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Selling cakes when you're not legal  

post #1 of 71
Thread Starter 
I live in Missouri and from what I can tell there isn't a way to sell out of your home an be legal. It seems that there are many states where this is the circumstance. I don't plan on decorating cakes as a full time job or actually opening up a shop, but I do enjoy it and wouldn't mind selling a few. In fact, I took my first real order a few weeks ago to be picked up this week. Also, a friend of my sister's is interested in me making her wedding cake.

So for those of you who sell out of your home and aren't technically legal, how do you do it? It seems that the health dept/dept of agriculture or whoever isn't really out to get the small home baker. But what can you do or not do if you're not legal? Do many reception sites recquire that the cake be from a licensed kitchen? Can you do bridal shows? What about approaching florist, wedding planners, etc to tell them about your cakes? What about advertising on the back of church bulletins and on theknot.com. I actually checked the cake vendors on theknot.com in my area, and several seem to be home bakers. So are they not legal?

So for those of you who aren't legal, how have you advertised other than friends and family? Anyone here from Missouri who's operating out of their home? Thanks!
post #2 of 71
I'm a hobbyist doing cakes out of my kitchen. Where I live, Florida, you have to have a completely seperate kitchen to get licensed. It's my understanding that any kind of advertising can get you into trouble if you are not licensed. This includes business cards or putting your name in a brochure. For me, it's a hobby that pays for itself, and that's enough for me. Word of mouth keeps me busy enough for now.
"My friends are my estate."
Emily Dickinson
"My friends are my estate."
Emily Dickinson
post #3 of 71
What is the penalty if you get caught selling a cake?
Could you just ask for forgiveness and not for permission? hehe!~
Christy

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. -- Eleanor Roosevelt
Christy

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. -- Eleanor Roosevelt
post #4 of 71
12 months probation and $5700 in fines for a first offense if you're in parts of TX.

Sounds real attractive, right?
Life's too short to drink poison- Alton Brown
I'll start being nicer when you start acting smarter.
Life's too short to drink poison- Alton Brown
I'll start being nicer when you start acting smarter.
post #5 of 71
Thread Starter 
That's a pretty hefty fine, and exactly what I want to avoid. So how are other home bakers (in areas where it's not legal) advertising? Are they just taking the risk of getting caught and paying the fine?

Or is it understood that although it's not technically legal, noone really cares or will come after you?
post #6 of 71
Yikes! That's pretty tough! tapedshut.gif I definitely wouldn't do any advertising unless I was sure that they didn't enforce their laws!
Christy

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. -- Eleanor Roosevelt
Christy

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. -- Eleanor Roosevelt
post #7 of 71
I'm not sure about this but I suspect that you could be sued if someone were to claim that they got food poisoned after eating your cake. Having a business license would probably require some type of liability insurance. I would just make sure customers understand that you aren't licensed.

I'm not licensed but all my customers are friends and I pretty much let them pay me what they feel the cake is worth - which has turned out to be more than I would have charged!

Another consideration, If your deliver a cake to a restarant or other food establishment, they may ask to see your license before allowing you to set up the cake. I think this would be my primary concern if you plan on making wedding cakes.
I believe to have true inner peace one must finish what he starts everyday. So far today I've finished a chocolate cake & a pot of coffee!
I believe to have true inner peace one must finish what he starts everyday. So far today I've finished a chocolate cake & a pot of coffee!
post #8 of 71
There's something to be said for not advertising, cakes so unique and special you have to know someone to get one...he he he

Someone on another board once said that a business card is an invitation for the board of health to come inspect you. I sell so few outside of my circle that i really dont think they have anything to shut down, errrrrrrr " HANDS OFF MY KITCHENAIDE!!!!!!!!"
post #9 of 71
What I would like to do is to test it all out -see if I can build up any sort of clientele. If I can, then I can do whatever it is that i need to do to become legal (as I can bake in my home, but would have to make some significant modifications),
B

But, I'm NOT wanting to spend hundreds or thousands on something that goes Phffft. I'm also thinking of starting some specialty sewing/embroidery business, but I don't have to worry AT ALL about food poisoning or anything like that. It's so complicated just to TRY...

Here's another question - what do those Pampered Chef people do? they are cooking in people's homes for a party - is that the difference? I was thinking of maybe (if they don't have rules against it) of doing Pampered Chef and as a comment to the side mention I do cakes and pies and such too... is that too sneaky? Can you tell I'm trying to find ways to STAY HOME!?!?!? What's the point of renting a kitchen somewhere else if it means I would be leaving my home to work?

