Fans of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” know Melissa Gorga as the show’s sensible one amid all the drama. For more than a decade, Melissa and her husband Joe Gorga have been a popular fixture on the hit Bravo reality show. During that time, viewers have watched the couple’s children (Antonia, 16, Gino, 14, and Joey, 12) grow up on television.
Melissa and Joe credit their focus on family with keeping the kids grounded. After the Gorgas recent move from Montville to Franklin Lakes, Melissa relocated her boutique, Envy, to Ridgewood. The day we visited the new shop, we saw Melissa on the floor helping a customer pick out a pair of athleisure pants. Melissa prides herself on being hands-on in her store, choosing all the looks herself and designing the shop’s gorgeous floral exterior with help from New York Backdrops. The space has a clean and modern look with an insta-worthy wall boasting the message “Be your own kind of beautiful.”
Besides starring on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” and helping women dress their best, Melissa also loves talking relationships (including her own!) and offering advice on her podcast, “Melissa Gorga on Display.” We asked her about her projects, her family and what she loves to do in New Jersey.
New Jersey Family: You opened Envy five years ago in Montclair and recently relocated to Ridgewood. How has it evolved over the years?
Melissa Gorga: When I originally wanted to open Envy, it was because I was on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.” I have such a great platform to do something. I’ve always been a really hard worker. Before “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” and before I had my kids, I was that girl who had three jobs through college. My father passed away when I was young so I had to work my way through college. Everybody always wanted to know what I was wearing, so that’s how I came up with Envy. I opened a small store in Montclair and it did great. My e-commerce was amazing.
NJF: And then you moved the shop to Ridgewood.
MG: I had no idea that Ridgewood was going to be so welcoming—all of the other businesses and moms in town. I dressed the Ridgewood High School girls for their fashion show.
NJF: You’ve said you want women to come into Envy and feel like they’ve stepped into your closet. How do you curate the looks in the shop?
MG: We have everything here from what you wear to work to date night. I have good jeans. I have good loungewear. I have good sweat suits, so there’s just an array. I have a dress if you want to go to a wedding. We have cocktail dresses in here, too. I wanted to make sure I have something for everyone as well, but it’s a lot of my style. It’s something that I would wear. No one else buys for the store except me, so everything in the store is truly my taste.
NJF: What’s one thing every woman should have in her closet?
MG: A really good jean jacket. You wear it in the summer when it gets chilly, you can wear it in the fall and you can wear it as the centerpiece of your outfit.
NJF: As an entrepreneur, you’re not afraid to just go for it, whether it’s “The Real Housewives,” singing or opening up a shop. What advice do you have for women who want to make a change?
MG: Really try to get out there and figure it out. It’s never going to be easy, but I did it and I never looked back. I really feel like if it’s on your brain and you really want to do it, you need to try. There’s something about finding what you love and what you want to do every day and feeling successful in your own right.
NJF: You’ve been on “The Real Housewives” for more than a decade. There’s such high exposure on your family and all the grievances are laid bare as we see on TV. How do you keep your kids grounded?
MG: I have to say they’ve always been really good. My daughter has been on TV since she was four. My son, my little one, was born on TV. We went to his christening at two months old, so they don’t know anything else. We eat dinner with our kids together every night. We have them in sports. We’re at football games with them. We go to their practices. The show and the fame and that aspect for us is secondary. Nothing comes before our family and keeping it as regular as possible.
NJF: Do you have social media rules for your kids?
MG: I always kept it where they had to be a certain age. I didn’t let them do it at a very young age, but I have to say, my kids don’t care about social media. My daughter Antonia’s the only one that has a real Instagram account that she’s verified on as a celebrity account. She has 100,000 followers and she barely wants to post. I would say she’s the most into social media with her TikToks and Instagram. She’s so great on it. I don’t have to give her any rules. She knows how to respect the family. She knows what would make her family look bad or what we wouldn’t like from her. She’s very good.
NJF: As a mom, a celebrity and an entrepreneur and business owner, you wear so many hats. What has it taught you over the years, and what do you think it’s teaching your kids?
MG: Sometimes I have to remember at the end of the night that I have to put the phone down and stop checking emails and that I can’t just keep going, because there’s a piece of me that’s always going to have something to do. But I’ve learned to stop and put it down to spend time with my family on a Sunday or after dinner, when we’re talking for that hour, when everyone’s home after dinner, before homework and bed. I’ve learned how to juggle a little bit of everything and just give a little bit of me to everything that I do all day long. There can be one minute when I’m filming the reality show, the next minute I’m running over to the shop to pick stuff up and the next minute, my daughter needs something for her cheer, so we’re running to the store to get that. Then, I’m at a lacrosse game later on that day. I really wear a lot of hats. I just learned to juggle my time.
