When Juliette Porter showed her JMP The Label collection at Miami Swim Week earlier this month, she made a big splash — and not just for the colorful bathing suits.
She also made eyes pop when Kelsey Owens – her ex-BFF and co-star on the MTV reality series “Siesta Key” – walked the runway. The two were estranged last season after Owens made disparaging comments about Porter’s relationship with then-boyfriend Sam Logan (the fact that both women were making swimsuit lines didn’t help). The bad blood came to a head during a cast trip to the Grenadines, which led to Porter tossing a potion and punching Owens in the face, leaving her with a bloody lip.
Although the altercation was not shown on camera, “we called it ‘the slap heard around the world,'” Porter joked, before getting serious.
“Yes, there was some tension with Kelsey, but that has faded,” the 25-year-old told The Post. “We both wish each other the best. We’ve all made mistakes in our past. I’ve made some that I wish I could take back, but I’m forever growing as a person and I’ve learned from my mistakes.”
In the aftermath of the fight, Porter took a mental break from the show and returned three episodes later with a clearer head. However, fans of “Siesta Key” thrive on this kind of drama. Created in 2017, the show focuses on a group of photogenic twenty-somethings on the west coast of Florida as they party together, date each other, live their best lives and drink too much.
Much of the storyline is based on the confused love lives of the stars. Porter famously dated castmates Alex Kompothecras, who was fired from “Siesta Key” after using a racist statement on Instagram, and Logan, whose family made a coin by owning 10% of the Scripps networks ( now owned by Discovery).
“It’s a weird experience that not everyone has,” Porter acknowledged that he was in a soap-like, unscripted drama. “I got caught up in a lot of things I shouldn’t have done. Since then I’ve learned to run away. Be less emotional. That’s something I struggled with for a long time.”
Porter eventually left Sam in the second half of Season 4, leaving his $6.8 million mansion because his constant partying distracted her from her job.
“If you leave in any relationship, if you haven’t learned something, then you’ve wasted your time,” she said. “I’ve learned self-love more than anything else. I held on for too long in relationships that didn’t benefit me because I didn’t have that love for myself. And I tried to find it from other people who wouldn’t give it to me.”
Her new boyfriend, Fort Lauderdale real estate agent Clark Drum, apparently causes much less drama. “It feels like peace,” she said of their connection. “As I matured and really focused on my business, I knew I wanted a relationship that didn’t exhaust me or drain my energy. Clark is an addition to my life and he won’t stop me from doing anything. It’s refreshing.”
Drum doesn’t seek the limelight either. In fact, he’s not even a fan of the show — or the attention it generates.
“It’s not his favorite thing,” Porter admitted. “He hates it. He is not very active on social. I like that about him. My friends think he should post me more, but I don’t really care. Maybe I should be concerned, but I don’t need that external confirmation from others to feel loved. He gives me love when we are together.”
And after eight months of dating, Porter moved to Miami to be closer to Clark and cement her career as a swimwear designer. Many of her Siesta Key castmates followed suit, along with MTV’s ubiquitous cameras. Porter now lives with another castmate, real estate agent Lexie Salameh, in the Edgewater neighborhood of Miami.
“There was nothing left for me in Siesta Key, and I was ready for a change,” Porter said. “I didn’t realize how bored I was living in the city I grew up in. We did the same thing we’ve always done. It became a routine. In Miami, every day is a new adventure. I feel like I’m a different person. There is so much more life and culture. And I can really focus on my business because Miami is the swimming capital of the world.”
Porter launched JMP The Label in January 2021 with industry veteran Jaymi Washburn. The colorful line is designed to go from the beach to the bar and sizes range from 0-18.
“JMP The Label stands for body positivity,” says Porter. “We want everyone to feel seen and not just by including larger sizes on our site. We want to show women of all body types, colors and ages. It’s not just for the skinny blonde girl at the beach. Swimwear is a delicate piece of clothing – the most fragile – and you want to wear a swimsuit that makes you feel beautiful inside and out, to feel your best.
“Growing up in Florida,” Porter continued, “I’ve always had a passion for swimwear…I’m excited to show people that I’m more than just a reality star who started a swimwear company.”
Porter admitted she sees “Siesta Key” as a springboard, pointing to the successes of Kardashians and Bethenny Frankel, whose entrepreneurial efforts were spurred by reality fame. “I saw ‘Siesta Key’ as a platform to launch my career, and it did,” she said. “I took an opportunity and turned it into a business opportunity.”
And as much as her 800,000 followers on Instagram have contributed to her popularity, social media has also been a curse. Porter said she was inundated with hateful DMs.
“People think because I’m on television and I’m skinny and beautiful, I don’t get haters or negative comments, but that’s not true,” she said. “I want people to know that I understand that and that they are not alone. How do we stop this? I want Instagram to stop it. There are people who are horrible and say nasty things. I don’t think anyone should ever be addressed that way. Our social media companies need to do more.”
Despite the haters, Porter goes all in with JMP The Label. One of her swimsuits was recently featured in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit issue, which was a big win for the fledgling company. And she is involved in almost every step of the process, from sourcing the fabric in Turkey to manufacturing in Bali to marketing the brand. Like the rest of the world, JMP The Label was plagued with global supply chain problems, which prevented the launch of a line set to fall on Porter’s birthday on July 7. When a loom broke in Turkey, the entire collection had shifted to September.
“It’s not as glamorous as it looks,” she said of running a business. “Some people don’t even know what a loom is. You plan on making things perfect, and that hardly ever happens.”
While the issues are being resolved, Porter is filming season 5 of “Siesta Key” in Miami. But she admitted she’s not sure how long she’ll last.
“I don’t know if I can make reality TV forever, but I want to stay involved in fashion and stay in the public eye,” she said. “Being famous is fun.”
Photos by Sonya Revell for New York Post