Yes, Emily Lipman is the beautiful blond fireball taking castmate Alexandra Dilworth to task for her “trophy wife” aspirations in the premiere episode of Bravo’s The New Atlanta. But, as viewers will soon discover, Lipman’s drive to succeed and wring the most from every moment of her life more comes from a very personal and emotional place.
“I actually graduated with a sports management degree,” explains the owner of Atlanta’s 3-year-old Raw Denim Boutique. “I had a couple friends pass away in [the] Haiti [earthquake], and at that point in time I was working for a sports management company and I was absolutely miserable because I was sitting behind a desk and taking phone calls and selling ticket packages. I wasn’t happy. And when I found out my friends were in Haiti with Food for the Poor, I realized that life is way too short and quit my job in the middle of the Final Four — which is absolutely unheard of. But I quit, and I went to my dad and said, ‘I want to open a boutique.’ I had some money saved up and we sat down and I explained to him exactly what I needed and he gave me a loan in addition to a lot of my savings. Thankfully I’ve been able pay that loan back already!”
Lipman and her family are also the founders of the ‘A Wish for Wendy’ charity softball tournament, named in honor of Lipman’s sister Wendy, who died of cystic fibrosis just 2 weeks after her birth. Her brother Andy also lives with the disease.
“My brother just turned 40 on Sept. 1, which is great because the median life expectancy of a CF patient is about 38, and he was told he would never see his teens,” says Lipman, whose family has raised more than $1.5 million for CF research since the tournament began. “So my drive is also in charity as well.”
Channel Guide Magazine: You have the premiere of your first TV series and the grand opening of your new Raw Denim Boutique location happening on the same day. Things are going well for you!
Emily Lipman: Business has been really good and I love it. We just moved to midtown and I’m really excited to see what happens over there, because it’s a brand new space. It’s bigger, it’s a brand new building, and there’s people that live above me — so I feel like opportunity is kind of endless for me right now!
CGM: Tell me what makes the shop unique.
EL: I feel like there are a lot of “denim stores” — and we aren’t strictly denim, so I feel like when I picked that name I should have thought about it a little more [laughs], which is why I added “Boutique” to the end of it recently — but I know my denim really well and I know what fits people. Buying denim is like buying a bathing suit for women. It’s extremely difficult. And I know my stuff, so a lot of women come to me because I know what is going to fit them.
So I knew my specialty and went with it. But, like I said, we don’t just have denim; we have a lot of other stuff as well, for men and women.
CGM: You’re already incredibly busy— what attracted you to doing The New Atlanta?
EL: I always say Atlanta is a really big city but it’s a really small town, and owning a business in a small town, you’re going to know a lot of people and a lot of people are going to know about you. But I recently was in Jezebel’s ‘50 Most Beautiful Atlantans‘ and that kind of put me out there a little bit more. [The show’s producers] actually contacted Jezebel — which my friend actually owns — and contacted me and asked me, and I was like “Sure!” And then another friend of mine asked me about it, as well.
So like I said, — Atlanta’s a really big city, but a really small town. I went for it, and here we are!
CGM: The show also seems like a great opportunity for you to stay focused on the business ventures you have and A Wish for Wendy and take that to another level. Was that part of the draw for you, as well?
EL: Absolutely! You try so hard to make your business and your family’s charity successful — and we are very successful. But you can always take it to the next level. So I’m glad that they did show a lot of stuff with my boutique and my struggles with owning a business and my constantly being there. Because if my employees can’t work, I’m working — the store can’t just be closed. And there’s a lot of stuff that I juggle with that, with my family’s charity and with raising money and hosting events — and trying to throw a guy in the mix! It’s extremely difficult. So you’ll see my struggle with that on the show, as well.
CGM: How much of A Wish for Wendy will we get to see on the show — or is it mostly focused on your business?
EL: The softball game is actually in October, and we weren’t filming then, but we also do wraparound events at the boutique, so I use my store to that advantage, as well — to raise some money — so you’ll see a little bit of that on the show.
CGM: Since you say Atlanta is really a small town disguised as a big city, how well did you know your costars before you became castmates?
EL: Tribble and I have been friends for quite some time so I knew him beforehand. Everybody else, I didn’t really know.
CGM: About that verbal battle with Alex — you’re all pretty strong, opinionated women in the cast, so is The New Atlanta also a chance to change how outsiders might view Southern women, and how Southern women view themselves?
EL: I think our show has a definitely different view of Atlanta, for sure — we’re not the Housewives and we lead completely different lives, so I’m excited for everybody to see this kind of Atlanta. And yeah, we are all very strong and opinionated women and when you put us together, we definitely will butt heads.
CGM: Like you said, you’re used to being in the public eye, but not necessarily on TV. So did you have an adjustment period with having TV crews and cameras follow you everywhere, or did it become second nature pretty quickly?
EL: At the beginning it was so awkward and I wasn’t completely comfortable with it, but once you start filming 5 and 6 days a week, you absolutely become comfortable with the camera crew and you become friends with them and you just forget that they’re there. And sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes it’s a bad thing when you say something you shouldn’t say!
CGM: What are you most looking forward to viewers getting to know about you?
EL: I’m excited for them to get an inside look at someone who just juggles a lot of stuff. The more stuff I have on my plate, the better I work, so for me, it was fun and exciting. But I also hope that when people see me and see my drive, they might get some inspiration to maybe create their own charity or open their own business.
The New Atlanta airs Tuesday nights at 10/9CT on Bravo.
MORE FROM THE NEW ATLANTA:
• The New Atlanta‘s Alex Dilworth: ‘My mom inspired me to be a trophy wife’
• Africa Miranda welcomes you to The New Atlanta — and The Lipstick Lounge!
• Tribble Reese: From ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ to ‘The New Atlanta’
• Jevon Sims on life and love in The New Atlanta