How Jessica Simpson Got the Ultimate Revenge: From Reality TV Ditz to Role Model and Billion-Dollar Businesswoman

In 2003, as she puzzled over her bowl of tuna fish, things weren’t looking good for Jessica Simpson‘s intellect.

Simpson was a platinum-selling pop star, yes, but as Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica played up the singer’s lovable ditziness, Nick Lachey‘s wife seemed to be getting the raw end of the editing deal.

She donned a corset and held a cupcake to peddle her edible Jessica Simpson Dessert Beauty products. At the peak of her scripted success, it was Simpson’s legs that did all the talking in 2005’s Dukes of Hazzard. And then, when Newlyweds ended and Simpson and Lachey subsequently split up in 2006, they pretty much became the poster exes for the doomed couples that would also go their separate ways after signing up for reality shows.

She may have rocked John Mayer‘s world, but a switch to a more countrified sound didn’t sell any albums, and as she headed into a relationship with Dallas Cowboys quarterback with Tony Romo, and was subsequently blamed for a decline in his play (her second curse in two years), it was getting increasingly difficult to remember why we cared about Simpson so much in the first place.

The news may not have made as many headlines as her Daisy Dukes at the time, but in 2005 Simpson also launched the Jessica Simpson Collection.

Initially a shoe collaboration with Nine West founder Vince Camuto, the brand now has almost two dozen licensees and has expanded to include clothing, handbags, perfume, jewelry, luggage, sunglasses, towels, rugs, bedding…the list goes on.

“I feel like I’m a relatable person,” Simpson explained to WWD.com in 2015, reflecting on 10 years in the business. “I’m completely open and honest with everyone. Whether that’s too much openness or honesty, it makes me nonjudgmental. I’m one of those girls you would hopefully want to hang out with. When you have a lot of judgment in the world of design, it keeps you from being as creative as you can be….I’m a risk-taker.”

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