Reality television has provided a virtual storefront for many of it's stars. In between all the fighting and drama, Bravo channel's Real Housewives are launching businesses, and some of them are generating real money.
Some of the Real Housewives are welcoming this opportunity with open arms and launching websites as fast as they can dream up a product idea. I hope Andy Cohen (Bravo executive turned reality talk show host for Bravo, and the man behind the popular Real Housewives franchises) has an affiliate link to all of these businesses!
Some of the Housewives' businesses were underway before they became Housewives, but the show's exposure took them into another stratosphere once they became household names.
The Real Housewives shows have provided me with countless hours of mindless, guilty pleasure relaxation and I've found find myself intrigued with how many Housewives are not really just housewives anymore, they're entrepreneurs. These cast members are quickly realizing the reach of this platform and leveraging it while they have the attention of millions of viewers.
In my humble opinion, launching a business would be the only reason to be on a reality show, as they do have a knack of wreaking havoc on the cast members' personal lives. In fact, Bravo should have an affiliate link with a family law firm as well.
But joking aside, the money generated by some of these Real Housewives stars is really impressive. Leading the way has been Bethenny Frankel with her Skinnygirl cocktail line. She launched her "Skinny" chef brand/persona while on the Real Housewives of N.Y.C. I love her "underdog" story, and pure brilliance of realizing that this platform could catapult her into financial freedom, while actually struggling to make ends meet as she joined the show.
The exposure from the N.Y. Housewives show provided Bethenny the free public relations she needed to build her Skinnygirl cocktail brand into a huge business, which she later sold to Beam Global in 2011. She's the Mark Cuban of the Housewives.
Next up with real success would be Lisa Vanderpump from the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. She and her husband Ken have been successful restauranteurs in their native UK before coming to the U.S. and now running two successful restaurants in Beverly Hills, Sur & Villa Blanca. These two businesses have spawned even more reality television for Bravo with spin offs, which have spawned even more reservations for the restaurants.
The N.Y. Housewives combined have over ten businesses. There's Heather Thomson (Yummie) and Cindy Barshop (Completely Bare). They had these businesses before they became Bravo Housewives, but certainly have leveraged their brand exposure nicely. Ramona Singer has skin care and jewelry lines yet still manages to constantly drink Pinot Grigio that she hawks too. Jill Zarin has a line of bedding and shape wear. Countess LuAnn has The Countess Collection, which includes clothing, jewelry and home products. Sonja Morgan has a catering business and is developing a line of toaster ovens and one of the newest additions to N.Y.C., Kristin Taekman, has a couple of photo boxes for sale online too. I mean, why not?!
The OC Housewives may be a little less ambitious than N.Y.C., but they're still in the game. Tamra and Eddie Judge have a new gym/fitness training spot in the OC and this is something tangible that they will have if Andy let them go tomorrow. I'm betting the show provided them with either the seed money to launch or the connections to find funding. Then there's Gretchen Rossi's line of handbags, Alexis Bellino's dress line and Tamra also partnered with Vicki Gunvalson for their WinesByWives.com monthly membership wine business, this seems to be a licensing deal or collaboration with some internet marketing entrepreneurs.
Moving onto the Beverly Hills Housewives, both Kyle Richards and Adrienne Maloof, have also partnered with already successful entrepreneurs for their ventures into retail fashion and shoes respectively.
We're only just scratching the surface of Bravo Housewives' businesses, as we continue with the NJ Housewives representing with Theresa Giudice's cookbooks, Kathy Wakile's dessert line, along with Melissa Gorga's newly minted deal with HSN, launching a jewelry line. Oh, and Caroline Manzo's kids all launched businesses via the show as well.
These are just the ones I know off the top of my head. I'm sure I'm leaving out many other housewife CEOs here. These women may be overly dramatic but they're socially savvy and have taken the viewers who watch them and turned them into paying customers.
Does being cast in a reality television show translate into building a real brand or a lasting business? Besides Bethenny's extreme success, the jury is still out.