You may know her as the manic mom on Bravo’s hit TV show, The Real Housewives of New York. And yes, Ramona Singer is definitely Type-A. But whether you jeer her or cheer her, it’s that over-the-top drive that helped Ramona escape her troubled upbringing and achieve her dream: A fashion career in New York City. FOF talked to this wife, mother and businesswoman about what it takes to make it. Plus we got a glimpse at her lovely new jewelry line for HSN. It will be featured on HSN this Sunday at 3 – 5 a.m. E.S.T. and 3-5 p.m. E.S.T.
Enter to win these gorgeous earrings (worth $299) by commenting, below!
Where did you grow up?
Stratford, New York–a very rural area. My backyard was apple orchards, deer and squirrels. My dad was an engineer for IBM, but most of our neighbors were farmers.
Did your mom work?
She got married when she was 18–she was pregnant with me. Then she had three more kids right away. I was her little helper—the laundry, cooking, cleaning.
Did you go to college?
I went to the fashion buying and merchandising program at FIT, and then I transferred to Albany State for business. I was always a worker—I actually put myself through college. After two years, my father said, ‘You’re just going to get married and have babies, I’m not going to pay for any more school.’ So I declared myself independent, got loans for school and worked two jobs while I got my degree.
How did you become so driven?
My parents had an abusive relationship—physically and emotionally. My mom would always say to me, “Don’t end up like me. You have to make your own money. Follow your passion.” And I always loved fashion…
What influenced you to like fashion?
My mother. Everyone else in Stratford was wearing jeans and t-shirts, and I was changing my nail polish every day to match my dress! I would sew my own clothes because my father was very frugal.
What was your first business in New York?
Closeouts. Clothing closeouts. I started it in my 30s and I worked like crazy. When I married my husband I had a million dollars in the bank.
When did you meet Mario, your husband?
Not till I was 37. I was a dater and a skater.
So you would run from commitment?
I was always picking men who were cold and aloof and then trying to get their attention. Before Mario I was in a serious relationship for five years with a man who would never commit. I finally worked on myself and got out of that.
Good for you. And how did you meet Mario?
He saw me the first time at the gym wearing one of those crazy 80s workout outfits—the leggings with the g-string. Remember? Later, he saw me in a restaurant and asked me out. We’ve been married for 18 years. We just renewed our vows.
What made you do that?
I see a lot of couples who get divorced when their kids go away to college. They don’t know what to do with themselves. Now my daughter is 16, and she’s getting more independent and I realized she’s going to be gone in a few years. I need to focus on my relationship with my husband and reaffirm my commitment.
When did you start the jewelry line for HSN?
After I started doing [Real Housewives], that got my adrenaline going—my creativity. I wanted to be on HSN, so I cold-called them, and they suggested I design a high-end jewelry line with real diamonds and gemstones
So you design it?
Yes. It’s modeled after my favorite style: estate, art deco jewelry. Things that are classic but always in style. You can wear them for 30 years and pass them to your daughters.
What’s your favorite piece?
I love them all! They’re like my children. But in the September collection I love the gold vermeil peices and the signature cuff bracelet. The wider, wood cuff is also great.
What’s the single most important thing you’ve learned in your career?
My mother was right. To be successful, you have to be passionate about what you do. You have to love it.
Enter to win Ramona’s lovely art deco HSN diamond hoop earrings by leaving a comment, below: What’s your favorite guilty-pleasure television show?
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