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The Forrager Podcast

Learn how to start a food business from your home kitchen by hearing stories from cottage food entrepreneurs about how they grew their businesses from the ground up.

Does everyone ask for your recipes, or say “You should sell that”? Have you dreamed of starting a brick-and-mortar bakery, or simply want a fun hobby that brings in some extra dough?

On this podcast, David Crabill interviews a wide range of entrepreneurs across America who legally sell their homemade food via their state’s cottage food law. Each episode reveals strategies for marketing and selling your food products successfully from home, online, at farmers markets/events, and in stores.

Learn what steps you should (or shouldn’t) take, and get your cottage food business off to the right start!

Want to be on the show? If you have a cottage food business, you can apply here.

Selling Custom Macarons From Home with Nicole Barry

Podcast Episode #17 —

Nicole Barry is a classically-trained French pastry chef and an expert macaron maker. But after working long hours in 5-star hotels and restaurants, Nicole and her husband started a family, and she wanted to stay at home with the kids.

In 2016, Nicole started Bake Toujours, a cottage food business in Pasadena, CA which allowed her to take her skills to the farmers market. She built a customer base and generated a decent side income, even though she could only work 3 hours per day while her kids were in school.

Nicole’s macarons really stand out. Her Instagram feed showcases so many different flavors, color swirls, decorations, and custom shapes: unicorns, rainbows, strawberries, foxes, flowers, and even Eeyore!

In 2019, she took her skills to YouTube, where she posts amazingly high-quality videos and tutorials. Within a year, she accrued over 10k subscribers, with over 150k views on her most popular video!

Nicole now lives in Portland, OR, and she has put her cottage food business on hold while she focuses on her growing YouTube audience.

In this episode, Nicole shares many tips on making and selling macarons, as well as her transition from prestigious restaurants to farmers markets to YouTube.

Marketing Cake Art with Jennifer Lopez & Emily Blattel – Part 2

Podcast Episode #16 —

Over the past decade, Jennifer Lopez and Emily Blattel have sold dozens of custom cakes that run the gamut from elegant buttercream cakes to realistic cake sculptures. The results are always exceptional, and sometimes they are nearly unbelievable!

This dynamic duo runs The Cake Mom & Co. from their homes in Paducah, KY and Scott City, MO.

Because they are both amazing cake decorators, I thought this interview would be focused solely on cake artistry.

But they ended up touching on so many facets of running a cake business that I had to split this episode into two parts. This is Part 2, and you can listen to Part 1 here.

In this second half of the interview, they covered startup advice, the ordering and design process, business partnerships, social media platforms, cake supplies, promotional giveaways, and cake competitions.

Jennifer also explained how she helped changed Kentucky’s cottage law, even though she initially had no intention of spearheading that effort!

Marketing Cake Art with Jennifer Lopez & Emily Blattel – Part 1

Podcast Episode #15 —

Over the past decade, Jennifer Lopez and Emily Blattel have sold dozens of custom cakes that run the gamut from elegant buttercream cakes to realistic cake sculptures. The results are always exceptional, and sometimes they are nearly unbelievable!

This dynamic duo runs The Cake Mom & Co. from their homes in Paducah, KY and Scott City, MO.

Because they are both amazing cake decorators, I thought this interview would be focused solely on cake artistry.

But they ended up touching on so many facets of running a cake business that I had to split this episode into two parts. This is Part 1.

In this first half of the interview, they covered their startup journey, online marketing strategies, photography, pricing, delivery, and many stories of their triumphs and near-failures.

Make sure you listen to the end to hear the “beach cake” story, which led Emily and I to agree that Jennifer is a veritable “crazy cake lady”!

Engineering A Successful Home Cakery & Food Truck with Patricia Bedford

Podcast Episode #14 —

Patricia Bedford lives in Pflugerville, TX and mainly sells cupcakes and cakes with her cottage food business, Suga’s Cakery.

Patricia actually has an engineering degree and worked as an engineer for 10 years before she completely changed course and started her home bakery.

She has gained quite the following over the past 5 years, and she is now in the process of building a food truck to expand her business to meet customer demand.

Patricia shares her online marketing strategies for becoming a top ranked bakery in her area, how she created a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $17,000, and how she is transitioning her business to a food truck.

