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Question for those who bake and sell from home

post #1 of 222
Thread Starter 
Hello all fellow lovers of cake. I have been thinking of starting up a business, but here in Michigan you need a seperate kitchen. I have read a lot of posts and know a great deal of people sell from home without being licensed. I am too nervous to try this. We have a space that could be converted to a kitchen for the business, but Id hate to put the money into it and end up not having any business. But, what Im wondering about is how do I go about getting my name out there. We have NO family around here, within 6 hrs...nor do we know many ppl. I dont want to hand out cards without being licensed. Someone told me that I could make the cakes and "accept donations" for them...setting a suggested donation price. I plan on making cakes for the local Drs, banks, teachers...etc but I just dont know how to go about it all before getting licensed. I hope that I havent rambled and you all can understand what Im trying to ask.

For those who do sell without being licensed, do you hand out cards, have people come to your home for tastings...etc?? Thanks in advance for any replies!! Have a great day everyone and God Bless icon_smile.gif
Loving Wife of Kyle,
Momma to
Zackery~12
Nathan~6
Tristan~3/7/05-3/25/05~My sweet angel
Genesis~2
Kayla~6 months
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Loving Wife of Kyle,
Momma to
Zackery~12
Nathan~6
Tristan~3/7/05-3/25/05~My sweet angel
Genesis~2
Kayla~6 months
Reply
post #2 of 222
Who told you that you could hand out cakes, take donations and "set the donation" price? Isn't that in effect, "selling" your cakes?

I don't recommend doing this. Say you hand out your cakes to Banks, Dr's. offices, Teachers, etc., and someone that eats your cake is allergic to something in the cake and gets ill. You are setting yourself up for a lot of headaches and problems.

Honestly, I know that a lot of people do this unlicensed and think it's o.k., because, heck "Paula Dean started out illegal and look where she is now". The compensation you receive for your "donated cakes" is not worth the risk involved or the fines you could face.

In MA where I live you can have your home kitchen licensed, which is great, but I am fortunate that I have a separate one in my basement. It's not my main source of income, it started out as a love for baking and it continues to be just that for me. I love it, get paid for it and it's legal......when I rest my head on my pillow at night I can sleep and not worry that someone will report me.

If I were you, I'd really think about what you want this to be for you. A hobby or a career, than you'll know the right thing to do.

Good luck icon_smile.gif
post #3 of 222
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply. I do know the right thing to do...as I stated. I was just curious how to go about getting my name out there beforehand to see if there will be business to warrent my spending about 5000. I love to bake, and always have. Anyway, hubby and I talked about it and we are just gonna go ahead and do it. Ive already talked with the guy who does the licensing. You are very fortunate to have that second kitchen. My aunts house is like that, too bad thats about 20 hrs from me!! Have a good day.
Loving Wife of Kyle,
Momma to
Zackery~12
Nathan~6
Tristan~3/7/05-3/25/05~My sweet angel
Genesis~2
Kayla~6 months
Reply
Loving Wife of Kyle,
Momma to
Zackery~12
Nathan~6
Tristan~3/7/05-3/25/05~My sweet angel
Genesis~2
Kayla~6 months
Reply
post #4 of 222
I live in Ohio and operate under different rules. When I started I was just making cakes for family. I found how much I loved it so I started offering to make cakes for friends. Then I realized - "Hey, I'm pretty good at this" That is when I decided to make a business of it. Actually that whole process took almost 10 years, but thats another story).
My point is, if you have the love and the talent - then go for it. I assume you have had people tell you your cakes are wonderful? Well, then you will find more people AFTER you are liscenced. Just be prepared not to make any money the first 3years I think they say? I realize I am fortunate that I didn't have to lay out big bucks before I became legal, but ya gotta be legal.

Good Luck!
"Sometimes you have to let other people be wrong" Dad
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"Sometimes you have to let other people be wrong" Dad
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post #5 of 222
I started getting my name out there by making cakes for my own kids birthday parties. Then for my kids friends birthday parties. I would talk to the parent and tell them what I was doing and ask if I could give them a cake for their childs brthday. So it was giving it away, totally legal to do, giving me experience, and then getting my name out there for all the other attenders. It progressed up to adult birthday cakes, then baby shower cakes... Still all donation. I would set it up with them that that was their gift from me. Eventually it progressed that strangers were calling me and wanting to pay me, so I got inspected. I like being able to do it from my home kitchen. I don't really know that I would have kept going if I had to have a seperate licensed kitchen...
Alison
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Alison
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post #6 of 222
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommaroxy

Thanks for the reply. I do know the right thing to do...as I stated. I was just curious how to go about getting my name out there beforehand to see if there will be business to warrent my spending about 5000. I love to bake, and always have. Anyway, hubby and I talked about it and we are just gonna go ahead and do it. Ive already talked with the guy who does the licensing. You are very fortunate to have that second kitchen. My aunts house is like that, too bad thats about 20 hrs from me!! Have a good day.



