Alexandra Rabbani is the founder and executive chef of Salt of the Earth Bakery, a burgeoning business that stocks shelves of stores including Fairway, Zabar's, Balducci's, etc. with its signature brownies and cookies. Before founding Salt of the Earth two years ago, Rabbani was a business developer for AOL for seven years. She was born in Manhattan and lives on the Upper East Side.
Why did you switch careers?
I was laid off during the great layoff of 2009 where 30% of the company was laid off. My entire department was rendered useless. After the mandatory five minutes of panic I realized it was a good thing - sometimes you just need a push to help you move on to the next great opportunity. … I wanted to do something for which I had a real passion. I took some time off to figure things out and to spend some time with my family and then I gave birth to my third child and a company at the same time. … I've been baking really as long as I can remember, I learned how to bake at my grandmother's apron strings … I would sleep over and bake … she's the one who really and truly introduced me to the kitchen and gave me that confidence and that background when it came to cooking and baking. And really for as long as I can remember … the kitchen's always just been a retreat for me … I find it very therapeutic … cooking and baking are very different disciplines and I'm lucky that I can do both.
What are some of the pros and cons of your career?
It has been extremely gratifying and satisfying to be able to follow my passion and have a career centered on really passing that product onto others. While I do control my own schedule, my hours are really much longer than they have to be, I need more than 24 hrs in a day. My work day never ends. … But the flexibility really allows me to have a semblance of work-life balance and to really be present for my family in a way that would not be possible were I in a standard corporate environment.
Are you happy with your switch?
I could not be happier with my new job. It certainly has ups and downs and I wear a lot of hats and it's always interesting, it's always an adventure. I really do wake up every morning excited to see what the day's going to hold.
Do you have any advice for our readers who may be considering a career 180?
Make sure you have a support system. I could not be doing this if it were not for my amazing family. My husband is my business partner and my better half and the brains of this operation. Without him it would not be possible. … Without all of them backing me up I would not be able to do this.