Finding Customers for Your Cottage Food Law Bakery

Pie for Pi dayHow to sell your products

Often I get questions from my readers Today I got a question from a reader asking for tips on how to get started finding customers for her products. She was wondering how you get started marketing when you don’t have much of a clue how to do that. I remember sitting in that same place so many years ago. I knew I had a product people loved, but how and
where do you find people willing to hand over money for that product. It is scary when you are just starting, so I put together some ideas.

Start with a Plan

I would recommend starting by developing your plan. You have a lot of options, but I would suggest you narrow down what you plan to offer. You have to keep in mind that shelf life is a problem bakers have to deal with. In addition, developing a reputation for a signature item is a great strategy. For me, it was the cinnamon rolls, although I bake many things, I started with cinnamon rolls and my reputation was built on that. People who loved my cinnamon rolls assumed that if I could make great cinnamon rolls, anything else I made would be the same. [Read more…]

How Much Does a Commercial Kitchen Cost?

Bakery GoodsWhew, I get asked that a lot, and I suppose I may appear clueless when I answer my standard “it depends”. Don’t you hate when you hear that? I know I do, but unfortunately, it is the truth. It is not a set in stone figure. Oh, if you are wanting to purchase a food truck you can go to a vendor and ask the price of a food truck furnished with the things you need and bam, there you go. You have some pretty accurate numbers when you are doing your due diligence. [Read more…]

News Flash: Work at Home Moms Only Have 24 Hours in Their Day!

tired dogIf you are a work at home mom, this is a problem you will battle.  I have people all the time ask me how to balance work and family, and life in general. You see, when you go to work, after eight or so hours you pack up and go home to your family. It is like stepping from one life into another, the lines are clear.

Working from home however is a very different story. First of all, you live where you work, so work is much harder to walk away from. It is so much easier to do one more thing, but those one more things add up. Before you know it, you begin to feel like a slave to your business. We rationalize that if we just get up earlier, stay up later, we will be able to get all those things done. Pretty soon, we feel like zombies. Do you feel like I am reading your mail? [Read more…]

Cottage Food Laws are Getting Even Better!


Hats off to the state of California. It sure is the state that I hope is paving the way for other states to follow. Cottage food laws have taken a giant step forward in Solano County,California with the addition of the “Class B” food permit. Many cottage food businesses would love to be able to sell wholesale to their local restaurants and stores, and now Solano County residents have that possibility.

According to the “Times- Herald” food operators are able to purchase two types of licenses. A “ClassA”permit enables them to bake non hazardous food in their own kitchen and sell directly to the consumer. A “ClassB” permit enables them to sell through indirect sales, wholesale and in stores for resale.

Cottage Food Laws are the Foundation of Solid Business.

California is serious about improving the lives of stay at home moms, baby boomers, & those who have dreamed of starting their own baking business, and people who have been searching for the perfect solution for a work at home business that is not a scam in disguise.

Until cottage food laws, baking at home for profit was not legal, and the talents and love of baking of so many people were squelched by the rules of the local health departments. I am not objecting to the health department protecting the food source  of the public, they are surely a valuable service to society. That said, there is room for the home bakers who are not making products that are hazardous.

Cottage food laws are just a sensible win-win solution. It makes it possible for people to purchase homemade food that is not stuffed full of preservatives that many want to avoid. The laws now make it possible for people to increase their income while giving the business of their dreams a try. The economy will be a beneficiary as well. The taxes generated from the extra income of the at home bakers will help fuel the communities bankroll.

Food License Application Process

You must purchase  the permit.  A Class A permit has a fee of $96, and the Class B permit costs $316. Next you have to have an inspection of your kitchen by the health department. The next step is to purchase a home base business license. Then you have to take and pass the California Health Department food safety and handling course. Wow, for very little money, you are in business. For those residents of Solano, I have to tell you that there are lots of people in other places who pray that their state and county will follow the lead of your county.

Believe it or not, it gets even better. The allowed income is presently capped at $35,000, and is scheduled to be increased to $50,000 in 2015.  Those numbers are making the cottage food laws a great option for so many people, it is truly a game changer in  the lives of so many. So I reiterate, hats off to California.

photo credit peggyhr


Can Cottage Food Laws Help Our Economy?

Cottage Food Laws are allowing entrepreneurs get small businesses started all across the country. It might not seem like a big deal, but when you take a look at small business in general, you begin to realize how vital successful small businesses are to our successful economy. I know what you are thinking, at this moment, our economy pretty much stinks. While there is truth to that statement, the prescription to recovery is making it easy for small business to start and grow.

Cottage food laws do just that. By making start-up affordable for most people, lots of small businesses are starting up and in the growth stage. Let’s take a look at why they are so important to helping our country dig it’s way out of the mess we are currently in. Small businesses create the majority of the jobs, and since our unemployment rates are soaring, success of small businesses can lead us to better economic times.

