When you talk to Nicole O’Neil you get an exchange that’s so uplifting and positive. Nicole’s a very successful woman in all aspects, is empowering and has achieved a lot over her life. She was crowned Miss Australia in 2002 and runs her own successful event and production company Pret-a-Party. This year you will see her on Foxtel on Arena in The Real Housewives of Sydney.
Where were you born and raised, how big was your family?
I was born in Dubai to a Lebanese father and a Swedish mother. I’m one of four children; I have a younger sister and two brothers. My mother had four of us in five years.
What are your fondest memories of growing up?
We left for Australia when I was five years old. My fondest memories are being with the family. Home was always an open house. My mother would cook for 12 people every night, there were always people in our home, we graced different multi cultural backgrounds. The Swedish and Lebanese are two very extreme different cultures, but it was very important to both my parents background to have those two traditions come together. I speak four languages, this makes you very excepting not only of your own culture but of everybody else’s. I’m very proud of my parents for giving us this experience. When we had guests into our house we’d have Swedish meatballs or tabouli! Christmas and birthdays was always amazing. My mum made it a special time.
What was your first job?
Being very entrepreneurial at the age of 15, I created a company called Bella Bush. That kicked off while I was still studying at school. I would work in between studying. I think I got that side from my father; he was very entrepreneurial.
Were there any challenging times for you in your early days?
I think one of the hardest periods was when my husband moved us overseas. My father was unwell, he was dying of cancer; it was a very hard decision leaving my family unit. But, supporting my husband who I love dearly to follow his path was also important. We lived in Dubai for two years.
How did you meet your husband – and was he okay for you to be on a Reality show?
I knew my husband back when growing up. My brother and his brother went to school together. I’d known his family for a long time, but it wasn’t until I moved back from overseas that my husband and I hooked up and started dating. Then I married my best friend! We’re celebrating 15 years of marriage this year. We’re pretty much a team together and we back each other 100 per cent. I didn’t make the decision to do lightly. I love some of the other franchises, so basically I knew what it was. My husband supported me on my decision and basically said, ‘I know who you are and I’ll back you all away’.
What three tips would you would give for business success?
Above and beyond do you want makes you happy. Get up in the morning and be passionate about what you do. Perseverance is key, there are always people who will agree – and disagree – with you. So, if you believe in it, stick to it. It’s crucial to use logic. If something isn’t going to work then it’s not going to work, if the puzzle piece does not fit in it’s best to cut and end it.
What are your three favourite things to do?
I love to cook with my children. There’s so much that can be learned in the kitchen. Not enough people are doing it now days. Shopping – as I feel I’m a professional shopper! I can always smell a great bargain from a mile away. I love going out to dinner, trying new restaurants and eating in odd places. I love trying new chefs. Australia is fabulous not only for its produce, but we also have a diversity of cultures which you don’t find anywhere else in the world.
Which three women in your life do you most admire?
My mother because she just devoted her life to us. She was there full stop. Hillary Clinton is another woman, I admire what she was fighting for. I also admire every day mums who juggle the family and have to deal with children. It’s not easy to juggle a family, deal with the relationships and work every day. Each family has their own battles, but I respect the women who get up every day, move on and get on with it.
Do you have any regrets so far with what you’ve done in the Housewives of Sydney?
There are things that I would’ve said. There are things I shouldn’t have said, and things that were said in jest that have been completely taken out of context. But, it’s an entertainment show. Everything needs to be taken with a grain of salt. I’m enjoying the process, the experience has been incredible.
What’s still on your bucket list?
My bucket list is very long! I’d love to go to base camp at Everest or climb Kilamanjaro. The physical and mental challenges would be incredible and to walk Macu Pitchu in Paroo would be amazing as well.