• Wed, Sep 21 2011

Is Bethenny Frankel’s Business Empire Starting To Unravel?

Two weeks ago there was a small commotion when Whole Foods decided to take Bethenny Frankel’s Skinnygirl alcoholic beverages off of its shelves.  Bethenny looked at this as a blip on her giant empire radar.  “With all due respect to Whole Foods, we were in a dozen of their stores and have decided not to continue in these stores. They represent an infinitesimal fraction of our business. We are, in fact, the fastest growing spirits brand in the US,” her statement continued. “We were bound to piss someone off and everyone loves to try to tear down a success. This is a non-event. I haven’t lost even a wink of sleep.”

But today it was reported that the makers of  Skinnygirl Margarita are being sued for $10 million in a class action suit that claims the drink was incorrectly marketed. Two customers, Christopher Rapcinsky and Erin Baker, say they were duped into buying the star’s pricey potable because it was billed as “all natural” with “no preservatives,” according to papers filed in Manhattan federal court Tuesday.

According to Fox News, now Rapcinsky and Baker are the lead plaintiffs in the proposed class-action lawsuit that seeks money damages on behalf of all Skinnygirl customers — and looking to force the drink’s producers, Beam Global, to change the label. “It could say, ‘nearly natural’ or ‘almost no preservatives,’ but it doesn’t,” said the customers’ lawyer, Thomas Mullaney. “It’s clearly misleading.” He said his clients and people like them had paid premium prices for Skinnygirl — about $19 a bottle — because they thought it was free from chemicals.

Bethenny has not commented on this lawsuit but I assume her attitude will be similar to the Whole Foods debacle. Plus she already has another lawsuit against her from earlier this year that she also shrugged off. “I’m not making wheatgrass here. If I could put an agave plant and some limes on a shelf I would. [The Skinnygirl Margarita] is as close to nature as possible, while still being a shelf stable product. Skinnygirl cocktails were created to solve a problem: to create a line of guilt free cocktails allowing women to drink the indulgent drinks they actually want to drink with as few ingredients as possible.”

So I suppose Bethenny’s empire isn’t unraveling bit it seems like her legal troubles may be more than an infinitesimal fraction now. I think as long as she keeps writing self-help books, making clothes, producing work-out videos, developing her talk show and writing novels the woman who made more than Angelina Jolie last year may get through this. And she could always go back to The Real Housewives of New York. I hear they have some openings now.

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