yass girl you looked SNATCHED!” I asked him what that meant. He said, “It means that everything is where it’s supposed to be.” And that word got stuck in my head and I realized that’s what women want to be. We want to be beautiful and look put together, so snatched just became a part of my brand after that.
I love it! Snatched is a perfect word to describe the transformative work you’re doing with your clients.
Well, it’s funny you say that because a lot of who aren’t African American don’t know what it means. Many think snatch is actually another word for your vagina (laughs). When I was working on the branding for Project Snatched, I kept being told that I needed to change it because no one knows what it means. I had to tell them, “Just because you don’t know what it means doesn’t mean no one does.”
I had the same issue, actually. I was so nervous about naming my company Caramel Coated Wellness and having a brown girl as my logo. Eventually, I decided that this is what I look like, so this is what it will be.
Exactly! It is crazy that African American women are the only ones who have to think about that kind of stuff. We are the only ones that have to decide if being proud of ourselves and marketing ourselves is a good idea. We have to be bold and unapologetic about our branding or else we will blend in with everyone else.
Speaking of Black women, I saw—and fell in love with—the following quote on your website:
“I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you.” – Oprah Winfrey
What inspired you to highlight this quote on the homepage of your website?
I mean, first of all, she’s Oprah.
Say no more (laughs).
But seriously, I mean, every now and then people talk about how Oprah doesn’t give back. I think we have serious issues in the Black community about our role in giving back. It takes more than one person giving of themselves to really make a change. We have to redefine success. Success needs to be defined as communally using our gifts to put something back into this world.
I read an article by Benjamin Hardy called Getting Out of Survival Mode that discusses how our world is full of consumers and we rarely make the effort to create something. It starts with little habits, like scrolling through Instagram or email in the morning versus journaling or meditating; small acts of reacting instead of living with purpose and intention.
Right. We were born into a consumer-based society, so we can hardly expect anything less. We have to do our part to make sure we’re putting our gifts out there. I mean, it’s crazy how I’m starting to reach out and work with more of my peers. I used to reach out a lot to women in the fitness word who were older than me—in their 30s and up—and it’s so inspiring to see our peers, especially our Howard peers, out here trying to give something back to this world.
So, what are your next steps for Project Snatched?
So, for me, it is eventually heading back to California. Within the next six months to a year, I would love to do a tour of the major cities and continue to grow my brand. One day I plan to open a wellness facility of some kind. Through all the work I’ve been doing with kids, self-esteem, and fitness, I know there is a huge market in working with kids and helping them grow. Especially in New York (laughs). I mean truthfully, at the end of the day it’s about the money. You can’t touch lives without it and that’s what I am trying to do.
Thank you so much for being a part of this conversation. I hope you will continue to inspire people from all walks to live well, follow their dreams, and get Snatched!
Follow Drea’s inspiring fitness work on her Instagram at @ambitious_drea or check out her website for bookings at projectsnatched.com!