FlourChick Posted 3 Aug 2004 , 10:45pm
post #1 of

Hi! I just found this site and I'm wondering if there are any decorators working from home. I have a culinary degree and have worked for several years as a decorator at bakeries, but we're moving out of state and I want to start making cakes from home for money. Eventually I want to have my own shop, but I can't afford that right now. I'm trying to generate some money so I can move in the direction of getting a shop. I can bake, set-up and decorate a cake but that is where my expertise ends! I would love to hear from other decorators how they got their start. Do you consider this income and therefore pay taxes, and if so, how and how much? Is there some type of computer program that I can get that will help me? Do you have some type of insurance to protect you if someone were to get sick? I truly have no idea where to start and would love and appreciate all the help and advice you might have! Thank you!
MDM

54 replies
Zabrip Posted 3 Aug 2004 , 11:16pm
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You'll find all types of decorators here. Some do it as a hobby and others do it for money, some from home and some have shops. The place to start would be to contact the City that you are moving to and ask what thier requirements are for home bakers. Some cities are linient and others just wont allow it. After you have this information you can decided weather or not you want to make it legal right off the bat of try flying under the radar untill you can start a shop.

As far as insurance and taxes it is just like any other business, well thats if you legal, if your not legal then your just taking that risk.

FlourChick Posted 4 Aug 2004 , 12:05am
post #3 of

(I know this shows how lame I am that I'm able to post a question, read the reply and re-post in such a short amount of time but I haven't gotten off the site yet! I'm having so much fun!!!)

Okay, I realize I'm playing both sides of the fence here but... my ultimate goal is to have a legitimate bakery. We're moving somewhere that doesn't allow a cake shop to be run out of your home. I don't know how to get started without doing it illegally. That's not the ideal situation but I don't have the money to start any other way.

Any suggestions on how to get started would be put to good use!

MDM

Jackie Posted 4 Aug 2004 , 1:17am
post #4 of

Hi FlourChick! and Welcome to CakeCentral.com!

Here are some resources that you may find helpful:

A WEDDING CAKE WORKBOOK by Delora McAnn

Some really good Cake Decorating Business articles by Earlene Moore

Only available in UK (not sure if it applies to US)
Starting a Cake Decorating Business from Home

Only available in UK (not sure if it applies to US)
How to Make Money in Cake Decorating: Owning and Operating a Successful Business in Your Home

I hope that helps! icon_biggrin.gif

Zabrip Posted 4 Aug 2004 , 4:07pm
post #5 of

Get your cakes out there! If you go to a dinner party bring a cake. If there is an occasion , bring a cake. First one you do it complimentary then start charging... If your husband/boyfriend/significant other works in an office elect yourself thier official birthday cake baker, anytime there is a birthday in an office everyone does the same thing, they pitch in and get a cake, now they can get it from you. Make business cards and pass them out.

The only thing you are limited to with not being legal is mass advertising! because then the chances of getting caought are big!!!

Jackie Posted 4 Aug 2004 , 4:55pm
post #6 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zabrip

The only thing you are limited to with not being legal is mass advertising! because then the chances of getting caought are big!!!




I would have to strongly disagree here. Charging your friends and family is one thing, but I would not suggest making and passing out business cards, because then you are advertising your self as a legitimate business. This is called FRAUD. and can even carry a prison sentence. Think I am joking? You wouldn't be the first or last housewife to be sentenced.

GET LEGIT FIRST!

Doing it any other way is not only unethical, but VERY illegal.
I have heard the ridiculous argument that "you are only a simple house wife, so its not like the government is going to go after you or anything, they have better things to do"

Don't count on it. judge.gif
Suppose the government does decide to conduct an investigation and fine you. Are you ready to take responsibility for your actions and pay the fines? These fines are going to be hefty, regardless of what state you live in.

I am not trying to make anyone as paranoid as I am icon_eek.gif
But just because you don't get caught doing something wrong, doesn't make it any less wrong.

OK, I am done (for now) with my 2 cents! icon_biggrin.gif

Zabrip Posted 4 Aug 2004 , 5:50pm
post #7 of

You know a really great way to make some money and really learn the industry would be to first work in that environment. I would get a job in a nice bakery and just learn the tricks of the trade and make money at the same time. Once you have your savings and your business knowledge you can open up your own shop and feel more confortable about moving in that direction. This will also give you a good insight into the prices and also the vendors that are available in the area! I actualy wish that I could do that myself.

