Baker Cooks As Entrepreneur
And before Baker reaches her 48th birthday, her fifth book will have been published, her sixth compact disc will be on its way to music stores nearly everywhere, and another series of TimeOut for Women conferences will have come and gone.
Her friends know her as the ultimate entrepreneur. But Baker said she simply is a former high school English teacher who turned her love of music and knack for songwriting into a career that differs from most. Hers is not just a means to earn some money and respect, but is a way to inspire others through her deeply held Christian beliefs.
But maybe Baker’s best feature isn’t her long list of accomplishments. It very well could be the manner in which the Battle Creek native makes certain that she doesn’t take herself, or her success, too seriously.
“I give a whole new meaning to the term ‘Frosted Flakes’ because I’m blonde,” joked Baker last week about her Cereal City roots.
Baker gave credit for her entrepreneurial roots to Harvey Gainey and Betsy DeVos, as both helped her take her early steps on that career path. Gainey approached Baker, who didn’t know him at the time, and offered to foot the bill for her first CD nearly a decade ago.
“It really was the break I needed to get into a musical career,” she said. “I think that everything else I have ever done from that has led to where I am now.”
From the sales generated by that first CD backed by Gainey, Baker has financed four more recordings and the Time Out gatherings.
As for DeVos, she stepped in to help save the first TimeOut for Women conference after a Denver group, which had asked Baker to organize the meeting, pulled out at the last minute.
“It was such a success. We had 5,300 women at that first conference. Organizations across the country took note of it and that is why we have been invited to other cities,” said Baker. “She has never put money into TimeOut, but she has been an incredible counselor and a good friend. It was because of Betsy that we had Elizabeth Dole one year.”
Today Baker works closely with J.D. Miller; an acclaimed producer who has written many songs and catchy jingles, and has directed such singers such as Bette Midler, Kenny Rogers and Tanya Tucker. Baker said she met Miller almost by accident at a party 10 years ago.
“He is such a phenomenal arranger and producer. He lives in Kentucky and has several studios there. So wherever he is, that’s where I go,” she said. “I think he even has a Grammy, but he doesn’t talk about that stuff much.”
Baker is probably best known locally for the TimeOut for Women conferences, the first of which she held here in 1996. To date, she said there have been about 30 TimeOuts in seven states that have drawn more than 50,000 women.
“I’d love to expand those. I think that once we get the working capital, we’ll continue to expand into some other states,” she said.
Cook Publishing in Colorado Springs has Baker’s fifth book, which should be in stores next March. Cook, like Gainey, contacted Baker, who always wanted to write a book, but had no idea what to write about.
“Cook asked me what kind of materials would benefit my audience the most. So we looked at all the surveys that came in and all the questions the women had. We also offer on-site counseling for women who are struggling with different issues. Those things gave us ideas,” she said.
“We really look at the whole person — physically, mentally and spiritually — and the things in their lives that they feel they are lacking.”
Baker’s third book, which dealt with the leadership ability that women possess, was her breakthrough into the secular market. Titled “A Pebble in a Pond,” it emerged from the leadership-training sessions she gave at General Motors and other companies.
“I was able to take a lot of the leadership curriculum that I had put together for those things and help women with their business-communications skills, and how to choose a leadership style that fits their personality and organization,” said Baker, who also writes a column for the “Godly Businesswoman’s Magazine,” a national bi-monthly.
Baker has six of the 10 songs written and tracked for her sixth CD, which will be out by the end of next year. But before it reaches the record stores, the Bakers will find themselves in Detroit. Paul Baker, Julie’s husband of 28 years, is going there to lead the Davenport University fund-raising effort in metro Motown — a job that he will start on July 1 and a move that has created another opportunity for her.
“A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to submit demo tapes to a new Christian television station that is going on the air there in August. It looks as if there is a possibility of having a Time Out with Julie Baker TV program,” she said. “Like I need one more thing to do.”
When she isn’t working, which obviously isn’t often, Baker reads novels, crochets, and runs with her German shepherds. Paul and Julie have two adult children: Christy, who graduates from Davenport next month, and Stephen, who is 21.
Although she thoroughly enjoys leading TimeOut for Women, there really isn’t a time-out coming up for a busy Baker anytime soon — as she sees herself expanding on her music, writing and TimeOut work over the next few years.
So how does she plan to manage all that? Well, first, by working hard. Then, by doing the laundry.
“Songs have come to me when I have taken clothes from the washer to the dryer, many times,” she said. “Is that not bizarre?”