By Lindzi Scharf
Updated June 11, 2013 at 08:11 PM EDT
Slade Smiley Gretchen Rossi
Credit: Ray Tamarra/Getty Images
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Is Gretchen Rossi the next Bethenny Frankel?

In addition to the Mexican strippers and Vicki’s bed wetting accident, last night’s episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County featured plenty of products from Rossi’s Gretchen Christine fashion and beauty brand. In addition to the variety of bags from her eponymous line, the pneumatic blonde surprised the group with gift bags containing lip gloss, sunless tanning spray, and other items from her cosmetics collection.

“I wonder if there’s any Gretchen Christine products in there,” Vicki said sarcastically to the camera when the scene cut to her in a one-on-one interview. “Yes, there is.”

Now comes news that Rossi will appear in a commercial for a skincare product called Inance Retinol 1%. The move is a cross-promotional opportunity for the reality star — customers will receive a free pair of Gretchen Christine false eyelashes with the purchase of the anti-aging serum.

By now, fans of RHOC are certainly familiar with Rossi’s growing brand, which, in addition to handbags and cosmetics, also includes hair products, T-shirts, and bedazzled accessories like dog collars, aprons, and baby booties.

In a market oversaturated by reality star brands, just how well is Rossi’s collection selling?

When Rossi’s handbags first launched in March 2011, reported that her collection of leather purses (priced at $129-$279) were nearly all sold out. She now offers a $125 satchel as part of her “Pink Collection,” but it’s been out of stock since last April. Rossi told fans via Facebook: “For those of you asking I am sorry to say but since the premiere of RHOC last week the Pink Satchel from my iGO Pink collection has completely sold out :( It was a limited collection and once they are gone they are gone. We have sold through majority of the pieces in the line, however we do have some iPad, and Passport covers in very small quantities left.” Both the iPad cover ($45) and the passport holder ($25) are still available, if you’re so inclined.

The products in the Gretchen Christine beauty collection are readily available; not that the endeavor hasn’t been without it’s own challenges. In April of 2011, Rossi and fiancé Slade Smiley were sued for $100,000 by Ronann Myers, their former make-up artist and business partner for breach of contract, fraud, deceit, and conspiracy. According to RadarOnline, Myers claims that in February 2009 she and the reality star formed the makeup company together with the understanding that the profits would be split 50/50. The lawsuit states: “From February 2009 onward, Rossi and Smiley engaged in an elaborate scheme to defraud Plaintiff out of her interest in the makeup line. Rossi and Smiley conspired to exploit Plaintiff’s experience in, knowledge of and contacts within the makeup industry to create, design, launch and promote Gretchen Christine Beaute. Once Rossi and Smiley obtained what they needed from Plaintiff, they planned to ‘cut her off without a dime.’ Their plan was premeditated.”

No word on whether the case has been settled, but it hasn’t affected Rossi’s brand-building plans. The reality star recently launched Gretchen Christine For Luxe by Lisa Vogel swimwear, which hit stores last weekend.

“The Real Housewives franchise is a strong platform for any brand or product that touches on core elements of the show like fashion, beauty, design and very often food, and we have seen a lot of success in partnerships in those areas as they are also the passions of our highly engaged audience,” Bravo Media’s senior vice president of marketing Ellen Stone, told WWD earlier this year.

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The Real Housewives of Orange County

Bravo turns its cameras on California’s ladies who lunch (and shop, and tan, and get plastic surgery, and bicker…)
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