FlourChick Posted 4 Aug 2004 , 8:23pm
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I am paranoid about running an illegal business-and I don't want to do that which is why I'm looking for ways that other people have gotten started. I already have the practical experience. I have a culinary degree and I also have an organizational management degree. Every job I've ever had has been in food-my first job was at a pizza place. I've primarily worked in restaurants and bakeries, but I've also taught baking and pastry classes for a culinary school and have decorated wedding cakes for years. That's what my problem is... I'm sick of working for other people!!! I know I can do this, I just don't know how to get started, and I need to generate some money to finance getting started. I guess that's what I find so frustrating-I don't know where to start.

JeanneG Posted 4 Aug 2004 , 11:16pm
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Usually the legal obstacle to operating a cake business in your home is health concerns. The government wants to protect citizens from health risks from food made in potentially unsanitary conditions, not stored properly, not handled appropriately, etc. It is usually not the case that you can't run a business out of your home (subject to zoning, parking considerations, etc.), but that you can't sell food prepared in your home.

So ... try to find another place you can prepare it. Can you rent the use of a licensed kitchen during its non-peak hours? Is there a restaurant, school, caterer, church, day care facility, some other place that already has a qualifying kitchen that would be willing to have you bake and decorate cakes there?

You may also need to qualify as a food handler in your state, but with your background that should be a piece of cake. (Decorated, of course.)

Here children are not allowed to bring homemade treats to share with classmates at school -- and this has been in effect at least a quarter of a century. Pot lucks held in public buildings for events open to the public must consist entirely of packaged food -- nothing made in homes. Given this strong view about protecting the public and minimizing liability, it is not surprising that my state does not license homes for food preparation. It doesn't mean that individuals can't be independent decorators, but it does mean that getting started by doing it at home isn't a legal option.

Zabrip Posted 4 Aug 2004 , 11:46pm

Does any one have a sample agreement or proposal that she could possibly get ideas from if using something like a church kitchen is an option?

FlourChick Posted 5 Aug 2004 , 1:50am

Finding an alternate kitchen is a great idea. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by all the details that I know I have to take care of that I lose my ability to think of good solutions. Have any of you ever rented space for that reason, and how did it work for you? If someone does have a sample agreement that I could look at that would really be helpful. I really appreciate everyone's help in brainstorming for me!

Ladycake Posted 5 Aug 2004 , 2:38am
Quote:
Quote:

business cards, because then you are advertising your self as a legitimate business. This is called FRAUD. and can even carry a prison sentence.




How is it Fraud..

Fraud is to Deceit someone she is not deceiting anyone she does cakes she just may not be licenced to do it out of her home. But that is not fraud.

Jackie Posted 5 Aug 2004 , 3:33pm
Quote:
Quote:

How is it Fraud..

Fraud is to Deceit someone she is not deceiting anyone she does cakes she just may not be licenced to do it out of her home. But that is not fraud.




If she were making the cakes out of her home without a license. And advertised herself as a legitimate business, that would be fraud.

Handing someone a business card is advertising yourself as a business, unless it said right on the card, "not licensed" or something to that effect.

That is where the deceit would come in, even though her intentions where pure.

Ladycake Posted 5 Aug 2004 , 3:55pm

I disagree....


A business card is made for all kinds of things now days.. You see kids that mow lawns that have there own business cards and they are not licensed and you dont see them be arrested and sent to jail for that ...

I dont see anything wrong with her handing cards out to people she knows when she is at a party or such..


I have never heard of someone going to jail for this.. Now I have heard that they will get you for Copy Written cakes that you sell for a profit.. But I would hope to god that our law enforcement have better things to do in life then to look for someone that is handing out a business card saying that she dose cakes to send her to Jail..


Is there a law that you have seen that says that its a fraud and that she will go to jail.. ??? I would like to see it if there is such a thing..

I have been decorating cakes for 6 years now and have never heard of that with the business cards... I have heard about doing cakes out of your home and doing copy written cakes for a profit that you could get in trouble for them ..

