Kamala Harris’ influencer niece Meena is continuing to take full advantage of her connection to the Vice President by modeling in an at-home video for Prada – just weeks after she was told by the White House to stop using her aunt’s name and likeness to build her own brand.
The 36-year-old shared a video on her Instagram on Thursday in which she is seen posing on her couch while modeling an outfit and bag from the brand’s Fall Winter 2021 collection to help promote Prada’s designs – and its virtual pre-recorded runway show.
It is unclear whether Meena was paid for the post – which did not include a sponsored or ad hashtag – however it is likely that she received the high-end outfit, which is worth thousands of dollars, for free in return for showing it off to her 812,000 followers.
If Meena did receive a payment for the post and neglected to disclose that information clearly, she would be in violation of FTC regulations for social media influencers, who are obligated to clearly state whenever they have been paid by a brand.
Meena is one of a handful of influencers enlisted by the brand to model its Cleo bag, which retails for $2,050, however her decision to get involved in such a public fashion campaign could well stir up further tensions with the White House given that it debuted exactly ten days after she was reportedly told by lawyers to stop using her aunt’s status to build up her own personal brand.
Loving the spotlight: Kamala Harris’ influencer niece Meena has cashed in on her connection to the Vice President once again, this time by modeling in an Instagram video for Prada
Brazen: The 36-year-old posted the video just days after she was warned by the White House to stop using her aunt’s name and likeness to build up her personal brand
The order from the White House came after the November 3 election, when Meena was told that she could no longer cash in on her aunt’s name while promoting her own brand – called Phenomenal – and products.
At that point, she had already launched a range of gear featuring the ‘I’m speaking!’ quote that was used by Harris to check former Vice President Mike Pence during their debate. Those products have since been removed from her website.
But the mom-of-two has continued to cash in since then – launching a collection of ‘MVP’ [Madam Vice President] sweatshirts and collaborating with Beats by Dre on a set of limited-edition headphones featuring a quote from Harris’ acceptance speech.
She even released an $18.99 children’s picture book called Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea, which was inspired by and named for her aunt and mother.
The influencer has also promoted her book Ambitious Girl and her various productions in TV appearances on NBC’s Today Show and ABC’s The View along with appearances in glossy magazines – the majority of which clearly state her relationship with Kamala has a selling point.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times earlier this month, a White House official scolded the influencer, insisting that her ‘behavior needs to change’.
‘Some things can’t be undone. That being said: behavior needs to change,’ the unnamed insider said.
In a statement given to the publication by Meena’s PR firm, she insisted that she had ‘upheld all legal and ethical standards’ since the start of the Biden-Harris campaign, saying: ‘Since the beginning of the campaign, I have insisted on upholding all legal and ethical standards and will continue to strictly adhere to the ethics rules of the Biden/Harris White House.
Paid job? It is unclear whether Meena was financially compensated for the video; she did not use sponsored or ad hashtags when posting it on Thursday
One of the gang: Meena was an influencer before her aunt became Vice President, however her public profile has been significantly increased as a result of her connection to Kamala
Chic! Meena’s Prada ensemble for the shoot is worth thousands of dollars, and was likely given to her for free in return for her posting a video promoting the brand
‘With regards to Phenomenal, it was always our plan to remove the likeness of the Vice President from the website before the Inauguration, and refrain from using her likeness in any products or campaigns going forward.’
Meena has scrubbed all quotes attributed to her aunt from her Phenomenal site, including one that ran alongside a $59 ‘Ambitious sweatshirt.
However, her profile as an influencer has only continued to grow as a result of her connection to the Vice President – as evidenced by her involvement in Prada’s new online campaign.
The brand founder’s Instagram video was shot by professional filmmaker Brittney Janae and sees her striking a series of poses on her couch, while also swinging her pale blue Cleo handbag in front of the camera.
Prada debuted the new collection with a more formal digital presentation on Prada.com and the brand’s website, but also enlisted several fashionistas to model the Cleo bag at home.
Among them was Meena, marking her first time modeling for the Italian luxury brand.
On Thursday evening, she shared a video of herself dressed up in a black Prada sweater, a long skirt, and blue heels, with a light blue Prada Cleo bag in her hands.
Meena, who has 812,000 followers on Instagram, struck several poses on her couch, both sitting and lounging in different positions to show off her outfit.
She also busted out a few dance moves, ran around with her shoes off, and swung the Cleo bag around.
