We often hear the same entrepreneurial advice: Start simple. Start small. Start a side hustle. Don’t throw all your eggs in one basket.
But when Debbie George started her custom decorated cookie business, she threw caution to the wind and took the opposite approach: go big or go home!
Except that Debbie pulled off the rare feat of going big AND going home! At the beginning of 2020, she started her cottage food business, Cookie Mill, from her home kitchen in Gilbert, AZ.
For starters, she bought seemingly every kitchen gadget or appliance available. A cookie oven, industrial mixer, 3D printer, edible printer, silhouette machine, dehydrator, dough sheeter, projector, stainless steel counters/racks, etc… all told, she invested in about $20k of equipment in the first year.
And most notably, she bought this equipment before she even needed it.
And you know what? It worked! In that first year, she sold over 10,000 cookies!
This episode starts off with a crazy story about how she attended Cookie Con, and by the end, you’ll see a consistent trend of how Debbie’s positive mindset allows things to work in her favor.
It’s not just positive thinking though. Debbie is an expert networker, and she shares some great tips on how to network with other businesses.
Unlike most custom cookie makers, Debbie sells mostly to businesses by focusing on a B2B model (business to business), instead of catering to weddings, birthdays, graduations, etc with a more typical B2C model (business to consumer).
As a creative writer and published poet, Jennifer Knox was never in it for the money. But when she made $6,000 in one weekend from selling her salt blends, she knew she was on to something!
Jennifer sells unique, preservative-free spice blends with her business, Saltlickers, which she runs from a commercial kitchen in her home in Nevada, IA.
Jennifer’s branding is fearless and unforgettable. Each of her salt or sugar blends have a creative product name like Das Bigfoot, Queen of Tarts, or Herky Perky.
Although her marketing skills spark people’s interest, it’s the products themselves that keep customers coming back again and again.
After using her home kitchen for many years, Jennifer and her husband converted their basement into a commercial kitchen so that they could sell in retail stores and ship their products nationwide.
And in 2020, although Jennifer’s farmers market closed down due to the pandemic, she used email marketing to stay in touch with her fanbase and keep on selling.
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.
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!
Nearly all states require a label on cottage food products, and there are many things to consider when creating labels for your home food business.