By Gina Roberts-Grey
Additional reporting by Courtenay Hall
On her hit reality show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” Kris Jenner, 55, skillfully balances being one of the most famous and beautiful matriarchs in the U.S. with being one of the busiest women on television. The reality star mom to five daughters and one son is also a successful businesswoman, happily married to gold medalist, Bruce Jenner, and a newly minted fashion designer. And through it all, Kris never loses sight of what’s important to her: her family and inner beauty.
Kris took time out of her busy day to sit down with BELLA in an exclusive interview to dish about how her role as a mother, a businesswomen, a wife, and a strong female. And, of course, we also got plenty of tips on how she she stays looking great and her favorite way to relax … when she has time, that is!
B: One of the most amazing things about you is that you have raised six wonderful children. How did you do it?
Kris: One day at a time. When things are important to you and when you are passionate about them – and I am obviously passionate with my children – I think that it’s important to strike a balance. Raising kids is a dance. You have to decide, “I am in this 150 percent,” but at the same time, I was also a young mom. I had kids when I was really young and had them for a long time. I figured out that if I wasn’t happy, nobody was going to be happy. I think for me it was about having fun, maintaining relationships with girlfriends, family members and throwing myself into the whole motherhood thing.
B: You have such a great relationship with your children. How were you able to guide them as their “mom” and still be able to embrace such close and open relationship as a friend?
Kris: When I was really young people, used to say to me, “You’re their mom, not their friend,” and I felt like ‘Wow, I don’t want to get to a place in my life where my job as their mom is over and I can’t have that friendship either.’ It was important to me to raise the girls and my son a certain way, and God knows I was so blessed to have the presence of a father figure with their dad [the late Robert Kardashian] and a double blessing with Bruce. Bruce came along when the kids were little and we have always been a team.
Raising kids is really a team effort. It’s such a hard thing to do alone, and support is so important. I met many of my closest friends when my kids were in preschool and I still have those girlfriends to this day. I think it’s a journey you all go on together. I think of my friends’ kids as my extended family. The bottom line is, it all goes back to communication. It’s knowing what your kids are doing and what their friends are doing. I decided very early on that my house was going to be the house everyone hung out at.
Being a parent is the most desirable thing, the most important thing, the most passionate thing I have ever done in my life, and it’s also the most rewarding thing I have ever done. When I put my head on the pillow every night before I go to sleep, I thank God and then I say ‘Just let me do the best job I can do tomorrow.’ When you do your best, that’s all anyone can ask of you.
B: Congratulations on becoming a grandmother. How is being a grandmother different than being a mom?
Kris: It has been such an amazing thing for me to watch Kortney and to see how she has evolved as a mother. Now that she’s pregnant again, it’s just such joy and a rewarding experience that you never saw coming. I’m so lucky because she lives so close to me, so they are basically here all the time for dinner and it makes me happy that every night I know we are going to have family night and it’s not just Sunday nights anymore. I absolutely love it. I feel like the most blessed woman on the planet right now. We don’t have the most traditional family in the world, but we love each other and love being together and that’s all that matters.
B: How do you keep family values and traditions “modern” in your family?
Kris: It’s funny you ask that, because we [spent a lot of time] trying to figure out Christmas and who was going to have Christmas morning, because I have had it my entire life. I think it’s so important to pass down all the traditions you love to your children. I love the holidays … they are everything to me! This is how you teach your children — just to have everything be a celebration. My kids love being all around that. I think it’s what you teach them and how you show them what is important to you and if it becomes important to your children, then that’s the best gift of all. If you can pass down those traditions – that’s what life is all about.
B: You have been married to Bruce Jenner for 20 years; how have you had such a successful marriage on top of everything else you have going on?
Kris: You really have to give each other space. You have to realize that it’s a process. I am very lucky because I am married to someone who understands that I have my own independence and my own support system. It’s just about being there for everybody and being true to yourself.
B: You’re part of one of the most beautiful families on television. Can you share with BELLA readers how you define beauty?
Kris: I think beauty starts from the inside. A woman can be quite physically attractive but what’s attractive to me is what’s on the inside. Beauty evolves from within and continues to flourish. It comes out of someone in the most surprising ways. It could be that a woman has self-confidence or is in control. As I’ve matured, I have realized life happens in a flash. So it’s important to be a good person and that in turn is also very beautiful.
B: Do you ever have one of “those days” where your hair is fighting you or you just don’t feel attractive? And what advice do you have for women who sometimes feel that way?
