Elizabeth Cain Jersey City
JCFamilies: You are a busy lady! You have a four-year- old, work as Jersey City’s Director of Cultural Affairs, and own two businesses (Hound About Town and Hazel Baby & Kids.) I picture you waking up at like 5 am. Am I close?
E. Kane: No. Well, some days. I do wake up first – before my husband or son. I just lay in bed and go through emails. Then I get ready, get Landon off to school (my hubby and I do this together, which is nice), and have my coffee on my way to work.
JCFamilies: What’s your favorite coffee spot?
E. Kane: It changes depending on what I want to eat with my coffee. I like Smith and Chang,Dames, Beechwood, Short Grain…
JCFamilies: Is that your only downtime then? The morning?
E. Kane: Hmm…Yeah. Probably.
JCFamilies: So tell us about starting your businesses, Hazel Baby & Kids and Hound About Town. Was the process what you expected it would be?
E. Kane: I think there are always surprises, but I’m the type of person who runs into something and just tries to solve it and move on. I roll with the punches. I mean, I would prepare as much as possible, but I don’t get overwhelmed easily.
JCFamilies: Was there anything in particular that stands out as particularly challenging?
E. Kane: I think unpacking the initial inventory was a lot, but it was also really fun. I think the biggest challenge of a small business is that you don’t know where your money is coming from, or if you’re going to have it. You never know if you’re going to get paid or not, if you’re getting a paycheck. It’s all on you. Luckily we live in a community that’s supportive of small businesses, which is what I love about Jersey City.
JCFamilies: What else do you like about Jersey City?
E. Kane: I travel a lot, and I noticed that you don’t get the kind of hometown feel in other towns that you get in Jersey City. Especially in urban areas.
JCFamilies: Would you change anything?
E. Kane: Nothing I can think of.
JCFamilies: Not to push the issue, but what about for your son? Maybe the schools? Is your son in the public school system?
E. Kane: He’s not, but that’s a whole different conversation. My son has food allergies, so he goes to the Scandi School. They’re vegan, and they teach the kids about food. They teach them how to cook. They don’t let outside food in, so it really helps a lot with his allergies.
JCFamilies: How did you come to recognize that problem?
E. Kane: He was basically covered and really thin…I mean, he had skin issues when he was a baby. Like on his neck and stuff. Before I knew, I was eating peanut butter & jelly sandwiches in the mornings and then breastfeeding him. Turns out he was allergic. I would bring him to the doctor and they thought it was heat rash. But he was so thin as a little baby.
And I didn’t see other babies with heat rash. It just didn’t sound right. I worked for an allergist in college, so I knew about the severity of food allergies.
JCFamilies: Thankfully you figured it out.
E. Kane: Absolutely. It’s terrifying. I can’t send him to school, I can’t send him to birthday parties…I really want to start a support group because it’s so scary.
JCFamilies: How would you describe your parenting style? What’s important to you as a mom?
E. Kane: We do a lot of positive gentle parenting, and his school supports that too. It’s like community parenting. We set boundaries and there are consequences. We do workbooks and have playtime. We try to keep a good balance. It’s hard, but I try to spend as much time with him as possible. My mom takes care of him too.
JCFamilies: What does he like to do?
E. Kane: He likes to dig, so we build things. (He’s four.) We’re doing Legos a lot now. He goes outside and a pile of dirt will entertain him for hours.
JCFamilies: Some moms might say that you “have it all”; Got any tips?
E. Kane: Well, I think the secret is that you can’t do it alone, and you can’t be afraid to ask for help. I ask my mom, my husband, my son’s teachers, my friends. Everyone! And I also don’t get all bent out of shape if something doesn’t work out. It’s constant prioritizing, but a lot of it feels pretty natural.
JCFamilies: Natural? What’s your educational background?
E. Kane: I went to the University of Vermont. I went because everyone else was going – our generation was all going. But I would definitely go again. I’m not utilizing my degree – I was a Pre-Med/Nutrition & Dietetics with a major in Chemistry.
JCFamilies: Do you regret that course of study at this point?
E. Kane: I wouldn’t change my experience for anything. Life took me in a different direction, and I’m glad it did honestly. I’m not a 10-year planner. I don’t look out into the future that far in advance. That’s not the type of person that I am. My benchmarks are more short term.
My long-term goals are to be able to spend time with my family, make money, be secure… and so my short-term goals are always focused on what I have to do today to make them happen.
JCFamilies: At one time, you were a single lady with a completely different life. What was the transformation like?
E. Kane: It was kind of organic. The timing just ended up being right for everything. I met my husband at a show in Maxwell’s where he was playing with his band. He lived outside Philly at the time. That was probably in 2007.
JCFamilies: That’s not even ten years ago. It’s 2016 now. A lot has happened since then!
E. Kane: Wow. Yeah.
JCFamilies: So what were you doing at that time?
E. Kane: I was working for Silverman doing the building part of the business – we did purchasing, design and building. I was also directing the Downtown Special Improvement District. I’ve never really done only one thing. Even when I was single I was working and bartending at night.
JCFamilies: So how did you know how to start a business?
E. Kane: We had a lot of support. Friends and people I knew. I did a lot of research. There was a lot of trial and error.
JCFamilies: What are you working on now?
E. Kane: We’re setting up the online stores at Hazel Baby & Kids, so we can help new moms with their registries. That’s exciting. And we’re setting up entertainment in the parks with the city.
JCFamilies: You’re amazing Elizabeth.
E. Kane: Really I just want to leave everything better than I found it.
JCFamilies is represented by Mel Kozakiewicz. Mel is the founder and CEO of The Moxie Group, a consulting company for all your marketing needs.