EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a monthly series of miniprofiles featuring local executives “off the clock.”
EXECUTIVE’S NAME, TITLE AND COMPANY NAME.
Erin Baker, CEO, Erin Baker’s Wholesome Baked Goods
TELL US WHAT YOUR COMPANY DOES AND WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THIS BUSINESS.
My company, Erin Baker’s Wholesome Baked Goods, hand bakes and distributes breakfast goods and snacks made with simple, whole food ingredients all around the country. We use locally sourced whole grain oats, fruits, nuts and seeds as the foundation for our healthy, hassle-free foods. Located in Bellingham, Washington, I launched the company in 1994 with the Original Breakfast Cookie, an iteration of my mother’s oatmeal cakes that she would bake for me as a child.
With the last name Baker, it seemed only natural to fulfill my undeniable destiny. When I was a kid, I watched my mom grow foods of all kinds, and then can, dry and preserve them for eating all year long. There was also a constant bowl of whole-wheat bread dough rising on the heater vent and many, many passionate conversations about the difference between whole food and refined, processed foods. Growing up in that environment and then learning from the likes of Alice Waters and Bradley Ogden, talented chefs who celebrated the importance of whole foods, it was a no-brainer to combine all that knowledge and inspiration to create healthful food products!
WHAT BOOK/TV SHOW/PODCAST ARE YOU READING/WATCHING/LISTENING TO AND WHY?
I am currently in love with Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull, cofounder of Pixar Studios. I heard Ed speak last year at a leadership conference and was impressed with his heart- centered management philosophy. Ed manages from the heart like any great parent would, making it safe for all to draw outside the lines. This approach fosters true creativity and “skin in the game” for all involved. This is where the magic is found in everyone. Ed’s dream was to do something that had never been done, to make the first computer-animated movie. To make this happen, you need a team with you that is your family — a family that will stay in the trenches with you until gold is struck. I had a dream … and that was to create a packaged, healthy grab-and-go breakfast made with whole-food ingredients. This had never been done before and the people I have worked side by side with over the last 23 years are a huge part of why we were able to achieve my dream. As pioneers in the natural food industry, we continue to push the boundaries and go where no food company has gone before. Ed Catmull’s example inspires me!
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE SPOT IN SEATTLE?
I don’t make it down to Seattle too often, but when I do, I love to visit Pike Place Market. There’s nothing better than meeting local farmers and artisans (and trying some of their goods along the way). I love the Fremont area and always visit Theo Chocolate; the retail store and factory tour are awesome, they are true innovators and I admire them so much! A new favorite for dinner is The Walrus and the Carpenter in Ballard: amazing oysters and seafood, fresh local ingredients, a hopping atmosphere and great folks to take care of you. I am always on the lookout for baking and cooking inspiration. There is so much in Seattle area, it makes my head spin!
WHAT KIND OF CAR DO YOU DRIVE AND WHY?
I drive an Audi wagon because it’s sporty and utilitarian, plus there’s plenty of room for Cookie, my Jack Russell terrier, to cuddle up in the back seat on road trips!
TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU.
I didn’t go to college. Hard work, perseverance, consistency and an unwavering belief in my dream that packaged food could and should be healthier was my hourly mantra!
WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT OUTSIDE OF WORK?
I love getting outside and hitting the trails. Whether it’s hiking or snowboarding or on my horse Avery, I strive to be outdoors as much as I can. One of the activities I help run as part of our Help Feed 1 Million Kids program is the Fuel the Ride tent on Mount Baker. Every Saturday during Winter Ride, an eight-week ski and snowboard program for children, we set up a tent on the mountain to greet kids and offer them a free cookie or cup of granola with milk. I’m passionate about helping kids fuel their bodies with healthy food, which gives them lots of energy to perform on the slopes.
› Tell us about your Off the Clock activities. Visit seattlebusinessmag.com/clock-seattle-executive.