Three years after being the Bachelorette, JoJo Fletcher is doling out advice for The Bachelor franchise: "Don't produce it." The 28-year-old real estate entrepreneur credits that way of thinking for the success in her life -- her engagement to Jordan Rodgers, her flourishing home renovation business and her new CNBC series, Cash Pad.
After getting engaged to Rodgers on season 12 of the ABC dating series in 2016, the couple -- compared to the rest of Bachelor Nation -- went off the grid. Instead of appearing on Dancing With the Stars, frequenting Hollywood parties or showcasing their relationship on a reality show, a la Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell on Freeform's Happily Ever After?, Fletcher and Rodgers headed back to Dallas, Texas, and got "back to work."
For Fletcher, that meant focusing on real estate development. For Rodgers, who scored a gig as a college football analyst for ESPN, that meant spending the off-season learning tricks of Fletcher's trade.
Rodgers, 30, was admittedly already a fan of home renovation shows and gladly accompanied his fiancee to job sites. "I didn't realize I was going to be her free labor for the next however long our marriage and life lasts," he joked during a sit-down interview in August at a restaurant at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. They've been renovating properties together ever since.
"A lot of time, when people get together, especially on The Bachelor and Bachelorette, you think you know the person you're engaged to. But you really don't know everything about them until after the show," said Fletcher. "A lot of those people [on The Bachelor] aren't even supportive of their partner's careers and I got so lucky, because we both are very business-minded, very entrepreneurial." Fletcher turned to her fiance with a sweet observation: "You loved this part."
It was a match made in heaven for the design-oriented Fletcher, who first got assistance on the business side of things from Rodgers. (He's since become a bit of "design snob," Fletcher quips.) They put their heads down and created a long-term rental business, which in turn, helped them stay focused on their relationship amid tabloid reports and breakup rumors soon after their Bachelorette season ended. Fans were quick to accuse Rodgers of using his Bachelorette fame to propel his career, Twitter trolls labeled him a player amid an ex-girlfriend's claims he was a cheater and tabloid headlines circulated about his family.
"Off-camera afterwards, it's not easy," Rodgers admitted. "Especially if you're trying to work on a relationship that came from the show. It's not easy and you try to put your blinders up as much as possible."
"It's tough. At the end of the day, people watching don't really know the full story. I don't even know what the heck is going on this week [in Bachelor Nation], with everything going on, but you pass judgment because it's the natural thing to do," Fletcher said. "So it's hard, but we dealt with it. We persevered."
The pair has made no secret about how they’re using their Bachelorette notoriety -- to propel their business forward rather than for fame. Cash Pad, which debuted on CNBC in July, puts Rodgers and Fletcher front and center as they partner with homeowners to renovate properties in Texas and Arizona for their short-term rental business. The couple ditches roses for power tools, with Fletcher and Rodgers acknowledging early in the series that they plan to use their platform (and combined 3 million Instagram followers!) to market their properties.
"We hope that people watch this and maybe look at their properties a little different now and think, 'Hey wait, I have this shed in my backyard, and maybe I need some help with cash and getting more money in, and maybe I can do this myself.' So I think it's very educational. I think it's very inspiring. And there's a lot of takeaway, from business to design," Fletcher said.
As Rodgers noted, it's all about the side hustle. The commentator doesn't criticize Bachelor Nation alums who supplement their income promoting fad products like flat tummy teas -- or the viewers envious of that extra income.
"Everybody would love to make money or extra money," he conceded, offering an inspiring alternative: getting into the Airbnb business. "We know that every single person could list their bedroom on Airbnb tomorrow… You can watch our show and go, 'I've got a couple hundred dollars to invest. Here's what I should do to my bedroom to make it more appealing.' Or if you've got a few thousand or you have a detached property or you have a home, you can watch the show and you can realize, 'Here's where I should put my money and here's how to do this the right way so I can make some money.'"
"This isn't putting $300,000 into a home. This is 'How do I make a successful business with $100 or $1,000?'" he explained. And for those not looking to get into the short-term rental market, they're free to book a stay at one of Rodgers and Fletcher's properties. "We can also provide experiences for people," Rodgers pitched.
A reality show solely focusing on their relationship was "never appealing" to Rodgers and Fletcher, who weren't interested in drama for drama's sake. To them, Cash Pad is as real as reality TV gets. "Whether cameras are there or not, this is what we do every day," Fletcher said, noting that they didn't have to "re-learn" how to be on TV. "We don't act any different."
Instead, the drama on Cash Pad revolves around Fletcher and Rodgers balancing budgets, tight deadlines and fitting big design dreams into small spaces -- like, very small.
"We've been working in 300 square foot spaces and trying to sleep four people in there," Fletcher said of some of their more ambitious renovations, including an Airstream trailer and a shipping container.
"Stuff goes wrong, and that's great. We can't anticipate what's going to happen," Rodgers added, a hint of excitement in his voice. "We didn't have to worry about what was going to happen. We just did the project and let things happen as they did."
Fletcher and Rodgers are the first to admit that all that problem-solving was key in preparing them for marriage and owning their first forever home together. "When you're both on a deed together and the property is mutually split, it's a whole other thing," Fletcher said. "We're committed."
The couple will be tying the knot in California next year, but are still locking down a wedding date. Fletcher, who's in the thick of venue and dress appointments, plans to keep the affair authentic to her and Rodgers as a couple -- which means it won't be a big Bachelor Nation reunion.
"Becca [Tilley] will be there. She's really one of the only ones that I've stayed really close to throughout it," the bride-to-be shared. "A big reason to that is we didn't stay in L.A. We didn't stay in the Bachelor Nation events. We really thought it was important to get back home, so some of those relationships I feel like we've lost contact.” Wells Adams,who appeared on Fletcher's season, but is now engaged to Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland, may be the only other Bachelorette alum on the guest list. "It wouldn't be a Bachelor Nation wedding."
In the meantime, Fletcher and Rodgers will be keeping busy by renovating their home -- they've been living in Fletcher's flips for the past couple years -- and focusing on expanding their business. Hopefully, more seasons of Cash Pad are also on deck.
"We want to expand -- West Coast, East Coast, a bunch of different cities," Rodgers revealed. At least, that’s the goal.
"We want to have a large portfolio, and I think for us, it's an exciting thing. It keeps us busy," Fletcher said. "We enjoy doing it, and being able to do it with CNBC and show people how we're doing it and what we're doing, it's really fun."
Cash Pad airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CNBC.
Reporting by Philiana Ng.