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Sonja Morgan: “I Know My Brand Because My Brand Is ME”

Sonja Morgan is taking to her Bravo Blog to dish on this week's episode of The Real Housewives of New York City. Sonja talks about her new business venture and expresses how she wishes she had more support from her fellow 'Wives. Sonja writes:

"I have mixed feelings about that Il Mulino lunch I had with Bethenny. On the one hand, I’m really grateful to have a girlfriend who is open minded and really wants to support me. But, at the same time, I don’t feel like Bethenny is really able to understand my businesses and my situation enough to ask some of the driving questions at this point.  Especially after the briefing she got from the other girls who pretend I haven’t been working my tail off and don’t know how to run a business. They ask questions to be judgmental and feign concern! Dorinda and Ramona are right--they are picking on me and being mean. They shouldn’t ask about my business if they don’t really care.

It’s understandable Bethenny’s taking a shortcut into my saga since she is busy adjusting to being single, going through a divorce, raising her daughter, and running a huge business, but she shouldn’t comment so strongly if she doesn’t understand the complexity of my situation quite yet. Having said that, I know very well Bethenny’s conversational style. She is opinionated, and I asked for it. My whole life I have soaked up information around me even though it comes from some tough sources.

Bethenny can get a person flustered, though. Like when we were talking about how I had to file the Chapter 11. Bethenny has never had to do that before that I know of and really doesn’t understand the process. Believe me, no one knows until they live it. You cannot even imagine what it is like till you are managing it like a full time job itself.

I didn’t mean to come off as ungrateful to the process of reorganization when I said that there would be fumes left if I sold the house. I was just caught off guard, because Bethenny has a habit of cutting people off and throwing her generalized opinions so freely. I definitely have been blessed to have the opportunity to sell off assets to pay the judgment. Very! It’s enabled me to keep my house, my asset, and stability for my young daughter. Sorry, Bethenny, selling real estate and scaling down is not good business. Only sell to go bigger, leverage, and take tax advantages. That is if you can. I have owned my real estate for 18 years; it would be a shame to take a hit with that kind of appreciation.

I know my brand because my brand is ME. When I went down to see Josh last season, I explained to him that I had been very discretionary and concerned about sequencing. I was already that far down the road after years of building my collection from scratch. When Josh told me I needed to spend $30,000 to get branding advice, I was far from that. Done that! Did that with an expert from my alma mater The Fashion Institute of Technology and a slew of other experts.

After Heather helped me with the toaster oven shoot to make a box, I got a lot of information from the luxury department store executives that told me I needed guidance from a real branding expert. They were impressed I didn’t come in empty handed (I designed and built a fabulous toaster oven), but they pointed out that I was a fashion brand at heart and center. It's an international brand in image. Starting with toasters was not a good idea. Down the road. Not first. So I took the advice and started my jewelry, fashion, and perfume ventures based on a solid business plan. It takes years to build a fashion collection. I have been involved and hands on every step of the way from design to marketing. My investors are the distribution experts. They have done it for decades.

But we were able to have fun once we both became more relaxed and gave up the idea that all of the complexities of my business deals and finances could not be adequately explained over an hour of wine and delicious food. I do love though that we ended up at Il Mulino downtown because I know and adore the owners, and I frequent their restaurant uptown. You should try it. Plus it was great to see Bethenny one on one after such a long time. Going downtown isn’t something I do often, but it’s good to mix it up a little and take a staycation every now and again!

While I’m talking about Bethenny, I also thought that the meeting she sat in on was uncomfortable. Again, Bethenny was being Bethenny, and she was cutting everyone off. My team was amazing under this pressure in front of the whole world, and I give them kudos for not sweating it. They are in this to build a long-lasting heritage brand and have invested to make money. When Gaurav my CEO said that we spent three months on this, he meant the storyboards and fashion edits. We had to pare it down to a capsule of the entire collection for spring/summer. We handled this situation very well, but my team was just shocked at how forward Bethenny was when she didn’t really know the situation, know the brand, or the fashion industry like they do. She doesn’t know them. There is so much we cannot share early on. We all ended up looking like a deer in the headlights, because she was being so aggressive.

Bethenny has made a wonderful name for herself in the alcohol industry and now with all her new licensing deals, but she doesn’t reeeeally know fashion. I went to The Fashion Institute of Technology for my bachelor’s degree in marketing, have been ensconced in the fashion world inside and out my whole life. Since a young girl, it has driven me and taken me the places I know. As a young model, I lived in Paris and Milan. My brand is an international lifestyle brand, because there are international influences in my designs, and because you can’t have Sonja Morgan without having international.