Connections: White House lawyers reportedly told Meena (pictured left with her aunt and her mother Maya) to stop using Kamala’s name to promote her brand after the November election
Promotion: Meena has her own brand, called Phenomenal, and she has used quotes from her aunt on clothing designs – while also featuring them frequently on the website in the past
Taking advantage: Her Phenomenal line includes several pieces with feminist messages, and previously included quite a few that referenced her famous aunt
‘The #PradaFW21 runway show from my couch shot by the talented @brittney.janae for @prada #pradacleo,’ Meena wrote.
Her video has earned over 23,000 likes so far with comments from celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson and celebrity hairstylist Justine Marjan.
Meena also modeled another white outfit for photographer María Esme del Río.
Prada enlisted several fashionistas to help promote the new collection, including digital avatar Lil Miquela, singer Tiffany Young, South Korean singer Hyeri, and blogger Tamara Kalinic.
Meena’s fashion cred comes from her position as the CEO and founder of Phenomenal, a lifestyle brand that sells clothing and accessories with empowering messages.
Her line has celebrity fans including Jane Fonda, America Ferrera, Mindy Kaling, and Jessica Alba.
While the clothes are casual — most of the items are T-shirts and sweatshirts — Meena has modeled clothes from other designers in the past.
In November, she joined Stella McCartney’s #StellaAtoZ campaign, and in January, she covered The Times Magazine in a Cushnie dress.
Meena lives in San Francisco, California, with husband Nikolas Ajagu, 37, and their two young daughters, and launched Phenomenal in 2017 on the back of the Women’s March in D.C.
She regularly uses her Instagram page to promote the clothes, posting images of herself wearing the sweatshirts.
Going all out: Meena’s Prada video was shot virtually by professional filmmaker Brittney Janae and sees Meena striking poses on her couch, while showing off her $2,050 bag for the camera
Snap snap: She also busted out a few dance moves, ran around with her shoes off, and perched on the wall above her couch
Not a regular runway: Many fashion shows have gone digital during the pandemic and Meena is one of several influencers enlisted by Prada to put on at-home fashion shows
The influencer also uses her social media to push her political views, which include support for the Defund The Police movement, and she has created a range of T-shirts for her Phenomenal line promoting Black Lives Matter, and has campaigned for the rights of migrant farmworkers.
Since the election, the 36-year-old has become a frequent media fixture and has used interviews to promote Phenomenal and her latest children’s book Ambitious Girl, while talking about her aunt.
Meena has also spoken about how she gave up a high-flying job at Uber to launch the company, while husband Ajagu has taken leave from his job at Facebook to care for their daughters and allow her to focus on the brand full time.
In an interview with The Times of London last month, Meena said her partner gave up his high-flying tech job in San Francisco to be a stay-at-home father to their two daughters, and free her to run her business.
She told how Ajagu, who she met while working in the tech industry, decided he wanted to be a full-time father to Amara, four, and two-year-old Leela.
‘We do not ascribe to the traditional gender role thing in our house,’ she said.
Meena is not the only extended White House family member accused of cashing in in recent weeks.
President Biden’s son Hunter recently signed a million-dollar deal to write a memoir and has also faced scrutiny over allegations he used his White House connections to score business deals during the Obama administration.
‘The #PradaFW21 runway show from my couch shot by the talented @brittney.janae for @prada #pradacleo,’ Meena wrote
Look two! Meena also modeled another white outfit for photographer María Esme del Río
Biden’s son-in-law Howard Krein has also come under the microscope due to his job at a healthcare investment firm that tells companies how to get a government contract.
The President’s brother Frank was also censured recently after his law firm advertised its ties to the Oval Office.
The White House has emphasized its policy on possible conflicts of interest.
‘The president is committed to ensuring we have the most ethically vigorous administration in history,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at the end of January. ‘And that is something that he’s conveyed publicly and privately as well.’
She also read the official White House policy: ‘It’s the White House’s policy that the president’s name should not be used in connection with any commercial activities to suggest or in any way that could reasonably be understood to imply his endorsement or support.’
Harris’ office follows the same guidelines, which were put into place partly because of questions that arose about former President Donald Trump’s family and how they may have profited off of his administration. His sons Don Jr and Eric kept the family real estate firm running during Trump’s White House tenure.
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner held interests in a lifestyle brand and family real estate businesses while they served in (unpaid) positions in the White House.