One small business starts an economic engine

If that sounds like an bold statement, I guess it is, but it also is true. I will use my experience with my gift basket company.

  • I would get an order from a customer. To fill that order, I would have to purchase all the supplies I needed. I would need a basket to hold the products. That purchase supported the global economy because they came from the Philippines. People there had jobs to grow and harvest the wicker, weave them into baskets, receive and process the orders, pack and ship them. The shippers hired people to pack them. The boats that transported them here hired all the staff needed to said the boat. When the boat arrived in this country, people at the dock had jobs to unload the freight and get it into a warehouse. The workers at the warehouse had jobs to determine the destination and load them on the transport to deliver them to the vendor I purchased them from. The vendor has people who work for him at his warehouse who process the order and load it into my van.
  • The baskets were then filled with baked goods. Oh my goodness, let’s look at what is involved in that. Let’s start with the farmers who planted the seeds for the wheat. They had to plant, care for and harvest the crop. In many cases they have hired help and created jobs for others. Other farmers had to tend the chickens who produced the eggs, cows who provided the milk and butter. People had to harvest the sugar cane. Factories had to process the refine the sugar, and process it differently to produce brown sugar. Then it had to be packaged. Think of what went into the process to produce the packaging. More factories, more jobs, more packing, shipping, warehouses etc. That does not even address the equipment that I have in my kitchen, in the factories, shipping yards, warehouses, the vehicles that were responsible for making it all possible.
  • The above is by no means a complete assessment of everything involved in the baking process, but I am sure you get the picture so I will move on. Once the items were baked, many people were hired to package each individual cookie, mini breads, brownies etc. Again, a lot of packaging and all the jobs that are involved in producing all the polypropylene bags. That would include those working in the oil fields and rigs, the refineries, the factories that then make the bags, the shippers, distributors etc. More jobs, more people fueling the economy.
  • Now the product was baked and packaged. Next the baskets needed to be packed and wrapped. The baskets were first shrink wrapped, then a cellophane layer was added. Needless to say, as with all the other products, each of the wrapping materials provided many jobs along the way. Once wrapped, we used lots of various things to decorate the gift basket, ranging from artificial flowers & greenery, decorative holiday ornaments, bells, and ribbon. Again, trace all the steps back and consider all the jobs involved in the production of each of those products.
  • We often shipped baskets. That required a trip to the box factory and the packing peanuts. More jobs. Once boxed and packed, off to the shipping company, yet again more jobs.

Cottage Food Laws Promote Small Businesses

The point here is that there are a lot of positive reasons to have Cottage Food Laws on the books across the country. Making business start up is critical to cleaning up the economic mess our county is in. Across the board, we should do whatever possible to limit the roadblocks to starting a business. It is the entrepreneurs willing to put in the hard work and take the risks that will in the end create the jobs needed to put this county back on track.

I would encourage you to write your Representatives in your state to either pass the laws initially, or rewrite the laws to get rid of all the red tape and gray area that some of the laws contain. As long as I am on my soapbox, if a state has passed Cottage laws, it should be applicable throughout the entire state. Local health departments should not have the ability to override the laws.

Cottage Food Laws Come to California

Last week the Governor of California signed the long awaited Cottage Food Bill. The Sustainable  Economies Law Center worked really hard to get the bill passed. Now California bakers can join the ranks of entrepreneurs in one of the other more than 30 states who have made it possible for people to get started in the baking industry without the prohibitive cost of a commercial kitchen.

In these difficult economic times, allowing micro business a way to get started just makes sense. In addition to supporting entrepreneurs, it also puts the public in touch with fresh local food they may not have had access to before. In every sense of the word, it doesn’t get much better than having the ability to stop at your neighbors house on your way home and pick up a loaf of freshly baked bread.

Help Get Cottage Food Laws Passed in Your State.

30+ states have passed these laws, but what are the other 20 waiting for. There are bakers in every state that desperately would like to start a home based baking business, but are unable to do that because of cumbersome laws on the books in their state. In the age of sustainable living, many people don’t want the regular offerings in the local grocery store that are filled with preservatives and other ingredients that most of us can not even pronounce the name of.

PetitionStarting an initiative is a big project. If you live in a state without the Cottage Food Laws, you should start by getting as much information out to the public as possible. Then get the buzz going among other bakers who would help push to get the laws passed. One thing that would be really helpful is for people across the state and even the nation to jump on board and support each others state.

As an example, I have been talking with a woman in Oklahoma who is working diligently to get support from others who want to be able to bake for profit at home. I would like to help her get the word out. Her name is Mary Jane, and she is needing help from other bakers in Oklahoma. I would suggest that one of the first things is to set up a Facebook page. Once you get that done, visit every forum that has anything to do with baking, starting with .

