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Bethenny Frankel’s best business decision she’s ever made

Aarthi Swaminathan
Finance Writer

Reality TV star and celebrity entrepreneur Bethenny Frankel revealed that the best business decision she’s made was to sell her lifestyle brand, but keep the licensing rights.

Responding to a question at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit about the biggest money move in her life, the founder and CEO of the lifestyle brand Skinnygirl said it was “probably to do the deal with Beam and also probably to go on the ‘Housewives,’ … and keeping the licensing rights to Skinnygirl.”

Frankel who had risen to reality TV fame on Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New York City,” created the Skinnygirl margarita, a low-calorie ready-to-drink margarita mix “in her kitchen.”

While there was tepid interest in product at the time, Frankel said that after she and a partner manufactured the product and brought it to market in 2009, it became a hit.

The company was then sold to Beam, a liquor conglomerate which makes Jim Beam, in 2011. The deal was worth around $100 billion, according to an estimate from Forbes.

Bethenny Frankel attends Skinnygirl Cocktails Launch Party at 620 Loft & Garden in 2015. (Photo credit: Steve Zak Photography/FilmMagic)

Shrewd business move

But the story didn’t end there. Thanks to the licensing rights Frankel had secured to use the Skinnygirl name for other products, she had — and still has — the ability make anything from shoes to salad dressing and can slap a Skinnygirl brand name on it.

“I control the intellectual property,” Frankel told the New Yorker in 2015.

Manufacturers can create the product that they want, and pay a fixed royalty rate to license the brand name from Frankel.

“That was the most lucrative thing, because to sell something for such a big number and then keep nine slices out of a 10 piece pizza,” Frankel told Yahoo Finance. “It was a very nice deal.”

Frankel’s deal with Beam has also inspired other ideas like SkinnyPop, Skinny Pizza. Frankel herself has developed products from coffee to jeans.

The 48-year old, who has since left the show in August and signed on a multi-year deal with MGM Television and producer Mark Burnett to develop TV projects, said she’s long relied on her gut when it comes to making money.

“I wing it as I go,” she said.

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Aarthi is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.

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