What does loving to bake have to do with running a biz? Absolutely nothing is the answer. You love to bake, now learn to love to run a business, that's how you succeed. Think about it. Everyone can make a pie, cake, cookie. What makes you different? Not to rain on your parade, but depending on what part of the state your from it is a very tough market w/ just the legal bakeries.

Mike
post #7 of 222
wow, I am in Alabama and i dont even know if we have 'laws' for this. I just do it! I just started making my own kids cakes and relatives. Then it all started when a cousin needed a 'naughty' cake and didnt know how to get one since you cant exactly buy one from Walmart. Next thing I know I have people calling me from every direction wanting a cake and paying me for them. I am not licensed or have a seperate kitchen. I am trying to figure out what someone would be allergic to that would cause them to sue me....? peanuts? I dont think i ever use peanuts...anyway, I appreciate caution and legallity, but i think here in Alabama it is just not a big deal! Gosh I hate to see the responses i get on this information! I am probably just a horrible person, but I see that most people here buy cakes from Walmart or Publix and they are plain old sheet cakes with something thrown on top....my friends and family are getting so much more for about the same price as one of those sheet cakes. I also work full time and have 3 kids, so this is not a business...and I could never open a business just baking and actually make a living that would take the place of my current income. It sure would be fun to just do that all the time! Good luck and I say...dont be so hard on yourself. Just have fun and the rest will fall into place. I dont see why it would hurt to do some cakes for people without being licensed and that will do the rest. If the cakes are good enough, you will start getting calls and recommendations. Then you can open your business and be licensed. Also, I have gotten tons of referrals and requests off of my myspace page. I load all my cake pics to my myspace and then everyone can see them. Probably half of the cakes i have done have resulted in someone viewing my myspace! just an idea. you can create a page by going to www.myspace.com! My husband has also created a website. www.englandfarms.info! good luck!
post #8 of 222
Just because you aren't informed of the laws.. doesn't mean they don't apply to you. You cannot claim ignorance in court if you get sued by someone who gets sick from something you make. Do people do it under the table? Yes.. but it doesn't make it right. And selling your cakes for walmart prices does nothing for you or the cake market in your area. In fact, it can make it harder for the legit businesses to charge fair market value since the illegal homebaker up the road sells her cakes for pennies a serving.

Advertizing a business that isn't legit can also get you in trouble, and myspace counts as advertising.. the website counts.. business cards count.. talking about it counts. Most people aren't going to turn you in, but it only takes one person to get you in a heap of trouble. I just don't see a reason to take the risk. And people are allergic to many things.. nuts, wheat, dairy, eggs.. most who are allergic to something common in baked goods will not eat baked goods that they haven't made themselves, but you never know.

This may sound doom and gloom, but hey... business is business, and no one will go easy on you because you didn't know.
post #9 of 222
well, i just think you have scared the crap out of us all who just like to have some fun! But I guess if we are actually taking business away from people that would be the thing to do. I will research our laws and at least if i am illegal then I am doing it knowingly.
post #10 of 222
Quote:
Originally Posted by jkalman

Just because you aren't informed of the laws.. doesn't mean they don't apply to you. You cannot claim ignorance in court if you get sued by someone who gets sick from something you make. Do people do it under the table? Yes.. but it doesn't make it right. And selling your cakes for walmart prices does nothing for you or the cake market in your area. In fact, it can make it harder for the legit businesses to charge fair market value since the illegal homebaker up the road sells her cakes for pennies a serving.

Advertizing a business that isn't legit can also get you in trouble, and myspace counts as advertising.. the website counts.. business cards count.. talking about it counts. Most people aren't going to turn you in, but it only takes one person to get you in a heap of trouble. I just don't see a reason to take the risk. And people are allergic to many things.. nuts, wheat, dairy, eggs.. most who are allergic to something common in baked goods will not eat baked goods that they haven't made themselves, but you never know.

This may sound doom and gloom, but hey... business is business, and no one will go easy on you because you didn't know.



I hate to rain on your parade as well, but I completley agree. Not only someone may turn you in, but the IRS or your local health department might see your card or ad or even eat your cake and decide to pay a visit. Fines aren't just a few hundred dollars. They are thousands and thousands of dollars.

If you really feel you can do a business, then you need to put your money where your mouth is and put the money into starting a legal business. None of us had a ton of money in the bank when we started, we put ourselves at risk (and still put ourselves at risk everyday). If you don't want to risk it, then owning a business isn't for you.

On the other hand I would like to throw out my favorite quote:

"Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.â (Sorry I am not even sure who quoted it, but I still love it)

So you have to decide. Being illegal though is not the way to go...
Gotta have more cowbell!
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Gotta have more cowbell!
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post #11 of 222
ok, well since everyone is so offended by this, please help me and tell me where to find information for starting a business. How do I find out about our laws? I am actually regretting even responding to this original question! lol!
post #12 of 222
Quote:
Originally Posted by loriemoms

Quote:
Originally Posted by jkalman

Just because you aren't informed of the laws.. doesn't mean they don't apply to you. You cannot claim ignorance in court if you get sued by someone who gets sick from something you make. Do people do it under the table? Yes.. but it doesn't make it right. And selling your cakes for walmart prices does nothing for you or the cake market in your area. In fact, it can make it harder for the legit businesses to charge fair market value since the illegal homebaker up the road sells her cakes for pennies a serving.

