Barbara Kavovit is the newest cast member of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New York.” But long before becoming a “Bravo-lebrity,” the New York native was a construction trailblazer. Kavovit has utilized her 20-plus years of experience to help redefine her industry and break down walls for women pursuing a career in construction.
Kavovit is the CEO and founder of Evergreen Construction. The New York City-based general contracting and construction management firm was named after the street in the Bronx where her father grew up.
Her new novel “Heels of Steel,” out June 25, follows the journey of Bridget Steele, the Bronx-born, tough-as-nails construction company CEO, who is determined to be the first woman to get a contract to build a New York City skyscraper.
Indy caught up with Kavovit to discuss her new book and her experience filming “RHONY.”
Tell us a little about your new book “Heels of Steel.”
I am so excited for this book to come out! It’s a journey that has been years in the making. The novel is the fictionalized story of my life and personal experiences building my construction company, which now works on some of the most prestigious and groundbreaking commercial projects in New York City.
The main character, Bridget Steele, evolves from being an ambitious young girl from the Bronx into a businesswoman who wants to leave her mark on the New York City skyline. With similarities to my story, Bridget builds her own construction company and deals with the many pitfalls of being a woman in a male-dominated field. I hope to inspire young girls and show them how important it is for women to start changing these industries that are very much old boys’ clubs.
Tell us a little about your experience so far on “Real Housewives of New York.”
It’s been a crazy experience but a great one. It takes some time to adjust to the different personalities and dynamics on the show. Coming into this season we were a bit split at first, but over the course of the episodes, you see friendships begin to meld and I adjusted to the established group. It was helpful to know most of the women coming into it.
How has being on the show changed or affected your business?
I wouldn’t say it’s changed my business, but it’s allowed me the opportunity to inspire other women in male-dominated fields, which has been super powerful. Women have reached out to say that because of me they have started their own businesses. Many have asked me for advice. It’s really given me a platform to show that you can be a successful woman no matter what industry you work in.
How does the book take an honest look at sexism, corruption, and harassment?
This book is based on my life building my construction company, so the different situations that take place in the book have actually happened to me one way or another. I wanted to bring light to the amount of undermining and ridicule that can happen to a woman in this industry, but also portray a strong, determined woman persevering against all odds.
Tell us about some of the large projects you’ve done for Rockefeller Center, Carnegie Hall Towers, and the Empire State Building.
It’s always a wonderful and surreal experience working in such monumental buildings like the Carnegie Hall Towers.
The majority of my work is interior build-out projects for different corporate clients. We also have a ton of exciting projects coming up. We just finished Bandier headquarters and their flagship retail store at 0 Bond. We’re also working on our third project with Exhale and a build out of the BKLYN CLAY ceramics studio.
Are there any Hamptons projects you’re currently involved in? Any past projects that stand out?
From 2001 to 2002, I worked on building my dream home in the Hamptons. I designed the house to have a beachy, airy, modern feel that would give my guests a sense of calm when visiting. You get a sense of this in my book — I’d always dreamed of having a place in the Hamptons where I could host friends and bring my family.