Celebrity Paula Deen: Challenges Are What Build Character The celebrity chef also tells PEOPLE having her family close keeps her "grounded" By Maggie Parker Published on February 14, 2015 03:30 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Andy Kropa/Invision/AP Paula Deen has faced hard challenges in recent years, but the celebrity chef says she’s trying to learn from her experiences. “God knows I have had tougher moments in the later years of my life,” Deen told PEOPLE at the celebration launch of new digital commerce company EVINE Live in New York Friday night. “But it’s what builds character. That’s what makes you into the person that you are.” Deen, 68, made headlines in 2013 when she admitted in a deposition that she once used a racial slur. The incident caused her to lose several endorsement deals and the Food Network also severed ties with the star. The Savannah, Georgia, resident publicly apologized several times after the story grew. “I have no desire to change,” she says. “They got me pretty late, they got me when I was in my fifties, the public. So I was who I was by then. It’s easy when you just be yourself.” Deen also has a simple answer for how she coped with the scandal: family. “Just being at home with my family, we all live within a two-mile radius of each other. Our brothers and sisters, our kids and grandchildren. That keeps me very grounded and keeps life very very normal for me,” she said. Deen was in great spirits Friday at the EVINE Live launch, for which she is creating a line of food and pantry items and a separate line of pet products named Paula Deen Hugs. “I’m so excited to be back out there with them bringing superior products that mean a lot to me in the kitchen,” she said.