Former NY Housewife Jill Zarin: I'm always trying to fix things'

otaylor@thestate.comMarch 13, 2013 

Jill Zarin will be a celebrity host at Wine, Dine and Design Monday.

PHOTO PROVIDED

  • If you go Wine, Dine and Design

    When: 7:30 p.m. Monday

    Where: Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, 1101 Lincoln St.

    Tickets: $50-$200

    Information: www.winedineanddesign.org or ( 864) 577-7583

Jill Zarin, a former star of “The Real Housewives of New York,” part of Bravo’s franchise of reality shows that chronicles the lives of affluent women in various cities, recalled a pivotal moment of her life caught by the camera.

No, it has nothing to do with Bethenny Frankel.

It was during fourth season, her last on the show, and Zarin was simply getting out of a car.

“I was wearing someone else’s shapewear,” Zarin said. “It looked ugly. My leg was exposed.”

The footage gave Zarin the idea to get into the shapewear and hosiery business. Zarin, who operates SkweezCouture, will be the celebrity host at Wine, Dine and Design, a charity fashion show Monday at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. In its second year, the show, which will also feature pageant guru Cyrus Frakes, benefits The Walker Foundation, the fundraising arm of the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind. Cojo, the fashion commentator, was the celebrity guest at the inaugural event.

Zarin’s entrepreneurial profile includes the Jill Zarin Jewelry collection. Jewelry is an accessory one might expect a celebrity to brand, but shapewear is something that is unique.

“I needed it,” Zarin frankly said. “Actually, it’s a little bit deeper than that. I’m a solution based-brand. I’m always trying to fix things. I wanted to make it prettier and more feminine.”

Zarin’s husband, Bobby, owns Zarin Fabric Warehouse and Home Furnishings, a home furnishing and fabric store in New York, so Zarin, who has been a buyer and sales manager for retailers, is familiar with fabric.

She’s done an impressive job leveraging her TV fame into building a recognized brand. She published “Secrets of a Jewish Mother,” a book written with her sister and mother, in 2010. There’s also a bedding line. What’s most important to brand building?

“I don’t think it’s an easy answer,” Zarin responded. “I think it’s a constant battle every day to keep your name out there. One thing that has helped people like me was social media.”

Before social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter, Zarin says fans couldn’t follow TV stars who were no longer on TV.

“How were you supposed to stay in touch with those stars?” she continued. “But now they can because of social media websites.”

If you get a response on Twitter from the handle @jillzarin, it is from Zarin.

“I do tweet my own stuff,” she said. “I make myself accessible to my fans.”

New York was the second locale of “The Real Housewives” franchise, debuting five years ago this month. Zarin feuded with Frankel, her former best friend, on the show before getting fired before the fifth season. In an October interview on “Watch What Happens: Live,” Bravo’s late-night show hosted by Andy Cohen, who heads the network’s original programming unit, Zarin admitted the feud was a ratings stunt.

During the interview, she also confronted Cohen about her firing. When she left the cast, Frankel got her own spinoff on Bravo, “Bethenny Ever After.” When asked if she missed TV, Zarin said yes.

“There is something I miss about sharing the funny things that go on in my life every day,” she continued.

But it’s not like her post-TV doesn’t have perks.

“My normalcy now, a lot of people recognize me, and yes, I do get special treatment sometimes and I love that,” she said. “Anybody who says they don’t is lying.”

Reach Taylor at (803) 771-8362.

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