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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.