By Kerri Sheehan

You may know the sassy and fiercely protective Jacqueline Laurita from Bravo’s hit reality show The Real Housewives of New Jersey, but that’s not her only claim to fame.

Before we delve into this season’s drama and last night’s episode, let’s focus on a few things you may not know about Laurita, starting with the fact that this 43-year-old mother of three has her own beauty website, AltruisticBeauty.com, with publicist Suzanne Summers. The two began working on the site together after first developing a friendship. “I told her about my idea, and we decided to turn our love affair for beauty into a business. Since I am a licensed cosmetologist with years of experience and Suzanne is a beauty publicist, we make a great pair. We bring our years of knowledge to the site and also handpicked a team of other beauty and health professionals to blog with us.”

Inspiration for Laurita’s company came from her days as a cosmetologist. “I had this vision for a beauty website a long time ago. I’ve spent several years educating people about cosmetics, skincare and everything beauty. I have literally tried it all.” Real Housewives viewers were an impetus as well. “Fans of my show would tweet me beauty questions constantly, so I created a platform to get all of their beauty questions answered. I get all sorts of questions from what plastic surgery procedures I recommend to how to make treatments from items in your refrigerator. I love sharing beauty secrets!” she exclaims.

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Inner beauty is just as important as outer beauty, and one thing that shines most about Laurita is her dedication to raising awareness about autism. She has become a strong voice in the community since her youngest son, Nicholas, was diagnosed. On one episode, viewers saw Laurita encourage Nicholas to try out a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, which is thought to help children on the autism spectrum. Family is the most important thing to Laurita and she says that she stays on the show (despite the drama) because it gives her a platform to bring attention to the cause.

If you tuned into the The Real Housewives of New Jersey last night, you know that things didn’t go as planned during Laurita’s reunion with Teresa. “I try my best to get along with everyone,” she says. “I really don’t need the extra aggravation of fighting over nonsense when I’m fighting for my child’s recovery at home. I really don’t like fighting.” At the same time, this Jersey mom is not afraid to hold her own when challenged. “If a certain situation presents itself to me, I just roll with it by responding organically, and I always have hope for a resolution in the future. This season you may see more “mysteries from last season reveal themselves,” she says.

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Despite the fighting and feuding, the beauty guru’s relationship with her husband has remained as strong as ever. She says that their secret is acting as though they just met each other and adds, “We always make sure we schedule in regular date nights. We like to go out with other couples too. It’s fun and entertaining.” Their typical date night involves good food, good conversation and a glass of good wine.

You can catch Jacqueline and the other Real Housewives of New Jersey every Sunday at 8/7c on Bravo. To keep up with Laurita,  follow her on Twitter @JacLaurita or facebook.com/jacquelinelaurita. Head over to AltruisticBeauty.com for some beauty tips and tricks.