Skip to main content

Living Off The Land with Beatrice Lattimore

It all started with a vision of living off the land.

Back in 2016, Beatrice Lattimore moved her family into the countryside to rediscover their roots and start a farm.

What began as five mostly-empty acres in Deland, FL is now a fully-functioning farm with animals, produce, and a cottage food business called Beatz Sweets.

Beatrice uses Florida’s cottage food law to sell value-added products at farmers markets, events, and — most importantly — from the farm itself.

In this episode, she shares what it has taken to make their vision a reality.

Facing Adversity, Embracing Success with Jennie Gibson

Jennie Gibson lives in Jacksonville, FL and sells custom-decorated cake pops with her cottage food business, The Cake Pop Shop.

Jennie already shared some advice on Episode 50, but in this episode, she shares her own incredible cottage food journey.

Simply put, Jennie has one of the most successful home-based cake pop businesses in the entire country!

But her journey started with humble (and unlikely) beginnings, including a bad car accident that left her permanently disabled, and a special needs son that gave her the dose of inspiration that she needed.

However, through hard work and persistence, Jennie has overcome many challenges and built up her cake pop empire over time.

In just over a decade, she has:

  • Landed many large orders of over 1,000 cake pops each
  • Created cake pops for many major organizations, including the NFL & Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Sold elaborate cake pops for $180 per dozen
  • Accrued over 40,000 followers on Instagram

It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s definitely been rewarding. In this episode, you’ll hear about what keeps Jennie going, and what’s she’s learned along the way!

Creating A Smash Hit with Jill Baethge – Part 2

Jill’s cottage food business journey is nothing short of remarkable!

Jill Baethge lives in Plano, TX and sells unique chocolate piñata cakes with her cottage food business, Kaboom Chocolaka.

Ever since starting it in 2018, her business has exploded, and she has now created an entire product line for Michaels stores across the nation!

Yes, you read that right. Now anyone can buy her molds from the store and make her chocolate piñatas themselves!

Jill’s success is what so many entrepreneurs dream of. In fact, she can hardly believe it herself. “I just feel like I’m still dreaming,” says Jill.

How did she go from small cottage food business to nationally-recognized brand in just a few short years? That’s what you’ll learn in this two-part interview.

If you haven’t heard it yet, go back to the last episode (Part 1), where Jill shares how she built her chocolate piñata business from the ground up, including the many challenges along the way.

In this episode (Part 2), Jill shares how she created a product line of chocolate piñata molds for Michaels stores across the nation.

Creating A Smash Hit with Jill Baethge – Part 1

Jill’s cottage food business journey is nothing short of remarkable!

Jill Baethge lives in Plano, TX and sells unique chocolate piñata cakes with her cottage food business, Kaboom Chocolaka.

Ever since starting it in 2018, her business has exploded, and she has now created an entire product line for Michaels stores across the nation!

Yes, you read that right. Now anyone can buy her molds from the store and make her chocolate piñatas themselves!

Jill’s success is what so many entrepreneurs dream of. In fact, she can hardly believe it herself. “I just feel like I’m still dreaming,” says Jill.

How did she go from small cottage food business to nationally-recognized brand in just a few short years? That’s what you’ll learn in this two-part interview.

In this episode (Part 1), Jill shares how she built her chocolate piñata business from the ground up, including the many challenges along the way.

And in the next episode (Part 2), Jill shares how she created a product line of chocolate piñata molds for Michaels stores across the nation.

The Dynamic Donut Duo with Amie Anderson & Jamie Krake

Amie Anderson & Jamie Krake live in Ypsilanti, MI and sell donuts (and other fun creations) with their cottage food business, It’s A Good Day Donuts.

Amie & Jamie planned to run a campground cafe in the summer of 2020, but the pandemic threw a huge wrench into their plans. “It was a disaster”, says Amie.

But during that effort they started making donuts, and people loved them! They sold them from home using Michigan’s cottage food law, and they haven’t looked back since.

Although they’ve sold thousands of donuts with their business so far, making money isn’t their primary goal.

Rather, their mission is to spread joy, not just to their local community, but within their family as well. Their business has been a source of fun during some very challenging times. “Donuts saved my life”, says Jamie.

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.

A Little Bit of Joy with Tracy Mancuso

Tracy Mancuso lives in Central Point, OR and sells customized wedding & birthday cakes with her cottage food business, Sugar Rush.

Initially, Tracy’s passion for cake making started as a hobby in 2010, but quickly grew into a business as more and more people requested her creations.

In 2013, Tracy joined forces with another home baker, and that’s when their business really took off.

Initially they used Oregon’s law for domestic kitchens to sell their home baked goods legally. With two young children, one of whom is autistic, working from her home was especially important.

When her business partner left the business in 2019, Tracy switched to using Oregon’s newer (and simpler) cottage food law to run her business from her home.