I hope you dont take this wrong I would just like to see this if its a true fact...

Jackie Posted 5 Aug 2004 , 4:10pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ladycake

.. You see kids that mow lawns that have there own business cards and they are not licensed and you dont see them be arrested and sent to jail for that ...

I have never heard of someone going to jail for this..




Hi Victoria,

Allow me to clarify, I did not mean to say that she will be arrested for handing out business cards.

However, just imagine a "worst-case" scenario, where she ends up making a cake for someone she handed her card too, and god forbid, they end up getting sick. If the "injuried parties" decide to investigate her business, or sue her, thats where it would come into play. By itself it is probably harmless. Like you said, kids that mow lawns create business cards for themselves. I guess its a risk that is really up to the person handing them out.

I am generally a paranoid person, so I wouldn't do it, and I suppose by that measure: my way of looking at it probably isn't the way everyone else does. icon_smile.gif

FlourChick Posted 5 Aug 2004 , 6:02pm

Unfortunately for me I'm the type of person who would get in trouble for doing something everyone else is getting away with! That's just my luck-but that's why I'm here asking questions. I want to be legit and I'm looking for creative ideas that can help me get there because I don't currently have a ton of money to invest in this. I want to be licensed, pay taxes, have insurance, etc I just don't know how to accomplish all of those things without having a stockpile of cash right up front. I refuse to believe that you can't have a small baking business unless you have a ton of money to start with. There has to be a way. I'm willing to put in the hard work, I just need to know what to do. I do want to say that I really liked the suggestion of renting out an alternate kitchen. Now I just have to find one-and hope that it's dirt cheap!!! I really appreciate everyone putting their two cents in because even if we don't all agree on every little thing I must say that I've agreed with something in each person's post. (And it is nice to know that someone else out there is as paranoid as I am!!! Thanks Jackie!!!)
MDM

Ladycake Posted 5 Aug 2004 , 6:18pm

First thing is to go to your health department and get the information needed to be able to do this some states you can do it out of your home and some states you cant.. but like Jeanne G said your able to get say a church kitchen or something like that part time and you can have a permit to bake and decorate there...

JeanneG Posted 5 Aug 2004 , 6:24pm

MDM, several years ago a friend and I attended a cooking class called "So you want to be a caterer" -- not that either of us seriously wanted to be caterers but it was a nice evening's entertainment and involved sampling the recipes the woman demonstrated. Our kind of night out, in other words. icon_biggrin.gif

The caterer told about her experiences, starting out alone in her home and building the business to where she has a building and several employees. One of the things she would do differently was not start from her home. She only did it for a brief while and only sold to close friends and family, but her competitors still dismiss her as "oh, her -- she works out of her home, you know." She found it a hard reputation to overcome.

She is the one I got the idea from about renting kitchen space, because that was her next step after deciding she really wanted to make a career of this. I think she found a test kitchen of some food company. Wouldn't that be ideal? The ovens were professionally calibrated every month, and the kitchen was equipped with the best of everything. She also suggested restaurants that aren't open mornings, churchs, schools, -- anyone that might provide food for the public and therefore has a licensed, inspected kitchen. I've never done any looking (the class was just a lark for me) and I'm just passing on what I heard.

Are you going to be located in a large city? Check into Small Business Administration services. I understand they often can provide information and encouragement to people starting their own businesses.

Good luck, and keep us posted!

Zabrip Posted 5 Aug 2004 , 6:27pm

I agree with Lady cakes in reference to the business cards, alot of people use them just as a form of passing out thier contact info. I dont think its Fraud...I agree however that if you not "legal" that there are concequences if you are caught.

Just try the health department it might be easier than you think, alot of them dont even require commercial equipment and some let you use your residential kitchen. I know its overwhelming at first but once youre on your way it'll be well worth it all!!

Jackie Posted 5 Aug 2004 , 6:28pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlourChick

I want to be licensed, pay taxes, have insurance, etc I just don't know how to accomplish all of those things without having a stockpile of cash right up front.




