Meet Real Housewives’ Trendy Tycoon Gretchen Rossi
She didn’t join the cast of The Real Housewives of Orange County until the fourth season, but Gretchen Rossi has become one of the Bravo series’ breakout stars. It’s something she credits to her on camera authenticity.
“I’m not anybody different than who I am in my daily life,” professes the 34-year-old blonde bombshell who was recently named a “Hot Housewife” by US Weekly. “I don’t switch to someone else because the cameras are on. You see the good, bad and ugly with me. And I believe that makes me more relatable.”
There’s no denying the California girl with striking good looks and an effervescent personality was born to be on camera.
“I was constantly entertaining,” says Rossi, who grew up in Southern California. “I would come down during my parents’ dinner parties and have a full getup on. And I’d entertain everyone by singing and dancing.”
Despite her ability to engage audiences, Rossi didn’t pursue a career in entertainment right away.
“Growing up people approached me about modeling and acting,” recalls Rossi. “But my parents were very cautious of that world, so they didn’t let me do any of it. Instead they encouraged me go to college and pursue a more secure career.”
So Rossi, who was over her parents telling her what she couldn’t do, decided to attend college out of state.
“I got accepted to three schools… One in Washington, one in Colorado and Baylor [in Texas],” remembers Rossi. “I realized it rained a lot in Washington. And my parents talked about moving to Colorado. So, I picked Baylor!”
Rossi, who has always enjoyed figuring out what makes people tick, pursued a degree in psychology.
“It just seemed like a natural path for me,” says Rossi. “I was always trying to fix everybody; I always had this innate need to help people.”
But after graduating from college and moving back to California, Rossi quickly realized finding psychology work was no small feat. So she worked at a children’s gym—until the 9/11 attacks propelled her to make changes.
“I wrote a list of everything I wanted to do should something like that happen again,” states Rossi. “And I started checking things off, including getting my real estate license.”
License in hand, Rossi became a top-selling agent with Coldwell Banker after working intense 80-hour weeks.
“I loved it and was good at it,” asserts Rossi. “It was such a lucrative business for me, so I continued to work in that field.”
It’s that experience that led to Rossi’s Housewives casting. While attending a dinner party, she sat at the same table as her current boyfriend, Slade Smiley, and his then-girlfriend Jo De La Rosa, one of the original Orange County Housewives.
“I was being my silly, flamboyant self and Slade and Jo looked at each other and said ‘She’d be perfect for the show,’” recalls Rossi, who had no interest in appearing on Housewives until her late fiancé Jeff Beitzel persuaded her to reconsider. “So I went to the casting interview and before you knew it, I was on the show!”
Following a tumultuous first season of feeling like an outsider, Rossi has finally hit her stride on the show.
“I think the cast members have come to realize who I am,” declares Rossi. “As we’ve seen with Tamra [Barney], she’s really changed her tune towards me because she got to know me. It’s taken a bit for them to like me, but we’re finally there.”
Something that didn’t take Rossi long: becoming the show’s style star who was constantly asked about her hair, makeup and clothes.
“Fans got upset that they couldn’t afford the products I was using. So I realized there was a niche in the market,” says Rossi, who launched her Gretchen Christine Cosmetics line in 2009. “I wanted to bring high quality makeup to the everyday woman at an affordable price. And that’s what I’ve accomplished.”
Following her cosmetics success, Rossi launched her Gretchen Christine Collection of handbags and accessories.
“ShopNBC asked me to debut the line with them; I sold 1,000 bags in 50 minutes and we’ve been moving along ever since,” says Rossi, who plans to expand her empire into new areas. “It comes down my individual style and bringing that to the everyday woman.”
But Rossi isn’t stopping there… She’s creating a direct selling program that could give Avon and Mary Kay a run for their money.
“I’m actually meeting with consultants to make sure that’s the right next move,” discloses Rossi. “We’re developing a great program that could employ a lot of women in America.”
Rossi, who recently showcased her Pink Collection for the Breast Cancer Charities of America at New York Fashion Week, knows there’s more to her success than airtime on Housewives.
“If I wasn’t a hard worker with a strong work ethic, it never would’ve happened,” acknowledges Rossi. “It comes down to having drive, focus and dedication.”
Since Rossi has all that in spades, there’s no doubt she’ll be checking off the next item on her bucket list: creating a multi-million dollar empire.
Tom Castañeda is a creative writer, blogger, and award-winning broadcast journalist who has worked at Architectural Digest, In Touch Weekly, and Latina – a fashion, beauty, and lifestyle magazine for today’s bi-cultural Latina woman. Throughout his career in publishing, Tom has planned and executed numerous celebrity, fashion, and beauty programs throughout the country, including fashion shows, and shopping events for brands like Bloomingdale’s, Chanel, Mikimoto, David Yurman, Givenchy, Armani Fragrances, Macy’s, Southpole Collection, and more. Additionally, Tom has drawn on his strong journalism background to create various print, online, and video reports on various subjects, including fashion and beauty.