What Does Your “Happy” Look Like?

Jun 21, 2011 1 Comment

“Happily ever after” is often used to describe a storybook ending. But what is “Happily ever after?”  Chances are most women have a similar idea of the perfect ending. To Gretchen Rossi (a.k.a the “pretty one”) of Bravo’s largely viewed reality show The Real Housewives of  O.C, “happily ever after” has come to mean something a lot different. IntervhewHer.com had the opportunity to speak with Gretchen and discuss her new business ventures since becoming the “housewife” who never quite became an actual stay-at-home housewife.

When we began our interview one of the first things Gretchen said was, “I always believed in ‘happily ever after’…” For some of you looking in on Gretchen’s life you might think, “What’s not to be happy about?”  After all, she’s a TV star, with a new product line and is now in a supportive relationship with partner Slade Smiley, whom she calls her “icing on the cake.” However, this “real life” had some bumps in the road.  After her long-term college romance and marriage to Chris Rossi ended, her next relationship ended with the sad illness and eventual passing of her fiancé, Jeff Beitzel. Through these experiences Gretchen came to the understanding that her happy ending did not mean she had to be the stereotypical married suburban wife with a white picket fence.  She recently realized her “happily ever after” was one she could – and would – create on her own.

Although this “happily ever after” is a constant journey, Gretchen is excited to tell us about its steady progression as she confidently steers her Gretchen Christine Collection and its branded products in the right direction. If it wasn’t clear enough already, Gretchen is quick to encourage women not to get caught up in what society expects of them, but rather forge their own paths and not get lost along the way.

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So, how did her entrepreneurial spirit take flight? Well first and foremost she credits her supportive parents who are both entrepreneurs themselves. But the spark happened for Gretchen when she wore a beautiful, coral-colored Versace purse on one of the shows for Bravo’s Real Housewives of the O.C. Through this appearance she received countless emails asking where she got the handbag. Gretchen explains, “When I wrote back to the emails saying it was a Versace design most of the fan responses were that of disappointment because they felt the bag was far too expensive for them to purchase.” This made her realize, “Every woman out there wants to be a fashionista and wants access to high fashion, but they may not always have the means to purchase these items at will. I love listening to my fans and I was encouraged to bring them their request: High quality, beautiful handbags that make other women stop them on the street to admire their gorgeous accessory. I wanted to make them feel like a million bucks, but without having to break the bank.” This idea of more-for-less has become the concept behind both of Gretchen’s companies: Gretchen Christine Collection & Gretchen Christine Beaute.

gcb-perfect-finish-foundationThe process began with a handbag line based off the idea of everything a woman could find in her closet. The first handbag collection was an all leather design entitled the Pearlized Leather Collection. After being asked to debut the line on ShopNBC they loved the products so much they wanted to give her a full hour on the show and suggested she develop another line. Through this request, Gretchen developed theWoven Collection of handbags, which is a combination of patent leather woven with the regular leather. Each purse has a custom designed wall for organizing cosmetics, so one is never rummaging through a Gretchen Christine bag. Gretchen told us, “The response from fans for both collections has been amazing and after almost selling out on the ShopNBC show, the handbags went on to further sell out on our website.” The company is now working on her new line for the upcoming season.

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When we asked Gretchen about her marketing strategies for both the handbag and makeup collections, she replied, “It’s interesting because being a young entrepreneur usually means you don’t have a lot of money in the bank and can’t spend tons of
money on advertising and marketing. So, instead we decided to focus on the smaller details. I was my own customer and asked myself what I enjoyed most about receiving purchases in the mail and what made specific product stand out to me more. I found myself waking up in the middle of the night thinking how we needed to buy pink crinkle paper to put in the boxes and pink bubble wrap to wrap the cosmetics in. It’s these cute, small details that get customers excited!”

gretchen-christineGretchen made sure not to miss one detail and at the same time made sure to watch every penny as it got spent. She also had her partner Slade help her build the companies, as he is great with marketing and business. Together, they decided to network with their perspective connections, advertise in magazines, appear at empowerment exposé’s for women, hand out company fliers giving 10% off, and send out email blasts to fans and contacts alike. “It’s really just about word of mouth and customer service, we have great quality products and they honestly speak for themselves. We’ve been fortunate with the launch of the handbags to have ShopNBC approach us and get the word out. The cosmetic line was very different, but we were able to launch that through the show and when it aired we couldn’t keep up with orders, we even had to shut down the site as we completely sold out within the first 3 weeks,” Gretchen explains. She does, however, acknowledge she has the added bonus of extra advertising due to the Bravo show. She is decidedly taking advantage of the foot-up and still drives her point that her products carry quality and speak for themselves once worn.

This happily ever after doesn’t stop here. As earlier stated, Gretchen’s first goal is to create the ultimate closet for all of her fans. She describes her process as a marathon, not a sprint. She plans to slowly create more and more items to fill your fashionably fabulous closet.

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When inquiring about investors and people who might have asked to take her company to the next level, Gretchen was quick to explain how there had been many offers, but she had maintained the answer “no, thank you” for the first year of her productrelease. Her reasoning: “It was not because I didn’t need the money, but rather because I find when people allowgcb-lucious-lips investors in they tend to loose control of their companies and the brand they had originally envisioned. Some of these “outside people” are more interested in making a quick buck, rather than the real integrity of my brand.”

Now that Gretchen has her brand off the ground and resembling what she had envisioned, the company is in talks with some choice investors. There is excitement at the thought of extra capitol behind the Gretchen Christine brand, but she makes sure her contract is clear about her majority of ownership, so as to maintain control.

Gretchen is quick to warn about what you wish for when looking for your happily ever after, “So many nights I cried due to discouragement and the feeling I could not keep up. All this owed to the fact that I didn’t have multiple employees, I couldn’t pay a professional to take on all my marketing and advertising, and I still had other numerous responsibilities that came from being on the Bravo TV show.” However, Gretchen is very grateful for all the struggles as she feels they taught her to be a better person in business and in life.

Written by: Bridgette Larcada

Edited by: Jenny Ortiz

 

GRETCHEN CHRISTINE

www.GretchenChristine.com

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One Response to “What Does Your “Happy” Look Like?”

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