The Way We Love: Sophia & Dani
Why friendship might be your most important relationship of all.
Welcome to the Way We Love, a series where we investigate modern love in all its embodiments, whether that be of a romantic relationship, best friends, or family. This Valentine’s Day, we are speaking with four sets of people who experience love in different ways, in different parts of their lives, to better understand why all forms are so vital.
Our final duo is Sophia Roe and Dani Giardina, who are best friends. Sophia, 32, is a chef, activist, food stylist, consultant, and more. Dani, 28, is her assistant. They work together, but each live separately in Brooklyn, New York.
How they met:
Dani Giardina: “I sent Sophia an email, just a cold email that was basically something along the lines of ‘I’m just looking to see if you need someone on your team. I’d love to be a part of it,’ and Sophia said, ‘When can you meet?’”
Sophia Roe: “Yeah, it was simple. Her email made me laugh. I was very apprehensive about hiring someone. I’m particular about the work that I do, especially because what I do is really advocacy-driven in a lot of ways. My manager was like, ‘Sophia, you’ve got to get an assistant because you can’t do everything. You can’t be on email all day.’ People love emails. I think emails are horrible and have destroyed so much about what is wonderful about writing, about communicating. So I just needed help. I asked Dani where we could meet, and I had to reschedule 600 times because I was in L.A.—I clearly needed an assistant. I met her. I was like, ‘When can you start?’ And that was that.”
Transitioning from working together to friendship:
DG: “It was super organic. I think our personalities are super similar, so we just both get each other. It definitely took a minute, I mean at least on my end, because I’m the employee versus the employer. I wasn’t skeptical. I just didn’t want Sophia to think I was unprofessional. Honestly, after maybe a couple weeks, we were just kind of like, ‘Oh, we mesh well.’”
Working with your best friend:
SR: “I think it’s rad. I think it’s incredible. Dani isn’t the only person on my team. She’s my right hand, she’s the one that’s closest to me, for sure, but I have a manager and a whole management and a PR team. Dani knows how to say things in a way that Soph would say it, right? She knows how to speak that. I think Dani also knows how to protect me. You know how to protect your friends. Yeah, you protect your boss. That’s fine, but think about how you feel about your family. You’re like, ‘Nah, this is the way that it is when it’s in regards to your family.’ Also, it’s very much the same flip-flopped. I don’t want my management sending Dani emails at all hours of the night. I don’t want PR people sending Dani emails at all hours of the night. That’s not how it works. I make sure to protect her and she also makes sure to protect me. I think that’s a lot easier to do those things when you genuinely love who you work with.”
Paint us a picture of your quintessential hangout:
SR: “I mean, we used to hangout. Everything we do is interlaced between hanging out and work now, because of COVID. Before, it was a lot easier for us to be like, ‘OK, we’re going to go have dinner now and it’s just going to be Dani and I and we’re not going to talk about work.’ Now it’s like Dani and I are in our COVID bubble. We’re not really hanging out with anyone else because we’re with each other. We are really old-school. We do what all 12-year-olds do and just hang out, but COVID-safe.”
DG: “Literally, exactly what Sophia said. We just listen to music and hang. She cooks a lot.”
SR: “I do cook a lot.”
DG: “She has to listen to me bitch about Bravo TV. That’s really it.”
Can you put the way it feels to love and to be loved by a best friend into words?
SR: “I don’t know what a best friend is if there isn’t love. I think that’s a contingency. I don’t think you can call someone your best friend if you don’t love each other. Perhaps that’s just my rule. Right now I have a really incredible relationship with the word love because I feel it’s something that sometimes isn’t enough. I think on Valentine’s Day, it’s important for people to understand that. It’s about way more than love. It’s wonderful that I happen to work with someone who I love, but I think what’s even more special about that is the mutuality there. This person also loves me. Outside of love, Dani respects me. I respect Dani. I trust her. She might be my friend and she might be this person that I work with, but she has the most sacred thing a person can have: She has keys to my house, like it’s her house. Right now, I think that’s what is so special. So many people don’t have access to love. I feel like I’m really lucky because I have access to someone who I love, who is my friend, who respects me.”
DG: “In the time that our relationship has grown from work to friendship, Sophia has definitely made me realize what a friend is. I think I didn’t really realize it until we became friends that it’s more than just liking the same things. It’s really about support and lifting each other up. I’ve definitely had girlfriends like that, but not to the extent that Sophia does. It really just made me re-evaluate how vital the respect and support are on top of the love.”
