Reshaping the Meaning of Real Housewives

Reshaping the Meaning of Real Housewives

June 30th, 2011 in Local Regional News

Martha Stewart revolutionized how home cooks and housewives approached entertaining when she released her first book in 1982. Bethenny Frankel - the often irreverent and always candid star of Bravo's hit reality series, "The Real Housewives of New York" and "Bethenny Ever After" - is continuing the trend of turning the term housewife upside down.

"Martha Stewart is more than good manners and baking cakes - she is a lifestyle guru and inspiration to everyone." -- Todd Murphy (PHOTO: David E. Steele)

The two will be in Chattanooga for the She Expo July 16-17 at the Chattanooga Convention Center. Presented by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the two-day women's event features more than 150 vendors highlighting new products and ideas for the home, kitchen and closet with professional runway shows, health screenings and seminars.

And while this rare public appearance might seem like a study in contrasts, Frankel and Stewart have more in common than meets the eye. For example, both began their highly successful careers in the food industry - Stewart with her catering business, The Uncatered Affair, and Frankel with Bethenny Bakes, a company providing wheat-, egg- and dairy-free baked goods.

Since the release of her first book, Stewart has enjoyed an almost unprecedented stream of success, now CEO of her brand's media and merchandising company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

"Martha Stewart is more than good manners and baking cakes - she is a lifestyle guru and inspiration to everyone," says Todd Murphy, owner of Chrysalis, a home interior and gift store in the Southside. "Transforming personal passion into business success is the hallmark of her entrepreneurial spirit."

"I'm very impressed with Bethenny because she's so persistent. As women I think we should all take note. Also as a mother of five kids, her margaritas have saved me many evenings from probably losing my mind!" -- Karen Thurman-Goldman (PHOTO: Sergio Kurhajec)

Frankel, a natural foods chef, found her fortune with her Skinnygirl brand, which includes a line of cocktails and all-natural food as well as shapewear. She recently sold her signature Skinnygirl Margarita to Beam Global for an estimated $120 million. "I really admire Bethenny's persistence," says Karen Goldman, longtime fan and mother of five. "She initially had trouble getting anyone to produce her Skinnygirl Margarita but she kept at it. She knows what she wants and she goes after it."

Frankel's first foray into television was on Stewart's show, "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart," a spin-off of Donald Trump's reality show. After witnessing her quick wit and humor, producers cast her front and center on "The Real Housewives of New York." After three seasons, Frankel left the show to launch her own series, "Bethenny Getting Married?" which premiered with the highest ratings ever in Bravo history, and continued with a second season called "Bethenny Ever After." The hit show chronicles Frankel's ups and downs as a new wife and mother in New York City.

But Frankel's savvy business sense and determination have made her much more than a reality TV star. Calling herself a "health foodie," Frankel is a trained chef that enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion for healthy living. She is a New York Times best-selling author and monthly columnist for Shape magazine.

Of course, Stewart shares this passion for teaching in her plethora of advice platforms including an award-winning television show, syndicated radio show, magazines, websites, digital apps and books. Her multifaceted media triumphs are matched only by the range of topics she covers, including weddings, sewing, cooking, entertaining, crafts and organizing. One of the leading figures in the DIY craze, Stewart was also a pioneer in bringing high-end products to mass market with her Martha Stewart Everyday collection at Kmart.

"Martha is a triple threat as she's interested in history, antiques, architecture, gardens, interiors, entertaining, gift giving, and the complete act of beautiful living," says Rodney Simmons, interior designer and owner of REVIVAL Uncommon Goods home store in Warehouse Row.

With dogged determination and extraordinary work ethics, both women have built incredibly successful businesses, primarily through providing women with advice and products that meet their lifestyles. When they both arrive at She Expo this month, we hope it will be business as usual.