New Lombard bakery owner shows determination facing life's struggles

For the first time in her life, Hira Umer feels like she is taking on a challenge of her own, instead of life giving her the challenge.

When she was 18, her tight-knit family was dealt a blow when her father was shot and paralyzed during an attempted robbery at a store he owned in Chicago.

A few years later, she had an arranged marriage that quickly ended due to her husband's hidden drug addiction. He left Umer to raise their son — whom she was pregnant with at the time — on her own.

“A lot has happened in life. It happens to everyone,” the 26-year-old says. “People don't advertise that. But I feel like it's good to talk about your background, because it's not always just success. There's a lot of hardships you have to overcome to get to a certain point in life.”

Now Umer is facing another hurdle, but one she is happy to tackle: running her own business.

After years of baking custom cakes and desserts out of her parents' home for family and friends, the 26-year-old launched Scrumptious by Hira bakery at 825 E. Roosevelt Road in Lombard in November.

To her, the storefront is a symbol of independence, responsibility, maturity and determination, a sign she can overcome life's mishaps.

“When life throws things at you, you figure it out,” she says. “If you're not going to figure it out, you're going to get stuck in a hole.”

Colorful walls and a plush consultation table greet guests who walk through the door, along with a few trays of Umer's desserts, displayed on an elegant countertop. She is keeping the selection small so everything is fresh, and highlighting client favorites: tiramisu cups, cake pops in different flavors, Oreo cheesecake bars and macaroons.

Other offerings include cupcakes, cookies, brownies, chocolate-covered strawberries and pretzels, custard cups and date rolls.

Eventually, there will be cakes on display near the window and tables set up for private parties, for people who want to do cupcake or cookie decorating.

Before the storefront, Umer gained customers slowly through word-of-mouth. Now, she is facing a learning curve with the need to “get out there and market yourself and advertise yourself.”

The shop is open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 2 to 9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday.

It is a lot of work, but above all, Umer is driven by the need to provide for her son, who is now 3.

She calls him her “business partner” and has taken him along on many business-related endeavors, such as visits to potential locations for her storefront and meetings with clients to talk about sweets tables for their weddings, baby showers or birthday parties.

“It's been challenging trying to adjust to everything,” she said. “The first month, I literally pulled three all-nighters here for Saturday events. Even though working at home was good, I feel like this is progress. I just have to get used to it and figure it out. This is hard, but I feel like it is rewarding as well.”

  Cake pops are on display at the new Scrumptious by Hira bakery in Lombard. Mark Black/
  Tiramisu is one of the most popular items at the new Scrumptious by Hira bakery in Lombard. Mark Black/
  Oreo cheesecake bars are among the items made fresh daily at the new Scrumptious by Hira bakery in Lombard. Mark Black/
  Hira Umer sees her ownership of the Scrumptious by Hira bakery in Lombard as a symbol of independence, responsibility, maturity and determination. Mark Black/
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