‘Real Housewives’: real businesswomen

By Laura Hancq
February 9, 2011

I will be the first to admit that I have an addiction to Bravo’s Real Housewives series, and no, I am not ashamed. In fact, I’m incredibly proud of my obsession.

While I would never define myself as a feminist, but as a young woman with high ambitions for a future career and life, I am completely infatuated with some of these women because of their ability to be independently wealthy while balancing families and careers. They prove that gone are the days of women being expected to stay home or having to choose between a career and a family.

Two generations ago, women were dreaming of just having the right to vote. The glass ceiling was only beginning to be cracked. While it may not be completely shattered yet and while some will argue it never will be, many of the ladies from Bravo’s hit series are living proof of its demise.

Adrienne Maloof-Nassif, of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” is a co-owner of Maloof Companies, along with her three brothers. Together, they own the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, Sacramento Kings NBA Team, the Sacramento Monarchs WNBA Team, Maloof Productions, Maloof Music and the Maloof Money Cup, an annual skateboarding event.

The Maloof family is estimated to have a net worth of $1 billion, with Adrienne netting about $300 million. She keeps all of her finances separate from hubby, Dr. Paul Nassif, Beverly Hill’s plastic surgeon extraordinaire. Smart girl.

Since Maloof can technically be considered an heiress, I would understand why people might object to her being the image of success. Let’s take a look at the first lady of insurance, Vicki Gunvalson, of “The Real Housewives of Orange County.”

The only way to describe Gunvalson is that she’s a boss. It says in her bio on her website, “Enough energy to overcome the challenge of being a single mother at the age of 29, with no college degree and through sheer determination, drive and passion for business, she was able to build Coto Insurance & Financial Services, Inc., one of the most successful Insurance Agencies and Financial Services Companies in the United States.” Definitely inspiration for women everywhere.

Vicki Gunvalson, an original cast member of “Real Housewives,” films with her daughter. Gunvalson is famous for having an “empty love tank.” --MCT--

Gunvalson is famous for belting out a “Woo-Hoo!” when something good happens with friends, family or clients, but her business motto for her insurance company is “Peace of Mind = Quality of Life.” Clearly, this “housewife” is pretty deep. Also, like most successful people, Gunvalson is no one-trick pony.

According to her site, she is also the co-author of Internet Life Insurance Made Easy and founder of Coto University, where she teaches over 600 agents across the country about selling insurance over the web.

Her professional designations include “an Ed Slott Elite IRA Advisor, a member of the Million Dollar Round Table, the American Association of Long Term Care Insurance and the National Ethics Bureau.” She also has a radio show and wrote her biography, “More Than A Housewife.”

It is estimated that her net worth is $7 million. Not bad for a single mom turned self-made businesswoman. I think she deserves a “Woo-Hoo!”

Bethenny Frankel, former Real Housewife of New York City, is an incredibly successful businesswoman and chef. She owns all of the Skinny Girl brands, which includes Skinny-Girl Margarita and Skinny Girl Fitness. She just recently got married and had a baby, proving that her estimated net worth of $14 million is her own.

The D.C. branch of the series is impressive. While housewife Stacie Turner took the real estate market by storm, I find Lynda Erkiletian to be the best. She is responsible for bringing the fashion scene to D.C. by founding T.H.E. Artist Agency. According to her website, T.H.E. Artist Agency represents models, designers and other members of the fashion community and helps them develop careers in our nation’s capital. She is not married and is estimated at about a $10 million net worth.

I understand the haters can’t stand the cattiness. I agree that sometimes it is hard to tell whether there is more drama or Botox. Obviously, not all the women have personal success stories and clearly many of them should not be considered role models for young girls. Yes, Camille Donatacci Grammer, I’m talking to you.

Either way, whether you love the ladies of Bravo’s “Real Housewives” series or hate to love them, many of them do deserve positive recognition in their careers. These women are redefining the concept of girl power.

I strongly believe there are powerful lessons to be learned from their ambition, entrepreneurship and ability to overcome hardship. I also understand that if you would like to learn how to ruin your success, just watch the “ladies” of New Jersey.

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Laura Hancq

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