Baking A Difference with Kathy Cherie

Podcast Episode #13 —

Whether it’s putting a smile on an ill child’s face, delivering a stunning floral wedding cake, or contacting state legislators to change the law, Kathy Cherie is always baking a difference in her community.

Kathy lives in Elk Grove Village, IL and has operated her cottage food business, Cake Du Jour, for nearly 40 years. Her business is somewhat under-the-table, except that her health department has known about it for decades.

Kathy would love to help the next generation of bakers in Illinois do what she could not: run a home bakery legally. Her county (Cook) still doesn’t allow home kitchen operations, so she continues to advocate for a statewide law.

Although she loves baking for all occasions, she especially loves donating “dream cakes” through the charity Icing Smiles, where she gets to support families with a critically ill child. She has made over 20 dream cakes so far.

In addition to her charitable and legal efforts, Kathy talks about making photorealistic sugar flowers (her specialty), gives pricing advice for custom cakes, and shares tips on how cake decorators can improve their skills.

Being Productive in Retirement with Joanne Littau

Podcast Episode #12 —

Most people run a business to make a profit, but Joanne is not too worried about that aspect of it. Rather, she cares much more about supporting her community and having fun in retirement!

Joanne Littau lives in Denver, CO and has been selling jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butters since 2014 with her cottage food business, The Jelly Jar. Some of her creations have won prizes at county fairs in Colorado.

I have known Joanne for many years and visited her market a few years ago. I even had an unopened jar of her marmalade in the fridge, which I tasted in real-time during the interview!

Joanne talks about why it’s difficult to make money from selling preserves, what practical tips to follow when canning goods, and what makes the cottage food community so special.

Selling Honey & Supporting A Cause with Dr. Christine Bertz

Podcast Episode #11 —

When Dr. Christine Bertz started beekeeping, she didn’t care if she made any money from it. In fact, her main motivation was to support pollinator conservation efforts. But now, only three years in, her honey business is blossoming and she is having trouble keeping up with customer demand!

Christine lives in Memphis, TN and sells honey and jams with her cottage food business, B & Bees Provisions. In addition to selling, she gives her products away to benefit charities through her participation in triathlons and marathons.

Christine talks about the importance of beekeeping, how to start a beehive in your backyard, and how her fear of bees has transformed into an utter fascination and love of them.

The Cookie Cutter Queen with Tina Karnath

Podcast Episode #10 —

When it comes to creating custom decorated cookies, Tina is very prepared. She owns a plethora of cookie cutters (including over 500 just for Christmas), and amazingly, she is always looking to buy more!

Tina lives in Saginaw, MI and has run her popular cookie business, the Chunky Chicken Cookie Company, for the past three years. Whether she is designing cookies or naming chickens, her creativity shines through.

Tina talks about how she manages to decorate hundreds of cookies each week, as well as pricing, resources, and what she’s learned over the years. She also shares her philosophy about putting life onto cookies to make the world a happier place.

Selling Spicy Peanuts in Breweries with Kevin Martino

Podcast Episode #9 —

Kevin Martino started his cottage food business, Chef Kev’s Specialty Foods, when California created its cottage food law in 2013. He wholesales flavored peanuts to a number of breweries and hardware stores in Concord, CA, and also sells online.

Kevin was actually one of the first cottage food business owners that I ever met, and it’s cool to see how far he has come with his business over the years.

Kevin talks about what he’s learned through producing and wholesaling spicy peanuts, how he’s grown his business so far, and what he’s planning for in the future. I also share my insight on why an LLC might not be the right fit for him at this point.

From Bread Factory to Artisan Home Bakery with David Kaminer

Podcast Episode #8 —

For David Kaminer, sourdough bread is a way of life. After graduating from culinary school and spending 15 years working in commercial bakeries and restaurants, he built a pizza oven into his kitchen and opened Raleigh Street Bakery in Denver, CO in 2015.

He now has dozens of customers who show up each week to pick up their near-perfect sourdough baguettes, boules, and batards from his in-home bakery.

After working in a factory that produced 40,000 loaves of bread per day, David appreciates the slower pace of his cottage food business, plus the opportunities it brings to connect with his local community.

David talks about the ins and outs of running a lucrative home bakery, intentionally limiting business to prioritize his family, and why he only sells one type of product: sourdough bread.

