Bethenny Frankel‘s business empire just got a whole lot sweeter.
The Real Housewives of New York City star, 45, has just announced yet another extension to her booming Skinnygirl brand: candy.
“I think I saw a void [in the market],” Frankel tells PEOPLE of her latest venture. “Every woman I know has a sweet tooth and most women I know have PMS or they get emotional and they want chocolate […] It’s low calorie and they’re delicious; people are obsessed with them. And I don’t think there’s really anything else out there like that — especially with such quality. There’s a lot of chocolate, but it feels like junk food.”
The new product line includes chocolate truffles, chocolate bars, chocolate-covered almonds, and gummies — each coming in pre-portioned packages at 100 calories each — as well as three flavors of mints (which have zero calories per serving).
“Portion control is huge,” Frankel says. “I don’t believe in fake; I believe in good quality ingredients. I’d rather have less of something really good than a lot of something fake. I think those little portioned packets are just very female.”
The brand — which all started with a margarita — and has obviously been a smashing success for Frankel, with over 75 different products on the market now. In 2011, she sold the company to Beam Global, the third largest liquor company in the world, in a reported multi-million dollar deal (though she is still in partnership with them on the business).
And though her big return to RHONY‘s 8th season garnered a lot of attention for the mogul, she doesn’t think her reality persona has been a huge factor in her sustained success. “To be honest, at this point it has not as much as you’d imagine to do with being on television,” she says. “I’m a businessperson more than a TV person.”
“I work really hard. I’m very, very invested; I’m very, very involved. I know everything about my business. I have great people around me […] That’s a mistake that a lot of reality stars make, they just put something on television and they think that’s enough.”
As for the alleged legal branding battle between her and fellow Housewife Sonja Morgan — Frankel brushes it off. “I don’t really worry that much about what other people are doing,” she says. “Look, Ramona [Singer] has a brand of wine and I support her and I support what she’s doing. Anybody who has a real business and a real original idea, I welcome and I promote other women and I want to pay it forward.”
“Sonja has had so many businesses,” she continues. “[She’s] been a caburlesque dancer, an event planner, she had a toaster, she had a fashion line, I think she had a jewelry line, I think she had a bathing suit line…and I think she is doing something with the Nigerian football team also. So she’s very busy.”
So, what’s the next conquest for the Skinnygirl empire? Frankel says she has her sights set on everything from energy drinks to frozen desserts to school lunches.
“Right now it’s really still a start up,” she says. “People think I think I’ve cracked the code. I’m at the beginning stages of a business — we haven’t even hit the tipping point.”
—Shay Spence, @chezspence