Michigan Bakers/getting Started Help

Business By Sweet-Dreams Updated 8 Feb 2010 , 2:26pm by bobwonderbuns

Sweet-Dreams Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 1:50am
post #1 of 50

Hey everyone! I'm not sure how to go about starting to sell my cakes. I'm not great yet (some of you are amazing!), but I can't continue practicing without at least getting paid for the ingredients!

I'm scared to death of selling without doing it legally. I don't have a problem with not being legal, but I'm terrified I'd be the one to get caught! That's just my luck too! icon_wink.gif

I know MI bakers can't use their house kitchen & I can't afford to build a new kitchen! I'm looking into renting a VFW or Masonic hall kitchen (my dad's a mason & VFW member).

What's my first step!?! I've tried to research it, but my head is left spinning!! I can't seem to navigate through the Dept. of Agriculture website without getting completely lost!

TIA! icon_biggrin.gif

49 replies
Mike1394 Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 10:16am
post #2 of 50

http://www.michigan.gov/mda/0,1607,7-125-1569_16958_16974-53792--,00.html

Yeah that website is pretty hard to unscramble. Actually Dept. of AG would rather you rent than do it out of your house. Believe me I know. Where are you at? I'm on the SE side. Feel free to ask me anytime

Mike

Sweet-Dreams Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 12:40pm
post #3 of 50

I'm in the SE area too; I live in Troy. Where do you rent out kitchen space?

Thanks!

Mike1394 Posted 28 Jun 2008 , 12:48pm
post #4 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweet-Dreams

I'm in the SE area too; I live in Troy. Where do you rent out kitchen space?

Thanks!




Oh cool, I'm in Roseville. I don't rent. I'm actually one of the very few that will be doing inhouse. Not approved yet. Just jumping through the provbial hoop.

Mike

JenniferMI Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 12:52am
post #5 of 50

I have a licensed kitchen in Manistee. But, unfortunately, things have changed a bunch since I got my piece of paper. They now are trying to make it harder and harder since they don't have enough people to go around and inspect as it is. My advice you is this, rent if you can't afford to improve an area of your home. But, if you are interested in finding out just what you would have to do to your home, call the dept. of agri. and get them to come out and tell you. You have nothing to lose doing this, it's their job. Maybe in the future, if you grow enough, you will want to do something in your home. It's been my experience, from inspector to inspector you will hear different things. That's why you should have them come out and lay it on the line for you. When I got it, I had to have a three bin sink OR a dishwasher. The other local gal has neither, I don't have a clue how she got by with that.....

HTH!
Jennifer icon_smile.gif

Mike1394 Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 11:43am
post #6 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by JenniferMI

I have a licensed kitchen in Manistee. But, unfortunately, things have changed a bunch since I got my piece of paper. They now are trying to make it harder and harder since they don't have enough people to go around and inspect as it is. My advice you is this, rent if you can't afford to improve an area of your home. But, if you are interested in finding out just what you would have to do to your home, call the dept. of agri. and get them to come out and tell you. You have nothing to lose doing this, it's their job. Maybe in the future, if you grow enough, you will want to do something in your home. It's been my experience, from inspector to inspector you will hear different things. That's why you should have them come out and lay it on the line for you. When I got it, I had to have a three bin sink OR a dishwasher. The other local gal has neither, I don't have a clue how she got by with that.....

HTH!
Jennifer icon_smile.gif





This part of the state they will not come out to look things over for putting a bakery in a house. You NEED a separate entrance, and no access to the rest of the house. Yes, now you need a three compartment sink.

Mike

JenniferMI Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 11:55am
post #7 of 50

I think it's terrible how they are making it more and more difficult for us to be licensed.....

I'm in Hooterville (as I lovingly call it) so maybe that's why they will come to the location and discuss it with you.

