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.
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.
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!
These days, Dough Boy Donuts is a popular gourmet donut shop that is bustling with customers and employees, but it all started from very humble beginnings.
In 2014, Melvin Roberson used Texas’ cottage food law to start his donut business from his home kitchen. A year later, he expanded to a food truck, and eventually, to a brick-and-mortar location in Fort Worth, TX (now relocated to Burleson, TX).
Melvin has faced plenty of obstacles along the way, including negative customers, family feuds, and a failed Kickstarter campaign.
But through perseverance, sacrifice, and plenty of hard work, he has built a loyal customer base that keep coming back for one of his unique signature donuts, like the Sriracha Maple Bacon or The Last Call.
Melvin’s has a tremendous amount of experience in the food industry… before building a successful food business through three different stages (from home, food truck, storefront), he held just about every food service position available, ultimately managing hundreds of employees as the kitchen manager at a popular steakhouse.
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”!
What is it like to run a home bakery for 17 years? That is what Lauren Cortesi shares with us on this episode.
Lauren lives in Pennsylvania and started Bella’s Desserts in 2003. In addition to running her cottage food business, she occasionally teaches classes on starting a home baking business.
Lauren talks about the ups and downs of being a home baker, how a famous baker transformed her business, and why she has never wanted to open a brick and mortar bakery.
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?