Real Housewife of Dallas, Cary Deuber may seem a picture perfect television personality, but she's not afraid to be real. In fact, the refreshingly honest beauty, who is also a registered nurse, describes herself as the "anti-reality" star, and shows surprising candor for someone who lives her life in the spotlight.
Known for being equal parts outspoken and laid back, SWAAY spoke to Deuber about her passion for medicine, what it's like working with her husband (also her business partner), and the reality behind reality show life.
“I think I'm the only one of original cast who's never been on TV before," says Deuber, a self-proclaimed workaholic, who chatted with us while on her work break for the interview. “It seems everyone has been on some kind of show, or they were a cheerleader or in the entertainment industry, and I had not."
Despite being surprised with the offer to star on the show (via a Bravo representative who contacted her on social media), Deuber says that she has embraced the platform, and rather than getting tied up in the drama, is focused on creating a meaningful experience.
“It's not every day Bravo comes knocking your door with cameras," says the mom of three (Deuber has one daughter with her husband Mark, a plastic surgeon, as well as two stepsons).
“I went through the process and so far it's been a good experience. Reality TV for me is empowering, but it depends on what you do with it. For me, it's to help other women." -Cary Deuber
When it comes to filming, Deuber says she's actually quite comfortable around the cameras, as is her spirited daughter, Zuri. “The camera guys tell you when they are going to come to your house, so you know they are going to be there," she says. “Now I'm used to it. Zuri loves it because she has people to play with. “
And, for those wondering if the show is in any way pre-written, Deuber says think again. “I wish it was scripted; it's not," laughs Deuber. "I have to be clever and witty on demand, but I'm exhausted because I'm a mom. I'm not an actress, even though a a lot of the ladies are."
And about those ladies, who have been known to create some cat fights in Dallas, Deuber says she is trying to navigate the drama without getting too caught up.
“It can be stressful when someone screams at you," says Deuber. “A lot of it is jealousy, because someone gets to do this or that [on camera], and I really don't have time for that. I guess I'm in a way the anti-reality reality star and I'll probably get fired for being too down to earth. Am I supposed to start acting like a nasty bitch because a lot of other people do? That's just not me. I've dated a lot of celebrities and professional athletes and can tell you that they weren't assholes. You don't have to be one just because you're famous."
Deuber, who was raised on the east coast, works alongside Mark at the Dallas Plastic Surgery Practice, and in her 20-year career has lead multiple medical missions abroad, helping operate on on cleft lips and palates through an organization called ConnectMed International. “I use my platform for good, which is the opportunity and the silver lining," she says."When I started [filming] I said 'it can't be harder than operating on people,' but in reality some of it can be. Dealing with different personalities and girls that don't like you and you might not like either was a real learning curve for me. I've learned how to have thicker skin, and learned who my real friends are."
The Baylor undergrad, who studied vascular and trauma surgery, says she “loves operating" and is, unsurprisingly a sewing aficionado. Working with her husband, she says is mostly a positive experience, but ultimately it “depends on the day," Deuber adds with a laugh. “We've been married for eight years and have worked together a long time, so we are just in the groove. You will see the progression through the season. Honestly, working with him is great and I get to see my best friend at work, which simplifies the process for our patients."
In terms of the growing trend of injectables and cosmetic procedures-of which Deuber is an outspoken fan-she says women should remember that even just a little change can make a big difference in terms of a woman's confidence.
“It can be so empowering for women," says Deuber, who gets regular Botox and actually injects her own lips with fillers for a plumper looking pout. “As a woman the pressure is high. You want to look good, and not just for men, it's for yourself. Just a little bit of Botox can be a game changer. As you get older you lose fat in the face and just a little bit of filler can make you look natural. It's important to take care of yourself because we are living longer than we used to."
Regarding her new-found fame, Deuber, who describes herself as casual and yoga-obsessed, remains nonplussed. “I don't feel like I'm famous," she says.
“People recognize me," she says, continuing - "but most don't come up to me. I'm pretty incognito; my hair is usually in a bun, with nothing on my face and my glasses on, and I think that's empowering."
In terms of what sets Dallas apart from the other Real Housewives filming locales, which are filled with table flipping, wine throwing and other dramatic escapades, Deuber, who was born in Connecticut and lived in Ohio previously, says her adopted city is all about individuality, which translates perfectly to the small screen.
“I'm a melting pot type of person," says Deuber. “I like to convey that everyone here is different. Everyone has their own personality, and makes their own contribution to the show. Even the people that I don't get along with, I'm glad they are on the show, because it's relatable."
"Steal the mesh underwear you get from the hospital," a friend said upon learning I was pregnant with my first daughter.
