If I Bake/decorate From Home For *cost Only* Is It Legal?

Business By lizamlin Updated 14 Aug 2008 , 3:44am by 1nanette

lizamlin Posted 13 Aug 2008 , 12:15am
post #1 of 15

Hi there-

I'm in WI which won't license my regular domestic kitchen. Can't add on to the house. No luck finding a kitchen to rent. I still want to decorate, doggone it! I can only inspire myself so much - without the buzz of an order/request, it's just not the same icon_sad.gif I would love to have requests and feel challenges to improve.

So if a friend/customer pays for ingredients and utilities *only* can I bake that legally in my kitchen?

I have 'hobby' cards I'd like to pass to friends. I honestly want to do this legally - I'm not trying to do something on the sly - I can't risk liability.

Advice, anyone?

14 replies
Iloveweddings Posted 13 Aug 2008 , 1:03am
post #2 of 15

The lady that did my wedding cake wasn't "legal". She has been doing cakes a long time. My view on this subject is not well received here (I get flamed). I am positive many people here do agree with my view but just stay quiet to keep from getting flamed themselves. I see nothing wrong with not being "legal" especially if it is only for fun and not a business. If a full blown business, it is best to go "legal". From what I heard from you is that you just want to do it for fun. Your hobby just happens to involve food. There are tons of cake decorators doing it from their home and are not licenced. I see it as no big deal.

mgdqueen Posted 13 Aug 2008 , 1:15am
post #3 of 15

Everyone started somewhere. You'll know when it's right for you to change the way you are doing things. It may be a huge order that will only accept a licensed decorator, a gut feeling that you have about the way business is going or (unfortunately) a health department representative knocking at your door. This is a topic that is run into the ground around here because nobody can just agree to disagree. I wish you the best of luck in whatever you decide to do. thumbs_up.gif

1nanette Posted 13 Aug 2008 , 1:27am
post #4 of 15

You are not supposed to take anything at all for your cake. Not ingredients. utilities, a monkey named Bob or anything. It's like selling a concert ticket, you not supposed to for any amount of money. That being said if you are nervous about being caught then dont do it. I met a woman at a local supplier who was caught by the dept of health and was fined a lot of money. She also feels that her home is being watched to see if she is still selling cakes. You would think she was dealing crack to preschoolers. But then on the other hand I know bakers who have baked from home for years and have stayed out of trouble.

Maybe you can connect with some other CCers in your area and you guys could get together and rent a space in strip mall or something. Either way you go, good luck!!

smoore Posted 13 Aug 2008 , 1:32am
post #5 of 15

If you do decide to do this, I would ditch the cards and any other advertising and go strictly by word of mouth. I would also tell anyone who does call up front that you aren't licensed. I'm in Ohio (Thank God for Ohio Cottage Food Laws!) and when I first got approached about doing cakes for others (in my case it was everyone elses idea before it was my own), I'd tell them I'm not licensed and 100% of the time they'd tell me they didn't care. When you're doing it for friends and family and someone calls and says "So and So told me you do cakes" you know you're working with a referral. A perfect stranger calls you and can't tell you who told them about you .... then I'd be worried. Good luck in whatever you decide.

paddlegirl14 Posted 13 Aug 2008 , 1:50am
post #6 of 15

Liability is an issue, too. If anyone ever gets sick, heaven forbid, you will be held responsible. I think that is part of the license idea. By being licensed, I am sure insurance is involved. I am not selling any cakes, so I haven't looked into it in my area, TX. My business is licensed to do greek, sorority & fraternity, items. Along with the license came a liability insurance policy. Just something else to look into before you decide.

Mac Posted 13 Aug 2008 , 3:35am
post #7 of 15

If you receive ANYTHING for your cakes, you are illegal.
I was a home decorator that did it for many years, went to work for a restaurant and could use their kitchen for my baking. Then restaurant closed and I still had orders that I had already booked before it closed.

Finished those orders. HD was already familiar with me since I had worked at the restaurant. I also do home health PT during the day and the office asked me to make some cookies. I have made them in the past to give out to MD offices for home health promotion. THe cookies went to a public venue and the HD was there. Yes, my lovely office told them everything--my name (but they already knew they were mine b/c they had seen my work) and that they paid me for them.

