Flour Shop's Amirah Kassem Talks life as a new mom.

By Colleen Crivello

Colorful, bright, and as sweet as her Insta-famous cakes, Amirah, founder of Flour Shop, and the woman responsible for the rainbow-sprinkle-explosion-upon-slice cake trend, talks about life as a new mom.

Recently, we hung with this cake master and her daughter Coco at her new glitter-filled LA shop (AKA her second baby). Here, she talks about learning to let go, her everyday non-craving-cravings, why breastfeeding wasn’t her thing, and her surprise delivery in three minutes and three pushes. 

Warning: reading this may cause cravings and smiles…just saying. 

Current state of mind?

Amazing! Coco is 3.5 months old now, and I can hardly believe it. She is just oh-so teeny, tiny, and sweet.

Path to pregnancy and birth story?

I joke that no one ever saw me pregnant because I was home for the entirety during the pandemic. I likely would have experienced a very different pregnancy had it not been fully Covid, but all in, I was fortunate from pregnancy to birth; both were relatively easy. While I was nervous to deliver with a mask on, honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Although, had my labor been longer or more complicated, perhaps it would have bothered me more. Going in I was also worried because I had heard so many negative birth stories and I feel like you never hear about the good ones. I was lucky enough to have an easy birth experience.  I’m not kidding when I tell you that I delivered in less than 3 minutes and three pushes! The whole thing was wild and not at all what I expected.

When we moved from NYC to LA, we decided to start a family, but the plan was to open our LA shop first and then try for a baby. Of course, as life would have it, they happened simultaneously! We actually opened the store while I was at the hospital in labor. So, there you have it, we had two babies at once, but no twins!

Managing the business and motherhood? 

I delayed having a baby for years because I thought I wouldn’t be able to manage both well; I saw them each as full-time jobs which both needed so much attention. Although now, I wish I had done it sooner! Like everything, you adapt and change. Being a mother has taught me how to delegate and trust my team in ways that I never did before, plus let go of things that I probably should have a long time ago. 

Did you take maternity leave?

I never took an entirely disconnected maternity leave because as a small business owner, that’s pretty much impossible. But I did step back, and it’s been amazing to watch my team grow and work together. For example, when we game-planned my maternity leave and examined all that I’m across, I realized I was being CC’d on every email, which is fully unnecessary! Now, my brilliant team helps me make less small scale decisions, which has freed me up mentally to be more creative and dream up new ideas. Plus, my husband Ross is my business partner, so neither of us could take a full leave, otherwise, nothing would move forward with the business. Instead we had to become hyper-efficient and separate our duties. It’s been incredible and something we needed to do anyway. In some ways you could say that Coco pushed us to take the next step forward in growing our business. 

Starting Flour Shop and working with your husband?

I founded Flour Shop from my kitchen while I was working in fashion. For years I baked for friends and people at work just for fun. Over time, everyone started asking if they could order cakes from me and to fulfill orders, I would bake in the morning before work or in the evenings. As the orders kept coming in, I woke up one day and decided I only wanted to play with sprinkles all day, and so I did! My husband was always there helping me with things that I wasn’t the best at, like invoicing and such. Then, like me, one day, he decided to leave his job in experiential marketing to open a shop with me in NYC. Now, he runs the operations, retail expansions, and anything with numbers or spreadsheets. I oversee all of the creative marketing, branding, and social media. We work well together and have the best of both worlds wherein we trust each other explicitly but have very different roles within the company. Neither of us had ever run a kitchen before, so every day, we learn something new. It’s been unbelievable to grow as a business together and now as a family too. 

Any cravings?

It’s funny because food plays such a significant role in my life, and when I was pregnant, I was telling my husband and friends that I was having SO MANY CRAVINGS.Things like hot Cheetos, cake (obvi), pizza, ice cream, pasta, the list went on! Then, everyone burst out laughing as it turns out, that’s what I crave every day. In the end, we concluded that although I was excited about the possibility of crazy cravings, I didn’t actually have any, and in fact, I just live a weird-cravings lifestyle. 
It’s a running joke in my family that I really love to eat. So much so that when I went into labor and they told me I couldn’t eat anything when we got to the hospital, I was so upset. Mind you, this was early in the morning. By the end of the day, the nurse kept asking me if I was OK, and I just kept responding that I was starving! I even told her I was having stomach pains from hunger. To which the nurse smiled and responded, “dear, those are not hunger pains, those are contractions!” She thought it was hilarious that I imagined I was so hungry, I confused contractions for hunger pains. So, yes, that’s how much food is a part of my life.

Breastfeeding?

I started with breastfeeding and then transitioned into pumping and found that neither was for me. After two months, I stopped and switched to formula entirely. Initially, I felt guilty about not continuing to breastfeed but decided I wanted to enjoy my time with Coco rather than struggle to breastfeed her. I was an overproducer with clogged ducts and got mastitis which had to be treated with antibiotics. It was miserable from the start, and honestly, deciding to stop was life-changing for me.

Before I tried breastfeeding, I thought I was so prepared. Everyone had sent me their lists of what I would need (and I’m all about a checklist), but, somehow, I missed how difficult it would actually be! The challenge was not the exhaustion, night feedings, or frequency (all of which I could handle), but rather my clogged ducts, over-production and constant need to release milk! I thought the only issues were if they latched or not or if I could produce milk. I wish I had known more beforehand.

Listening or reading?

Not much these days! But I have something better. Three of my best friends all had babies the same week as I did. I’m fortunate to have this incredible group of women to share tips and information with; our group chat is keeping me sane these days. 

Any tips you can share from the chat?

Recently we were chatting about babies getting a flat head. Apparently, back in the day, babies slept on their stomachs, and therefore flatheads weren’t a thing. But now, with new information, you’d be mortified if someone told you to put your baby on their tummy. As a result of changing sleeping styles, babies get flat heads more often because they’re on their backs. The group-chat tip was to make sure every time you put them asleep, you turn their head to the opposite side. It’s a constant stream of useful information like this.   

Running the business?

If it weren’t Covid I would be going into the office and the stores, plus flying and back and forth from LA to NYC as I was before the pandemic. But, unless you’re baking, our office is temporarily closed now. With a new baby, I have to say, this is the one upside to Covid, everyone is home. Therefore, I can be on my phone, my computer, or doing interviews and still be with Coco. It’s the best of both worlds. 

Her name?

My husband is obsessed with the movie COCO, and I’m from Mexico, so we wanted something related to my roots. Plus, it sounds tropical and is also chocolate, of course. Before she was born, we kept making excuses and listing why we loved it and then just decided on it. And, Eloise is her middle name, because I love tea parties and parties in general.

One hope?

Given the state of things, I hope that Coco grows up in a positive environment regardless of the world’s negativity. We must educate the next generation to move forward in positivity.