Bethenny Frankel Decides to Sell Part of Her Skinnygirl Empire on RHONY: 'I Need a Break'
The reality star, 48, revealed that she was ready to sell part of her Skinnygirl company, a deal that she said would likely leave her with creative control and allow her to maintain her position as the face of the empire while also handing off the business dealings to someone who could “build a brand to a stratosphere that I don’t even understand.”
It was a tough choice to make, but Frankel was struggling under the mounting pressures of her hectic life.
“I don’t have time to drink water,” Frankel said, reflecting on the stresses of balancing her professional life with motherhood, her activism work, her legal battles with ex-husband Jason Hoppy, mourning the death of ex Dennis Shields, and the time she’s devoted to her new relationship with boyfriend Paul Bernon. “I want to get off this. I need a break.”
“I’m realizing, I’m taking on too much and I’m burnt. We need to let some air out of the tires,” she added. “I need some support and help. It’s all been too much. I can’t breathe.”
Frankel — mom to daughter Bryn, 8 — founded Skinnygirl back in 2009, with the creation of her famed pre-packaged Skinnygirl Margarita. Its success led her to sell Skinnygirl Cocktails to Fortune Brands’ Beam Global (now a part of Suntory) back in 2011, for an estimated $100 million.
She maintained control oer the name, spinning Skinnygirl into a sea of successful products including candy, deli meat, sweeteners, popcorn, salad dressings, shapewear, and most recently, jeans and apparel.
“All of the seeds that I planted years ago didn’t factor in for divorce and custody battle, a relief effort that I put on, a death, etc,” Frankel said. “It’s every day, all day. I’m with Bryn for every activity, and then it’s boom — on a plane to North Carolina. Then boom, on a plane to Florida for relief. … I’m not going on like this.”
With “multiple offers” on the table to buy Skinnygirl, Frankel finally realized that she was ready to make the sale happen.
“I’m open now to moving some pieces around on the board so I can let go of the current stress of taking on too much because I’m going to solve this problem. This will get resolved,” she said. “I’m not looking to exit, I’m just looking for ways to take some pressure off.”
Later in the episode, Frankel met with Bernt Ullmann, the president of her company BB Endeavors, to discuss the potential sale.
At the meeting, they discussed leveraging offers from unnamed buyers, explaining they had a previous offer on the table to sell that they’re glad they didn’t take.
“One thing that I’ve really done in my business is I’ve made the right moves,” Frankel told audiences. “As great as that is, you get a little protective. So this would be, I’m sitting at the chess board and I just don’t know what pieces to move around. But I’m telling you, I’m moving pieces around.”
“It feels really nice that people are very impressed with the Skinnygirl brand, with what I’ve built,” Frankel added. “I still feel like I’m the young girl struggling to make it work. This is more than a decade later and it’s a known brand name. I just have to decide what the dynamic is going to be.”
Ultimately, Frankel said she was happy to step back.
“I want to do this. I want to take some pressure off. I can’t live like this,” she said. “I want my life to be different. I don’t want to be rushing out of something to get to something else to get to be with my daughter. I have a good relationship going with a great guy and I want to keep it that way. I want it to be balanced.”
A source tells PEOPLE that Frankel has not made the sale yet.
“Bethenny has been approached with numerous lucrative offers as a result of the success of the brand,” a source who knows Frankel tells PEOPLE. “She owns 100 percent of the Skinny Girl intellectual property, outside of cocktails. She is still reviewing offers, but they have to align with her vision for the future of the brand before entertaining making any moves.”
The Real Housewives of New York City airs Wednesdays (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.