Ubah Hassan Says She Feels 'Empowered' by Her “RHONY” Costars: 'Their Support Means Everything' (Exclusive)

The model opens up to PEOPLE about the reality of her reality TV relationships while helping Talbots kick off their 10th annual partnership with Dress for Success

<p>Talbots</p> Ubah Hassan for Talbots


Ubah Hassan for Talbots

Ubah Hassan's latest modeling gig is giving back in ways the Real Housewives of New York City star tells PEOPLE feels "beyond rewarding."

For the tenth year in a row, beloved fashion retailer Talbots has partnered with Dress for Success to help raise money for the nonprofit organization, which provides unemployed and underemployed women with the tools to achieve economic independence. And for third time, they've enlisted Hassan to lead the campaign.

"Talbots is such an incredible company," Hassan, 40, says. "I've been working with them for the last 13 years, in one form or another, and they are all about inspiring women to look and feel their best so they can achieve their fullest potential. They've already raised over $10 million for Dress for Success over the years, and to be working with them on something I feel so strongly about — which is women helping other women achieve economic independence — it just fills me with pride. I'm so honored to be a part of it."

For the campaign, Hassan is modeling Talbots' limited-edition "Empower Suit," which is for sale in all Talbots stores and online. From now until March 3, 30% of net proceeds from the garment go directly to Dress for Success. The company is also collecting monetary donations for Dress for Success in all stores through March 17.

Related: RHONY’s Ubah Hassan Makes Red Carpet Debut with ‘Mystery’ Connecticut Boyfriend Oliver Dachsel (Exclusive Details)

Made in polished denim, the two-piece "Empower Suit" is both modern and chic, with a tailored blazer ($179-$199) and wide-leg pant ($129-$149) creating a timeless and versatile silhouette.

"It's a very powerful look, but it's also one that's so comfortable to wear because the material is very soft," says Hassan. "And I just love that you can wear it in so many different ways — like, the pants alone with a nice belt and a turtleneck, or the blazer with a silk top and skirt, or the pants with just a T-shirt. There are so many possibilities."

"When I was younger, I was very stupid and would buy things that I could only wear once, and that would fall apart after a few washes," Hassan adds. "Now, I only try to buy things I can wear a lot of times, and that are good quality. This is a piece that will last."

Related: RHONY's Ubah Hassan Reveals Advice She Received from Cousin and 'RHODubai' Housewife Chanel Ayan (Exclusive)

<p>Cindy Ord/Bravo via Getty</p> Ubah Hassan at the premiere of 'The Real Housewives of New York City' in July 2023

Cindy Ord/Bravo via Getty

Ubah Hassan at the premiere of 'The Real Housewives of New York City' in July 2023

Hassan knows a thing about empowerment, too. The Somalian-Canadian reality star is also a powerhouse entrepreneur, who launched her own personal brand of hot sauce in 2021 called Ubah Hot. It was selected as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things that same year.

"To be an entrepreneur is such a powerful thing," reflects Hassan. "You're going into the unknown. You're not sure your investment is going to come back to you, but you believe so much in these ideas and you're so passionate about what you're doing so you just go full force. So it shows you're ready to take on anything, and work for your success."

But empowerment means more than success, for Hassan. "I have a very strong willpower, and have overcome so many things in my life through sheer determination and drive. To many, that might feel like the definition of 'empower' but for me, I really feel empowered when I'm with a community," she says.

"You need the support of the people you love in life," Hassan continues. "I'm someone who leans on those around me. I'll reach out to a friend and say, 'I'm having a hard time dealing with this, what should I do?' Or, 'I'm trying to make a decision, what do you think?' And I'll listen to my friends when they come to me with those same questions, and help guide them. That's empowerment. You can empower yourself, but it's when you're being empowered by others and empowering others, then you really understand the importance of the word."

<p>Gavin Bond/Bravo via Getty Images</p> Brynn Whitfield, Erin Lichy, Sai De Silva, Jenna Lyons, Jessel Taank, and Ubah Hassan

Gavin Bond/Bravo via Getty Images

Brynn Whitfield, Erin Lichy, Sai De Silva, Jenna Lyons, Jessel Taank, and Ubah Hassan

Hassan tells PEOPLE she certainly feels empowered by her RHONY costars Brynn Whitfield, Erin Lichy, Sai De Silva, Jenna Lyons and Jessel Taank.

Bravo viewers met the six in the show's much-hyped season 14 reboot, which premiered in July 2023. And while Hassan plays coy about when the cameras will be picking up again for season 15 — and if she'll be back — she says she and the others have spent plenty of time together away from the reality TV lens.

"I love my girls, I really really do, and their support means everything to me," says Hassan. "We see each other all the time. And we're all so different, but I feel very, very close to them. I think it's because we went through this thing, all of us, that was so new. We didn't come from television and the experience really made us bond. I've learned so much from all of them. And no matter what happens — even if we argue or have differences — I know that we'll always come together at the end of the day and empower one another."

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"I'm just really, really loving my world," Hassan exclaims. "I'm very, very grateful I stumbled into this path in life."

The Real Housewives of New York City is streaming now on Peacock.

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