Advertizing a business that isn't legit can also get you in trouble, and myspace counts as advertising.. the website counts.. business cards count.. talking about it counts. Most people aren't going to turn you in, but it only takes one person to get you in a heap of trouble. I just don't see a reason to take the risk. And people are allergic to many things.. nuts, wheat, dairy, eggs.. most who are allergic to something common in baked goods will not eat baked goods that they haven't made themselves, but you never know.

This may sound doom and gloom, but hey... business is business, and no one will go easy on you because you didn't know.



I hate to rain on your parade as well, but I completley agree. Not only someone may turn you in, but the IRS or your local health department might see your card or ad or even eat your cake and decide to pay a visit. Fines aren't just a few hundred dollars. They are thousands and thousands of dollars.

If you really feel you can do a business, then you need to put your money where your mouth is and put the money into starting a legal business. None of us had a ton of money in the bank when we started, we put ourselves at risk (and still put ourselves at risk everyday). If you don't want to risk it, then owning a business isn't for you.

On the other hand I would like to throw out my favorite quote:

"Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.â (Sorry I am not even sure who quoted it, but I still love it)

So you have to decide. Being illegal though is not the way to go...



I loved your quote loriemoms that I had to look it up, the author is Les Brown.
post #13 of 222
Quote:
Originally Posted by kweenofengland

ok, well since everyone is so offended by this, please help me and tell me where to find information for starting a business. How do I find out about our laws? I am actually regretting even responding to this original question! lol!



Alabama will not license your home's kitchen, a separate kitchen would be required to be licensed. Call your county's health department for specifics.
post #14 of 222
Don't regret responding.. we all do what we can with the info we have. My response is not so much taking offense to it all but just to throw the information out there. So many people just have no idea that you can't just decide one day to bake cakes from your home kitchen. And while I am sympathetic to those who had/have no clue, the courts will not give a rat's patootie that you didn't know and will happily slap you with fines.

Where do you live? We might be able to let you know about the laws in your state. But the place to start is either your state Dept of Agriculture or the Department of Health and Human Services.. it varies by state who handles food services. icon_smile.gif
post #15 of 222
It is way too risky, in my opinion, to accept money for cakes if you're not licensed. I know there are many out there who do it, and to those, please know I'm not trying to ruffle any feathers with this response. icon_smile.gif

~~~~~
If someone who runs a legal business finds out about it, you could have local officials at your door inquiring, and possibly face substantial fines and penalties.

And then there are the health risks. I bake for family and close friends. This summer I was approached by someone I did not know and asked if I would do a wedding cake for 300+ people. Could I do it? Yes. But I said no, for the reasons listed here. As someone else mentioned, if one of the guests gets sick or has some type of allergic reaction, and it could SOMEHOW be tied to the cake that I made, I can guarantee you the ownership of my house would be in jeopardy. Someone will sue me, and without proper business licensure and insurance, it would go against my home. (Some people may wish to argue this point with me, but I'm not trying to start a debate. It's just responsible to be aware of any/all possibilities. Because seriously? You can't plead ignorance if something bad happens. I saw it happen to someone I know.) Maybe the chances of something like that happening are slim, but I'm not taking the chance, especially if it would jeopardize my chances of ever running a legal business.

Someone here asked what could go wrong? Just as an example, what if you made a custard filling with eggs but didn't cook it to the right temperature to kill any/all bacteria? What if you use fresh strawberry preserves, that did not process properly? What if a purchased ingredient was spoiled (without your knowing)? Some people may be more sensitive to this than others. What if, after delivery of one of your cakes, there is a recall on one of the ingredients you used?... Anything can happen. And these are just a few examples of why someone MAY come after you in the event of a mishap.

Another reason I would not do it is more of a moral/personal issue. I would love to run my own business, and would be ecstatic if it were to be successful. However, I do not have the means to do it (the right way) right now, so I'm not. I know that there are other creative bakeries out there, that are owned by someone who may have scrimped and saved every penny (or borrowed) to get it off the ground. By me soliciting my skills to businesses and the like, in order to build a customer base and/or reputation, and doing it unlicensed and getting money for it... It is taking business away from those who may be busting their butts to keep their business going, or get it off the ground.

One last thing (then I'm done)... To spin off of what Mike said, if you decide to do it as a business, keep in mind that it is a business. There's the whole "business management" thing that goes along with all the baking and decorating. There's accounting and bookkeeping, taxes, insurance, licenses, inventories, marketing, and all of the other analyses that need to be done to be successful and keep it going.

I understand your desires and what you want to do, because I'm right there with ya! Good luck with your endeavors!!! icon_smile.gif
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