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The One-Woman Show with Amanda Luecke

Amanda Luecke lives in Maple Grove, MN and sells custom decorated cookies with her cottage food business, Minnie’s Cookies.

Janna Paterno shared her cookie business journey back in Episode 61, and like Janna, Amanda creates some of the best decorated cookies you’ve ever seen.

But unlike Janna, Amanda has no plans to shutdown her business anytime soon. Quite the opposite, in fact. Her cookie business is absolutely thriving!

She has over 26k followers on Instagram, is always fully booked months in advance (despite her high pricing), and now runs an increasing number of cookie decorating classes that bring in about $2,000 each.

But as glamourous as all of that may seem, Amanda is very open and honest about the fact that trying to juggle everything as a one-woman show has definitely not been easy, especially as a stay-at-home mom of two young kids.

In this episode, you’ll get to hear how Amanda went from knowing absolutely nothing about cookie decorating to building the super successful business she has today.

2021 Cottage Food Bills

2021 is a fresh start in so many ways, but as always, a new year means a new round of cottage food bills!

And what a big round it is! At least one-third of states are actively working on improving their cottage food law this year.

I actually can’t remember a year when there were this many cottage food amendments on the table. It reminds me of nearly a decade ago, when states were busy creating their initial cottage food laws.

In all likelihood, the pandemic, and the resulting surge of interest in cottage foods, is part of the push to improve the laws in many states.

2021 Recap: A Record Year for the Cottage Food Industry

WOW… what a year it has been for our growing cottage food industry!

As I wrote about last year, the pandemic really highlighted the need for people to be able to sell their homemade food.

And in 2021, states responded in a BIG way! This year, more states improved their laws for selling homemade food than in any other year in history.

Top Business Tips For Cottage Food Entrepreneurs

In this special 50th episode of The Forrager Podcast, we hear from the experts!

All of the guests on this episode run Facebook groups that support cottage food entrepreneurs. In total, the owners of these Facebook groups represent over 125,000 members!

On this episode, each guest shares a quick tip that they have for someone starting or growing a cottage food business.

Facebook groups are the glue that holds the cottage food industry together. They are fantastic resources for entrepreneurs to find support and connect with each other.

Those who run these Facebook groups spend a lot of time supporting and maintaining their groups, oftentimes behind the scenes and without compensation.

This episode not only contains tons of valuable advice for cottage food business owners, but also recognizes many of the individuals that help support the growing cottage food industry.

Minnesota

Minnesota used to have one of the most restrictive cottage food laws in the nation. In 2015, they passed a new law (SF 5) which greatly improved their law, and then they further improved it in 2021 by passing an amendment (SF 958). Cottage food producers can sell almost any type of nonperishable food, but they… [read more]

If You Don’t Like The Law, Change It with Shelley Erickson

It all started with a dream of opening a brick-and-mortar bakery… someday. But that dream turned into something much bigger than a single bakery!

Shelley Erickson lives in Big Lake, MN, and although she does have a small cottage food business of her own, most of her time is spent supporting the cottage food movement in her state.

Shelley spent 5 long years campaigning to get Minnesota’s first cottage food law passed back in 2015, and then she started an association for cottage food producers in her state, which for many years was the only cottage food association in the country.

Most recently, she helped start and pass an amendment to improve Minnesota’s cottage food law, which was no easy task. Of all the states, Minnesota has some of the greatest opposition to cottage food laws, but fortunately they have people like Shelley to help counterbalance it.

In this episode, you will learn what it takes to change the cottage food law in your state, and you will be amazed at all that Shelley has had to go through to help Minnesota create a thriving cottage food community!

No Stopping, Keep Popping with Payshee Felt & Steve Bivans

You know those kettle corn vendors you see at fairs that pump out mass quantities of popcorn, and make it live on-site?

That’s what Payshee Felt and Steve Bivans now do (except in a not-so-generic way) in St. Paul, MN with their popcorn business, Payshee’s Popcorn.

