For over a decade, reality television star Lisa Vanderpump has brought a memorable sense of elegance and style into our homes. From her nine seasons on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills to her ongoing reign with Vanderpump Rules, Lisa has effectively utilized her notoriety to now be able to create the projects that matter most to her today.
“I’ve got to a stage in my life where everything has to be a passion project,” Lisa, 62, tells me over tea at her vibrant “Villa Rosa” home in Beverly Hills. “I’ve done so many different things that now I find that I am motivated by something that excites me. I love design. My design partner [Nick Alain] is here now. We have two new big projects coming up. We’re designing two new restaurants that have a deadline and nothing is as motivating as a deadline. I’ve just opened Paris Casino in Las Vegas, which we presented to them and they fell in love with our visuals. Everything is bespoke and couture and designed by Vanderpump Alain.”
Being born and raised in London and spending years traveling the world before choosing to make a home in America with her husband, Ken Todd, and their children Pandora & Max, Lisa says she never saw reality television as part of her career path but that ultimately changed when she began to notice what she refers to as a gap in her life.
Lisa recalls, “Both my children had just left home. So, I kind of ventured into reality television. Many people said ‘No, don’t do it.’ It was just the unknown and that was 500 episodes ago and 12 years later. So, that opened so many doors for things I dreamt of. I could go speak at Congress and co-write laws with my [The Vanderpump Dog] Foundation. Working on behalf of LGBTQ, being awarded ‘Ally of the Year’ – I suddenly found being on television gave you a voice.”
Walking the grounds of Lisa’s beloved estate, which has often been featured on reality TV, you cannot help but encounter a plethora of chipper dogs, swans and miniature horses all across her pristine property.
Lisa informs me that her 501(c)(3) nonprofit has saved approximately 3,000 dogs domestically from kill shelters to date, not to mention her compassionate efforts internationally to stop the cruel treatment of defenseless animals.
When Covid-19 threw Lisa an unexpected curve ball with her philanthropy work, she remembers feeling a need to get clever in order to keep on her mission and continue to look out for our many furry friends of the world.
“I thought, Jeff, through the pandemic, what do I do? How am I going to keep this charity alive? How can I do that? Our restaurants were closed – everything was shutdown. This is our livelihood, so I said ‘Okay, we can survive this.’ I heard about Cameo and I heard that you could do Cameo and raise money for your charity. So then I got serious with Cameo and to this day with my Cameos, I have raised for my Foundation since Covid $383, 511.14. So, that has kept my Foundation going.”
Lisa also credits the support of her “incredible” family, saying that her son will often volunteer with her and her daughter does so much for the Foundation. Plus, being 40 years into her marriage, Lisa says she finds comfort in “being married to somebody that’s very considerate and is always supportive of everything I’ve done.”
As season 10 of Vanderpump Rules arrives on television, which follows the young adult lives of Lisa’s restaurant & bar staff as they grow within their paths between love and career, Lisa too has noticed her own commitments surrounding this hit series growing.
Lisa says, “I produce Vanderpump Rules, which this season, it’s just starting now, is a great season but that was quite a lot of work this year, producing it. It was a very complicated season. I knew that authenticity was key to reality television. There was nothing inauthentic about Vanderpump Rules at all. You could film this group when we’re shooting the show or could keep going all year. They hang out together, they go on holiday together, they fight together, they sleep together. So, I didn’t try and create something. This was organic.”
As of today, Lisa has five restaurants & bars open to the public, from Vanderpump à Paris and Vanderpump Cocktail Garden at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to PUMP, SUR and TomTom around the West Hollywood neighborhood. Even with her having multiple places to oversee, Lisa confidently leads the charge, knowing that it is her name and her built reputation that are consistently on the line.
Lisa says when frequently visiting her establishments, “I walk in and I know every inch of that place. Every inch has been designed, created by us and if doesn’t work, it’s all coming back to me.”
With the wide variety of businesses Lisa chooses to continue to immerse herself in today, I wondered if she would characterize herself as an entrepreneur. She ponders the idea and then jokingly calls herself a “control freak” instead, but then acknowledges her work with Caesars Palace as entrepreneurial. So, I asked Lisa what she believes makes an effective and successful entrepreneur in 2023.
“I think know your market, do your research, don’t shy away from hard work,” continues Lisa. “You have to know your competition. I would think be unique. I think ambiance is really key to so many things that you do.”
Having decided to step away from the sometimes uncontrollable accusations and gossip that can come with being on the Housewives reality shows to go build her own individual empire, I was curious what has it meant to Lisa to now be her own boss today and to have better control over her public narrative lately.
“Well, I think everything I’m involved with is something that I love doing,” Lisa says. “Being able to create my own image – I think when you’re on reality television, people know how I live because they’ve seen it. They know I see the beauty in things and I would do anything to give that beauty and share that with people. They’ve seen me in so many different aspects of my life – opening businesses. I feel they know me and people come up and they go ‘I feel like I know you’ and I always say to them ‘Guess what? You kind of do!’”
Lisa reveals to me that she is also in the midst of writing a book about her life, but says she needs to find the time ahead to really sit down to fully gather all of her thoughts about her past, present and future. She also devotes much of her time today to her family, including her toddler grandson “Teddy” whom she says will one day call her “Nanny Pinky” when he is old enough to do so.
As we began to conclude our conversation over tea at Lisa’s inviting home, I asked the ever-expanding business leader how she would reflect on her professional journey thus far.
Lisa responds, “It’s not for the faint-hearted, reality television, but the opportunities that it can afford you and the excitement, I can never really negate it, even my time on Housewives. Now it’s different, but I’ve moved on – I have my other businesses. My charities are of utmost importance. My design business is something that excites me on a day-to-day basis. Vanderpump Alain, we have our own factory and having our own luxury of drawing something, and we can create things together and then we can build it. We don’t have to look for it – we make it. It’s just a marvelous marriage together of creative minds working together and being excited about what we do.”
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