KNOWN for their designer handbags, millionaire mansions and luxury lifestyles, many wouldn't expect to see the Real Housewives of Cheshire break a sweat.
But Rachel Lugo, 46, insists she works hard for her millions and says she gets "frustrated" by the misconception she's "just a stay-at-home mum".
The reality star and ex-husband John, who she was married to for 23 years, run Gatley Green Construction and Property Management together – renting flats to the likes of international footballers.
And now the mum-of-five, from fancy Alderley Edge, is launching her own interiors business, having split from John in early 2019.
Rachel – who's mum to Francesca, 23; William, 21; Sophia, 18; Oliver, 15 and Sienna, nine – tells Fabulous she "totally" thinks there's a misconception she doesn't work and is "just a rich housewife".
She says: "Real Housewives viewers haven’t seen the business side of me so it’s always very frustrating, because the girls know I work but when you’re a property landlord, it doesn’t take you away every single day.
"It’s difficult to show, unless I did the odd viewing or something. Now finally people will see the businesswoman I’ve always been. I’m a real grafter and I'm excited to show that, it’s been a long time coming.
"I’m sick of saying ‘girls, I work, I work really hard, I don’t sleep very much, I’m always working’.
"But there is this huge misconception and it’s partly my fault, especially if the viewer believes I’m just a stay-at-home housewife, but hopefully they’ll start to see that other side of me."
Real Housewives viewers haven’t seen the business side of me so it’s always very frustrating. I’m sick of saying ‘girls, I work, I work really hard'. There is this huge misconception
Rachel – who Pilot Fish Media estimate to be worth £2.6 million – is now launching an interiors business called Lugo Luxe, with her boyfriend of a year Nick, 51.
She says: "I’ve been in property for over 20 years as a landlord. I always used to flip the properties before they were rented. If it was an international footballer going in, I'd need to find all the furniture.
"I got this love of flipping houses, dressing them up, making them look different. I’d do as much as I could myself, everything from the prepping to the painting.
"My new company is selling furniture and accessories, it's what I love. My ideal shopping trip is to go into homeware stores, not clothing stores.
"I needed to do a business away from what I was doing; to stand on my own two feet.
"I don't mean that my ex-husband ever supported me, because I've always worked, but this is something I can stick my teeth into and I'm really excited about it.
"Nick retired last year because he’s widowed and wanted to spend some time with his children. But he didn’t want to stay retired forever so I said ‘let’s do it together then’.
"I say we work well together but we actually butt heads, we keep joking our offices are going to have to be at either end of the office block.
"Socially in our relationship, we get on really well, but we’re both very strong willed in business. So we’re still trying to find that balance."
Rachel matched with Nick on dating app Luxy in June last year and had their first dog walking date the next day.
But she insists they took things slowly, with Rachel only committing to being Nick's girlfriend when he asked her – on camera – four months in.
She says: "Because of my previous experiences, I was very guarded. We agreed to meet quickly but I took it very slowly. I’ve got children, he’s got children and they had to come first."
I’ve been in property for over 20 years as a landlord. I always used to flip the properties before they were rented. If it was an international footballer going in, I'd need to find all the furniture
Of going into business with her new man, she says: "I’m one of these people who, not that it won’t work out (with Nick), but I can separate business (from my personal life).
"You just have to get on with it, if that’s the path you go down, you can’t let your business suffer because that’s how you pay the bills.
"You reach an age where you think ‘what could go wrong? OK this could happen but I’ll still be fine’.
"Sometimes you’ve just got to go with it and take a bit of a risk, that’s what all entrepreneurs do. I think it’s going to be really good."
Before meeting Nick, Rachel's experience of dating in her 40s was far from rosy.
She says: "I never expected to be in that position. I was in my mid 40s with five children and my life went in a direction I never expected it to take.
"I hated dating when I was younger, so it took me a year to even feel ready. I was so naive, it's a harsh world out there and I had my confidence knocked a fair few times.
"I had a horrendous experience with one guy I dated, who was manipulative and cheated on me.
I had a horrendous experience with one guy I dated, who was manipulative and cheated on me. You’re a vulnerable person when you find yourself single after such a long marriage
"You’re a vulnerable person when you find yourself single after such a long marriage. You think everyone is nice and honest.
"That was probably the best wake up call for me because it made me think ‘oh my God Rachel, keep your guard up’.
"I wear my heart on my sleeve and I feel people should treat others how they expect to be treated, but in dating everyone’s out for themselves.
"It was horrible. I’m surprised I kept going and thought I’d find a good one eventually.
"Nick is so lovely and funny, he’s different to anyone I’ve dated before. I was lucky, he’s a really normal, grounded guy. He’s a great dad too."
As for Rachel's own parenting journey, she found becoming a single mum in her mid-40s a difficult transition – admitting the kids "walk all over me".
She says: "It’s been very tricky. In parenting that works well, you always have the softie who gives lots of cuddles and makes sure they know they’re loved – then you have the one who will discipline.
"It’s the threat of ‘they’re going to home soon, you’d better make sure you do this’. Unfortunately now the softie is parenting five children, so I’m a little bit henpecked.
"Because I didn’t have my mum around from when I was nine (when Rachel's mother moved to the US), I definitely over-mother my children and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
"It’s been very difficult because I don’t feel like I can now be this disciplinarian, (when I try) they look at me and they’re like ‘wait what?’ So they walk all over me, they’re good kids but it is tricky."
Series 13 of Real Housewives of Cheshire is currently airing on ITVBe, on Mondays at 9pm.
Source: Read Full Article