The value of friendship in comparison to a romantic relationship:
SR: “It’s way better. It’s way better. It’s way better. Yes, sex is fabulous. And having a hunky person to come home to—girl, guy, whatever—is a fabulous thing. But I do my day with Dani. She’s part of my life experience. Whereas your partner’s not on set with you. You don’t even want them there. You know what I’m saying? Your romantic person isn’t doing your day with you in that way. Certain things I get excited about, like I saw some girl that I know in a random Sex and the City episode from 25 years ago. I’m not going to talk to my partner about that. He’s going to be like, ‘What? I literally could give a rat’s ass.’ Dani’s my person for that. Dani’s my person I talk to about skin, about anything in the world. I think that’s really cool. Sometimes I’m chatty, clearly, but I always try to remind Dani it’s a two-way street. When things happen, you can tell me, you can talk to me about them. She has this thing where she’s like, ‘I don’t want to bother you with that.’ In the time working with her, I have seen that grow. I have seen her become more comfortable having certain conversations with me that maybe at one point she wasn’t. There’s such tangible growth with a friendship which isn’t really sexy by itself that’s totally different than a romantic relationship. You really get to see a lot of growth and a lot of cool comfort in a friendship that I think is so special.”
DG: “I’m super, super single on the romantic front. I actually can’t even compare it. The friendship that I have, I feel like, truthfully—I don’t even know if she knows this—has taught me to be more open to a romantic relationship. I’m more in tune with myself and what I realize I need and want. That baseline friendship has now made me more open to a romantic relationship. Even in a romantic relationship, the baseline is friendship. I think this friendship could trump the romantic ones.”
SR: “Seattle. We did this really fun trip to Seattle back when we used to be able to travel. It was kind of a trip for nothing. We didn’t really have shit to do when we were there. We got lucky because apparently Seattle only has like, 30–40 days of sunshine, and it was just the most gorgeous weather every day we were there. I really loved that trip a lot.”
DG: “On that trip we roomed in a hotel together. At that point in our friendship, it was like, ‘Oh, we’re friends.’ We shared a bathroom. Sophia saw me freak out over the guy throwing the fish in the market.”
SR: “The original Starbucks!”
DG: “Oh my god, yeah, the original Starbucks. I was like, ‘This is a landmark.’”
SR: “She’s losing her mind because it was the very first one.”
DG: “I was like, ‘This is still iconic.’ We got comfortable with each other on that trip. Also, this is vital in how we became comfortable with each other. We got a Korean body scrub. Basically, you strip down naked and a Korean woman scrubs your body down. We both did it together and we didn’t know what was happening. We were like, ‘All right, here we are.’”
SR: “We saw each other but-ass-as-the-day-we-were-born naked. We had no idea what we were getting into. We didn’t know we were going to be able to see each other. There were no partitions. It was nakedness.”
DG: “After that, it was like, ‘Well, you’ve seen all of me, so there we go.’”
What to contribute to keep things running smoothly:
SR: “I’m always checking in with Dani, just making sure that she feels good, making sure the other people on the team are respecting her. Everybody else’s definition of productivity doesn’t have to be mine and doesn’t have to be Dani’s. Dani and I operate on a nine-to-five. I don’t want Dani receiving shit after that. I know things happen. I know it’s a different time and we’re all in front of our screens all the time right now, but boundaries are really important to me. She is the most important thing. She is a person that helps me do what I need to do. She needs to be respected. I just have a really different outlook on employer-employee vibes. Bosses need to treat their employees like gold because how else do you incentivize someone to care about you, about your life? Who cares? Whenever this day comes, it’s going to be devastating for me, but—I mean Dani’s 28 years old—one day she’s not going to work with me anymore. I want her to feel comfortable and confident in whatever that next step is. That’s part of my job as her boss, to make her feel like she’s equipped with the things she needs later on. It’s not just all about Soph, right? I want her to feel confident and comfortable. If there’s a certain thing she’s really interested in, how can I help her? A happy employee is a happy business, as far as I’m concerned.”
DG: “I mean, vice versa. I want her to know she’s the most important, as well. I have her back no matter what. I’m always going to be honest with her. She knows that she can trust me with whatever.”
The importance of friendship:
SR: “The beginning of the pandemic was tough because Dani and I didn’t really see each other. We just didn’t know what the hell was going on back in March, April, May. Life was really insane. Now we work at my house, and even on days when Dani isn’t here, I’m like, ‘I miss Dani.’ The thing that reminds me of pre-COVID times is Dani because nothing else looks the same. At the very least, if my relationship with Dani exists how it used to, then this is my sense of regularity and comfort. Like, ‘Wow, Dani and I are whole. We’re still existing. We’re still here. That’s still my girl. We’re still doing it.’ Even though everything else feels like an actual ‘What is it? I don’t even know.’ At least we have this. Our shit is good. Me and D are good.”
DG: “I couldn’t have said it better myself, frankly.”
Photo assistant: Emerald Layne; Stylist assistant: Rashonna Duett; Sophia wears Gucci blazer, pants, sweater, and Reike Nen boots; Dani wears Proenza Schouler dress, Maryam Nassir Zaden mules, Young Frankk necklace, and Machete earrings.
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