mommaroxy Posted 21 Oct 2008 , 5:25pm
post #1 of 223

Hello all fellow lovers of cake. I have been thinking of starting up a business, but here in Michigan you need a seperate kitchen. I have read a lot of posts and know a great deal of people sell from home without being licensed. I am too nervous to try this. We have a space that could be converted to a kitchen for the business, but Id hate to put the money into it and end up not having any business. But, what Im wondering about is how do I go about getting my name out there. We have NO family around here, within 6 hrs...nor do we know many ppl. I dont want to hand out cards without being licensed. Someone told me that I could make the cakes and "accept donations" for them...setting a suggested donation price. I plan on making cakes for the local Drs, banks, teachers...etc but I just dont know how to go about it all before getting licensed. I hope that I havent rambled and you all can understand what Im trying to ask.

For those who do sell without being licensed, do you hand out cards, have people come to your home for tastings...etc?? Thanks in advance for any replies!! Have a great day everyone and God Bless icon_smile.gif

222 replies
Deb_ Posted 21 Oct 2008 , 9:23pm
post #2 of 223

Who told you that you could hand out cakes, take donations and "set the donation" price? Isn't that in effect, "selling" your cakes?

I don't recommend doing this. Say you hand out your cakes to Banks, Dr's. offices, Teachers, etc., and someone that eats your cake is allergic to something in the cake and gets ill. You are setting yourself up for a lot of headaches and problems.

Honestly, I know that a lot of people do this unlicensed and think it's o.k., because, heck "Paula Dean started out illegal and look where she is now". The compensation you receive for your "donated cakes" is not worth the risk involved or the fines you could face.

In MA where I live you can have your home kitchen licensed, which is great, but I am fortunate that I have a separate one in my basement. It's not my main source of income, it started out as a love for baking and it continues to be just that for me. I love it, get paid for it and it's legal......when I rest my head on my pillow at night I can sleep and not worry that someone will report me.

If I were you, I'd really think about what you want this to be for you. A hobby or a career, than you'll know the right thing to do.

Good luck icon_smile.gif

mommaroxy Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 1:18pm
post #3 of 223

Thanks for the reply. I do know the right thing to do...as I stated. I was just curious how to go about getting my name out there beforehand to see if there will be business to warrent my spending about 5000. I love to bake, and always have. Anyway, hubby and I talked about it and we are just gonna go ahead and do it. Ive already talked with the guy who does the licensing. You are very fortunate to have that second kitchen. My aunts house is like that, too bad thats about 20 hrs from me!! Have a good day.

flamingobaker Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 1:42pm
post #4 of 223

I live in Ohio and operate under different rules. When I started I was just making cakes for family. I found how much I loved it so I started offering to make cakes for friends. Then I realized - "Hey, I'm pretty good at this" That is when I decided to make a business of it. Actually that whole process took almost 10 years, but thats another story).
My point is, if you have the love and the talent - then go for it. I assume you have had people tell you your cakes are wonderful? Well, then you will find more people AFTER you are liscenced. Just be prepared not to make any money the first 3years I think they say? I realize I am fortunate that I didn't have to lay out big bucks before I became legal, but ya gotta be legal.

Good Luck!

aligotmatt Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 1:42pm
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I started getting my name out there by making cakes for my own kids birthday parties. Then for my kids friends birthday parties. I would talk to the parent and tell them what I was doing and ask if I could give them a cake for their childs brthday. So it was giving it away, totally legal to do, giving me experience, and then getting my name out there for all the other attenders. It progressed up to adult birthday cakes, then baby shower cakes... Still all donation. I would set it up with them that that was their gift from me. Eventually it progressed that strangers were calling me and wanting to pay me, so I got inspected. I like being able to do it from my home kitchen. I don't really know that I would have kept going if I had to have a seperate licensed kitchen...

Mike1394 Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 1:53pm
post #6 of 223
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommaroxy

Thanks for the reply. I do know the right thing to do...as I stated. I was just curious how to go about getting my name out there beforehand to see if there will be business to warrent my spending about 5000. I love to bake, and always have. Anyway, hubby and I talked about it and we are just gonna go ahead and do it. Ive already talked with the guy who does the licensing. You are very fortunate to have that second kitchen. My aunts house is like that, too bad thats about 20 hrs from me!! Have a good day.




What does loving to bake have to do with running a biz? Absolutely nothing is the answer. You love to bake, now learn to love to run a business, that's how you succeed. Think about it. Everyone can make a pie, cake, cookie. What makes you different? Not to rain on your parade, but depending on what part of the state your from it is a very tough market w/ just the legal bakeries.

