In a previous post I told you how I got to know RHONY's Heather Thomson. Now she answers the questions we all want to know! Find out how one of the newest HWs balances business, family, newfound fame, and Ramona!
TBB: Hello Heather, you spent many years in the fashion biz as a designer and stylist. You were the founding director of Sean (Diddy) Combs' line. When did you decide it was time to launch your own?
HT: I decided to launch Yummie Tummie after giving birth to my children. As I like to say, the "rose colored glasses" came off when I struggled to get my body back post-baby. I went to the shapewear department as a consumer looking to boost my confidence; but when I arrived, it was as if the shapewear department had been frozen in time! I was aghast at my choices. As a consumer I left feeling deflated and as a designer I was perplexed. The products I saw (and yes tried!) failed me both aesthetically and functionally. It was in that fog that I had a moment of clarity and with it I dusted off my sewing machine, sat at my dining room table and sewed the first, and what would become The Original Yummie Tummie patented 3-panel shaping tank.
TBB: I've read you have a lot of influence with the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America).Can you tell me about your work there?
HT: When I was at Sean John we were honored with multiple CFDA Award nominations and I have to say that was truly gratifying. Shortly after I settled my patent infringement lawsuit against Maidenform, I sat with Steven Kolb the director of the CFDA in their offices to lend my support to their efforts in this area.
TBB :In addition to your fashion work you are also a philanthropist. Can you talk about your causes and how others can get involved?
HT: I work closely with several philanthropic organizations, it’s always been important to me. I’m very involved in public education efforts for the New York Organ Donor Network and City of Hope. I’m also a huge supporter of the Kellner Pediatric Liver Foundation, a charity devoted to reducing the incidence of pediatric liver disease, a cause very close to my heart having personally experienced the impact of this organization. People don’t always realize the impact that they can have on others and something like organ donation is such an easy and important way to give back and change someone’s life.
TBB: So, as busy as you are, how did you end up a Real Housewife? Had you been a fan of the show?
HT: I’ve always been a fan of the show. One day, I was sitting at my desk and I got a call from a casting director saying they were kicking my name around and asked if I would be interested in joining the cast of RHONY. My first instinct was wow, thanks so much for thinking of me, but I initially felt it might not be the right choice for me or my family. However, as I learned more and understood that they wanted to change the direction of the show, I auditioned and it started to peak my interest. When I really thought about it, being given this incredible opportunity on Bravo would allow me to bring real issues that working mothers face on a daily basis to the forefront. Raising my two children and being a wife to my amazing husband, starting and running my own fashion business - Yummie Tummie, creating awareness for charities that are near and dear to me and doing it all, while trying my best to be balanced is all I could ever hope to achieve.
TBB: Were you nervous going in to replace part of an already established cast?
HT: I was excited! It was a little intimidating at first given some of the women have known each other for so long, but I really jumped in and got to know the girls quickly – that’s just the way I am!
TBB: There are a lot of mixed opinions regarding the new season of RHONY. Why do you think the viewers are feeling so ambivalent?
HT: The RHONY viewers are so dedicated to the show that they really feel they get to know the cast on a personal level. I’m sure with some of the girls leaving the show and new ones coming in, the viewers were a little curious about the women they didn’t know – but they’re getting to know us quickly!
TBB: Everyone wants to know, what's the real deal with you and Ramona?
HT: Ramona and I had a shaky start. We have some differences so of course there will be a little drama. I think that’s only natural with any relationship. Ours just happens to get a lot of attention and is played up in the media. But not everyone is going to be best friends right off the bat – or else the show wouldn’t be so exciting!
TBB: Which one of your Housewives co-stars are you friendliest with?
HT: I’ve formed some great friendships on the show – LuAnn, Sonja, Carole and I had such a fun time on our trip to London. Carole and I really bonded – we see everything eye to eye. I adore her.
TBB: Has your life changed much since the show premiered?
HT: The most rewarding change is the amount of people telling me that they have signed up to become an organ donor after hearing about my family's story. The awareness that I'm able to bring to organ donation has been overwhelming and very exciting.
TBB: You are one of those admired, and envied, women that has it all and makes it work! How do you balance life and family? What is your best advice for working moms?
HT: It’s hard to truly find a perfect balance – there’s no such thing as perfection. If you strive for it, you will consistently be disappointed and underserved. What I try to do is focus on the task at hand. When I am at work, I am at work. When I am at home, I am at home. I schedule family time – you have to be around for your kids. Then there’s me. That’s the new part of the equation which I understand now more than ever. I recommend finding some time for yourself in order to be good at any of those things. Whether it’s powering down at 10 pm completely - TV, computers, blackberry – find the time for yourself. It’s an equation, making it all balance and being conscious of the goal.