Wholesale Strategies That Work with Sonia Chang

Podcast Episode #7 —

Sonia Chang never planned to start a food business, but now she has two of them!

Sonia lives in Pasadena, CA and runs a granola cottage food business called Cali Granola (formerly named Chef Sonia’s Granola By The Handful). After successfully selling her granola for a couple years, she purchased and operated My Sweet Cupcake, a popular cupcakery.

She has sold her granola in over two dozen stores and has used a variety of marketing strategies to build her businesses, such as her “leap frog” and “flavor profile” techniques.

Her journey is filled with many unexpected surprises, but every step of the way, her service-based approach and collaborative spirit have carried her forward.

How to Improve Your Cottage Food Law with Erica Smith

Podcast Episode #6 —

Erica Smith, who works for the Institute for Justice, is a major advocate for the cottage food industry. She and her team have worked with dozens of cottage food businesses to spearhead many of the recent cottage food and food freedom law improvements across the country.

I wanted Erica to shed some light on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting cottage food businesses and what steps people can potentially take to improve their situation.

Many states’ restrictions are preventing cottage food producers from adapting their businesses in a safe way right now, and Erica came to me with the idea that this current situation could actually help spawn some improvements in many states’ laws.

In addition to that, Erica discusses the current law changes (including Wyoming’s greatly improved law), what they have worked on in the past, which states they’re targeting in the future, and why this industry is so important.

How To Live On What You Make with Lisa Kivirist

Podcast Episode #5 —

Farmer, baker, author, law advocate, speaker, mother, podcaster, entrepreneur… Lisa Kivirist wears many hats!

She and her husband, John Ivanko, run a B&B ecofarm in Wisconsin, and co-authored the most popular book for the cottage food industry: Homemade for Sale.

Lisa is a national speaker, runs a podcast, and was one of three plaintiffs in the lawsuit that gave Wisconsin bakers their freedom to sell. Most recently, she spearheaded a new project to help farmers make the most of their produce by selling it as cottage foods.

Lisa talks about living off the land, moving away from the corporate life-style, creatively packaging products, diversifying income streams, advocating for your laws, and everything in between.

From Home Kitchen to Pie Shop in Under 2 Years with Diana Shockley

Podcast Episode #4 —

Have you ever dreamed of opening a brick and mortar bakery someday?

So did Diana, the owner of I Love Pie in Carmichael, CA. But she never thought her dream would come true so soon!

After selling at the farmers market for a year and a half, her pie business grew so much that she expanded into her own commercial kitchen and storefront. And now, just 6 months later, she is planning to open a second location!

On paper, it looked like a recipe for failure: selling a common food item (regular fruit pies) in a highly competitive and health-conscious market, all while juggling a full-time job.

So how did she do it? Why was she so successful? Ultimately, you will see that it wasn’t the product, or the market, but rather, Diana herself, that made all the difference.

From Lawyer To Boozy Baker with Dawn Belisle

Podcast Episode #3 —

Dawn runs a home bakery near Atlanta, Georgia called Delights By Dawn, where she specializes in alcohol-infused desserts.

In 2014, Dawn left her lucrative career as a trial attorney to pursue baking full-time, and quickly became known for her cupcakes with an extra kick.

Dawn talks about the importance of research, what it takes to scale, how to make yourself memorable, and whether you should quit your day job.

Selling Homemade Desserts for 17 Years with Lauren Cortesi

Podcast Episode #2 —

What is it like to run a home bakery for 17 years? That is what Lauren Cortesi shares with us on this episode.

Lauren lives in Pennsylvania and started Bella’s Desserts in 2003. In addition to running her cottage food business, she occasionally teaches classes on starting a home baking business.

Lauren talks about the ups and downs of being a home baker, how a famous baker transformed her business, and why she has never wanted to open a brick and mortar bakery.

How To Start A Cottage Food Business From Your Home Kitchen

Podcast Episode #1 —

If you are thinking of selling your homemade food, then this episode is for you!

For this inaugural episode of The Forrager Podcast, I decided to give you a crash course on the first things you need to know to start a cottage food business.

You’ll learn about the cottage food industry and better understand how you can legally start a food business from your home kitchen.

You will also hear about my own journey in starting a cottage food business, what I learned along the way, and why I started this podcast.