Despite many challenges and changes along the way, Tracy’s business has continued to grow, and she says that she can barely keep up!

She has thousands of social media followers and shares the strategies she’s used to market her cake business, build a good reputation in her local community, and bring a little bit of joy into her customers’ lives.

How To Sell French Macarons Online with Anthony Rosemond

Anthony Rosemond, along with his wife Yami, live in Phelan, CA and sell French macarons online with their bakery, Pastreez.

Back in 2017, Anthony and Yami wanted to move from France to California, and they applied for an investor visa to do it. However, they only had three months to prove that they had a successful business on their hands!

As graduates of Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris, and they started by selling French pastries at farmers markets in Southern California, and quickly learned that they should focus on macarons.

From there they transitioned to selling macarons online and delivering them nationwide, and eventually built their own commercial kitchen. Now they sell hundreds of macarons each day, and they have amassed 113,000 Instagram followers!

While Yami has focused on the baking and production side of the bakery, Anthony has focused on the business and marketing side of things. He has become an expert in ecommerce, SEO, email marketing, social media, etc.

In this episode, you will learn their formula for success, which involves listening to customers, creating a great customer experience, constantly trying new things, and focusing on what’s working well.

Mom By Day, Baker By Night with Daniela Zographos

Daniela Zographos lives in Anderson, SC and sells custom-decorated and custom-sculpted cake pops with her cottage food business, Yumsies Cake Pops.

But Daniela hasn’t always made cake pops. In fact, when she started her business in 2013, she had never made a cake pop in her life!

Daniela used to run a typical home bakery, selling custom cakes, custom cookies, etc etc. But now, Daniela ONLY sells cake pops. That’s it.

She simplified her business model to make it easier to be a stay-at-home mom, but niching down to just cake pops had a surprise side-benefit: it made her business more successful!

She now has a thriving business with 3k Instagram followers. And because she has full-time mom duties during the day, she does most of her baking at night after her kids go to bed.

Daniela shares a ton of info in this episode. She shares the surprising way she found customers when she moved to a new area, the surprising way she makes her cake pops, the surprising way she offers pickup outside of her home, and the surprising way she gets almost all of her ingredients for free!

And if all that weren’t surprising enough, she also managed to start development of her city’s first shared commercial kitchen space. How she finds the time to do it all, we will never know!

Family, Freedom, & Pie with Kourtney Rojas

In 2011, Kourtney had romantic ideas about starting a pie business and selling at the local farmers market. But life (jobs, family, kids, etc) got in the way and it wasn’t until 2019 that her dream became reality.

Kourtney Rojas lives in Anaheim, CA and sells fruit pies, chess pies, and other pastries with her cottage food business, With Love, From Scratch.

After 8 years of selling pies sporadically to family and friends, she finally decided to turn her pie hobby into a real business. She entered a pie contest, started posting high-quality photos on Instagram, and she’s never looked back!

After only two years, she has amassed over 3,000 followers on Instagram, and she now sells over 100 pies per week!

As a stay-at-home mom, she has learned how to say “no” and turn down opportunities that aren’t a good fit for her.

Having a home business has given Kourtney the freedom to adapt her work life to her family, not the other way around. But she’s also not afraid to admit that finding the right balance between the two is often a struggle.

Although her business journey has required flexibility, patience, and constant learning, Kourtney explains why it has unfolded in exactly the right way.

The Self-Taught Supermom with April Spencer

Running a successful custom cake business is a lot of work. Running a popular Etsy shop is also a lot of work. And taking care of young kids full-time is definitely a lot of work.

Meet April Spencer, who has managed to do all three AT THE SAME TIME!

April is a cake decorator and sugar artist who lives in Harrod, OH and sells impressive custom cakes and lollipops with her cottage food business, Spencer’s Sugar Shop.

In addition to running a very successful custom cake business from home, April also rented a commercial kitchen to sell her custom lollipops on Etsy and ship them across the nation. She’s currently put the Etsy business on pause due to the mass influx of weddings recently, but at one point she was shipping out over 30 custom lollipop orders per week!

As if running two businesses and a young family weren’t enough, April also manages to put a strong focus on her social media presence, and she now has thousands of social media followers.

How does she do it all? Nobody knows for sure, but listen in and learn how she went from knowing NOTHING about cake decorating to becoming one of the most popular bakers in her area in just a few short years.

The Resilient Baker with Justina Rucinski

In 2019, Justina Rucinski was sexually assaulted in her home in Burlington, IA when a supposed client came to pay for a cookie order. That traumatic event not only forever changed her life, but has also changed cottage food laws around the country.

Justina now lives in San Antonio, TX and continues to sell custom decorated cookies and cakes with her cottage food business, SweetEms.

After her horrific experience, she came very close to shutting down her business. But with massive support from bakers around the world, she has both resurrected it and become one of the most popular cottage food bakers in the United States!