Jen icon_smile.gif

Jocmom Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 12:05pm
post #8 of 50

I'm in Port Huron, and right now I only sell to friends and coworkers. I'm charging just enough to cover my ingredients and supplies, and don't advertise at all. Word of mouth is keeping me busier than I want to be. I've turned down a couple wedding cake requests because I consider this to be a hobby.

I checked into starting my own business because I work at a bank and have tons of connections. Again, I already have a full time job with some nice perks and benefits, so starting a cake decorating business seemed like a risk. I used to be the bank's expert for loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA), but was promoted to another area, so I'm not all that "up to date" on their guidelines anymore. I do know that it's a good resource for start-up businesses.

JenniferMI Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 12:08pm
post #9 of 50

Jocmom -

Make sure you keep your receipts, not sure if you know this, but you can deduct for a "hobby" for up to so many years.

FYI

Jen icon_smile.gif

Mike1394 Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 12:11pm
post #10 of 50

When I first inquired I called AG, and HD. they both told me it was impossible to put one your home. I told them I think I might qualify do the floor plan of the house. They still told me NO. I got my Senator's office involved. GUESS what, it is doable. I had my meeting with the AG about three weeks ago. In a 45 min meeting I was told about 100 times how they don't like to license a in home bakery.

Mike

JenniferMI Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 12:22pm
post #11 of 50

Wowwww, that's unreal! Good for you for going a step higher to get your answer!

Best wishes!

Jen icon_smile.gif

Jocmom Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 3:17pm
post #12 of 50

Thanks for the tip, Jen! I use my debit card for 99% of my purchases, so I have really good records - my bank statements.

Go get 'em, Mike! A lot of people hear "no" and stop dead in their tracks. I'm more like a 2-year-old. I hear "no" and ask "why?" until I get the real answer.

Sweet-Dreams Posted 29 Jun 2008 , 4:31pm
post #13 of 50

I don't think I can add another kitchen; I'm 17 and I don't think my parents would be too happy! LOL! icon_lol.gif

Jocmom, it's good to hear you sell to family and friends. I'd like to do that first to build up a customer base. The more I research prices I don't think I can afford to jump into renting a kitchen without it.

Mike, good luck with your kitchen! I can't believe how hard it is to get licensed in MI, especially with the economy! I wish the Dept. of Agr. would just have a simple list for us decorators. "You need to do A,B, & C" Instead, everyone seems to have different 'lists' of what can and can't be done!! icon_mad.gif

joeskitty Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 3:58am
post #14 of 50

I too would love to rent from somewhere too. I just bake for family and friends and am too getting some word of mouth business. Hopefully baking for family and friends arent considered breaking lots of the rules. But since I live in a apartment guess I cant add a extra kitchen on here. lol

maisyone2 Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 4:24am
post #15 of 50

The State of Michigan really ought to rethink it position on food based businesses. Sure, there has to be regulations, but it shouldn't be so strict that most people can't start a business that will help the local economy.

Right now, I'm using a bakery for some of my cakes, it's still far too convenient to do them at home...especially if it's not a wedding cake. I do however have a lead on a fully furnished apartment in a basement of a friend. It has a separate entrance. It's very close to home which is great considering the cost of gas. I'm supposed to go look at it closer next week, then I'll be calling the Dept of AG and finding out what it needs. My friend is very excited about the possibility and says she knows contractors who will do whatever we need done to make it completely legal. Sounds like she wants to be involved and might be willing to take on some expenses. I'm not trying to get my hopes up, but with the amount of business I've had the last 6 months and the amount of orders multiplying every month, I'm looking at hopefully ditching the day job by this time next year.

Keep your fingers crossed that this basement makes a great bakery!

