Everyone’s talking about Bethenny Frankel. From magazines to television screens, the reality star turned self-made businesswoman has been in the spotlight for nearly eight years. But with her own daytime talk show, bethenny, premiering this September, soon Bethenny will be the one doing all the talking. Taking matters into her own hands, Bethenny is gearing up to turn the tables and shine the spotlight on someone else for a change—you! That’s right. The former Real Housewife is bringing the real woman to the forefront of daytime television, providing practical solutions for life’s little problems and priceless advice for following your biggest dreams.
You’ve probably read more than a few stories about a celebrity who got their big break because of a lucky coincidence or who just happened to stumble upon their success. You know how it goes. They became an overnight sensation, living happily ever after in their dream house in Beverly Hills. But Bethenny’s success is more than a fairy tale—it’s a story of her strategic climb to the top—and she wants you to know that sometimes the best way to become a working woman is to work for yourself. This month, Dress for Success spoke with Bethenny Frankel to get the exclusive on how building a personal brand can lead to self-made success.
Long before Bethenny was a television personality, best-selling author or talk show host, she was an aspiring entrepreneur with an abundance of ambition up her sleeve. Determined to get into the game, Bethenny started to develop her one-of-a-kind brand early on to lay the foundation for her career. “Life is a chess game, and it’s all about making the right moves. Throughout all of my decisions, there’s been a clear purpose.”
But if you’ve ever played a game of chess, you know it can be difficult to make the first move. That’s why Bethenny decided to go with her heart and pursue her passion for natural foods, attending the National Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York City. As it turns out, doing what you love may be the smartest career move of all. “Going to culinary school for food and healing was the big step because I went to a school that had an angle and a twist. Being a natural foods chef set me apart.”
In 2005, standing out from the crowd became Bethenny’s greatest asset when she was chosen as a contestant on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. Going head to head with 15 other entrepreneurs for the chance to run one of Martha’s billion-dollar businesses, Bethenny thrived in the face of competition and placed first runner-up. Though Bethenny’s on-camera work didn’t earn her the job, she still found opportunity behind the scenes.
“When I went on The Apprentice, I wanted the job and the money, but I was also trying to market myself. It wasn’t a success, so I used it as a sponge and squeezed the tiniest drop of moisture out so I could to get myself to the next place.”
Bethenny is living proof that life’s most disappointing failures can lead to the greatest opportunities. Instead of dwelling on her almost apprenticeship with Martha, she got down to business and didn’t miss a beat. After all, with great risk comes great reward and Bethenny was ready to cash in on the exposure she got from her run on reality television.
Taking advantage of the connections she made on the show, Bethenny started her own cooking business and made a name for herself in natural foods cuisine. Soon, Bravo TV reached out to the NYC native hoping she would star in their latest show, The Real Housewives of New York City. Rather than jumping at the chance to get back into the limelight, Bethenny took a step back to think about what was best for her career. The budding businesswoman knew that seizing opportunity is about more than acting fast, and wanted her career choices to reflect her personal goals.
“When I was approached by Housewives, it was a difficult decision. I turned it down for about a month because I thought it would discredit me for being on two reality TV shows. But I knew that following those things that kept me up at night and listening to my gut would lead me to the right decision, so I decided to join Housewives.”When the show kicked off in 2008, Bethenny made sure she kept the “real” in Real Housewives and stuck by her personal brand. This time, it was less about business and more about staying true to herself—the down-to-earth, hardworking woman looking for personal fulfillment and professional success. “I was honest about who I was on the show, and it created a relationship between me and my women because I wasn’t trying to be someone I’m not.”
Bethenny quickly learned that honesty really is the best policy when her female fan base catapulted her career and her name into new heights. That’s when Bethenny created Skinnygirl Cocktails, the low-calorie cocktail line for the woman with a social life and a healthy lifestyle. “I developed a relationship with fans, and that trust was really the platform to create Skinnygirl. I knew it could be a brand. If you have a good idea and you’re passionate, you can make anything happen.”
How did Bethenny come up with such a brilliant idea? She found inspiration in the greatest resource of all—herself! “No one wanted to do a low calorie margarita in an industry that was run by and marketed to men. So I decided to do it myself, and all those companies ended up copying me or trying to purchase me.”
The rest is history. Bethenny’s passion for healthy living turned into a booming business when her name and her career became one and the same. Today, Skinnygirl is a full-fledged health revolution and the Bethenny brand is blossoming into a symbol of self-made success. “Bethenny will go on to become a brand for empowering women to do things they never thought they would do, and reach goals they never thought they could reach.”
So as you continue to explore new ways to take your career to the next level this month, think of the opportunities that you currently have in your life and how you, like Bethenny, can use them to catapult your career to the next level. When one door opens, don’t wait for it to close before thinking about how you can make your career bigger and better—use that open door to open the next… and the next!
If there’s one thing we can learn from Bethenny’s career, it’s that every decision counts. Check out these three tips inspired by Bethenny’s story to make sure your next move is the right one.
1. Start strong. A network of support and professional connections are key to success. “Everything is like a house: It has to have a good foundation, and if it doesn’t the whole thing crumbles.”
2. Think ahead. “Have a plan for what you’re doing rather than just doing it as you go, but don’t get bogged down in the plan. There’s a fine line.”
3. Choose wisely. Take opportunities into careful consideration. “Don’t just grab a shiny object. Decide what to do next, and do that to the best of your ability instead of doing everything.”