It’s been almost a year since ABC revealed Emily Maynard’s engagement to Utah entrepreneur Jef Holm in front of nearly 9 million viewers of “The Bachelorette.”
Since then, the network’s “The Bachelor” franchise has moved on to two other personalities. And Maynard has moved on with her life in Charlotte.
“I’m old news,” she says, sitting in a booth at the Bruegger’s Bagels in the Cotswold Village shopping center. “Nobody cares anymore.”
Yet here comes a red-faced young man, asking to get his picture taken with the 27-year-old blonde. She obliges, looking positively stunning in a geometric patterned dress she wore for a photo shoot for her new jewelry line that ended minutes earlier.
In the 12 months since Maynard became the most popular female character in “Bachelor”/“Bachelorette” history, the single mother has straddled the line between a typical domestic existence and a surprisingly durable modicum of celebrity. (She has long since split with Holm; it was her second attempt at televised love after a failed engagement to Texas winemaker Brad Womack, star of 2011’s “Bachelor.”)
On June 29, Maynard celebrated daughter Ricki’s eighth birthday by getting her a 6-month-old Maltese puppy named Pixie to go with cats Holly and Safari. During the school year, “20 percent of my life is spent sitting in carpool,” and in the afternoons, Maynard shuttles Ricki to dance, to swim lessons, to soccer. She opened car doors for students on Thursday mornings this past year at Charlotte Country Day, where Ricki is entering second grade. And in case you’re wondering, there is no nanny.
At the same time, her name still pops up on celebrity-gossip websites almost daily. She has more than 400,000 followers on Twitter, two or three times as many as most upper-tier reality-TV alums. Maynard writes a popular fashion blog for InStyle.com, and on July 10, her jewelry line for Charlotte-based Towne & Reese launches on her own website: www.emilymaynard.com.
Though the West Virginia native has done few interviews since the show, Maynard sat down with the Observer recently to catch us up on her life – and to clear up some misconceptions.
Q. So how do you spend your time these days?
I’ve been working on my blog a lot. I try to do at least an hour a day, to do a blog a day. I can talk about makeup and girly stuff all day long. I’ve really loved it. And honestly, after I get the house cleaned up and everything else, it’s about time to pick (Ricki) up. So I don’t really have a whole lot of time for hobbies, but just trying to get the jewelry line launched, I’ve been really busy.
Q. And that pays the bills?
My dad has worked really hard and I’ll never want for anything. (David Maynard owns several coal mines in West Virginia and Maryland.) But being independent on my own is really important for me, and that’s why I’m starting the jewelry line.
Q. Do you think people assume you get all your money from the Hendricks? (Emily was 18, engaged to NASCAR driver Ricky Hendrick, and pregnant when he died in a plane crash in 2004.)
Yeah, I think they assume, “Oh, she’s with the Hendricks ... they were doing a homeless outreach program obviously one day.” But I met them in Key West. Ricky and I, our parents both had houses almost next door to each other.
Q. What’s your relationship with the Hendricks?
I see them a couple times a week. They live five minutes away. They’re like family to me. We go to church together. I’ve known them since I was a really young girl, and they know me better than anybody really, and I see them in the same light as I see my parents.
Q. During and after you were on the show, there were rumors of blow-ups between you and them.
Honestly, all those stories came out and I think that they were just digging for something. We laughed at them. I don’t know where they came from. I think that people would like to see this gossipy story about our relationship, but it couldn’t be further from the truth at all. They support me and all my crazy ideas.
Q. I take it you’re no fan of the tabloids.
I wish that people could see how hurtful they can be sometimes, and especially for my family and other people’s families. I couldn’t imagine being an actual celebrity. I couldn’t imagine the anxiety that they feel. I guess at some point you just get used to it. I was one of those people (who used to believe) everything I read, and that’s been a really good lesson for me ... to always give people the benefit of the doubt and give them a chance, because nine times out of 10, they’re not that bad.
Q. So how do you feel when you read something hateful about you?
I take it really personally every time I read something on Twitter. It’s easy to laugh about, but ... just last night somebody was writing me about how I’m a terrible person and how I went on the show to be famous. And that’s the one that hurts the most.
Q. What’s the toughest thing about motherhood?
I have so many great memories from my childhood. My mom went above and beyond every holiday, every birthday, in everyday life. My lunches she pressed “I love you” into all my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I always want Ricki to look back and say, “I had the best childhood ever.” Being in charge of how somebody’s going to look back and view their childhood, that’s a lot of pressure.
Q. You’ve said before that you want to have more kids, right?
I think I led with that on most of my dates on “The Bachelorette,” and I’ve learned to not do that. But I absolutely do. I’ve made no secret about that. And I’m absolutely open to adoption or whatever, if that time comes. But right now I’m really just enjoying the two of us.
Q. Are you set on staying in Charlotte?
I always said I would never go on “The Bachelorette” and I did it, so I always learned to never say never. But my everyday life here in Charlotte, and the jewelry and all that – I love it here. I can’t imagine anything coming along that would make me ever want to give all this up.
Q. About the jewelry line. How did you get hooked up with Towne & Reese?
I wore a lot of their stuff on the show, and after it was over, I formed a friendship with Christi Pack and Jessica Stanfield, the owners. Once everything settled down after “The Bachelorette,” they asked me if I would want to do my own line. Anybody who knows me knows I love jewelry.
Q. How involved have you been?
In a lot of things, I am very go-with-the-flow. But jewelry is something that I do have an opinion on. So I went back and forth a lot – “I don’t like this,” “I like this.” We were in Rhode Island meeting with the people who do all the sketches, and I think I drove them crazy. I’m like, “We need to change this ...” Everything from the actual jewelry to the logo to the packaging – everything – I was really, really involved.
Q. Do you still watch “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette”?
I do. But I always skip the first couple episodes. On my season, a guy came in with an egg and one thought he was a vampire. I can’t get into the whole gimmicky part of it. I like when you actually see a love story start to happen.
Q. After two of your own failed engagements, do you really still believe two people can find love on these shows?
I’ve struggled with that a lot in my own experiences, and wondering what was real life and what was reality TV. But I know that both times I did fall in love. Obviously, it’s possible – I went to a wedding in December (Ashley Hebert and J.P. Rosenbaum from Season 7 of “The Bachelorette”). I think it’s pretty slim chances, but I do think it’s possible. It just wasn’t for me.