Work According To: Elizabeth Chambers Hammer

Work According To: Elizabeth Chambers Hammer
by Career Contessa
Photos Diana Zapata | March 07, 2016




"My father’s in the wine business and instilled sales in me at a very young age. When I was little and selling Girl Scout cookies, he would give me sales quotas and tell me not to come home until I met them. Hard core lessons early in life!


When I was in second grade, I told my mother that I was going to be like Oprah... my actual words were, "I'm going to be Oprah." I couldn't believe that someone could interview people for a living. I distinctly remember thinking, that is the most incredible job and I will do that. I think that seeing her passion for exposing truth and reason behind human behavior ignited a passion and interest in journalism. {click to tweet}

I got my start as a model and actress, [but] I was always working toward journalistic endeavors in the process. I was doing a fashion show for Fendi in Aspen when I met the person who helped me acquire my first internship at Access Hollywood. I think if your goals are clearly defined, all roads lead to achieving them.

When I was in second grade, I told my mother that I was going to be like Oprah... my actual words were, "I'm going to be Oprah."


[Now as Chief Correspondent for the Human Rights Foundation], our mission resonates with me because once you realize that freedom is not guaranteed nor a reality for many people, it’s impossible to ignore. We’re incredibly fortunate to live in this country where we are free to voice our opinions and live a life with limited governmental control. The most difficult project for me has been our work with North Korean defectors. To hear the stories about how so many people have lived, and how millions still are, [in those circumstances] is both shocking and incredibly inspiring.

"Once you have the privilege of telling someone's story, and once you understand their history and current situation, politics and opinions truly become irrelevant." 

In 2012, I opened BIRD Bakery with my husband, Armie Hammer. He's always supported my decisions, and he knows how important the bakery is to me. I bounce ideas off of him and ask for his opinion on many things—whether it’s verbiage for marketing or the design of a new cookie, I always want to know what he thinks when it comes to the bakery. He has an amazing eye, and his palate should be insured! He can taste any subtlety in any recipe. We always say that he’s the resident taste-tester—and with good reason.

My day-to-day responsibilities vary so vastly. Whether I’m securing an interview for a story or creating our seasonal menu for BIRD Bakery, it’s always a juggling act. There are so many balls in the air at all times, but I love every single moment of it. We recently expanded the bakery in San Antonio and plan to expand to Dallas soon. All wonderful things ahead!


I’ve definitely made mistakes in both roles. Thankfully, I’ve learned from them. I once misplaced my passport on a very important assignment for the Human Rights Foundation. It was absolutely heartbreaking, as I had to return from Asia and missed the entire story. I learned that preparation is key to success.

Some of the mistakes I've made at the bakery may be some of my hires early in the opening process. I quickly learned that there's a big difference between home bakers and professional ones. That said, I truly believe that there has been no such thing as a mistake at the bakery. Every single decision that has been made and every single person who has been part of the process has contributed to making it the success it is today. 


It’s always a challenge, but necessary to find that balance. Someone once told me that there’s only one way to eat an elephant (not that anyone wants to do that, ever): one bite at a time. {click to tweet} The analogy is bizarre, but definitely illustrative of effective prioritization. 

I think living in the now and being present helps tremendously and also being very aware of time management has never been more important." 

- As told to CC