Exclusive: Heather Thomson On Beyonce's Booty, Shapewear & Those Housewives
Justine Ingersoll Schwartz
August 13, 2012
Heather Thomson doesn’t mince words — but she does have fun with them. Whether she’s doling out career advice to her Real Housewives of New York City co-star Sonja Morgan, talking about her own successful brand, or just kickin’ it with the girls, the shapewear-executive-turned-reality-TV-star is likely to switch back and forth between business speak and those urban colloquialisms, like her signature “Holla!”, that have proven great soundbites for the show.
She is equal parts Sara Blakely (the billionairess of SPANX fame) and Jenny from the Block. And that is what I found so endearing about the Yummie Tummie founder when I spoke with her recently. Heather dished openly about her expanding empire, working with Beyonce, and those darn Housewives. And once you hear what she has to say, you’ll be on “Team Heather,” too.
“Even Ramona wears Yummie Tummie!” she says with a laugh, referring to her show nemesis, Ramona Singer. The purveyor of pinot grigio and insults has been hard on Heather, one of 3 new cast members, since season 5 started. But Heather, a businesswoman first and TV star second, doesn’t seem to be bothered much.
And why should she? The company has seen a spike in sales since the show aired. A good part of which comes from her own co-stars, who — spoiler alert! — all wear Yummie products on and off the show.
“Ramona always said, ‘I don’t need shapewear,’ and I’m like ‘Everybody needs shapewear!’ and then one of my slips, which you saw in the show, she went crazy for.”
And Ramona isn’t the only Housewife who wears Yummie. “Sonja wears the leggings. Carole wears sheer and smooth Chris slip (Carole and Aviva, as thin as they are, want to be tight and light in their clothes). Aviva just ordered two Jordan shorties. They all definitely wear the slips. Louann loves my jeans, so does Aviva. Sonja hasn’t tried them yet because she still thinks she’s a 27. She’s like, ‘Every time you send them to me they’re too small and I give them to my intern!’ Well, I guess I should start sending her a 28…29.”
Jordan Shortie ($48)
And though business is booming, the woman whose “success is built on making women look and feel their best,” is still the company’s Founder and Chief Creative Officer, and is very much a part of the day-to-day operations. Which can include walking buyers and editors through every piece of her collection — or being a living mannequin for the line.
“What I’m wearing is my new favorite, it’s called Pretty Powerful,” Heather says proudly, as she opens her jacket to reveal an illusion-neckline body suit for spring. “It’s a program I did with Dupont and Invista. It’s a really technical fabric, it’s like Yummie and Invista made a baby.” A highlight of the collection, the suit is made of bonded fabric which makes it seamless, or anti “bra bulge,” as Heather will tell you. A scalloped and mesh neckline allows the piece to transcend shapewear as you know it — underwear — and makes it wearable on its own.
Pretty Powerful bodysuit for Spring.
The concept of shapewear as being something you don’t need to hide, but instead flaunt or show off, is what has set Yummie products apart. That, and Heather’s “bottom down” approach to shapewear.
“Back in the day when I was shopping for shapewear after I had [son] Jax, everything was bottoms-up. Why do we always have to go bottom up? I want to bring it down; so that’s how the tank started,” she explains, referring to her hugely popular 3-panel tank ($48), which is still the company’s bestseller after all these years, and counts Jennifer Lopez as a fan. “It works for everyone; the numbers prove it.”
Tank Smoother ($48)
The numbers don’t lie — and neither do Beyonce‘s hips. Before launching Yummie, Heather helped the singer, as well as Jennifer Lopez and Puff Daddy, launch their respective clothing lines. In working with 2 of the most famous derierres on the planet, Heather observed what curvy women needed in their shapewear.
“It’s really about confidence. [Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez] have to step out on the red carpet or out on the stage and they have to not worry about malfunctions or lumps and bumps. When Beyonce is shakin’ her booty up there on stage, she cannot have her panties scoochin’ up around her butt.”
And Heather makes sure her products don’t “ruin the party,” whether that party is a concert for 30,000 people, or the more likely scenario of a class reunion or going out to the club with your friends. “We need products that say ‘go have the drink, go boogie down and dance’ not ‘Okay, I’ve sucked myself into my reunion dress, but I’m not going to drink anything because then I’ll have to go to the bathroom and how am I going to do that?'”
‘Jade’ Legging ($68) for fall.
This season, Heather’s fired up about their leggings, which come in faux leather, fiery colors like “Chilli Pepper,” and feature studs and other rock ‘n’ roll embellishments.
“I’m a rocker. I’m a rock ‘n roll girl. I grew up with Motley Crue, ACDC, Bon Jovi. That’s like the music that I listen to and I have this rock ‘n roll undertone,” she says, while showing off a faux leather legging with crackled detail, aptly named the “Jade” after cool girl and Rolling Stones daughter Jade Jagger.
As you can tell, Heather’s personality as big as her shapewear empire. If you’re not already one of her many fans, who tend to scream and flash their Yummie Tummie’s when they spot Heather on the streets of her hometown New York, shop her bestsellers now and you’ll be a convert. Hey, if they’re good enough for Beyonce, they’re good enough for you, right?