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Can A Product Be Too Good? with Janna Paterno

Janna Paterno lives in Charleston, WV and used to sell custom decorated cookies with her cottage food business, Sweet Janna Lea.

She shut down her business in 2021 after only running it for two years.

It’s no secret that most new businesses in any realm struggle to get off the ground. Usually cottage food entrepreneurs have challenges finding customers, or they produce a product that doesn’t meet the needs of their target market.

But it’s the exact opposite with Janna. She always had more customers than she could handle, and that’s because her cookies are literally some of the best you will ever see.

A lot of new entrepreneurs believe that if they have a great product, then they’ll have a successful business. But of course, there’s a lot more to it than that!

There are a lot of lessons in this episode. You’ll learn why a cottage food business wasn’t the right fit for Janna, the importance of finding balance in your business, and what someone should know when trying to make and sell custom decorated cookies.

How To Build A Food Business (And Life) That You Love with Sari Kimbell – Part 2

This is Part 2 of Sari Kimbell’s interview. If you have heard Part 1 yet, you can listen to it here.

Sari is extremely passionate about helping food entrepreneurs become more successful. After all, that’s her job!

Sari lives in Fort Collins, CO and owns a consulting firm called Food Business Success. She also owns the Fort Collins Winter Farmers Market.

Sari’s credentials are immense! Before starting her consulting business in 2016, Sari worked for Whole Foods as both a Marketing Director and a Local Vendor Success Manager. She’s also managed a shared commercial kitchen, created a wholesale program for an organic farm, helped launch a restaurant, and managed a farmers market.

And now, as part of her Food Business Success coaching program, she runs a successful YouTube channel, podcast, and Facebook group.

Given her background, it comes as no surprise that she has a ton of amazing advice to share in this two-part episode!

In this episode, Sari drop TONS of great advice about growing a food business, including pricing, choosing products, branding, selling wholesale, scaling up, find a commissary kitchen, setting goals, and much more!

When Demand Exceeds Supply with Jen Holmer El-Azzi & Danny El-Azzi

Jen Holmer El-Azzi & Danny El-Azzi live in Austin, TX and sell sourdough crackers with their business, The Sourdough Project.

Most food entrepreneurs have to pound the pavement to get stores interested in selling their products. But not Jen & Danny!

Almost from day one, they had wholesalers knocking at their door. Their situation is quite unique, as is their product.

Although they started selling from home under Texas’ cottage food law, they quickly started renting a commercial kitchen to take on wholesale accounts.

Now they have 50+ wholesale accounts, plus sales at farmers markets, and they quit their jobs to focus on the business.

In this episode, you will hear about their growing pains, branding strategies, business partnerships, and what makes their crackers so unique and special.

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.

From Part-time Hobby to Full-time Bakery with Jennifer Jacobs

As a successful TV producer, Jennifer Jacobs never thought she’d run her own business someday. But as coworkers discovered her delicious desserts, her baking hobby started turning into a little business back in 2013.

And now that little home business is booming, with customers sometimes lining up down the street to get her baked goods. Jennifer sells custom cakes, cookie sandwiches, and other baked desserts through her brick-and-mortar bakery, the Wandering Whisk Bakeshop, in Pinellas Park, FL.

Jennifer didn’t start out with a business or culinary school degree, but she did understand how to market her products. As a producer for the Home Shopping Network, she spent countless hours watching the TV hosts sell anything and everything.

But she has marketed her baking business completely organically, without ever paying for ads. She has a large Instagram following and has been showcased locally and nationally in newspapers, magazines, TV shows, and more.

In this episode, Jennifer shares how to grow your cottage food business from part-time hobby to full-time brick-and-mortar without spending a dime on advertising.

From Sugar Geek to Online Influencer with Liz Marek – Part 2

With over 300,000 followers, Liz Marek has become very well-known in the cake decorating community! She lives in Beaverton, OR and teaches beginner and advanced bakers how to craft amazing custom-decorated cakes through her online business, The Sugar Geek Show.

Liz began her cake decorating business as a side job just 13 years ago. After running that business from her licensed home kitchen for many years, she started winning cake competitions and making more of a name for herself.

Liz has written books, appeared on television and the Food Network many times, and traveled around the world as a professional speaker. She is a mom to two young children, and she now focuses solely on teaching online through The Sugar Geek Show.

In this interview, Liz shares plenty of helpful tidbits about running a cake business, but what I found most compelling were her many missteps and consistent persistence along the way. Things often didn’t go the way she hoped or planned, but she still made something great out of it by constantly reinventing herself!

This is Part 2 of Liz’s interview. In this episode, Liz shares beginner tips for starting a cake business, what it was like to compete on (and win) Halloween Wars on the Food Network, and more about how the Sugar Geek Show has grown (and where it’s going).

From Sugar Geek to Online Influencer with Liz Marek – Part 1

With over 300,000 followers, Liz Marek has become very well-known in the cake decorating community! She lives in Beaverton, OR and teaches beginner and advanced bakers how to craft amazing custom-decorated cakes through her online business, The Sugar Geek Show.

Liz began her cake decorating business as a side job just 13 years ago. After running that business from her licensed home kitchen for many years, she started winning cake competitions and making more of a name for herself.

Liz has written books, appeared on television and the Food Network many times, and traveled around the world as a professional speaker. She is a mom to two young children, and she now focuses solely on teaching online through The Sugar Geek Show.

In this interview, Liz shares plenty of helpful tidbits about running a cake business, but what I found most compelling were her many missteps and consistent persistence along the way. Things often didn’t go the way she hoped or planned, but she still made something great out of it by constantly reinventing herself!

In fact, by the end of this episode, you will learn that if things had gone the way that she planned, she almost certainly wouldn’t be where she is today.

Dads Can Cake Too with Jeremy Davis

Jeremy Davis is no ordinary dad! On top of working a full-time job and helping his kids with their homework, activities, etc, he runs his lucrative custom cake business, Designed By Daddy, from his home in Charlotte, MI.

But that’s not all. Last year, Jeremy went from being a longtime fan of Food Network competitions to actually participating in one, and then winning it! Then he appeared on Good Morning America, and now he will be back on the Food Network in a couple weeks (March 1st, 2021) for another baking contest.

Unlike most people, marketing his business was the easy part. The hard part was learning how to bake and decorate cakes, since his wife did “all the cooking” in their family, and he considered his former self a “horrible artist”.

If you want to learn how to build a strong social media presence, you won’t want to miss this one. Jeremy breaks down Instagram’s algorithm, and also describes how he used local Facebook groups to build a following quickly.

In addition to sharing an effective social media strategy and giving us a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to be on the Food Network, Jeremy talked about cake pricing, dealing with customers, and why he thinks men usually don’t decorate cakes!

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

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!

Baking A Difference with Kathy Cherie

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.

The Price Is Wrong

Let’s say you’re thinking of selling your homemade goodies at a local market this summer. How will you set the price?

The New Cottage Food Rules

Wyoming has tested the waters of food freedom for a year. Are people using their food freedom law, and if so, is it negatively impacting the public health? Is this the future of the cottage food movement?