You don't need a huge stockpile of cash. You could always get a business loan from the bank.
Put together a solid business plan and get a loan from the bank. This is how most small businesses are started. Of course, that is the short, easy way of explaining it. icon_smile.gif

Here are some good books on starting a business. These books are general information, but you could certainly apply them to a cake decorating business. ( these are just a few examples, there are plenty more books about starting a business out there)
Image
Start Your Own Business: The Only Start-Up Book You'll Ever Need (Start Your Own Business: The Only Start-Up Book You'll Ever Need)


Image
Successful Business Planning in 30 Days: A Step-By-Step Guide for Writing a Business Plan and Starting Your Own Business

JeanneG Posted 5 Aug 2004 , 6:37pm

MDM said "We're moving somewhere that doesn't allow a cake shop to be run out of your home." It sounds to me like she has already researched what it would take to do this in her home. Some places, my state among them, simply do not allow food business in homes, period. So there wouldn't be any point in contacting the health department about that.

Zabrip Posted 5 Aug 2004 , 7:39pm

Youre right ....she did say that, I didnt catch that in her later post.

sowwy

Ladycake Posted 5 Aug 2004 , 7:44pm

You might check in to a womans loan they are most of the time easier to get for a woman needing a loan for a business.. Good luck with what ever you deside to do..

LvBunny Posted 5 Aug 2004 , 8:55pm

i had a friend how told me that the only thing getting a license does it let you charge sales tax. and that i could advertise that i do cake to get business.

Jackie Posted 5 Aug 2004 , 9:07pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by LvBunny

i had a friend how told me that the only thing getting a license does it let you charge sales tax. and that i could advertise that i do cake to get business.




I would take any business advice given to me by any of my friends with a grain of salt, unless they were an attorney.

I love my friends to death, and they are a great support and have plenty of helpful advice. But the fact is when starting a business there are so many different factors and rules that vary from state to state and county to county. I personally feel that you should really only do what the laws/ordinances say.

JeanneG Posted 5 Aug 2004 , 9:11pm

Where do you live, LvBunny? And is your friend knowledgable about the regulations regarding food businesses?

In some places, almost anything goes.
In some, selling food from a home is OK as long as it isn't perishable. (Cookies are OK, cream pies are not.)
In some, selling food from a home is OK if the home meets certain criteria (that range from minmal to extensive, depending on where you are), is inspected regularly, and pays for a license.
In some, selling food from a home is forbidden no matter what.

So your friend may be right, for your location. Or maybe not. But anybody trying to have a "legit" business has to know their local regulations.

Jackie Posted 5 Aug 2004 , 9:29pm

icon_biggrin.gif I can see that this is going to be a very hot topic!
So I have created a new forum dedicated to the cake decorating business!!

I am moving this topic to that forum.

theservidios Posted 5 Aug 2004 , 11:24pm

On this issue of home based decorators getting in trouble for not being legal.
Well that stories I have heard from people who have gotten caught was that they were told to stop selling from home or become legal. Were they lucky? Well probably. icon_rolleyes.gif
Put I have never heard of anyone really getting in bad trouble! I guess everyone needs to think about it and what they stand to lose. I however would not think you would end up in jail over this. Maybe haveto pay a fine, Maybe have to go to court, But Jail.......I hope not!
Stacie

LvBunny Posted 6 Aug 2004 , 2:46am

well this friend is a detective so i figured he knew what he was talking about.

sandyw7388 Posted 23 Aug 2004 , 5:14am

I have been reading alot of what all of you had to say on the business of cake baking from home. I am just starting up doing this myself and did some checking with our local health department. Basically what they told me was to have any type of food service business from your home, and it is for profit, then you have to be certified just like restaurants, schools, etc. The person I talked with was very nice and told me, without telling me (if you catch my drift) that if I did not do public advertising (newspaper ads, flyers, etc.) and someone asked me to bake a cake and I charged for it that, as long as they "asked me" to do it having not seen any advertisement, that I would be ok. Word of mouth is not advertising by you, and the way I understood this, as long as it isn't me doing the word of mouth, then I should be safe. Basically this person was trying to help out a small business person just trying to get a start. I thought she was really nice to do this but of course if the state should get involved somehow, she never talked to me. So, there are little bitty loopholes sometimes that you can go through. I do have business cards but no where on them does it state I bake cakes for profit. It doesn't mention anything about prices. And I am very selective as to who I hand them out to. tapedshut.gif

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