EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Erica Diamond Chats With Real Housewives Star & Entrepreneur Ramona Singer
It might seem as though I’m working my way through the Real Housewives circuit, but in essence, my interviews are always to teach and inspire, you my audience.
To my readers, including the budding female entrepreneurs out there, enjoy my interview with entrepreneur and TV star Ramona Singer. This woman is right up my alley. We chatted on the phone and literally, within 25 minutes, I had everything I needed. She talks fast, she thinks fast, and well, Ramona really just GETS IT.
Today is Ramona’s birthday. Happy birthday to you. Here goes, ladies…
Ramona, can you tell us a little bit about your business and how you got started, notably your skincare line TruRenewal, your jewelry line Ramona Singer Jewelry for HSN, True Faith Jewelry, and Ramona Pinot Grigio? This is a place where many entrepreneurs come to get inspired and educated. I read that your father gave you a $70,000 loan when you were 29 years old to start your own business, and you paid it back, with interest, in one month.
I was witness of domestic violence growing up. I would constantly ask my mother, “Why are you married? Why don’t you leave Dad?” Her answer to me was always the same, “I had no money, I got pregnant, and I have 4 kids, where am I going? Promise me Ramona, you will always make your own money. Become successful in your own right, so God forbid your marriage goes south, you can walk out the door.”
That was my message growing up. I have been on my own since 19 years old, and put myself through college.
Yes, what you read is true. I was 29 when I started my own business. I called my dad, who was a very smart man, an engineer at IBM, and told him my business idea. I actually think I got my brains from him. I had an idea and was looking for a partner with startup capital. My dad said to me, “You don’t need any partners in life. How much money do you need?” I told him I needed $70,000 to get my business off the ground. My dad cashed out $70,000 from his retirement savings and lent me the money so I wouldn’t have to have any partners. I paid him back with interest, in one month.
From there, began my journey of all my businesses, four in total, TruRenewal, Ramona Singer Jewelry for HSN, True Faith Jewelry, and Ramona Pinot Grigio. I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, because I wanted flexibility in my life. I wanted to have it all- motherhood, marriage, career, and owning my own business gave me that flexibility. Owning your own business lets you work around your own schedule, make your own hours, and there’s no ceiling to your financial ability. I always knew that working for a corporation meant 8-8, missing birthday parties, missing school plays, and special moments.
I believe women today can absolutely have it all – and we can be happy too. The way to do that, is to follow your passion and to never take no for an answer. Passion breeds success.
Alright, since you’re the second Real Housewife I’ve interviewed on WomenOnTheFence.com, tell us about your journey on the Real Housewives of New York, and how it came to be. We have read about all the feuds. What is fact, what is fiction, and would you like to clarify anything? Also, can you give us a clue on the upcoming season?
I will continue doing the show as long as I enjoy it, and I do. I originally did it as an opportunity to promote our website www.truefaithjewelry.com. My husband was in the jewelry business, and I knew that in order to succeed in business, you had to change with the times. If you stay the same, you die. I knew the upcoming trends were shopping online and on TV. So that is why TV was so appealing- I got to sell on HSN, and promote my jewelry on Real Housewives too.
As far as the show goes, everything I do on the show is real. You can blame editing – yah maybe some highlights are edited, but it’s real, and I’m really me. And that is why I have a strong fan base. I’m not mean spirited. Sometimes I’m unedited, and I do need to filter things, but I am trying to learn to keep my mouth shut a little (chuckling).
We are starting to film this season. For me, this season is all all about showcasing how you can have it all. I feel very blessed with a great family, and great friends.
You have a quote from Season 1 that I love–“I love making my own money… I find that an aphrodisiac.” I gotta confess, I do too. It’s a bold statement, and many women shy away from talking about money. Talk to us a little about that.
Money is power. Money is freedom. I got married at 37 – I didn’t need a man to buy me things or take me on vacations. I married for love and family. Even growing up, I always enjoyed business- business and math were my best subjects. Listen, some women love to shop– I love business! It gets my juices flowing. I get off on it (laughs again). There’s no reason to shy away from talking about money.
You’re a mom to Avery, a businesswoman, and wife of almost 20 years to Mario. For a woman to become successful in all her roles, what would be the top three pieces of advice you would give her? What must a woman do to rock what she does?
1) Trust. Without trust in life or business, trust with your partner, your friends, you have nothing.
2) Communication- People aren’t mind readers. Tell people how you’re feeling- both at work, and in your home life. Often we keep things bottled up, and then it’s too late and the damage is done. Communication should always be open.
3) Keep the passion alive (my husband would like that that to be number 1). We are sending my daughter out one night this weekend to go to our house in the Hamptons. For people who don’t have a second home, swap with your girlfriends! But take those romantic nights. Trade with a friend – you take her kids one Saturday night, and let her take yours another night. But just to be able to eat dinner when you want, make love when you want, sleep in until whatever time you want, there is something to be said for that.
What advice would you give to a woman looking to start her own business or even break into media as you did? What must she know or do?
Erica, did you know that anyone with a great idea can start a business for $50.00 today? For $50, you can be in business. You get yourself an EIN number online, open up a business checking account, open a p.o. box, and start on the side! I actually talked about that on the Rachael Ray Show.
Service businesses are the best kinds of businesses to start– they require the least amount of startup capital, and they are the fastest growing businesses. You also must love what you are doing, believe in it, and be passionate about it. If you believe in it, others will believe it too. When I started at 29, there were tons of other people doing what I was doing, but yet I sold one million dollars my first year, and that was back then. I believed in myself. I always say– don’t look behind, don’t look sideways, focus straight ahead and focus on your own journey. I have worked my ass off, but then again, I love working.
You were just honored as Mogul of the Year at the Stevie Awards. Congratulations! As a businesswoman, tell our current female entrepreneurs, how does one reinvent themselves and keep their brand fresh? It’s a challenge few do well, and most do poorly. What does it take to always stay at the top of your game?
You have to constantly reinvent yourself to stay on top. I believe I have reinvented myself. To stay on top, you have to have a great product– my Pinot Grigio is truly one of the best pinots out of there. It beat out the others in a blind tasters test. You have to make something of quality, and you have to constantly know what’s going on in the marketplace.
A few more tips… NETWORK. I am a very verbal person. I tell people what I’m doing all the time. I believe when you put it out into the universe, then things come to you. Positive thinking is way more important than people think. I tell myself, “I’m gonna make this happen.” I write my goals down and I believe in creating our own luck. Just this year, I put it on paper, and told my team, “We will sell x amount of cases of Ramona Pinot Grigio this year,” and we are just about there. Have your goals in your mind and put them on paper. Envision it. Positive thinking. Then action plan.
And finally, what does the future look like for Ramona Singer? What’s the dream?
I just wanna be happy. I pray to stay happy. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Just good health, great family and friends, and happiness. That’s the dream.
Six years ago, had you asked me if I thought I would have all this, and a reality show, I never would have believed it. But life is an experience, and you go where it takes you.
Ladies, if you have a question or comment for Ramona, please leave it right here. She will be reading.
Happy weekend, readers! Thanks again, as always, for sticking with me.