But they didn’t start that way. They actually used their cottage food law to prepackage dozens of bags of homemade popcorn for their local farmers market each week.

And they did that from home for two years before they were ready to make the leap to some pretty-pricey equipment for popping tons of popcorn live at events.

They have gone from making just a few hundred dollars each weekend, to now selling over $5k of popcorn in a weekend!

Initially, Payshee romanticized her vision for the business, imagining herself custom-flavoring each bag for a customer in real-time, and serving it from a Cretors wagon.

That idealistic vision not only delayed their business, but also cost them a pretty-penny before they realized that they should just keep it simple and start from home.

Minnesota SF 958

Increased the sales limit to $78,000, increased the exemption sales limit to keep up with inflation, allowed producers to set up their businesses as LLCs, allowed some types of pet treats

Blending Coffee & Business with Jim & Crystal Whitmarsh

A few months before Jim & Crystal Whitmarsh were expecting their first child, they started roasting coffee beans at home with a $20 popcorn popper. At that time, little did they know what their new hobby would grow into!

Jim & Crystal live in Kasson, MN and sell small-batch roasted specialty coffee with their business, Trail Creek Coffee Roasters.

They initially leveraged Minnesota’s cottage food law to start and grow their business from home, and after a couple of years, they moved into a brick-and-mortar storefront to expand their business.

Although their loyal customers rave about their coffee, it’s likely their continued marketing efforts that have had a greater impact on their business. They are constantly finding new and creative ways to collaborate with other businesses and organizations, and then they showcase those collaborations through social media.

A far cry from their initial popcorn popper roaster, they now own a commercial-grade roaster that costs tens-of-thousands of dollars! Their path to success hasn’t necessarily been the quickest or easiest, but through a double shot of passion and persistence, their small business continues to grow!

How To Build An Instagram-worthy Food Business with Safeera Inayath

When Safeera Inayath immigrated to the United States from India back in 2010, she had never baked a cake in her life. Now cakes ARE her life, and she has over 10,000 Instagram followers!

Safeera lives in Prior Lake MN, and sells custom cakes, macarons, and other baked goods with her cottage food business, Sugardust & Sprinkles.

Aside from creating amazingly elegant and high-end baked goods, Safeera’s food photos really stand out. Her photography looks truly professional, even though she takes all of her photos with a smartphone.

By investing in photography skills and focusing on Instagram, her business has taken off. Brands and organizations have contacted her with a variety of money-making opportunities, including teaching, promoting a brand’s products, and even designing new products.

Turning A Kitchen Mistake Into A Thriving Business with Nicole Pomije

It all started with the wrong baking pan. Back in 2014, Nicole Pomije couldn’t find a cookie sheet in her home kitchen, so she made her chocolate chip cookies in a mini muffin tin instead.

And with that, the idea for The Cookie Cups was born: cookies that look like mini cupcakes. Nicole started her business out of her home kitchen in 2015, and she has now expanded into two brick-and-mortar storefronts near Minneapolis, MN.

Although it might seem like Nicole’s unique idea set her up for success, it’s more likely that her many years of marketing, PR, and management experience played a much larger role.

While the cookie-in-cupcake-form is still at the core of her business, Nicole has now expanded well beyond selling cookies. She’s managed to put all kinds of food items into mini cupcake form, such as tacos, mac & cheese, pizza, etc. She now caters events, hosts birthday parties, teaches cooking classes, and has most recently created at-home baking kits in response to the pandemic.

Nicole talks about the importance of sharing your story, managing time, starting simple, building a local following, and constantly being willing to try new things.

How to Improve Your Cottage Food Law with Erica Smith

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.

Cottage food lawsuit filed in Minnesota, but will it work?

A couple bakers in Minnesota, along with the Institute of Justice, have just taken the state’s Department of Agriculture by surprise. As part of IJ’s Food Freedom Initiative, they are filing a lawsuit that is designed to question the very premise of the cottage food law in Minnesota. But in the bigger picture, they are… [read more]