In addition to her business success, Justina has become an advocate for the safety of all home bakers. Because of her story, many states no longer require cottage food producers to put their home address on their product labels.

In this emotional episode, Justina shares how the cottage food community helped lift her out of utter darkness, so that she could once again continue running the business that she loves so much!

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!

Putting Yourself Out There with Beverly Clutter

It all started with a Facebook page. Back in 2018, Beverly Clutter decided to start showcasing her decorated cookies on social media, but she had no idea that it would soon turn into a business!

Beverly lives in Fairmont, WV and sells custom decorated sugar cookies, cakes, and other baked goods with her cottage food business, WV Cookie Jar.

At the recent national cottage food conference, Beverly earned the top spot on the leaderboard as the most active attendee (out of 900+ attendees), and her submissions into the photo contest were equally impressive.

Whether it is posting on social media, being hyper engaged at a conference, or teaching decorating classes to her local community, Beverly consistently puts herself (and her business) out there and focuses on serving others.

The result? A successful side business that has grown organically, brings her plenty of joy and freedom, and provides her family with some extra income.

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.

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.

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!

How The Coronavirus Pandemic Impacted The Cottage Food Industry in 2020

Recently I was asked to briefly describe how COVID-19 has impacted the cottage food industry this year. Here’s what I wrote:

“The pandemic has impacted everyone differently, but it has impacted everyone. Some cottage food businesses have shut down temporarily or permanently, while just as many others have seen their sales skyrocket. More cottage food businesses started this year than any other by far, and overall, the pandemic has caused a huge surge of interest in this industry.”

That’s a very simplified view of what has been a crazy and complex year.

In this post, I’ll dig into some of the major trends and story lines that impacted the cottage food industry in 2020.

Bringing Artisan European Bread To America with Yuliya Childers

When Yuliya Childers moved from Ukraine to the United States, she lost one of the most fundamental staples from her homeland: good bread.

Yuliya is a classically-trained pianist, but when she started making the sourdough bread from her childhood, she found that others wanted a slice as well.

She now lives in Prattville, AL and has fully shifted from a musical career to running her home artisan bread business, Wild Yeast Kitchen.

Yuliya’s story is one of passion, dedication, and plain hard work. Every single Friday, she works for 24+ hours straight to prepare a couple hundred loaves and pastries for her Saturday market.

She also runs a bread subscription service, with many customers getting her delicious items every single week. And she does all of this bread making from one regular home oven!

Yuliya shares some amazing stories in this episode, including her immigration story, the time she brought a customer to tears, and how she sold bread for many years to pay for bread school.

From Art Teacher to Cake Pop Artist with Becca Aronowitz

Becca Aronowitz from Richmond Hill, GA makes some of the best cake pops you have ever seen.

After Becca quit her job as an art teacher in 2012, she started Sweet Whimsy Shop to sell her cake pops and help support her family.

8 years and 40,000+ cake pops later, Becca has become a true master at the cake pop art form.

But unlike many entrepreneurs that start with big dreams for the future, Becca never envisioned becoming well-known for her cake pops.

As she puts it: “I had not thought about that at all. I just thought this is a way that I can sell cake pops. That was really where it ended.”

But that’s most definitely not where it ended for this “pretty extreme introvert”. So far, her largest order totaled around $4,000, and her cake pops have even appeared on national television!

Becca talks everything cake pops: making, pricing, sculpting, decorating, inverting, etc. She also shares her journey from art teacher to business owner, how she handles social media as an introvert, how she runs her business on two hours per day, and some crazy experiences she’s had along the way.

Creative Ways to Market Cookies with Mallory Dies

For Mallory, it all started with a chocolate chip cookie. But that was just the beginning!

Mallory Dies, owner of The Crassy Cookie in Stafford, VA, tried selling many variations and flavors of her drop cookies, and ultimately found the most success with her innovative gourmet cookie sandwiches.

These cookie sandwiches are certainly unique. They range from “safe” flavors like rainbow chip, strawberry shortcake, or choco fudge brownie, all the way to more “oddball” flavors like blueberry lemon-lavandula, fruity pebbles, and matcha munchie.

Mallory shares how she slowly built a customer base (twice) and had self-doubts along the way. As an introvert, she resisted putting herself into her brand, but eventually “bit the bullet” and started developing significant engagement on social media.

She also shares many marketing ideas that have worked well for her business, like creating monthly boxes, adding bonuses to orders, and promoting her products in local Facebook groups.

Despite the many challenges with selling basic drop cookies (short shelf life, low perceived value, etc), Mallory has found many ways to make a cookie business work well for her.

Selling Custom Macarons From Home with Nicole Barry

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

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

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

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.

From Lawyer To Boozy Baker with Dawn Belisle

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.

Do You Have An Email List?

If you are selling at a local market and are merely collecting money, then you are missing out! If you want to give your business a huge boost, try this.