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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.

Cupcakes In Full Bloom with Sarah Thongnopneua

Sarah Thongnopneua lives in San Anselmo, CA and sells very unique and amazing cupcakes with her cottage food business, Baked Blooms.

These are some of the most incredible cupcakes you have ever seen! She calls them “bouCAKES”, meaning cupcakes that look just like a bouquet of flowers.

As you can see from her Instagram account, they really do look like a real bouquets of flowers!

Sarah’s incredible talent has landed her on television twice, including appearing on a Food Network competition that she won.

She has over 23,000 Instagram followers, but what’s especially interesting about Sarah’s story is that when she decided to start her business back in 2016, she knew absolutely nothing about decorating cupcakes like these.

To start her cottage food bakery, she took a decorating class, practiced for a couple of months, and then started selling her cupcakes.

And now she has expanded out of her home into her own commercial kitchen.

In this episode, she shares her amazing journey of creating a business that is far more successful than she could have ever imagined!

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.

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.

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!

Launching A Keto Bakery From Home with Sari Stevenson

Most food businesses go to a lot of effort marketing their products to customers, but not Sari!

Ever since Sari Stevenson opened The Keto Bakery Box in 2018, the demand for her products has been relentless. In that first year, she often had lines of customers waiting at her home to pick up their orders!

She started her business under California’s cottage food law, but she hit the $50,000 sales limit in less than a year, at which point she transitioned from her home kitchen to a commercial kitchen.

She now bakes her products in Costa Mesa, CA and sells most of them through a number of stores in Southern California.

Her secret? She spent many months (and countless test batches) creating keto-friendly baked foods that actually taste great! At the same time, the keto diet was becoming increasingly popular in her area, and nobody else was focused on selling baked goods like hers.

Sari is not only an expert in everything keto, but she is a certified ketogenic living health coach. In this episode, she not only shares her business journey, but also describes some of the common misconceptions of the increasingly popular keto diet trend.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.