Our exclusive interview with entrepreneur, designer and gorgeous reality star Gretchen Rossi.

We talked with the “Real Housewives of Orange County” star about her new Gretchen Christine Collection line, about her personal life and her life behind the Tv cameras.

Follow Gretchen at Instagram / Twitter

Describe yourself in 3 words?

Authentic, Grateful, Loyal

How’s a typical day in your life?

Up around 8am- coffee, play with my dogs, get ready for work while listening to my daily devotional, head to my office in OC or my showroom /warehouse in LA for the day. Workout at Stark Irvine around 4pm for an hour. Head home to walk the dogs (we have 3), cook dinner and the catch up on any work I missed that day. I unwind with a book, a cup of tea, and a good fire. Then time for bed around 11pm.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life?

I would say my parents. They have been married for 47 yrs and are a great example of hard working entrepreneurs who made a great life for themselves and their 3 children.

Best advice you have followed?

Live your life with integrity no matter what anyone else is doing.

How did you get selected for Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Orange County”?

Actually Slade recommended me when him and Jo (his former girlfriend) left the show because they were looking for a couple to replace them. Production called me for an interview. I was very hesitant at first but eventually my late fiancé Jeff was the one that convinced me to do the show.

How has your life changed after the TV Show?

Well in many ways, but mainly my anonymity being gone. The show has been seen by 400 million people worldwide and is in 144 different countries. So to say you can’t go anywhere without someone knowing who you are is an understatement. How ever the fans are the best and I feel so lucky to have such a great group of loyal fans.

How is your relationship with the other cast members?

I am friends with Kelly, Lydia, Vicki and have meet the new gal Peggy and she seems very sweet. I also enjoy a very close relationship with many of other housewives from Beverly Hills, New York, Atlanta, Jersey and Miami.

Do you guys have a script on what to do or say?

No script but production definitely knows the arc of the story line they are going for.

Can you share something funny that’s happened to you while filming?

When you film a show for half a decade I am sure there have been many moments of funny things happening, but I can’t remember one in particular right now.

Any advice to other people thinking on share their lives on TV?

Yes know what you are getting into. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Be prepared to have everyone have an opinion or come after you for the choices you make in your life. There is some fun aspects of being on a TV show like this but some very difficult ones as well.

Now tell us about your anticipated Fall Handbag collection. What inspired your purse line?

My fans and my mission to produce high quality accessible fashion for the everyday women.

Why vegan?

Because Gretchen Christine is trying to do their little part in being more eco-friendly and also socially responsible. I myself am a huge animal lover and since a segment of our customer base was requesting the option of a vegan leather collection, it was an easy choice to make.

What was the process like to source the vegan leather, was it difficult?

It took a full year to develop this collection because I was so particular with how I wanted the vegan leather to look, feel and perform. I sent samples of real leather bags to the factory and we went through many rounds of sampling different ingredients and fabrication processes before we found the perfect material, that looks and feels like real leather.

Besides being cruelty-free, what are some benefits to buying a faux leather handbag?

The new technology being develop in the manufacturing process is quite extraordinary. This collection contains materials that have no animal bi-products, they have a similar strength and feel to real leather. Our material actually holds its structure better and doesn’t break down over time like real leather. This allows us to do so many more things when it comes to design. It’s the perfect blend of durability with flexibility.

What inspires your designs?

Everything around me inspires our designs, from a beautiful flower I see in nature, to the different cultures I explore during my travels, it can be the architecture of a building, or a unique textile…I pull inspiration from all these things.

Are there any handbag trends that you wish would go away?

I can appreciate all the trends that come and go because with most of design, its history. That history drives inspiration and innovation, but to be honest, I have never been a fan of the tie die look.

What philanthropic causes are you involved in?

Many…in fact I created my entire pink collection in honor of the breast cancer charities of America. We also work with and give back too many animal organizations, as well as children’s charities. Slades son was diagnosed with brain cancer at age 5, so working with organizations like the Make a Wish Foundation and Stand Up to Cancer are very near and dear to our hearts. Last but not least, we tithe weekly and give back to our local church saddleback.com

What makes your line stand out compared to your competitors?

I believe it’s in the details. Gretchen Christine thrives on putting their customer needs first, and this collection stands out because of the versatility we created. We believe Gretchen Christine to be a fashion and beauty solutions company. This means we design with purpose. This collection includes interchangeable/reversible straps or consider the purse inside purse feature of Audrianna Messenger as an example. The conversion of the Jaime Tote (from a larger tote to a smaller more structured bag) Also the details and embellishments of the bags; from the 14K gold plated purse feet to the multiple pockets for organization, to the gorgeous gold studded straps and the removable luggage logo tags. Every piece is made with love and with our customers’ needs in mind.

Do you have favorite handbag in your line that you use every day?

I can’t pick just one, they are all like my children because so much time and attention has been given into each one. I honestly use them all…it just depends on my mood and what outfit I plan to embrace for the day.

Besides your cell phone, what are three items you must always carry?

In my bag I always have some of my favorite cosmetics, my Gretchen Christine coin purse the holds all my credit cards & cash (This is a necessity because I can easily move it from one purse to the other) and my camera.

Do you follow any vegan designers?

Yes, I do, several actually but Stella McCartney is one of my favorites. She is very inspiring.

Do you have a favorite fashion trend?

I love fashion so much that it’s impossible to just pick one trend. My favorite trend is the one I am creating in that moment. Fashion is a constant ebb and flow that’s always changing and evolving. This is what feeds me and the design team every single day.

As a business owner, what are some challenges you have faced that only a woman can understand?

The roadblocks that naturally come from being a woman in business can be many, and it’s sad to think in this day and age that some men still associate beautiful women with a lack of intelligence, or they assume if your pretty, you certainly aren’t capable of achieving corporate success. They assume there is no way a young woman could possibly understand the ins and outs of a business. I personally love that kind of attitude, it motivates me to show them something different. It’s always a pleasure to surprise those types of people with my knowledge. I’m able to speak intelligently about every aspect of my business from design, to sampling, manufacturing to production, distribution to fulfillment, web development and SEO optimization, all the way through marketing and sales. We handle everything from concept to credit card and I welcome anyone to challenge me on it.

What is your best advice for someone starting their own business?

My philosophy is this “Find something you truly love to do, and you’ll never work another day in your life.” Be passionate about what you are doing and have a reason behind why you are doing it, otherwise the work and dedication it takes to run your own business can overwhelming. If you wake up every day with a passion that ignites your motivation, you will have no problem moving forward, no matter how challenging or difficult things get, and it will get difficult, put if you stay focused and never give up you will find a way to succeed.

What is in store for the future?

The future looks bright for Gretchen Christine. We now have 7 locations around the world filling orders for us, we are launching several new categories for 2018. There are just so many things happening for us personally and professionally that I think you and I should plan another interview very soon.

Where we can buy them?

gretchenchristine.com

Photo Credits:

Makeup: Anthony Pazos @anthonypazos
Wardrobe: Ali Levine @alilevinedesign
Photog: Mario Barberio @mariobarberiophotos
Hotel: Hotel Indigo Downtown L.A. @hotelindigodtla

Styling Credits:

Romper with cape: Mac Duggal
Hand Bag: Gretchen
Stacked rings: Sterling Forever
Screw bracelet: Sterling Forever
Gold leaf ring: Thallo Jewelry
Gold wrap bracelet: Thallo Jewelry
Heels: De Blossom Collection
Assistant: James Paul