Besides hooking millions into an IV drip of brain-tranquilizing, confectionery entertainment, each Real Housewives franchise depicts a unique knot of socioeconomic minutiae, from Potomac’s crazed fixation with etiquette to the tension between old and new money on RHONY. On The Real Housewives of Dallas, the bedrock of the social order is formed by charitable causes and zip codes, and on the explosive second season, which airs its first reunion episode tonight, no cast member has dealt with either subject more than mom, blogger and lockers baroness Stephanie Hollman.
Known to viewers as a good-natured sidekick to the bulldoggish Brandi, the mother of two intones in her tagline that she married into money – namely that of husband Travis’s locker manufacturing business, which reportedly accounts for 85% of the country’s wood and laminate cubbies. But long before she came into wealth, Hollman was invested in various causes, having studied psychology at Oklahoma State before working for six years in the social services field.
As of late, Hollman has also been busy lavishing TLC on the neo-gothic, foreclosed mansion she and her husband acquired at auction this season – an impulse buy that elicited accusations of zip code-climbing by fellow cast members (though to be fair, she initially resisted the purchase, citing eyesores like a large wading pool in the living room).
When she isn’t busy renovating or chasing after sons Chance and Cruz, Hollman operates her own fashion and lifestyle blog, StephanieHollman.com. Here, we catch up with the all-American mommy blogger about crying in Versace, her recent bone marrow donation, and whether or not she’s filled that wading pool.
What has it been like getting used to having cameras around all the time?
Season one, it’s hard to shake that the cameras are there. I was really nervous all the time, and laughing a lot, because I laugh when I get nervous. Season two, I forget that they’re there, but only with people I’m really comfortable with like my family or Brandi. In group scenes, I’m still very uncomfortable because you’re all there and you know something has to happen. And you never know who is going to be the target so I have a hard time letting my mind go. So it may look like I’m drinking but I’ll have like half a glass of wine. I’m very aware of how much I drink.
But the good news is with wardrobe I kind of have everything planned out because you’ll get a schedule of everything you’re doing that week. And if it’s a group scene, I’ll always do hair and makeup. Because you want to at least stand out, and I feel like all the other girls do it, so you want to look as good on camera as the other girls.
Did your style evolve between seasons one and two?
Yes, because I didn’t know we were on Housewives season one [the show was originally called Ladies of Dallas] so I kind of felt like, you just wear Lululemon and whatever you would wear to carpool. And then season two, I tried to wear less athleisure-wear and step it up a bit. On season one, I think in every episode there was at least one scene where I was in athleisure-wear.
Was there a style moment from either this or last season that sticks out in your mind?
Season one I wore a purple Versace dress that I cried in, and I got more feedback on the dress than the fact that I was crying. And I was like, this is kind of interesting. And then this last episode I wore a white jumpsuit and kind of the same thing happened where most of the comments were about the jumpsuit and not really anything that happened in the episode, which is kind of interesting.
How did your website come about?
My interest in style and blogging definitely came about with the show. When season one started airing, I realized I was spending most of my time talking about what I was wearing, like, ‘episode five, three minutes and thirty five seconds in.’ So I just started putting everything I was wearing online. But it began literally just so I could answer those questions without having to individually answer them on my Instagram.
Is it the same for vacations with everything planned out? Did you know you would be going on the boat in Mexico where you all got sick?
You have a kind of small outline of how many days and what you’re doing while you’re there, but we didn’t know we were going on the boat. It’s so funny because there were three of us who got on the boat and we were like, ‘Oh my gosh this is going to be so miserable.’ I always get seasick, so I’m not a big boat person. Leanne had just had surgery, and Cary had vertigo so boats can be really bad for her. And it was the most miserable boat ride of my life. It was miserable. I promise I wasn’t drunk. I was just so sick. I went downstairs to use the restroom and thought I was going to die getting back up. It was such a rocky boat. Horrible.
How do you pick your charitable projects?
Before I met my husband, I worked for Head Start which is a school for kids below the poverty line. And then I also worked for Madonna House, which is a homeless shelter. And then when I met my husband we got engaged and I ended up moving to Dallas, where I started working on the same causes: women and children. And mentoring and domestic violence are two other big ones: Travis and I are on the board of the largest domestic violence agency in Texas. And then I’ve also been a Big Sister for a little over 10 years in the Big Brother Big Sisters of America.
We hear you recently donated bone marrow to a stranger. How did that come about?
Five years ago, I was doing a cancer walk with my son Chance and at the end of the walk they had this booth that was swabbing for donors. So I swabbed and asked what the likelihood would be that I would be called, and they said less than one percent if it’s a non-family member. And family members are only matches 30 percent of the time. So I swabbed and thought nothing of it, and then five years later I was spending this past Easter with my husband and children and I got a call from a New York number that there was a lady who I’d never met who was in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant, and I was her sole ten out of ten match. I was able to hop on a plane the next month and donate. And I’d never met her but I know she’s doing great and the transplant was well received and everything worked out.
And yeah, it was crazy. I feel like sometimes the Housewives can have a negative stigma attached to them and so I always wanted my journey on the show to have a positive outcome. So if this is my one positive thing, then I’m very blessed.
How is your home renovation coming along?
The pool is gone, I promise. We are about seven months into our remodel. I think by the end I will have transformed it from something that looks like a hotel to something that feels like a home. We’ve added on a little bit. It’s going to be amazing. We’re gutting the kitchen. We’ve gutted a lot of the house as well, just to make it more family friendly. I think it will be much different feeling than our current home, which is very much beige on beige. The pool is filled and there’s a bunch of furniture in that room.
Was the reunion airing tonight a high point in terms of style?
The reunion is so much harder because you’re really not able to just pick anything you want out. You try on about 30 outfits and then Bravo gets the final say. But I only send them things that I like because otherwise, you’ll be in a dress that you don’t really love.
Main image: courtesy of AGPR