'Summer House' stars dish about opening their own businesses and how to budget for everyone's favorite season
When it comes to reality TV, there doesn’t seem to be a show with a concept that feels as envy-worthy, yet still relatable as much as Bravo's 'Summer House' does.
Depicting the lives of young Manhattanites who head to the Hamptons every weekend during the summer, the show has no shortage of gorgeous beach montages, beautiful people and the hottest (albeit, booziest) spots in town.
But, what sets the show apart in particular are the constant scene changes that flash back to Manhattan during the workweek, showing the castmates on their way to, from and at their day jobs.
It reminds viewers that even though the word 'work' is essentially a swear word on the weekends, Monday through Friday, it's a completely different story.
Not only have the two women managed to balance the already-stressful New York work mentality with starring on a hit Bravo show, but they’re doing so while simultaneously running their own powerhouse companies and looking glam while doing it all — can we raise a glass of rosé to that?
We chatted with Lindsay, Ashley and castmate Kyle Cooke about what it’s like to start your own company, how to budget when it comes to all things summer and most importantly — where and when it’s necessary to splurge.
AOL:Did you always want to start your own company? Was it something you had always aspired to do in your lifetime?
Lindsay Hubbard: “I never in my wildest imagination as a child was like ‘I’m going to own my own company!’
I always wanted to be in a big city … I was always a fast-paced individual growing up. As far as owning my own company, it was not like a vision or a dream — I just kind of fell into it. I grew up in PR (I majored in PR at the University of Florida) and started from the bottom and worked my way up. Eventually, i just sort of hit a ceiling at a boutique PR firm — every client that I was working on was a client that I brought in. So I had this moment where I was like ‘Why are you bringing in all these clients for somebody else to benefit off of — if you’re the one bringing in all the clients, you should be benefitting.’ And then I realized I should just get started on my own company. And I did.”
Ashley Wirkus: “I used to work in real estate in New York City for years, and my husband decided to make me (okay, not make me!) leave an amazing job in New York City [to move to California], I was like ‘What am I going to do where I can kind of be my own boss?’ I worked in corporate America for years and my family is entrepreneurial and so I said ‘Okay, what do I love most?’ and I love fashion, and I love sales, marketing and operations. So what am I going to do? I’m going to open my own store.
But I didn’t take the traditional retail route. I said ‘What’s thriving in the world today?’ and that’s going green. And my whole life, [my twin] Lauren and I and our older sister would sell back our clothes to make cash to go get new clothes. And so my family friends actually own two of the other franchises in California … so last summer before I moved, I went and visited a few of the stores on the East Coast (there’s 60 nationwide) and I fell in love. So I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to try this!’ Granted, it’s a lot harder than it seems — If had known how hard it was going to be, I probably wouldn’t be here today! But i can say that i’ve successfully opened the store, which took me about a year to get going.
Summer House Season 2 cast:
AOL:Did you have any mentors that you can accredit to helping you get started, or anyone who helped show you the ropes?
LH: “I worked at a PR firm for five years under my boss at the time and I attribute her to really paving the way for me. But I also attribute myself to [make the most of] that relationship — I went to every breakfast, lunch, dinner, I connected myself to her and would not leave her side so i could learn and absorb everything that I needed to know about Lifestyle PR. So it kind of goes both ways — but she was a really good mentor and we were very close, like sisters.”
AOL: What’s something about owning your own business that you didn’t anticipate? What’s been challenging?
AW: “Owning your own business, I can say — I’ve lost so much hair, the stress is out of control! But I think its going to be worth it. I’m only in my first three weeks of being open, our sales have been great and I realize that I love not having anyone to report to. I am so competitive that I’m the hardest boss on myself — I don’t need anybody else as a boss … but there’s been times where I’ve literally sat in my car and cried like ‘What did I get myself into?’ because everything is on you at the end of the day. But, it’s a very empowering feeling and to be my own boss … not realizing first that not many women do this makes you realize ‘I love this, and I want to do more of this.’ I’m just getting started!”
AOL: What would be your advice to someone who’s on the fence about starting their own business?
AW: Just do it! I did not think about it and sometimes when I was crying and stressed about it I told my husband ‘I clearly didn’t think about how hard this was going to be’ but that’s the beauty in it — if you think too hard about it, you’ll never do it. You just need to rip the bandaid, and I was in the situation where I didn’t have a choice. It was either go back to doing what you were doing or just do it. You can’t think too hard or investigate too much … put one foot in front of the other and go for it.
AOL:The New York work culture is like nowhere else — and that includes the idea of going away every weekend in the summer to go to a ‘summer house’. How would you explain why the summer house concept is so popular to New Yorkers to someone who isn’t from here?
LH: I feel like summer houses sort of exist in so many other cities that we don’t really all know about. In New York, we happen to go to the Hamptons because its the quickest, easiest place to find greenery and the beach at the same time. When it comes to Friday — we all work so, so hard Monday through Friday, hustling in the concrete jungle that we live in — that by Friday at 5 pm we’re like ‘get us to the beach!’ and that’s what you really see on ‘Summer House’, on our TV show, it’s us letting lose. We’re blowing off steam and we’re with our best friends doing that.
AOL: Renting a home at anytime can be stressful and expensive. How do you budget enough money to rent a house for an entire summer?
LH: Budgeting for a summer house starts at the beginning of the year. You start searching for that summer house in the wintertime … when you’re younger you go into these summer houses and you’re sharing a room with 20 people. When you get older, you’re like ‘I’m a little too old to sleep in a garage on a mattress with no sheets!’ and you’re making more money at that point anyway. So, you learn how to budget for your wants and needs at the beginning of the year.
AOL:Once you get to the house, it’s a nonstop party for the next 48 hours. How do you budget for all the alcohol and food you need to buy for the house?
Kyle Cooke: “Buy in bulk! We would buy our rosé, our Truly Spiked & Sparkling, basically everything in bulk. We went through four cases of rosé a weekend in the first summer. We all got sick of rosé so we were like, ‘Okay, we need to start mixing in other drinks’, so we started buying six-packs of Truly Spiked & Sparkling and then I was like ‘No, we need to find out how to buy cases!’
In terms of an actual budget, I would say alcohol to food is either two or three to one [ratio]. Pretty much our norm.”
AOL:One place in Montauk that’s worth splurging on?
LH: “I personally would go to Gurney’s on a Saturday afternoon, especially on a holiday afternoon if there’s a big DJ. It’s so much fun just being in the sand listening to great music and dancing with your friends and having beachy cocktails. So Gurney’s, Saturday afternoon, splurge on that for sure. And might as well stay there (by the way, that is a splurge)!”
KC: "Dinner-wise, I love Crow’s Nest — if you want a proper dinner so that you can properly fuel yourself for a complete bender, go to Crow’s Nest. And go to Surf Lodge and just drink ‘Endless Summer’s and pretend they don’t have any calories."