Kris: Of course! I have some days where I don’t feel pretty or I wake up without confidence. But I think attitude has a lot to do with how you feel and how attractive a woman is. So even if I don’t feel attractive, I still act like I do.
Health also has a lot to do with feeling and looking great. What we put in our bodies shows on the outside. That’s why I try to eat right and take care of myself. I know that it’s easy to slack off and skip out on exercising when you’re busy, but for me exercise for me isn’t an option. I must [do it] everyday if I want to enjoy myself. I love to cook and my kids love to cook and try new recipes. I don’t want to deprive myself of cooking and enjoying food so it’s in my best interest to exercise everyday.
To fit it in, I get up 5 a.m. and get right in the elliptical. Exercise is like a job for me. I’m goal-oriented and I like to have the goal of finishing a workout. It feels good to check that off my list. It’s also nice that at 6 a.m. I already had breakfast and worked out!
But I also don’t beat myself up if I can’t fit in a long workout. Even a little exercise goes a long way and I’ve had days that won’t allow for a lot of time on the elliptical so I’ll do a small workout and then take a long walk around the neighborhood later in the day.
B: Your daughter Kim has psoriasis. Do you or any other family members also have psoriasis or any skin issues?
Kris: Yes, I have psoriasis but like Kim; luckily, it’s never hit my face. But that doesn’t mean I ignore it when caring for my skin. To help prevent flare-ups and treat my face as well as I possibly can, I’m vigilant about never going to bed without washing.
As a young girl I was told to wash my face with hot water every night and rinse with a soft, terry cloth. It’s a great way to exfoliate because the terry is gentle and takes away dead skin. And I moisturize like mad. I never – ever – skip moisturizing. Moisturize, moisturize … that’s one of the most important things a woman can do for her face.
I drink lots of water, too, to hydrate my body. I think being hydrated that makes you look better.
B: In addition to being a mom, wife, entrepreneur and television star, you are your family’s business manager, how do you carve time out for yourself to “katch” your breath?
Kris: I schedule down time into my day so I get a chance to re-energize. We all need to unwind and one of my favorite ways is doing things with my girlfriends. It’s important for women to stay connected to friends and mine are one of the biggest pleasures of my life.
Whether it’s dinner out during the week, a gab-fest on the phone while running errands or a quick lunch, I rely on my friends to keep life balanced and fulfilled.
I’ve learned with age that I’m not going to do anyone any good if I’m run down and tired. I can’t be the best mom, wife, or manager if I don’t take care of myself. So I’ll turn off the phone, step away from email and just unwind.
I love to go to church on Sunday because that rejuvenates me, too. Or if I have a Saturday off, it’s so wonderful to do nothing. Some Saturdays I won’t get out of my exercise clothes and won’t put on make-up. I’ll just watch old movies and relax. It’s very healthy to relax once in a while and do nothing.
B: What made you design this new line and how much of you are in the pieces?
Kris: I’ve dreamt about having my own line my entire life so this is truly a dream come true. And because it’s a dream come true I’m very involved; I designed all of it and was involved in whole process. I really enjoyed putting myself “out there” to do this because it’s so different from what I do every day. I love a good challenge!
B: How did you go from being a devoted full-time mom to an influential business woman?
Kris: You have to pay attention and you have to be present all the time. At the same time, I decided selfishly that I was going to have a little fun along the way. It was important to me to not only be a part of my kids’ lives but to really be a part of their lives. We are about to start filming another season of our show, and I can’t think of a better job that I could have wished for along the way. “If you dream big – work hard…” that’s my husband’s motto. And mine is, “If someone says no, you are talking to the wrong person.”
You have to incorporate what works for you as a family and as a person. It’s OK for you to want to be happy, too; what makes me happy and satisfied is that I feel accomplishment that I have this amazing family and we want to be together. We may get sick of each other after filming for four months but after a couple of days apart, all we want to do is be together again. We are a real family and we let it all hang out. I don’t think people are used to that. I think that some of what fascinates people is that we are willing and brave enough to say ‘This is who we are.” We do our best, but you have to understand the most important thing is that all of my kids have really big hearts.
Aside from everything else and all their other qualities, like their amazing work ethic and how they live their lives, they have huge hearts and that is the most important thing to me. I tell my kids “God first, family second, and everything else third.”
One of my dearest friends Kathie Lee Gifford’s dad used to tell her: ‘Find something you are passionate about and get paid for it.’ In other words, ‘Whistle while you work!’ It’s just about being happy and content and living your life in your truth … do whatever it is that makes you happy. If you’re happy and you’re satisfied, then you will attract like-minded people.