How did Jaden Hair propel herself from wannabe food writer to cookbook author and big-time food blogger, columnist and TV personality?
The voice behind Steamy Kitchen shares her journey — and what she did when she realized that one aspect of her dreams she wanted most was more time with her kids and husband.
Jaden Hair had accomplished many of her goals. She had written a cookbook. She was in talks to develop a cooking program on Food Network. Professionally, she had it all.
But something was missing.
“A couple of years ago I was traveling so much. I was traveling just nonstop — lots of media attention, lots of meetings and I just realized that ‘wow, this just kind of sucks,’” says Hair, who writes the Steamy Kitchen blog and is author of The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.
In short order, Hair decided to make a big change to improve her quality of life.
“I have two boys and I have this awesome home and a wonderful husband,” says Hair. “We reprioritized. The goal was creating a business that would sustain what we wanted to do in our life. That would support our life. We made sure that we were maximizing revenue on the website.”
Hair began blogging about food in 2007, when she launched Steamy Kitchen to share favorite recipes. Soon after, she decided to turn the blog into something greater. “I knew that I really wanted this as a business. I wrote a business plan first… and it was so boring. And I read it and shredded it up. It was so boring it didn’t inspire me at all. So, I thought how could I create a business plan that would inspire me every day,” says Hair.
Hair ended up creating a dream board (her husband did too) to use as her very visual business plan. “The focus was how I wanted to feel and how I wanted people to feel when they came to Steamy Kitchen. When you write a standard business plan, you don’t normally think about feelings,” says Hair.
That dream board was then framed and hung on her wall. “Every time I walked into my office, I was reminded of what I wanted to accomplish,” says Hair.
Once Hair decided to take a more family-focused approached to her life, things began changing fast. She continued to write her blog, a newspaper column and to do television. But she cut back on the hours she worked and started limiting her travel. “My nos are more important than my yeses — I am very choosy about the types of projects I take on. My nos mean that I am extremely focused on things that make me happy,” says Hair.
These days, she says that she normally works about three hours a day — unless she’s on deadline for a project like her forthcoming second cookbook.
When she has to travel, her family often comes with her. “They love it. They come on TV with me. They travel with me. It’s just so much fun because they’ve had so many opportunities. And it’s just been a wonderful experience for them,” says Hair.
When she’s not working, she keeps busy with her sons, husband and their dream property. “We’ve got a really gorgeous garden,” says Hair. “I am really trying to embrace the simplicity and the quiet.”
How she does it
For Hair, cutting back meant changing the way she did things. She streamlined her business, creating a team of people to help her including kitchen assistants to help with testing recipes, assistants to do the blog admin work, a literary agent, a business agent and an attorney. ”You don’t have to have a team. I choose to have a team because I don’t want to work,” says Hair.
Now, when opportunities arise, she asks herself, “What’s really in it for me and my family? More money is not always the answer. More time is really the answer.”
“I always tell people to build your own team. It means partnering with other people who are better at doing things that you want to do,” says Hair. “When you have collaboration and that synergy it really makes things happen easier. It’s hard to do things by yourself.”