Women's Impact Report 2011: Bethenny Frankel
When life gave natural food chef Bethenny Frankel lemons, she made Skinnygirl lemonade — about $100 million worth. That was the reported price tag when the reality show star-turned-one-woman empire sold Skinnygirl Cocktails to Beam Global Spirits & Wine earlier this year.
“I’ve always been an idea person, but I didn’t know I’d be a game changer,” says Frankel. “I used reality television for a very specific reason — to build my brand.”
In a few short years, Frankel has morphed from cat-fighting sob sister into a model of female empowerment who, when she’s not developing another new product for yummy mummies, travels around the country on a speaking tour (in her own Skinnygirl bus) sharing her “10 rules for getting everything you want out of life” (the basis of “A Place of Yes,” her latest bestseller).
She’s got quite a tale to tell. After a second-place finish six years ago on “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart” she landed on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York City” and became the show’s breakout star.
Ankling “Housewives” last year for her own series, “Bethenny Getting Married” and now “Bethenny Ever After,” Frankel has cultivated a growing fan base that can’t seem to get enough. “Ever After,” whose third season is slated to air early next year, averaged 1.96 million total viewers.
Frankel has spun off Skinnygirl (she retains the rights in all categories but liquor) into myriad businesses that include fitness DVDs, a new shapewear line sold on QVC, nutritional products, and a face and body line debuting at Walmart in November while managing to pen three bestselling books. She recently inked another three-book deal with Touchstone. Her first novel, “Skinny Dipping,” which, not surprisingly, tells the tale of a young woman striving to have it all, is due out in April.
On rumors she’s working on a talker produced by Telepictures and Ellen DeGeneres, she says: “Ellen sees value and talent in me. It would be a great place to have longer conversations with my fans than on Twitter and Facebook and not just be in a fishbowl.”
Title: Reality TV star
Role models: Warren Buffet, Ellen DeGeneres, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg (“I admire his imagination and balls.”)
Career mantra: “Don’t ever assume anyone is smarter than you.”
Leisure pursuits: Snowboarding, surfing, Rollerblading and bargain hunting — “I never pay retail.”
Philanthropic passions: Step Up Women’s Network, Children’s Miracle Network, ASPCA