A Picture is Worth Thousand Words!

We have all heard that saying yet it takes on a new meaning in the age of social media. Everywhere you go someone is scrolling on their phone and checking their social media platforms.

For home bakers wanting to promote their business, what better way than to take mouth watering photographs of their exquisites cakes, creatively decorated cookies, breads or homemade pie. That kind of picture is enough to make most of us hungry and many of us will be motivated to click on the picture to place an order.

If you hate the idea of selling your homemade baked goods at a farmers market or holiday festivals, or other legal venue, this is gives you so many more options. A lot of cottage food bakers now take custom orders from customers who find them on social media.

One key aspect of successful social media campaign is professional looking pictures. You might have to invest some money in hiring a photographer with the equipment and skills to take the pictures that make your special creations look irresistible, but they will be your salesperson and it is worth the money spent to have the best possible pictures.

That is going to mean that you have to get familiar with how to set up your Pinterest boards, Facebook Fan pages, and Instagram. It may take a little while to learn how to use those platforms and to interact with people who may be potential customers, but it is an affordable and often very profitable way to grow your business.

Let’s face it, we love the baking part of our business, but we just have to face the fact that if no one knows about our products, it is pretty hard to make many sales. So, no excuses, if you are here reading this, you have the computer skills to do this, and if I can do this, I know you can. As they say on “Great British Baking Show” on your mark, get set, BAKE (and then take great pictures and post them on social media.

Cottage Food Law Battle Continues in Wisconsin

I am always happy to share good news stories about cottage food laws, but the picture is not always pretty. Unfortunately I just was made aware of the ongoing battle that home bakers in Wisconsin are engaged in currently. Although almost all of the states have passed the cottage food laws, it seems that home bakers in Wisconsin have their rights to make a honest living from home being held hostage. Even worse, it is under questionable circumstances.

Here is the information I have to share. I want to do what I can to help home bakers fight the battles. You can read the details that I found from the Wisconsin State Journal.

 Thanks to cottage food laws in almost every state, home bakers can quickly become food entrepreneurs and sell certain “non-hazardous” food products to the public made in their home kitchens, often with few regulations or governmental entanglements.

 But in Wisconsin, politics and industry influence have quickly burned your right to earn an honest livelihood. We have been working to get Wisconsin’s cottage food laws expanded to catch up with the rest of the country and include baked goods via the “Cookie Bill.” While this bill has had broad-based support, passing in the Senate multiple times, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, has failed to bring the bill to the Assembly floor for a vote. Fun fact: The Wisconsin Grocer’s Association has close ties to Speaker Vos, according to “CBS Sunday Morning.” Wisconsin also had the most restrictive cottage food law in the country. Coincidence? I think not.

A victory in favor of home bakers came when Judge Duane Jorgenson in Lafayette County ruled on May 31 that this ban is indeed unconstitutional and that the primary effect of this ban is to protect established businesses from competition. The Wisconsin Constitution protects the right to earn an honest living, and we are pleased the court agrees.

 So why then haven’t you seen new baking entrepreneurs popping up across the state since the judge ruled in our favor? Because Wisconsin has been defying the judge and fighting this ruling ever since. The state falsely claims the judge’s ruling only applies to the three plaintiffs: Dela, Kriss and me. The key ingredient in the state’s claim is nuts. Let me be clear that our trio of baking plaintiffs took on this legal challenge to benefit all bakers in Wisconsin. Unlike the well-funded special-interest groups, we cook up collaboration and think way beyond ourselves.

Do your job, Wisconsin. Get out there and let the judge’s ruling that the ban on the sale of home baked goods is unconstitutional stand. Stop spending our tax dollars to fight a ruling in favor of small business in Wisconsin. Start working for us, your citizens, and truly exemplify the message that our state is “open for business.”

From where I sit it sounds like more pressure needs to be put on the Wisconsin state politicians to let the home bakers enjoy the privileges that other states have given to entrepreneurs and small businesses in their states. If you live in Wisconsin, join Lisa, Kriss and Dela and let your representatives know that you want them to pass the cottage food laws in your state.


Cottage Bakers Attain Celebrity Status Using Social Media

We have all heard it, a picture is worth a thousand words. As a cottage baker, that old adage is something that should be put into action. Social media is a game changer and it levels the playing field for small businesses.

I recently read a story about a cottage food baker that I want to share with you. She bakes cookies, lots and lots of cookies. I realize that so do many other cottage food bakers. In her case, she has taken her business to a whole new level, and you could too. Read a short clip from her local newspaper,

Aime Pope never dreamed she would have more Instagram followers than some major celebrities. But, the photos and videos she has taken of her exquisitely decorated cookies have caught the eye of tens of thousands of social media users.

As of Tuesday, her Instagram account has over 80,000 followers and her Facebook page has close to 19,000 likes.

“People like to look at food,” she said. “And it’s kind of neat because I do have this following and I’m here in little old Beverly.”

Pope said her Internet fame, while quite unexpected, is understandable considering how much detail goes into her cookies.

“I’ve always loved baking,” said the mom of three sons. “I used to bake all the time, and not just the things that were trendy.”

You can read the rest of the story here.  It is a great read, and hopefully will inspire many of you to take out your phone and snap some pictures of your creations. Then take action, set up a Facebook page for your business, post things on Pinterest, and join Instagram. None of that will cost anything, and you will get the word out about your business. Who knows, maybe someday your local newspaper will feature your business!

Cottage Food Laws are a Great Way to Test Products


So, I have talked a lot about cottage food laws, and anyone who loves to bake gets excited about the possibility of making money baking at home. Believe me when I say I can sure identify with that.
The real challenge though isn’t simply getting approved to bake at home. Since the inception of
cottage food laws, that can be relatively easy.

For many people, the big hurtle lies in how in the world do you get the word out. Let’s face it,
you only have so many friends and family, and most of us feel uncomfortable charging them.
So, then what do you do? Selling for many people is “the monster under the bed”.

It is not rational, but it is a reality. We know that someone saying no thanks will not deliver
deliver a fatal blow physically, but for may that does not help. Since you put so much time and
love into your craft, it hurts our pride. Getting out in front of people is tough.

The good news is that there are places that let you take your homemade baked goods and
legally get them in front of an audience. I want to share with you a success story that was
recently published in the Starkville News. Many communities offer similar venues, and
I encourage you to check them out.


Troy DeRego has been a vendor at the Starkville Community Market for four years.

DeRego owns DeRego’s Sourdough Crackers on Main Street, and said the weekly market is where his business began. DeRego began baking at his house under the Cottage Food Laws in 2013, and brought his artisan breads and sourdough crackers to the Starkville Community Market to sell.

“This market is probably the main reason why I was able to start my business,” DeRego said. “It gave me a chance to test out my products and meet new customers.”

Because of the opportunity to sell at the Community Market, by the time DeRego opened up his store on Main Street, he already had a customer base and knew the products that sold best.

“I think for any small business, if they can get selling at a market like this, it is definitely the way to go,” DeRego said.

If this gives you an inspiration to get started, I would love to cheer you on.


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 https://www.cakecentral.com .

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.