ARLINGTON – When Lauren Hammond started delivering her home-baked breads to the doorsteps of Arlington residents, orders came with a catchy jingle sung by her two young daughters.
“Your bread delivery, da da da da da da.”
Take that, Smith Brothers Farms.
Actually, what started out as a fundraiser last March to raise $900 for uniforms and other costs for the girls to join the Arlington Youth Cheer Program became the idea that launched a small home bakery.
From the kitchen inside a home on an average residential drive in the Gleneagle neighborhood, Hammond Bread Co. officially became a business.
“Making bread is something we like to do, so I said ‘Let’s start selling bread to our friends and family,’” Lauren said. “Then it just grew from there.”
The whole family has a role in the operation. Daughters Emma, 12, and Ellie, 9, are product testers and delivery helpers; Isaac, 17, is co-baker and food photographer, while husband Trevor toils after day-job hours to get the website and online sales and delivery operations running.
Hammond Bread Co. is licensed by the state as a “cottage food operation,” which translated from bureaucratic-speak means, “I can only bake from recipes shared with state regulators. I have to stay within the recipes, as promised.”
It also means that products must be baked from a home kitchen to sell and deliver directly to consumers through online sales and advertising, with annual gross sales not to exceed $25,000, according to the state Department of Agriculture.
Lauren was inspired by her mother and grandmother, who used breadmakers. She took a class and started baking her own bread 12 years ago when the family moved from Everett, and fell in love with it even though she was afraid at first to work with yeast, because it’s a living organism that bakers need to get dough to rise.
That fear didn’t last long. When somebody slipped her a recipe for “Rustic Bread,” her daughters said, “Whoa, this is the best bread we’ve ever tasted.’”
They started calling it their own “secret bread,” Lauren said. She sells it now – “Everyone loves that one” – but the girls aren’t too happy about that. Her other bread products include honey whole wheat and white.
Some offerings were trial and error, like when Lauren branched out into dinner rolls.
“They were as hard as hockey pucks,” Trevor said, adding that she eventually figured out the nuances of working with yeast, dough and other ingredients, and environmental conditions that can impact baking time.
Lauren next added cinnamon rolls to the product line. Cinnamon goods have become a customer favorite, with pan-o-cinnamon rolls, a seven-inch cinnamon roll and a cinnamon pull apart.
For cookie options, Hammond Bread offers a tub o’ sugar or chocolate chip cookies, and their giant cowboy cookie. Her first big sale came when Lauren, an Arlington substitute teacher, was asked to make dozens of cookies for a school function.
Prices range from $5 for white bread or a giant cookie to $25 for a 9 by 13-inch pan of cinnamon rolls.
Her delivery area is roughly between 172nd Street NE to the Stillaguamish River, with some some customers also in Smokey Point.
The family got on a roll starting last summer, selling at downtown farmer’s markets, holiday craft fairs and Rhodes River Ranch vendor events.
“The events are awesome, but it’s a lot of work ahead of time to have enough inventory,” Lauren said. “You cross your fingers and hope people will show up ready to buy.”
More recently, Lauren and her daughters handed out free chocolate chip cookies during a packed reception at the Mirkwood Public House welcoming the crew from the Hulu reality show, “Small Business Revolution – Main Street,” which may cast finalist Arlington in season 4 of the business makeover show.
She met show host Amanda Brinkman. “She said we need to have a storefront and commercial kitchen,” for a main street that currently doesn’t have one.
Now the family is busy baking and decorating special cookies and cupcakes for Valentine’s Day orders. They also plan to have space at the Eagle Festival Feb. 1-2 in the building across from the police department at Third Street and Olympia Avenue.
Lauren has been growing a loyal customer base that is ga-ga over several of her breads and treats, and she loves how community members are generous and kind, and rally around one another in tough times.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 just a few years after the family moved to Arlington. She was named an honorary coach for the annual Coaches vs. Cancer basketball game fundraiser for the American Cancer Society in 2012. Her treatment was successful. She has been cancer-free since 2016. They have made friends with other cancer-survivor families involved in the event.
“Cancer people don’t pay,” Trevor said jokingly. “We’ve been down that road.”
The couple understands that a bakery downtown could be some people’s idea of the ultimate dream, and would take their cottage business to a whole new level. But right now their focus is on keeping business at the baked-from-home level, and to maintain a good work-life balance.
“It would be a way bigger commitment, and we’re not ready for that,” Lauren said.
Son Isaac, a Running Start student at Everett Community College, who is mastering all the skills of baking breads and cookies at home, said there’s one more reason why he doesn’t mind working from home.
“The house always smells nice.”