NJF: Speaking of your daughter and cheerleading, it was so inspiring to see how you worked through her injury and the struggle with whether she was going to stick with it. What advice do you have for parents who go through similar struggles with their kids?
MG: She had some struggles where I had to push her through when she tore her ACL and when I was changing her high school. Just also typical teenage feelings that I think girls go through. It’s not easy being a mom and trying to figure out, ‘Am I being too rough on her? Am I pushing her too hard?’ I prefer to push her. I prefer to push my kids to work harder to reach their potential. To go for it instead of quit. We don’t quit in our household. That’s a big thing for us. Even if you decide you no longer want to do wrestling, you’re going to finish the season. We’re not going to quit midway.
NJF: You travel so much with the show. What was your favorite trip?
MG: My favorite trip I went on with the show would be Milan, Italy. It was amazing. I couldn’t believe I went there for the first time. I’d never been to Italy before. Nobody can believe that because we’re so Italian.
NJF: Do you have a favorite memory from the show?
MG: It’s definitely some of the success with business moments for me because that’s where I truly feel like I can be inspiring and that I can be the proudest is when I’m a hard-working mom in business. That’s where I think I shine the most because I love to inspire. I love when people write #goals on my pictures because that inspires me. I feel like if anything good came out of this it’s breaking free and showing women that we can have a family, we can be great wives and great moms and we can still run a store. We can still go to work and do it all.
NJF: What do you feel has been the biggest gift for you and your family from being on the show?
MG: The biggest gift is just the platform of what it brings to you. The platform of Bravo has been pretty amazing.
NJF: You’ve been on TV for so long. What’s it like having a camera crew in your house all the time, especially on the days when you’re just not feeling it?
MG: There’s definitely days when I wake up and I don’t feel like seeing all these people in my house and I don’t know how I’m going to turn it on because I really don’t want to talk to all these strangers. There’s a whole crew that comes in your house. There’s a minimum of 10 to 12 people who are going to walk in every day to film you and whatever you do. There are definitely times where I get irritated and I feel like I’m over it. They usually don’t last long. I can pull through. It’s the same thing if you’re going into work that day and you’re just like ‘Oh, I don’t want to go to work today. I’m not in the mood,’ but you do it anyway. You can’t quit your job. It’s a job for me. As far as the kids go, if they say to me, ‘I don’t want to film today,’ they don’t have to. If they’re in the room and they want to talk for a second, they do. If they leave the room, they leave. They don’t get followed. I make that a very strict rule with our cameraman. If my children don’t want to film, don’t film them.
NJF: How’s your podcast going?
MG: I had no idea the podcast was going to be so successful. It’s a really fun way to talk unfiltered without Bravo editing me. We do fun relationship advice, Joe and I. People love to talk to us about relationships and they love advice from us on that. I have some of my celebrity friends come on and just talk to me about pop culture and what’s going on in the world. I can’t believe how much fun we have on the podcast.
NJF: What does your fitness routine look like?
MG: I work out four to five times a week for an hour a day. I focus on lifting weights and toning. I don’t do a lot of cardio because I am always running around. I consistently eat healthy and drink plenty of water.
NJF: What’s your favorite place to shop?
MG: Neiman Marcus
NJF: Where do you love to go out to dinner in NJ?
MG: I love Felina in Ridgewood and Dimora in Norwood. They’re so good. I just tried Concourse Club in Wood-Ridge. It feels like you’re in LA. I love Elia in East Rutherford, too. It’s another one of my favorites.
NJF: Do you have any favorites at the Shore?
MG: I love Charlie’s of Bay Head. I like Theresa’s South in Bay Head, too.
NJF: What are your date night spots with Joe?
MG: Definitely Concourse Club. Rails Steakhouse in Towaco is a great one. I really like Sofia in Englewood, too.
NJF: Tell us about a small business you love.
MG: The Table at Latona’s across the street here in Ridgewood. They are the nicest guys and have such beautiful decor for your table. I also love Beauty Bar by Camila Mello in Livingston. She’s amazing for eyebrows.
NJF: What’s next for you in business and life over the next few years?
MG: My kids are getting older now. My daughter is about to start driving. We’re at that point where we’re looking for cars and I literally cannot believe she was a baby when I started this and I have a child who’s about to get behind the wheel. For me, I want to continue to grow. I feel like this is just the beginning. I would like to go into a little bit of hosting and maybe a talk show or something like that. I feel like there’s a lot more out there for me and I’m just not done yet.