Jill Zarin Returns to ‘Housewives’ After Building Business Empire: ‘It Was Like I Never Left’

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Jill Zarin Returns to 'Housewives' After Building Business Empire: 'It Was Like I Never Left'

Jill Zarin has always had business on her mind, and it’s no surprise that she’s almost completely eluded camera crews over the years, despite being a real real-life New York housewife.

She agreed that after nearly a decade without TV screens, being back on the Bravo network — in a wild and twisted way — as the star of Peacock’s The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip: Ex-Wives Club felt like “home.” Way.

“It’s like I never left,” Zarin told FOX Business, before joking that cameras haven’t completely shut down in recent years. “I’ve been there, you know. I did BravoCon a few years ago.”

Zarin became one of the franchise’s most popular cast members after starring as the original housewife in The Real Housewives of New York City since its inception in 2008.

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Cameras followed Zarin for four seasons as she maintained a grueling schedule by working with her late husband Bobby at her Zarin Fabrics Warehouse and Home Furnishing Store, a Lower East Side institution founded in 1936, while also raising daughter Allyson and herself Actively involved in a number of charities causes.

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“It’s like I never left,” Zarin said of Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip: Ex-Wives Club, before joking that cameras haven’t completely shut down in recent years. “I’ve been there, you know. I did BravoCon a few years ago.” (Jill Zarin)

With years of work in the apparel industry and a skyrocketing rolodex of high-end contacts, Zarin was a perfect fit for “housewives” and had the catchphrase “I walk with a fabulous circle of people.”

A major cast reshuffle after season four in 2011 gave Zarin an opportunity to refocus on her career and expand the Zarin brand, which she did through multiple endeavors worth hundreds of millions of dollars in sales.

The thriving entrepreneur first launched her affordable, self-titled collection of luxury rugs in 2016 and saw her first home collection land in nearly every major home furnishing store, including Macy’s, Kohl’s, Home Depot and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

She added furniture, cabinetry and bar carts, each with the goal of offering luxury living at a great price. Interior design was just one piece of the puzzle, as she also retained her Skweez Couture shapewear and hosiery label.

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A major cast change following RHONY season 4 in 2011 gave Zarin the opportunity to refocus on her career and expand the affordable luxury brand Zarin. (Jill Zarin)

The pandemic bought Zarin time at home with her family and she worked with her daughter, creative director Allyson Shapiro, to launch the Jill & Ally brand based on tie-dye face masks that Ally created for herself and which are available online immediately went viral.

The mother-daughter duo took action with the crowdfunding campaign Noshes for Nurses, which they launched to raise money to feed essential workers. To date, they have donated more than 25,000 masks to healthcare professionals. They’ve also raised $70,000 and distributed more than 200,000 meals to frontline workers, including hospital workers, police stations and fire departments.

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With business evidently still booming, Zarin returned to the network that made her a household name.

“I had already seen ‘Ultimate Girls Trip’ to Turks and Caicos and I won’t lie – I was a bit ‘FOMO’ (afraid of missing out). FOMO,” she said. “And I think, you know, I want to do it.”

So Zarin signed on to play at Medley’s legendary Blue Stone Manor in the Berkshires with former housewives Brandi Glanville, Vicki Gunvalson, Phaedra Parks, Tamra Judge, Eva Marcille, Taylor Armstrong and Dorinda Medley.

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While rumors swirled about Real Housewives of New York casting, Zarin had no comment. But she was willing to talk more about her new line of handbags, which have been flying off the shelves at Saks, and the colorful crystal manifestation candles, which she barely can (Jill Zarin)

She admitted to having “reservations” about the actual plans regarding filming, production, and even the program’s cast.

“I was like, ‘Should I wait and see … Will it happen again? Maybe it won’t go well, and they never will,” she said. “Or are you doing it? And I jumped in and said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

And while any Bravo fan knows that drama (especially at the Manor) can break any tried-and-true housewife, Zarin was happy to be back with her family on screen.

“I loved every minute of it. I mean, I didn’t love every minute – I have to be honest. There were a few minutes when I didn’t like it, but for the most part it was a great experience.

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“I would do it again in a heartbeat, and if only I could do those kinds of shows I’d be very happy.”

As rumors swirled about legacy castings of “Real Housewives of New York,” Zarin was unable to comment. But she was ready to share more about her new line of handbags, which have been flying off the shelves at Saks, the colorful crystal candles she’s struggling to keep in stock, and the latest “Housewives” clothing, which she’s designed as a tribute to a favorite era in you have always created – evolving story.

Jill Zarin and Ally Shapiro in RHONY gear

The mother-daughter duo created “Housewives” clothing for JillyandAlly.com as a tribute to a favorite era in their ever-evolving history. (Jill Zarin)

She still finds time for philanthropy and plans to return her annual Jill Zarin Luxury Luncheon in the Hamptons in July to benefit the Bobby Zarin Community Trust in honor of her late husband and his battle with thyroid cancer. The exclusive soiree had been postponed in recent years due to the pandemic.

The ultimate businesswoman admitted that despite her overwhelmingly full plate, she’s really happy to fit into a few matches on the court with boyfriend Gary Brody.

“I just try to get through every day and do all the things on my list tomorrow to look forward to playing tennis,” she said. “Because at the end of the day Gary and I love playing tennis together and that’s really what I want to do every day.”

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