Mike

kweenofengland Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 2:04pm
post #7 of 223

wow, I am in Alabama and i dont even know if we have 'laws' for this. I just do it! I just started making my own kids cakes and relatives. Then it all started when a cousin needed a 'naughty' cake and didnt know how to get one since you cant exactly buy one from Walmart. Next thing I know I have people calling me from every direction wanting a cake and paying me for them. I am not licensed or have a seperate kitchen. I am trying to figure out what someone would be allergic to that would cause them to sue me....? peanuts? I dont think i ever use peanuts...anyway, I appreciate caution and legallity, but i think here in Alabama it is just not a big deal! Gosh I hate to see the responses i get on this information! I am probably just a horrible person, but I see that most people here buy cakes from Walmart or Publix and they are plain old sheet cakes with something thrown on top....my friends and family are getting so much more for about the same price as one of those sheet cakes. I also work full time and have 3 kids, so this is not a business...and I could never open a business just baking and actually make a living that would take the place of my current income. It sure would be fun to just do that all the time! Good luck and I say...dont be so hard on yourself. Just have fun and the rest will fall into place. I dont see why it would hurt to do some cakes for people without being licensed and that will do the rest. If the cakes are good enough, you will start getting calls and recommendations. Then you can open your business and be licensed. Also, I have gotten tons of referrals and requests off of my myspace page. I load all my cake pics to my myspace and then everyone can see them. Probably half of the cakes i have done have resulted in someone viewing my myspace! just an idea. you can create a page by going to www.myspace.com! My husband has also created a website. www.englandfarms.info! good luck!

FromScratch Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 2:27pm
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Just because you aren't informed of the laws.. doesn't mean they don't apply to you. You cannot claim ignorance in court if you get sued by someone who gets sick from something you make. Do people do it under the table? Yes.. but it doesn't make it right. And selling your cakes for walmart prices does nothing for you or the cake market in your area. In fact, it can make it harder for the legit businesses to charge fair market value since the illegal homebaker up the road sells her cakes for pennies a serving.

Advertizing a business that isn't legit can also get you in trouble, and myspace counts as advertising.. the website counts.. business cards count.. talking about it counts. Most people aren't going to turn you in, but it only takes one person to get you in a heap of trouble. I just don't see a reason to take the risk. And people are allergic to many things.. nuts, wheat, dairy, eggs.. most who are allergic to something common in baked goods will not eat baked goods that they haven't made themselves, but you never know.

This may sound doom and gloom, but hey... business is business, and no one will go easy on you because you didn't know.

kweenofengland Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 2:45pm
post #9 of 223

well, i just think you have scared the crap out of us all who just like to have some fun! But I guess if we are actually taking business away from people that would be the thing to do. I will research our laws and at least if i am illegal then I am doing it knowingly.

loriemoms Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 2:48pm
post #10 of 223
Quote:
Originally Posted by jkalman

Just because you aren't informed of the laws.. doesn't mean they don't apply to you. You cannot claim ignorance in court if you get sued by someone who gets sick from something you make. Do people do it under the table? Yes.. but it doesn't make it right. And selling your cakes for walmart prices does nothing for you or the cake market in your area. In fact, it can make it harder for the legit businesses to charge fair market value since the illegal homebaker up the road sells her cakes for pennies a serving.

Advertizing a business that isn't legit can also get you in trouble, and myspace counts as advertising.. the website counts.. business cards count.. talking about it counts. Most people aren't going to turn you in, but it only takes one person to get you in a heap of trouble. I just don't see a reason to take the risk. And people are allergic to many things.. nuts, wheat, dairy, eggs.. most who are allergic to something common in baked goods will not eat baked goods that they haven't made themselves, but you never know.

This may sound doom and gloom, but hey... business is business, and no one will go easy on you because you didn't know.




I hate to rain on your parade as well, but I completley agree. Not only someone may turn you in, but the IRS or your local health department might see your card or ad or even eat your cake and decide to pay a visit. Fines aren't just a few hundred dollars. They are thousands and thousands of dollars.

If you really feel you can do a business, then you need to put your money where your mouth is and put the money into starting a legal business. None of us had a ton of money in the bank when we started, we put ourselves at risk (and still put ourselves at risk everyday). If you don't want to risk it, then owning a business isn't for you.

On the other hand I would like to throw out my favorite quote:

"Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.â (Sorry I am not even sure who quoted it, but I still love it)

So you have to decide. Being illegal though is not the way to go...

kweenofengland Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 2:53pm
post #11 of 223

ok, well since everyone is so offended by this, please help me and tell me where to find information for starting a business. How do I find out about our laws? I am actually regretting even responding to this original question! lol!

Nicolle711 Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 3:10pm
post #12 of 223
Quote:
Originally Posted by loriemoms

Quote:
Originally Posted by jkalman

Just because you aren't informed of the laws.. doesn't mean they don't apply to you. You cannot claim ignorance in court if you get sued by someone who gets sick from something you make. Do people do it under the table? Yes.. but it doesn't make it right. And selling your cakes for walmart prices does nothing for you or the cake market in your area. In fact, it can make it harder for the legit businesses to charge fair market value since the illegal homebaker up the road sells her cakes for pennies a serving.