The next step is to start tweeting about a petition for people interested in baking at home in Oklahoma. Send them to the Facebook Fan page that is set up to generate interest in passing Cottage Food Laws. Get conversations started everywhere you can think of, you want to get people excited about the possibility. It will not happen overnight. It will be a long haul, but get started and keep working. For people in other states, follow those steps to get the ball rolling in your state too.

I am making an offer to add a post for those in other states as well. Just send me an email with a link to your Fan Page and I will put it up on my website to try and encourage others to visit your page and join your efforts. Lets all commit to help and support each other until Cottage Food Laws make it possible for home based bakers to earn a living in each state.

I look forward to your comments and emails.

You Can Make Money Baking at Home – Meet Anna-Marie

Making money baking from home is a dream of so many, but actually building a successful business takes hard work. For those of us who love to bake, it is the perfect choice. Baking to make money is something  that up until recently was prohibited in most states. Cottage Food Laws are now making it possible to legally bake your specialties and sell them directly to the public.

That opens the door for home bakers, but there is a lot to running a successful baking business. I recently told you about Anna-Marie. She and I have been corresponding since I first contacted her about featuring a story about her here on my blog. She has generously agreed to write a guest post offering you advice from her experience baking under Cottage Food Laws. So I want to turn this blog post over to her.

Anna- Marie’s Bakery

Dough Raising Mom – what a great website to learn about home-based business and the
Cottage Food Industry! Good job, Grace – thank you!

Anna_MarieI have always been fascinated with the US economy. When the economy changes some businesses close and others get started under those unique circumstances. How exciting to find ourselves pioneering a new industry – home bakers under the various Cottage Food Laws passed across this great
nation! How exciting is to know there are many other bakers pioneering along with me.

I have learned a lot over the past year getting the home bakery going and growing. Some customers return and some don’t, that’s normal for any business. It’s important to be loyal to the repeat customers and always look for ways to bring in new ones. [Read more…]

Is Food Made in a Cottage Law Home Kitchen Safe?

Grandma holding a cakeThere seems to be a misconception about the safety of food made on a home kitchen under the Cottage Food Laws. I want to demonstrate the scrutiny that many states use in issuing the permits for the home bakers. I just went and took a look at the requirements for a permit to bake under the Cottage Food Laws recently passed in the state of Washington. I can honestly tell you that the oversight of those bakers surpasses what is required of many other food establishments around the country. Don’t believe me, well, let’s take a closer look at the permit application.

The Application Packet

The cover page for the application packet for a cottage food law permit in the state of Washington gives the reason the state passed these laws.


The Cottage Food law recognizes the fact that many small, value-added food processors do not have ready or affordable access to commercial kitchens that are licensed for food processing, and that the home kitchen can be an affordable alternative to leasing a certified commercial kitchen.

Many other states are on the same page as the cottage food laws sweep the country. Here is a look at some of the information needed to actually get a permit in Washington. [Read more…]

Cottage Food Laws Require Certification in Some States

Cottage food laws have been criticized because there is the perception that the food  might be unsafe.  Many states require training or certification. I just saw a notice for cottage bakers in Colorado. There is an all day training coming up. Here is the notice I found:

The Colorado Cottage Foods Act does require the producers to be certified in safe food handling and processing. An approved certification class is the ServSafe Managers’ Training offered in northeast Colorado by Colorado State University Extension and Northeast Colorado Health Department.

A ServSafe Managers’ Training is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 17, at the Fairgrounds Community Building in Yuma. It begins with registration at 7:45 a.m. The day-long training concludes with the certification exam from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. The certification is good for five years.

The training covers safe food sources, personal hygiene, cleaning and sanitizing, and food temperature controls. Training cost is $95 if paid by Aug. 20 and includes a ServSafe manual, lunch, breaks, and the certification exam. After Aug. 20, registration is $120.

Individuals need to register as soon as possible so they can receive the ServSafe manual and read it before the class. For additional information about this new law or to register for the Sept. 17 training, call Yuma County Extension at (970) 332-4151 or Morgan County Extension at (970) 542-3544.

If you are from Colorado and had not seen that notice, you should get in on the early registration.That however is not really the point of this blog. When I had my catering company, my [Read more…]

How to Start a Business

Make MoneyStarting a business is on the minds of literally over a million people. Don’t believe me – check for yourself. I just did the research and discovered that last month alone 1,500,000 searched for information on how to start a business. If you have been reading my blog, you know I frequently talk about that here. Today I want to talk about the reality of starting a small business. The word to pay attention to in that sentence is “starting”. So let me be clear, this does not apply to taking over a successful business, that is totally different.

By definition, begin is the term used to explain start. Begin is defined as “to proceed to perform the first or earliest part of some action”. Let’s take a look at that. When you are at the beginning and planning part of anything, most of us see a best case scenario. After all, who wants to go to all the trouble starting a business with disappointing returns.

The reality of it is that in the first year, you are at the earliest part of your business. Very few business are over night successes. It simply takes time to build a successful business. There is [Read more…]