Gayle

DessertLover Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 4:27am
post #16 of 50

I hope you don't mind me saying this but I'd like to suggest coming up with a different name for your business. There's already a Sweet Dreams Bakery in Warren, MI. You wouldn't want friends and family to get used to your business name and then you find out you need to change it.

springlakecake Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 12:18pm
post #17 of 50

It must be different from county to county. I am trying to get something started in my home too (separate licensed kitchen). We are in Ottawa county and the lady from the health department came here and took a look at the basement and gave us advice. She said we did not need a separate entrance. She said they used to really push it, but they dont any longer. The kitchen needs to be totally separate though. She said I do need a 3 basin sink. She said we could have a dishwasher but then the it needs to heat to some rediculous heat. So we don't plan to get one. I don't know, it actually seemed easier to me than I anticipated. However, I don't have a lot done yet, so I am sure there will be bumps in the road.

Mike1394 Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 12:27pm
post #18 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by merissa

It must be different from county to county. I am trying to get something started in my home too (separate licensed kitchen). We are in Ottawa county and the lady from the health department came here and took a look at the basement and gave us advice. She said we did not need a separate entrance. She said they used to really push it, but they dont any longer. The kitchen needs to be totally separate though. She said I do need a 3 basin sink. She said we could have a dishwasher but then the it needs to heat to some rediculous heat. So we don't plan to get one. I don't know, it actually seemed easier to me than I anticipated. However, I don't have a lot done yet, so I am sure there will be bumps in the road.




Merissa, at some point you will have to have an AG inspection. They are the ones that push the separate entrance.

PS. Pgs 18 & 59 of the 2005 Food Code cover this. Can you get city approval?

Mike

JenniferMI Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 12:34pm
post #19 of 50

Keep us posted Gayle!

Best wishes sugar friend!

Jen icon_smile.gif

PS - Think about joining us and our ICES group. If you want more info, yell ok?

maisyone2 Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 12:53pm
post #20 of 50

Thanks Jen.........I have seriously thought about re-joining ICES. I was a member years ago when my boys were little and I just couldn't get as involved as I wanted to. I did attend an event in Lansing, which was fun and interesting. But that was about all I did at the time. Now my boys are adults (one attending college in AZ and the other is a senior in high school this coming fall) and there's no excuse to get somewhat involved. And no excuse to follow my dream of being able to do what I love without having the threat of discovery while doing out of my home.

Gayle

springlakecake Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 2:27pm
post #21 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike1394

Quote:
Originally Posted by merissa

It must be different from county to county. I am trying to get something started in my home too (separate licensed kitchen). We are in Ottawa county and the lady from the health department came here and took a look at the basement and gave us advice. She said we did not need a separate entrance. She said they used to really push it, but they dont any longer. The kitchen needs to be totally separate though. She said I do need a 3 basin sink. She said we could have a dishwasher but then the it needs to heat to some rediculous heat. So we don't plan to get one. I don't know, it actually seemed easier to me than I anticipated. However, I don't have a lot done yet, so I am sure there will be bumps in the road.



Merissa, at some point you will have to have an AG inspection. They are the ones that push the separate entrance.



PS. Pgs 18 & 59 of the 2005 Food Code cover this. Can you get city approval?

Mike




I did get approval from the township zoning commission. There were a lot of rules, but what I want to do doesnt break any of them.

Actually I take back the part where I said she was from the Health Department. Now that I look at her card it says she is the "senior food safety inspector" at the department of agriculture, food and dairy division.

She made it sound to us that she would be the one doing the inpection. She also gave us the name of the guy who would is the Plan Review Specialist. She said when we have our layout and plans all in order he would review it for free.

Does it sound like I am heading in the right direction? I mean I hate to get nearly to the end and find there is a road block. I do appreciate any head's up. thanks!

Mike1394 Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 2:56pm
post #22 of 50

It sounds like it to me. The AG is the one that is going to be doing the licisensing (where's spell check). They are the tough ones to get around. With her being from the AG I would say your in. I know when I had my meeting they wouldn't talk to me if I didn't have separate entrance, and was able to block it off from the rest of the house.

