Yvette Manessis Corporon: I first met Kelly Cutrone a few years back when I decided to profile one of her clients as a N.Y.C. It-girl. When the wannabe fashion star failed to show up for our scheduled interview, I quickly learned that It-girls are often unreliable. After ringing up the rude fashionista and letting her know exactly how I felt about her lack of professionalism, I picked up the ringing phone ... to find Kelly on the other end.
"What did you say to her?!" Kelly demanded, as I mentally prepared for battle. "She told me no one has ever spoken to her that way -- not even her parents."
"Well, maybe that's the problem," I insisted.
Instead of blindly defending her client (like publicists so often do), Kelly burst out laughing and hung up the phone. She dropped the offending client soon after -- and gained my respect in the process.
The star of her own Bravo reality series "Kell on Earth" and author of the new book "If You Have to Cry, Go Outside," Kelly is famous for her "NO B.S." approach to business. But with all of her success and the stress that goes along with running her fashion PR company People's Revolution, Kelly knows that being a good mother and role model for her 8-year-old daughter, Ava, is by far the most important job on earth.
"I expect a lot of Ava, but not more than she's capable of," says Kelly. "I guess I'm a realist. When Ava was little, I instinctively set up a few great strategies that continue to serve me well after all of these years. One was, 'Where do we keep our hands? To ourselves, to ourselves.' Second was the 'I'm gonna count to three' rule, which means 'You are a human being and you are able to change your behavior.' Third, I refused to respond to whining. I insist on good manners, and other than that, I'm pretty much an indulgent, fashion PR, Scorpio mom who lives to give everything to Ava."
That "everything" includes a pricy Manhattan private-school education, which Kelly is proud to report that she pays for on her own. This single mom takes no prisoners -- and no chances -- when it comes to her little girl. On TV, we see the fearless career woman -- but in real life, she's a worried mom, just like the rest of us. In an uncharacteristic glimmer of vulnerability, Kelly opened up to me about her fears. "I worry that New York City is a very dangerous place to raise a child," she admits. "I worry about her from the moment she leaves the building to the minute she comes home. I worry that a cab will come up from the sidewalk, or a potted plant will fall from someone's window. Anytime I find myself worrying, I ask God to protect her and hope he brings her home safely."
The power publicist keeps tabs on her baby and her business by keeping her office and her home in the same building. When she's not upstairs making breakfast for Ava, she's downstairs managing her staff of eager young publicists, who look to Kelly as both a mentor and mother figure. It's a role Kelly relishes. Says Kelly, "I hope they learn the skills that it takes to be an effective and powerful publicist: self-esteem, confidence, authenticity, learning to listen to their inner voice ... the confidence to speak up and the ability to make a ca-ching of cash."
Known for launching into four-letter-word tirades and for living a downtown, free-spirited lifestyle, Kelly isn't exactly a conservative. But when it comes to Ava, all bets are off. Ask about her sex life, and this single mom turns downright wholesome. "Ava's only met one person that I've ever dated," she confesses. "And I have never slept in the same bed with a man in our house with Ava there." For a woman whose life is a reality-show open book, some things are still sacred -- and off-limits. "Ava doesn't get to meet boyfriends unless I am in love with them and not wanting to date anyone else," says Kelly. "I keep my romantic life very separate from my home life."
Listen up, working moms -- this one's for you: Kelly says that it's time to kick those guilt trips to the curb. "If you're a working mom, you are a positive role model in your child's life," she says. "Realize you are probably harsher on yourself than your own child would ever be. Really focus on the quality time that you are spending with your child. I know working moms that spend more quality time with their children during two or three hours at the end of the day than some stay-at-home mothers that are not present emotionally."
Amen to that, sista! Oh, and as for Ava ... as much as she loves her mom and her costarring role on "Kell on Earth," she does have a little issue with the show. Says Kelly, "She says she has one problem: She isn't on it enough."
|Yvette Manessis Corporon is an Emmy award-winning writer and producer. She is also the co-author of "Peeing in Peace: Tales and Tips for Type A Moms." Yvette lives in New York with her husband and two children.|