It was the single best piece of advice I received before giving birth in December 2013. My best friend delivered her daughter eight months previously, and she was the first to pass along this shared code among new moms: you'll need mesh underwear for your at-home postpartum recovery, and you can't find them anywhere for purchase. End result: steal them. And tell your friends.
My delivery and subsequent recovery were not easy. To my unexpected surprise, after almost 24 hours of labor, I had an emergency C-section. Thankfully, my daughter was healthy; however, my recovery was quite a journey. The shock to my system caused my bloated and swollen body to need weeks of recovery time. Luckily, I had trusted my friend and followed her instructions: I had stolen some mesh underwear from the hospital to bring home with me.
Unfortunately, I needed those disposable underwear for much longer than I anticipated and quickly ran out. As I still wasn't quite mobile, my mother went to the store to find more underwear for me. Unfortunately, she couldn't find them anywhere and ended up buying me oversized granny panties. Sure, they were big enough, but I had to cut the waistband for comfort.
I eventually recovered from my C-section, survived those first few sleepless months, and returned to work. At the time, I was working for a Fortune 100 company and happily contributing to the corporate world. But becoming a new mom brought with it an internal struggle and search for something “more" out of my life--a desire to have a bigger impact. A flashback to my friend's golden piece of advice got me thinking: Why aren't mesh underwear readily available for women in recovery? What if I could make the magical mesh underwear available to new moms everywhere? Did I know much about designing, selling, or marketing clothing? Not really. But I also didn't know much about motherhood when I started that journey, either, and that seemed to be working out well. And so, Brief Transitions was born.
My quest began. With my manufacturing and engineering background I naively thought, It's one product. How hard could it be? While it may not have been “hard," it definitely took a lot of work. I slowly started to do some research on the possibilities. What would it take to start a company and bring these underwear to market? How are they made and what type of manufacturer do I need? With each step forward I learned a little more--I spoke with suppliers, researched materials, and experimented with packaging. I started to really believe that I was meant to bring these underwear to other moms in need.
Then I realized that I needed to learn more about the online business and ecommerce world as well. Google was my new best friend. On my one hour commute (each way), I listened to a lot of podcasts to learn about topics I wasn't familiar with--how to setup a website, social media platforms, email marketing, etc. I worked in the evenings and inbetween business trips to plan what I called Execution Phase. In 2016, I had a website with a Shopify cart up and running. I also delivered my second daughter via C-section (and handily also supplied myself with all the mesh underwear I needed).
They say, “If you build it, they will come." But I've learned that the saying should really go more like this: “If you build it, and tell everyone about it, they might come." I had a 3-month-old, an almost 3 year old and my business was up and running. I had an occasional sale; however, my processes were extremely manual and having a day job while trying to ship product out proved to be challenging. I was manually processing and filling orders and then going to the post office on Saturday mornings to ship to customers. I eventually decided to go where the moms shop...hello, Amazon Prime! I started to research what I needed to do to list products with Amazon and the benefits of Amazon fulfillment (hint: they take care of it for you).
Fast forward to 2018...
While I started to build this side business and saw a potential for it to grow way beyond my expectations, my corporate job became more demanding with respect to travel and time away from home. I was on the road 70% of the time during first quarter 2018. My normally “go with the flow" 4-year-old started to cry every time I left for a trip and asked why I wasn't home for bedtime. That was a low point for me and even though bedtime with young kids has its own challenges, I realized I didn't want to miss out on this time in their lives. My desire for more scheduling flexibility and less corporate travel time pushed me to work the nights and weekends needed to build and scale my side hustle to a full-time business. If anyone tries to tell you it's “easy" to build “passive" income, don't believe them. Starting and building a business takes a lot of grit, hustle and hard work. After months of agonizing, changing my mind, and wondering if I should really leave my job (and a steady paycheck!), I ultimately left my corporate job in April 2018 to pursue Brief Transitions full-time.
In building Brief Transitions, I reached out to like-minded women to see if they were experiencing similar challenges to my own--balancing creating and building a business while raising children--and I realized that many women are on the quest for flexible, meaningful work. I realized that we can advance the movement of female entrepreneurs by leveraging community to inspire, empower, and connect these trailblazers. For that reason, I recently launched a new project, The Transitions Collective, a platform for connecting community-driven women entrepreneurs.
As is the case with many entrepreneurs, I find myself working on multiple projects at a time. I am now working on a members-only community for The Transitions Collective that will provide access to experts and resources for women who want to leave corporate and work in their business full-time. Connecting and supporting women in this movement makes us a force in the future of work. At the same time, I had my most profitable sales quarter to date and best of all, I am able to drop my daughter off at school in the morning.
Mesh underwear started me on a journey much bigger than I ever imagined. They sparked an idea, ignited a passion, and drove me to find fulfillment in a different type of work. That stolen underwear was just the beginning.