Mike

springlakecake Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 5:52pm
post #23 of 50

sweet...thanks! I have a lot (A LOT) more work to do on this. I just hardly know where to begin with the paperwork and stuff.

sjmoral Posted 7 Dec 2009 , 6:44am
post #24 of 50

My husband is ok with us getting another house so I can have a separate kitchen but I didn't know I couldn't have access to the house. With this kind of weather I think I might take an air mattress and sleep in the kitchen!
Seriously, thanks for all the info, I really want to do this and this is the time so I will make some phone calls this week.
Sheila

cib Posted 8 Dec 2009 , 1:47am
post #25 of 50

You all are so close! I'm in shelby twp, macomb cty.
I've rented from a caterer's kitchen and then from a church kitchen. I got inspected at both. But when all was said and done, I really want to have it in my home. Too hard to lug all my stuff back and forth and I'm not gettin any younger. And rent is still ridiculous even in these tough times. I e-mailed someone from the Ag dept just a short while ago to ask if they were still licensing home kitchens here in Mi. They are but this woman strictly said I needed a separate entrance. So did my previous health inspector and she was from the Ag dept too, Macomb county. So now, I'm calling construction companys to see if I can put a separate entrance from my garage into my basement. Shebly Twp are stinkers to get licensed from. They quoted me $750 icon_surprised.gif I need to pay them so they can hold a hearing with my neighbors to see if they'd mind having a biz in the neighborhood. I was like whaaattt????? Hmmmm, so we'll see if my construction guys say it's even possible. Otherwise, I'll have to wait for cottage food laws to come to Michigan, but I'll be too old to bake by then! Good luck, and let us know if it works out for you.

bobwonderbuns Posted 8 Dec 2009 , 1:59am
post #26 of 50

There was a thread a while back on an article about a possible cottage industry in Michigan but they wanted to deal with the MSU product board (or whatever they're called these days) and I've dealt with them -- INCOMPETENCE at BEST!! I told her I make cakes and cookies, want to sell cakes and cookies, is there a dedicated kitchen I can rent, yada yada yada... All she could focus on was packaging!! Then she tells me I can go out to a bakery in Romeo which is far from me and ask them how they did it. HUH?? Like there's like a TON of bakeries around here lady! (and NONE of them are willing to help you, believe me I've asked!) icon_confused.gif Not to mention the fact that MSU only has ONE dedicated kitchen for the ENTIRE STATE -- in Lansing!! So I'm to drive to the middle of the state to bake, decorate and store my stuff to make a few bucks off a cake?? Like I don't think so! icon_confused.gif

maisy, you're right -- Michigan has always been backwards on that point. Even the rental policies they have now require not only a dedicated kitchen but you MUST store ALL your stuff ON SITE. So if a facility is renting to other parties and they don't have the space to store everyone's stuff, whacha gonna do??? It's ridiculous!!! icon_eek.gif

cib Posted 8 Dec 2009 , 2:02am
post #27 of 50

Bob, you and spoke about the cottage food law a few months back. I'm with ya now. I don't ever think it will get off the ground. Too bad we can't band together and rent space between us.

bobwonderbuns Posted 8 Dec 2009 , 2:14am
post #28 of 50

Okay I found it, here's links to the thread on the Michigan cottage law (dream) and the article that prompted it:

http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-652513-.html

http://www.sustainablefarmer.com/bblog/?p=174

thecookieladycc Posted 8 Dec 2009 , 1:36pm
post #29 of 50

Get a hold of your city's Economic Development Department, they usually know "some" of what needs to be done and who to contact.
But this is some of the scary stuff you have to do, ( I know because I am in the middle of it!!)
1) Get your business name registered with the state.
2) File your Sales Tax paperwork
3) Find a Commercial Kitchen that you can rent or use... it HAS to be pre approved by the health department!
4) File with the health Department
5) write a business plan, it will come in handy if and or when you need to get a small business loan or a grant.

I hope this was of some help.

artlover Posted 8 Dec 2009 , 2:17pm
post #30 of 50

i am also from Mi just now got licensed .Now the hard part is getting the Business.Just hold on to your dream it will happen.

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