I think that Bethenny really does mean well trying to help me with my brand, but I think sometimes I just need a friend to believe in me and my efforts and to help combat the stress that the other girls are projecting on me. I need sensitivity around me and what I am working toward. Even with a lot of luck, fashion is difficult. I think everyone knows that! I have worked in retail, wholesale, and behind the scenes of the fashion world long enough to know that as well. I don’t take this venture or any business venture lightly, especially now that I have a daughter to think of and who will carry on the brand. I have my team to protect. My designers, pattern makers, fit technician, marketing director, creative director, and my investors all believe in Sonja Brands. No one has time to waste or cash to burn. I think discretion is important when you talk about someone else’s business.

I’m loving this new girl Dorinda more and more! While she’s talking to Luann she can be hilarious and boisterous one minute and then so open and vulnerable the next minute. Like when she said that line about when a vagina is involved there can be slip-ups and she doesn’t like slip-ups! Who comes up with that?! She is fun and doesn’t take herself too seriously and has a good outlook on the difficulties in life. I was surprised when she said that a divorce is a choice. When you get a divorced, you lose your husband, you lose your best friend (and sometimes a parenting partner), and that feels like a death in some cases, depending on the circumstances leading up to divorce. But then Dorinda had me laughing again shortly thereafter by saying that she just kept drinking when Heather and Bethenny got in that fight last episode. With these women, sometimes all you can do is order another martini and move on!

Did Carole say that an apple martini counted as a fruit?

Does that mean that I can start counting wine as a fruit, too? Carole never stops with the shock value this season! I’m so glad that she ended up just telling Luann that she’s dating Nicole’s ex-boyfriend.

Keeping secrets from friends is never good, and those things always end up coming out anyway. Look what happened to Lu and I last year when she hid the fact she and Jacques were having trouble. I didn’t realize she was sensitive and going through the trauma of separation. I felt terrible about being left out but even more terrible for Lu. I knew that day was coming and warned her, but it doesn’t take away the pain. I’m looking forward to the next best guy for Luann. I’m sure he isn’t far from now.

Hanging out with Ramona at my house was great--just like old times. I could tell that she was a little on guard when she first came over since we haven’t had as much of our usual chemistry and back and forth silly banter this season, but once I told her about my plan, she opened up. I am always there to support Ramona, so I’m happy to plan a trip for her birthday. I’m glad that she finally admitted that the other women pick on me about my businesses! Why can’t everyone just stop getting involved in my business and focus on their own, I loved that Ramona was trying to explain those Atlantic City games to me. No matter what we always win!

I’m surprised that Hannah was so open about talking about Dorinda and John’s relationship. I thought that Hannah hated John?

Maybe this is a good sign in their relationship and shows that Hannah is starting to warm up to the idea of her mother being in a relationship. John has been there for Dorinda since her loss, so he's someone special in her life.

Ugh I cannot believe that party! Why did I not just show up late! Maybe I could have missed all of that drama and enjoyed my time with Dominik, who is kind and attentive! But then again, what’s a party without a little drama?  I wish, though, that these girls would get some new material. Honestly, Luann and Heather, you wish that I would have invited you to see my designs boards? I thought that you both washed your hands of all of my business deals? That’s what you said! Bethenny asked about my business, and we agreed it would be good for her to meet my investors. She wanted to get a feel, and tell me what she thinks. I swear with these women you could bend over backwards and still not make them happy. They ask questions, and then twist my words and get me all flustered instead of being supportive well-wishers with constructive criticism.

I wish that Ramona had not made that hello such a big deal! I would never mean to snub Ramona. I just honestly did not see her. But I know that she’s going through an emotional time, so I’ll give her a pass. She sees me coming off of my speed bump and may feel I will leave her. Never! If nothing else good came of that night, at least Ramona and Kristen were around wine glasses and none were thrown! That’s progress with those two. Luann, I’m as surprised as you that Dominik was around for so long. He came and stayed! He really is very nice, elegant, well mannered, and supportive, and knows my daughter is everything to me. He is also verrrry charming and attentive. Everyone tune in next week to see a great weekend in Atlantic City at The Borgata Hotel and Casino. I have friends in high places there! It will be beautiful to see the luxury. Keep watching to see if I really am delusional or if I can make my fashion dreams come true!

But here’s a hint: I’ve never had a dream not come true. Focus on your dreams. LOL!"

What do you think about Sonja’s blog?

The Real Housewives of New York City airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c only on Bravo

Source/Photo Credit: Bravo