Former Food Director of Bauer Media NZ and Covid-19 employment casualty, Sophie Gray is a survivor. An expert in the business of overcoming adversity she is already rising to the challenge of being unemployed.
“I am only one of thousands finding themselves suddenly and unexpectedly unemployed, and it takes a little while to process.
“But I try to always be looking forward, not dwell on the past too, so right now it’s eyes forward and let’s keep moving for me,” she said.
Reflecting on her four years at Bauer Media NZ, she said, “Overall I feel grateful, while it’s incredibly sad for the staff who like me have lost their livelihood, and the public for whom those iconic magazines provided leisure, pleasure or information, I’m grateful for having had the opportunity to be part of it all if only for a while.”
Walking out of financial hardship
But Sophie is no stranger to hardship. She personally fell into debt and financial hardship as a young woman in her 20’s.
“That period of my life gave me the experience of being extremely poor, a situation of my own making, but nonetheless I have walked the uncomfortable path of low income, indebted, invisible, anguished, suburban poor.”
It was this experience that Sophie used to establish her own food brand Destitute Gourmet in the 90’s. The company was born out of her determination not to slide back into debt again. Its goal was to help families get ahead with low-cost budget recipes. Now she says it’s time to revitalise this business.
A professional cook, Sophie was forced to manage the family of four’s grocery bill on $50 a week. She found ways to spend less on groceries and channel money into other areas.
We didn’t go hungry in fact the quality of the food improved as I cooked more thoughtfully and the savings came by adjusting the way we shopped, cooked and ate,” she said.
The experience of these years of struggle is now once again able to be used positively to help others and grow the low-cost foodie company DG and now Facebook community. Sophie has published nine budget friendly cookbooks and was a nationwide food event presenter and food stylish.
“Now I plan to concentrate on my own brands. Destitute Gourmet recipes and money saving resources are needed now more than ever before,” she said.
“Adversity seems to be my M.O. (Mode of operating). We certainly seem to have had more than our share of it. I’m strangely energised by economic restrictions, it’s a challenge that makes me want to fight back,” said Sophie.
Helping people eat well on less
“My mantra is whatever I’m asked to do, within reason, say yes as it may be an amazing opportunity. It’s better to bow out than miss out.
“I’m reaching out to let people know I have a fount of experience and resources for helping people eat well on less, so those who need it can find me. I’m rebuilding my website and using my Facebook and Instagram to share recipes and answer questions around living well on less,” she said.
Sophie is excited about DG and its impact in New Zealand’s current lockdown and looming recession. She says the brand has a passionate following of people who loved the rewards of healthy eating and affordable home cooked food.
“I’ve experienced the enormous satisfaction of getting out of debt, seeing the savings account filling up and knowing that the bills are paid.
“The harsh reality is that for most of us, it’s not possible to have everything we want. It is quite possible to have everything you need though, and to have what is most important to you. It all boils down to choices,” she said.
Sophie’s advice to anyone doing it hard financially is to visit her Facebook page and website for money saving recipes and tips to make a little go a long way. And there’s no pressure to buy anything!, she added.
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