I was warned by the office and a personal chef that is friends with the girls at the HD that they were looking for me. When they showed up at a store where I do classes--I just said "yes ma'am" and signed the citation.

But on the flip side--the HD was extremely helpful in making my business legal. They let me know of places that would work and were available to rent or buy. Told me all the licenses that I needed. If I have ANY questions, I call them up.

lizamlin Posted 13 Aug 2008 , 11:11am
post #8 of 15

*stomping foot with crossed arms* NUTZ!

lol - wow - thanks for the specifics, everyone. I am glad I asked. I cannot risk going underground... dang it all. icon_cry.gif

Jasmine33 Posted 14 Aug 2008 , 1:23am
post #9 of 15

Mac how much did they fine you?

Mac Posted 14 Aug 2008 , 1:37am
post #10 of 15

$350 for my area. 2nd offense is double and 3rd offense is double the double plus possible jail time.

Psst...hey, I got some really good white powder to sell. Primo stuff...Imperial powdered sugar icon_lol.gif

I can laugh about it now. It just made me got off my butt and do something instead of just thinking and talking about it.

Jocmom Posted 14 Aug 2008 , 1:55am
post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac

If you receive ANYTHING for your cakes, you are illegal.




Okay . . . so if someone says, "I need to make a cake for my son's birthday, but don't know how to do it. If I buy you the ingredients, will you make it for me?" . . . and I bake the cake. That's illegal?

Another example - I bake the birthday cakes for everyone in our department. I don't mind - I need the practice. A few months ago someone decided that it wasn't fair that I'm the only one shelling out cash for these cakes. She brought me a grocery bag full of boxed cake mixes to help defray costs. (nice lady) That's illegal?

Dang it. I'm too much of a sissy to go to jail! If I go to jail will you bake me a cake with a file in it? icon_cry.gif

Mac Posted 14 Aug 2008 , 2:13am
post #12 of 15

Yep--all illegal. Not just to HD but also IRS!

Jocmom Posted 14 Aug 2008 , 2:19am
post #13 of 15

icon_eek.gif

varika Posted 14 Aug 2008 , 2:50am
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jocmom

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac

If you receive ANYTHING for your cakes, you are illegal.



Okay . . . so if someone says, "I need to make a cake for my son's birthday, but don't know how to do it. If I buy you the ingredients, will you make it for me?" . . . and I bake the cake. That's illegal?

Another example - I bake the birthday cakes for everyone in our department. I don't mind - I need the practice. A few months ago someone decided that it wasn't fair that I'm the only one shelling out cash for these cakes. She brought me a grocery bag full of boxed cake mixes to help defray costs. (nice lady) That's illegal?

Dang it. I'm too much of a sissy to go to jail! If I go to jail will you bake me a cake with a file in it? icon_cry.gif




I wouldn't worry too much about the second example, Jocmom. Particularly if this woman bought them and gave them to you without asking you about it first. That makes it her giving you a gift, even if it was a gift because of the cakes you've made for others. Even if it might be considered a bit dodgy, as a one-time thing even if it were reported somewhere, it probably wouldn't even be investigated.

Even the first one's not going to be much of a problem, if you've only done it once or twice. It's doing it on a regular basis that's a problem.

The other thing to consider on the legal vs. illegal front, by the way, is that the law also protects YOU. If you have a legal business, the business owns certain assets. As an individual without a business license, if someone, say, chokes on a dowel rod they were too dumb to take out of the cake AND too dumb to notice, they can sue you and potentially take your house, your car, and everything else you own. If, however, you have a legitimate, legal business, it's going to be a LOT harder for them to take your PERSONAL assets. You might lose your business over it, but you'll probably still have your house and your car.

1nanette Posted 14 Aug 2008 , 3:44am
post #15 of 15

Today I asked a friend of mine who is the manager at a banquet hall how they handle cakes from unlicensed bakers and he says that somewhere on the cake table there has to be signage stating..."This cake was donated by Jane or John Doe." And it cant be a small business card either it has to be clearly visible.
He also told me that the hall he works for is considering not allowing outside bakers in anymore. Licensed or not. They are wanting to hire an in house decorator and only allowing their cakes in their venue.

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