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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!

How To Build A Food Business (And Life) That You Love with Sari Kimbell – Part 1

Sari Kimbell 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 talks about the importance of having a strong “why”, what type of mindset you need to be successful, and what you should focus on when starting or growing a food business.

And definitely don’t miss Part 2 of this interview, where Sari digs into the nuts and bolts of building and scaling a food business.

What I Learned From 50 Podcast Episodes

In this episode, I take you behind-the-scenes of my podcast and share some of what I’ve learned over the course of producing the first 50 episodes.

The cottage food entrepreneurs on the show have really impressed me, and I share the top 8 traits that they have in common.

I also describe what it takes to actually produce the show, including my process for finding guests.

And towards the end, I reveal my #1 favorite episode from the first 50, and more importantly, why it was my favorite. There’s a good lesson in there!

Finally, I share a new-ish direction that I will be taking the podcast as we head into the next 50 episodes!

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.

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!

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.

How To Live On What You Make with Lisa Kivirist

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.

Should You Build A Website For Your Small Business?

Cottage food operators often put too much stock into having their own website. They might think that their home food business will be hampered if they don’t have one, or they’ll be behind the times without one. Sometimes they even spend hundreds of dollars to get one designed and built, only to later find that it’s not generating much business for them.

Is a website worth your time and/or money? What are the benefits and what are the costs? Why are some websites successful while others are not?

Starting A Cottage Food Operation – First Steps

For most of us, starting a business isn’t easy. Let’s say you want to start your home food business — what do you do? Depending on where you live, there could be any number of barriers between you and your first sale. Learn about a couple of the first steps to take when starting a cottage food operation.

Everyone Starts Somewhere

Have you thought of starting your own food business? Learn about what it takes to get started… you might need less than you think!

The Truth About Running A Business

Maybe you’ve read articles about entrepreneurs going from rags to riches overnight, but every business owner knows the real, unwritten story.

The Most Important Ingredient In Your Business

Are you using the most important ingredient in your business? If you are using it, then you know how powerful it can be; and if you are not using it, then simply put, you are not leveraging your business’ most important asset!

Why Online Marketplaces Fail

It’s that time of year again: cottage food laws being introduced, home bakers starting CFOs, and some entrepreneurs launching their cottage food marketplaces. As I’ve written before, Forrager was initially intended to be a cottage food marketplace, but now we have abandoned that idea. However, on the face of it, the idea seems to be… [read more]

Build For Sale, Not For Scale

I’m a dreamer. I can see my fudge business taking off… I can see it on store shelves, I can see huge batches being made, and I can see that I often get a little ahead of myself! With a new year comes renewed energy for our homemade food businesses. Maybe you’re looking forward to… [read more]

Get Out Of Your Kitchen!

Do you wonder if your homemade food item would sell well? Are your sales lower than you would like? Learn about one of the common food startup mistakes that can prevent your business from taking off.

Stop Worrying About Your Sales Limit

People often wonder if the cottage food laws are too limiting. Should they use it to start their homemade food business? Is it worth their time?