Development director of Alexico Group, a development company formed by Izak Senbahar and Simon Elias, where she has worked since July 2006; co-chairwoman and founder of Sundezio, a global online media company that Sunshine started with her son, Paul Sunshine, in December 2006; and founder and former CEO of the Sunshine Group, the real estate marketing and sales company that was bought by NRT in 2002 and merged with the Corcoran Group.
What is your full name?
Louise Mintz Sunshine.
What is your birth date?
December 2, 1940.
Where do you live?
Palm Beach, Florida; Roxbury, Connecticut; and I maintain a pied-à-terre at One Beacon Court [at 151 East 58th Street, at the top of the Bloomberg Tower, a building she marketed while at the Sunshine Group].
Where is your office?
I have an office at Alexico. I have an office at Sundezio, but my real love is my kitchen. Right now I am actually working from my kitchen. I call it “my kitchen cabinet.”
What was the first job you ever had?
The first job I ever had was with Donald Trump. [She was executive vice president of the Trump Organization between 1975 and 1985.] He turned out to be the greatest teacher I ever had, and I probably turned out to be one of his greatest students.
Did you have any jobs earlier in your life?
I never worked a day in my life before that.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A wife and a mother.
What’s something people don’t know about you?
I guess they don’t know that I’m shy and insecure.
How do you cover it up?
By being bold and outspoken.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
To always be honest with myself and everybody else around me.
Who’s the boss at home?
Do you think somebody has to be the boss? I think second marriages are collaborative relationships. [Sunshine is on her second marriage; her husband, Martin Begun, is on his first.] Nobody has the upper hand.
What one word would you use to describe yourself?
What word would other people use to describe you?
How do you deal with antagonists?
How much money is in your wallet right now?
Do you earn as much money as you’d like?
That’s a hard question. Probably not.
What do you read every day?
The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and everything I can get my hands on.
What’s the last book you read?
“Brandscapes: Architecture in the Experience Economy,” by Anna Klingmann. I’m just finishing it now. I find it extremely interesting. Anna Klingmann wrote a beautiful inscription to me [in the book]. It says: “To Louise: I am dedicating my first copy of this book to Louise Sunshine, the founder of brandism in architecture. Best wishes, Anna.”
What do you have on your night table?
I have baby orchids in a beautiful Daum vase. I have photographs of my children, my grandchildren, my husband and my dogs.
How did you start your day today?
I awoke at 5:30 a.m., and I went down to the fitness center at OneBeacon Court where I worked out for one hour with my trainer and physical therapist. She has also given me therapy for my frozen shoulder, which is a real pain in many different ways. I took my two loving dogs, Sundance and Domino, for a one-hour walk. They are twin Lowchens and will be four on my birthday. They’re adorable and love unconditionally. Even picking up their poop is just a pleasure for me because they’re just fantastic. I mean, the process of picking up their poop and giving them a treat is fun.
Do you cook?
I don’t eat at home. Do you know that I got a notice from Con Edison that said they’re going to turn off the gas because I’ve never turned on my stove? I must say, however, that I am hiring a chef who cooks organic foods in the hopes that I will eat at home once in a while.
Where do you eat?
I’m taking this diet pill called Acomplia. It completely makes you lose your appetite. I’ve lost 30 pounds in the past two months. It’s not approved here by the FDA, but my doctor greatly recommends it. [And] I will have a delicious dinner tonight at Le Cirque with my husband.
Do you have anything in your refrigerator?
Coffee, yogurt, Diet Coke, bottled water, apricots, carrots and dog food — oh, and cottage cheese. Know what I do have a lot of in my house, though? Webkinz [a stuffed animal with a virtual life on the Web]. I have the two most luscious grandchildren, and they are members of the Webkinz club. Wherever I go, I collect Webkinz for them, and I have one whole closet in my house full of them.
Do you watch television?
Not much. I watch anything that helps keep me apprised of global issues. I watch a lot on the History Channel, and I watch the news.
How about any shows for entertainment?
What do you like about the show?
I was once one of them… Been there, done that.
Interview by Lauren Elkies