Elizabeth Chambers Hammer is beyond busy—and that was before she gave birth to her second child, Ford Hammer, a mere six weeks ago.
The entrepreneur, journalist and CEO/founder of Bird Bakery recently opened her second mouth-watering bakery, this time in Dallas. Her original San Antonio location offered up its first sweet treat in 2012.
The Texas native, who now lives in Los Angeles with her husband, actor Armie Hammer, and their two young children, talks to Mom.me via email about the compromises she's made as a working mom, how she juggles parenting duties, as well as her favorite bakery indulgence. (Trust me, you'll want to head to Texas and sample one, too.)
First of all, congrats on your new baby boy! He's adorable. Your daughter, Harper, too. How are you feeling?
Thank you so much! I'm in newborn heaven. You forget how sweet and snuggly this magical phase can be, and when you have a 2-year-old, the amount of time that babies spend sleeping is truly a gift. I'm feeling really great, thankfully. He is a remarkably easy baby—eating well, sleeping well and making me want to have another already. But as we all know, every phase is very subject to change!
Describe the moment you were inspired to create Bird Bakery.
About five and a half years ago, I was hosting several shows, and within weeks they were all canceled for various reasons, which were out of my control. Journalism was my major and career, but I also have a business background. The thought of being able to create my own company and directly determine the success was very appealing. And I was a compulsive baker who was ALWAYS giving cookies and cakes away to my friends, family and strangers. I thought, I may as well sell them. Ha!
You are also a journalist and a mom of two young children. What's your secret to getting it all done?
I don't feel like it's ever ALL done. The to-do lists are a mile long, and every day is a balancing act. Time management has always been important in my work and career, but once I became a mom, it was even more imperative. I try to maximize my time and experiences each and every day.
When did you first feel successful?
I first felt successful in television when I was home visiting my parents, switched the channel and a story I was covering was airing. I felt successful as an entrepreneur exactly four months after I opened [Bird Bakery]. My uncle is a successful chef who owns many restaurants in Texas, and before I opened he basically told me not to use his name or associate myself with him or his success. At the time, I knew it was because he didn't believe in me and thought I wouldn't succeed, and that just motivated me more. Four months after we opened, I was having dinner in one of his restaurants and literally every single one of his customers in the whole restaurant came to our table to tell me how much they love Bird Bakery. It was the greatest feeling in the world. Now, at the bottom of his menus, it says, "If you find yourself in San Antonio, be sure to visit Bird Bakery. Elizabeth is Guy's niece, and we sure are proud of her." Oh, how things have changed!
As a successful female entrepreneur, what are some ways that you want to teach your kids about "girl power”?
I believe that the first step is to teach them power. I don't believe in boy power or girl power—it's just power. I hope that I can teach them to never take "no" for an answer and to follow through completely with their goals and their visions. To not wish for things, but to work for them.
Has there been anything about starting Bird Bakery that surprised you or inspired you in a way you didn't expect?
So many things about starting Bird surprised me. It's the most difficult thing I've ever done, and there are always new challenges. Right now, it's staffing the kitchen in our Dallas location, but there's always something at the top of the list. Because we bake everything from scratch, consistency is also an ongoing challenge. There's always room for improvement, and we can always be better in so many ways, so that inspires me each day.
What's your advice for moms who are looking to start their own business?
My advice for moms that are starting their own business is to start something you're absolutely so passionate about that you can't imagine your life without it. Starting your own business is a sacrifice, and the fact of the matter is it will take you away from your children at times, so you have to be putting that time and energy toward something you truly believe in and love with a passion.
What sacrifices have you made as a mom, business owner and career professional to keep everything in balance?
Balance means always feeling like you're sacrificing something. I prefer to call it "compromise," though, because it's all about give and take. Having our second baby, I wasn't allowed to travel right before the birth and for six weeks after. Not being able to be in Dallas right after we opened our new location has been extraordinarily frustrating and difficult. I hate not being in San Antonio and Dallas at the locations as much as possible, but I'm on my phone all day, every day, FaceTiming for meetings, conducting interviews and am in CONSTANT communication with my managers. And while that's great for the success of my company, it also takes me away from the magical moments with Harper and Ford, who is just weeks old. There have also been plenty of times that I had to work or film that I wasn't able to put my babies to bed or give them a bath at night. I hate missing those moments, but do everything I can to bring them to set with me and to create memories when we're together. The time with my children is so precious that I try to protect it fiercely.
Your talented husband, Armie Hammer, is also in the spotlight. How do you both juggle parenting duties alongside your busy careers?
He's an incredible father, and we both try our best to always be "on." We travel as a family and are with the same agency, so when travel is coordinated, they know we need to schedule accordingly and all go together!
If you could have lunch with any business person/mogul/entrepreneur/nonprofit founder living or dead, who would it be and why?
[British entrepreneur] Julian Metcalfe—what he has done with [food retailer] Pret a Manger is very impressive.
Which Bird Bakery item is your greatest indulgence?
Our amazing carrot cake cupcake with a sea-salt caramel snowbird (homemade vanilla Blue Bell ice cream with house-made salted caramel and Cuvee espresso poured on top) to drink. Nothing better!
Top image via John Russo; bottom image via Lilliana Story