Melissa
Sweet Melissa's
Custom cakes made from scratch using organic ingredients
http://www.sweetmelissas.net/ http://sweetmelissas.blogspot.com/
Sweet Melissa's
Custom cakes made from scratch using organic ingredients
http://www.sweetmelissas.net/ http://sweetmelissas.blogspot.com/
post #10 of 71
I sell to friends and family and anyone that they refer to me... that way I'm not really getting out there but I'm building somewhat of a client base if I ever DO get a kitchen made. I know that in our small town, the vendors don't care if you're licensed or not for wedding cakes but in the bigger cities they require it so I would check it out before committing to a cake job. I charge very little as it is because I just want the practice mainly... as long as they cover ingredients, I don't care what else I get.
I'm a Wilton Method Instructor @ Hobby Lobby in Sheboygan, WI... ask me about it!
I'm a Wilton Method Instructor @ Hobby Lobby in Sheboygan, WI... ask me about it!
post #11 of 71
I have been curious of this too. Does anyone know the restrictions for Arkansas. I looked up the Health Department website and really couldn't make out what can and can't be done. Anyone have any answers for Arkansans wanting to bake out of the home?
post #12 of 71
I think the key probably is to find someone else in MO who has done it and can advise you....I think the lady who made my wedding cake, stuck to word of mouth advertising....friends and friends of those friends type of deal....I know she said she did it all through college for extra spending money and 10+ years after that and I would wager to say she never had a problem....but I know she didnt do bridal shows and such...
-Melanie
-Melanie
post #13 of 71
I've talked about this on previous posts but I can't seem to stress it enough. I'm not trying to make anyone mad but simply state the risks involved in home baking. Not only could you be fined and get a criminal record, but you could be tracked down by the IRS, your state's Controllers Office (cakes require sales tax), or get in deep with the HD, but all it takes is that ONE disgruntled customer to claim they got food poisoning and sue you. There goes any financial security you may have including your home. And something else, your home owners insurance can drop you for having an illegal home business... It's just not worth the risk. It saddens me that our country has resorted to these measures to stop people from baking from home...but not everyone is as clean and concerned about proper food handling as we all are! There are people who could care less about the harm bad eggs can cause or what happens when you don't sterilize and wash everything properly. They have ruined it for the good ones! icon_evil.gif Heck, in Texas, atleast Harris County, the kids can't even take home baked goods to school for parties...they have to come from a store with an ingredient label!!
"If you don't know where you are going.....how are you going to get there?"
"If you don't know where you are going.....how are you going to get there?"
post #14 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by berryblondeboys



Here's another question - what do those Pampered Chef people do? they are cooking in people's homes for a party - is that the difference? I was thinking of maybe (if they don't have rules against it) of doing Pampered Chef and as a comment to the side mention I do cakes and pies and such too... is that too sneaky? Can you tell I'm trying to find ways to STAY HOME!?!?!? What's the point of renting a kitchen somewhere else if it means I would be leaving my home to work?

Melissa



PC is completely different. They are not selling food out of their home for any type of profit. Mixes are exempt unless they are sold in a public setting here. IE- the monthly venue that I sell at the "nice" Homemade Gourmet lady has to get a food permit because of the city requirements. But when you sign on with these companies, they dock your commission (with PC it's $2 per month) for insurance. Granted, there food products are prepared in a mass commercial kitchen and all.
Life's too short to drink poison- Alton Brown
I'll start being nicer when you start acting smarter.
Life's too short to drink poison- Alton Brown
I'll start being nicer when you start acting smarter.
post #15 of 71
Consider carefully before proceeding is all I can say. I'm not doing it as a hobby, so I have a different take, but here's my 2 cents.

Many women "back in the day" (we all know one-- an aunt, a friend's mom, whoever) have done it for years with narry a hitch.

BUT. This isn't our aunt/mom/friend's world any more. People will sue you over anything, and if you're not legal, you invite a bee's nest of problems.

Worst case scenario I've heard (aside from fines) is a lady who actually LOST her home over the issue. I don't know the whole story.

If you're selling for "whatever they want to give you" to just friends and family, that's a *little* safer than wanting to start a business in any form.

Also bear in mind that large venues are often responsible for the food served at receptions in their facility, and they will prevent you from bringing in a cake if it wasn't made in a legal kitchen. Not to mention the Health Dept occasionally does a walk through the kitchen at large receptions, just to check. How'd you like to explain to a bride on her wedding day that her cake is on its way back to your house because they wouldn't let you bring it in? icon_surprised.gif

AND, last but not least, if the local caterers/cake decorator/bakeries find out about your little venture (and if you're viewed as competition by them) they will usually immediately turn you in.

Like they say, the "cake ladies" are hard to regulate, and very many "cake ladies" fly under the radar and never have any trouble...but all in all, I want a business that is legit. I did one cake at a huge venue right at the time that I was just finding out that it's illegal here, and I felt so...subversive!...setting that thing up! So something that should have been a terrific exposure for me, handing out cards to the wedding planner, DJ, etc., felt more like me skulking and trying to not have anyone ask me too many questions...it was not fun, and I changed my approach thereafter.

Most customers (and many local bakeries/caterers) never ask, know, or care, but all the same, I rent a legal kitchen, have insurance and business licenses, and will get whatever else I need to stay on the up and up. When and if I get busy enough, we'll build a separate kitchen here. Until then, I rent, and I sleep better at night.

Not doing cakes any more, moved on...

Now blogging about life after cake and other randomness here:  http://itsa-long-story.blogspot.com/

Not doing cakes any more, moved on...

Now blogging about life after cake and other randomness here:  http://itsa-long-story.blogspot.com/

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