Bethenny Frankel made her name as the most outspoken Real Housewife of New York before she became the first to break out of the Bravo television universe with her massive cocktail brand, Skinnygirl. Now she has a multiverse of Skinnygirl products of her own, from jeans to jam; a massive emergency-donation initiative called BStrong; her podcast Just B; and a new Apprentice-style reality show out April 29 on HBO Max called The Big Shot With Bethenny, in which she’ll hire her new second-in-command. Here’s how she gets it done.
On her work-from-home routine:
I don’t exercise. If I’m on vacation, I’ll walk on the beach or I’ll snowboard, but that’s like once every year. I do yoga sometimes, but that’s more of a treat. Right now, my dogs are in boot camp at my apartment, so that’s a new routine, but usually I sit on the phone and talk to certain friends, then look at the calendar to see what the day is. I never really want to know what the day holds until the day of. I don’t really ever get going — I’m still in pajamas as we’re talking. I’m always in pajamas until I have to be somewhere else. I get my daughter Bryn up, make sure she’s in school, and think about what we’re going to do for lunch, because it’s homeschool nation now. We’ll never forget the bonding — all the art and the cooking she’s done, the TikTok trends and dances, all that stuff. So it’s been a definitely different time, but it’s unique. We’ll always look back on it as such an amazing bonding experience.
On being broke in her 30s:
Until I became successful, I did not know what was going to happen to me. I didn’t have a safety net. I didn’t have family. I didn’t have anyone to turn to if I couldn’t support myself. Even when people are broke, many have parents or someone like that in their mind that, if something went wrong, they could always go move in with their parents or their parents will leave them the house in 30 years. I have never had that. It was really up to me. It was scary, but that practice was helpful because I learned it doesn’t matter who you are. I was just a person, and I really thrived.
On her first real job:
I had to produce a movie premiere for The Rock (1996) on Alcatraz — literally bringing in electricity, creating a dinner in a mess hall on Alcatraz. I lived in San Francisco for three weeks and I had no idea what I was doing. But I was so good at that career because it’s all detail-oriented. I only sweat the small stuff. Every single detail, every single dollar, every single Tic Tac someone decides to eat has to go into the P&L [income statement] — I was so detailed and ornery. So I don’t miss anything to this day. I forget nothing.
On the importance of saying no:
I wrote a book called A Place of Yes, but I always start with no. Because I have this whole bucket theory, which to me means that I’d rather have fewer buckets full [than more buckets only partly filled]. So it’s a quality versus quantity thing. During the pandemic, I’ve gotten rid of my personal belongings because I’d rather have a few good things. And that’s the same thing with work. I’d rather be doing fewer good things.
People pandering and writing all these like spiritual quotes, just the saccharine-y faux spirituality, all that stuff — it’s like kissing the ass of your followers. It’s as phony as the faces that are all filtered and Facetuned. You’re hoping that a couple of people that you’re talking to are at least winking at you like, Oh, we know it’s so gross. It’s a little too kitschy. It’s a little too martini bar. Everything is “girlboss” and “bad bitch.” I’m not into that stuff. Me personally, I have never thought about the fact that I am a woman. I have just gone in and fought to be better than the men, better than the women, just be better. I have definitely broken some barriers. I was the first person to really monetize reality TV; there’s a clause called the Bethenny clause named after me, meaning anybody who goes on to reality TV has to give a piece of their business to the network they’re on, because of my deal. But I don’t like the jumping on the bandwagon of, you know, “all men are garbage” now.
On her charity, BStrong:
It’s an empowerment mission. Three hundred sixty-five days a year, they are flying and delivering aid. It’s a full-time job, but it’s not my full-time job. I have a child I’m raising, a business that I’m nurturing, and I probably spend 25 percent of my work time on that. Of course when it’s happening, it makes you feel the opposite of powerless. It just makes you feel like you can do something, that you can get involved. Like when everyone’s reading about something in the news and it just makes them feel so bad, but they really don’t have the opportunity to do anything. So we’ve been so transparent in where the money’s going, exactly where every cent is 100 percent going to. There’s no gray area about spending money on hotel rooms or rent or something like that.
On the wildest Real Housewives product:
I think one silly but smart idea was Phaedra’s [Phaedra Parks, former Real Housewife of Atlanta], when she got into embalming and a funeral parlor. You know, people are drinking coffee every day. So I’m in the coffee business. People are living and people are dying every day — I don’t know what happened with that, but it’s not a bad business to be in.