Sandra Lee- The Real Mom’s Martha Stewart
By Libby Hudson Lydecker
“Living on food stamps and welfare checks, Lee took care of her brothers and sisters, relying on her survival skills while living with a drug addicted and physically abusive mother. ”
Sandra Lee is the ultimate self made DIY media mogul. The multiple Emmy winning step-mom is an activist for homelessness and childhood poverty and AIDS. She is the author of over 27 books and is a breast cancer survivor. She is creative, warm and talented and has created an empire for herself out of her own resourcefulness, hard work and unique vision of easy lifestyle hacks. Her Semi-Homemade brand featured on the Food Network, embodies the nostalgia of midcentury American cuisine by combining seventy percent store bought with thirty percent fresh made, allowing you to take one hundred percent of the credit.
Lee survived an abusive and poverty stricken childhood by taking over as caregiver of the family at the age of eleven. Living on food stamps and welfare checks, Lee took care of her brothers and sisters, relying on her survival skills while living with a drug addicted and physically abusive mother. Through the years, her positive attitude and ability to stretch a dollar served as necessary skills with food making and crafts. Lee was able to parlay her craft abilities while still in college into her first successful business. She sold her first product called “Kurtain Krafts” of do-it-yourself curtain rods on infomercials, thus launching her career as a crafting entrepreneur.
Her endeavors over the years embody the philosophy that something doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy to be special. By using her creativity and hard work, Lee has been able to translate accessible style and beauty to the masses. Her first book, Semi Homemade Cooking, landed on the New York Times bestseller list. Appearances on talk shows promoting the book landed Lee her own show on the Food network thus launching the Semi-Homemade Brand to the masses.
Over the years, Lee has used her fame and ability to reach a wide audience for good by being a spokesperson for charities fighting hunger and poverty. Having grown up as a child often not knowing where the next meal would come from, charities like No Kid Hungry and Meals on Wheels are close to her heart. She is also a tireless advocate for fighting to end homelessness and a supporter of AIDS awareness and research.
While Lee has no children of her own, she has been a loving stepmom to longtime boyfriend New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s three daughters for over 15 years. Her battle with breast cancer that resulted in a double mastectomy and inspired Lee to be an activist for women’s health. She has made a documentary about her own journey, hoping to help and inform other women. Her struggle with breast cancer also prompted boyfriend Governor Cuomo to get important legislature passed in New york state that would allot for ninety million dollars of state funding to go for preventative care for women.
Lee is an embodiment of the power of taking one’s own negative life experiences and turning them into opportunities to help the lives of others through charity, activism and hard work. By being resourceful and innovative Sandra Lee has created an empire for herself and inspired others to create a little style and beauty in their lives in the process.