May 2015

Q&A with HEATHER THOMSON, Real Housewives of New York City

Author: Becca Edwards

With the inundation of reality TV shows and a fame hungry culture that seems to thrive off of superficiality, I had developed a cynicism toward Insta-glaming celebs, believing their definition and my definition of reality were starkly different. Yet, sitting down with Heather Thomson of the Real Housewives of New York City after her “Dream It! Do It!” lecture at Hilton Head Health, I discovered with great excitement that I had been seriously mistaken. Maybe it was her perpetual ear-to-ear smile and easy disposition. Maybe it was her apt, relatable “Heatherisms.” Or maybe it was simply the fact that I felt like I was having tea with an old friend, but Thomson proved to be the real deal. Her star power is generated not by inauthenticity, but rather by a genuine spirit, a rigorous work ethic and a passion for empowering people.

Q: You have taken a vocal stance on women feeling confident regardless of body type or stereotypes. Why do you think this stance is important? Do you feel even more reason to take this stance since having children?

A: Hollywood, the fashion industry, and the beauty industry paint these visions of perfection. If we would start looking at this as art—because it is art for the model, make-up artist, stylist, photographer—we would feel much healthier. We should not be teaching women, especially young women, that magazine covers are real. Life is not airbrushed. Life is pimples and dimples. As a mom, this really resonates for me. I want my own children to have confidence, not just because of their looks, but because of the whole package.

Q: Define the Heatherism “body positive.”

A: I think the underbelly of this concept began when I was working for Beyoncé and Jennifer [Lopez]. In the past, we had curvy icons like Marilyn Monroe. But with Twiggy and Kate Moss, that changed. Beyoncé and Jennifer helped us get our curves back, but this was ethnic curvy. I think it is important regardless of ethnicity, we all embrace curves. We are not just one race and no one is a perfect Barbie doll.

Q: Would you agree that health has more has to do with how you feel about yourself than being thin or fit? Can a sense of success help someone feel healthy?

A: There’s body health and there’s brain health. Being fit doesn’t mean you have to be a size two. Being fit relates to your primary food, which includes regular physical activity and your family and friends. Success will come if you do what you love. You have to lean toward your gift because we all have gifts.

Q: Yummie is a relatively young company. How did you grow it so quickly?

A: I had a good idea and I had a good product. I started a brand that did what it set out to do. With technology and smart design, we provide women versatile essentials. Like our jeans. We designed a great looking premium denim jean that feels good and holds its shape.

Q: What business insights did you learn along the way?

A: Know who works for you and who you are working with. You have to understand everyone’s background and build a positive work environment. Spending time cultivating a culture of growth within a company is the most important role an employer can play. Also, it’s important to look at your competitors but understand why you are different from them and why your consumer needs you to be different.

Q: I’m writing a book that looks at all the things that happen to women in their 30s. I have found in my own life and in my research that women in their 30s, especially after having children, tend to have an entrepreneurial drive. Can you relate to this? What advice would you give women who want to start their own business?

A: Good for you for writing a book! I was 35 when I had Jax, and a few years later launched Yummie. I think, in general, this is an entrepreneurial time for a woman, because she has left her job to raise children or has put things off and then she starts to look at what she really wants to do with her life. Not everyone can be an entrepreneur, but everyone should look at fulfilling their passion.

Q: Can you talk more about your son and how his experience has inspired you to be involved with organ donation?

A: When my son Jax received his life-saving liver transplant at just six months of age, it was a gift that you can never ever imagine. But at the same time, we knew there was a tragedy on the other end. The conflicting realities are the most bittersweet feelings you could ever experience. It was a most precious gift. I always say, the only thing you need intact when you pass on is your soul! But there are so many people left behind, whose lives you can touch with the selfless act of organ and tissue donation.

Q: I read you also advocate for Tick-Borne Disease Alliance. What other causes are you involved in?

A: No Barriers USA. I feel it’s so important to give back because no matter how tough you think your life is, there’s always someone who has to face challenges that are even tougher than yours; it’s just so rewarding to realize that you’ve helped to make a positive change in someone’s life.

Q: If you could give your top three fashion tips, what would they be?

A: Confidence is everything. Pick pieces that make you feel good, so you can rock what you got! Three starter shaping essentials every woman needs are: an everyday smoothing tank, a great shaping slip and your slimming bottom that can target belly, butt and thighs. Accentuate Your Assets. It’s all about playing up your positives. Love your shoulders? Racerback cut tops and dresses will look amazing on you. Legs for days? Try a slit-front pencil skirt. Got great curves? Flaunt them in a wrap-front dress. Buy true to size.

Q: Let’s talk about your show. What is it like to expose your life for so many people?

A: Deciding to be on the show was definitely a tough decision. While my head told me that I was taking a risk, my gut told me that it was going to be worth the risk—and it has been. It has given me opportunity and a platform to advocate and raise awareness for my brand Yummie by Heather Thomson and important causes like organ donation, my charity The Kellner Foundation, The No Barriers “Warriors” project and health and wellness issues.

Q: As a celebrity, people know a great deal about you. What’s something people may not know?

A: I’m studying toward getting my degree in health and wellness—it is a huge part of my life, and this is such an exciting next step for me. 

To learn more about Thomson, visit online at heatherthomson.com and yummielife.com.

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