Advertizing a business that isn't legit can also get you in trouble, and myspace counts as advertising.. the website counts.. business cards count.. talking about it counts. Most people aren't going to turn you in, but it only takes one person to get you in a heap of trouble. I just don't see a reason to take the risk. And people are allergic to many things.. nuts, wheat, dairy, eggs.. most who are allergic to something common in baked goods will not eat baked goods that they haven't made themselves, but you never know.

This may sound doom and gloom, but hey... business is business, and no one will go easy on you because you didn't know.



I hate to rain on your parade as well, but I completley agree. Not only someone may turn you in, but the IRS or your local health department might see your card or ad or even eat your cake and decide to pay a visit. Fines aren't just a few hundred dollars. They are thousands and thousands of dollars.

If you really feel you can do a business, then you need to put your money where your mouth is and put the money into starting a legal business. None of us had a ton of money in the bank when we started, we put ourselves at risk (and still put ourselves at risk everyday). If you don't want to risk it, then owning a business isn't for you.

On the other hand I would like to throw out my favorite quote:

"Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.â (Sorry I am not even sure who quoted it, but I still love it)

So you have to decide. Being illegal though is not the way to go...




I loved your quote loriemoms that I had to look it up, the author is Les Brown.

kelleym Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 3:18pm
post #13 of 223
Quote:
Originally Posted by kweenofengland

ok, well since everyone is so offended by this, please help me and tell me where to find information for starting a business. How do I find out about our laws? I am actually regretting even responding to this original question! lol!




Alabama will not license your home's kitchen, a separate kitchen would be required to be licensed. Call your county's health department for specifics.

FromScratch Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 3:22pm
post #14 of 223

Don't regret responding.. we all do what we can with the info we have. My response is not so much taking offense to it all but just to throw the information out there. So many people just have no idea that you can't just decide one day to bake cakes from your home kitchen. And while I am sympathetic to those who had/have no clue, the courts will not give a rat's patootie that you didn't know and will happily slap you with fines.

Where do you live? We might be able to let you know about the laws in your state. But the place to start is either your state Dept of Agriculture or the Department of Health and Human Services.. it varies by state who handles food services. icon_smile.gif

TC123 Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 3:32pm
post #15 of 223

It is way too risky, in my opinion, to accept money for cakes if you're not licensed. I know there are many out there who do it, and to those, please know I'm not trying to ruffle any feathers with this response. icon_smile.gif

~~~~~
If someone who runs a legal business finds out about it, you could have local officials at your door inquiring, and possibly face substantial fines and penalties.

And then there are the health risks. I bake for family and close friends. This summer I was approached by someone I did not know and asked if I would do a wedding cake for 300+ people. Could I do it? Yes. But I said no, for the reasons listed here. As someone else mentioned, if one of the guests gets sick or has some type of allergic reaction, and it could SOMEHOW be tied to the cake that I made, I can guarantee you the ownership of my house would be in jeopardy. Someone will sue me, and without proper business licensure and insurance, it would go against my home. (Some people may wish to argue this point with me, but I'm not trying to start a debate. It's just responsible to be aware of any/all possibilities. Because seriously? You can't plead ignorance if something bad happens. I saw it happen to someone I know.) Maybe the chances of something like that happening are slim, but I'm not taking the chance, especially if it would jeopardize my chances of ever running a legal business.

Someone here asked what could go wrong? Just as an example, what if you made a custard filling with eggs but didn't cook it to the right temperature to kill any/all bacteria? What if you use fresh strawberry preserves, that did not process properly? What if a purchased ingredient was spoiled (without your knowing)? Some people may be more sensitive to this than others. What if, after delivery of one of your cakes, there is a recall on one of the ingredients you used?... Anything can happen. And these are just a few examples of why someone MAY come after you in the event of a mishap.

Another reason I would not do it is more of a moral/personal issue. I would love to run my own business, and would be ecstatic if it were to be successful. However, I do not have the means to do it (the right way) right now, so I'm not. I know that there are other creative bakeries out there, that are owned by someone who may have scrimped and saved every penny (or borrowed) to get it off the ground. By me soliciting my skills to businesses and the like, in order to build a customer base and/or reputation, and doing it unlicensed and getting money for it... It is taking business away from those who may be busting their butts to keep their business going, or get it off the ground.

One last thing (then I'm done)... To spin off of what Mike said, if you decide to do it as a business, keep in mind that it is a business. There's the whole "business management" thing that goes along with all the baking and decorating. There's accounting and bookkeeping, taxes, insurance, licenses, inventories, marketing, and all of the other analyses that need to be done to be successful and keep it going.

I understand your desires and what you want to do, because I'm right there with ya! Good luck with your endeavors!!! icon_smile.gif

kweenofengland Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 3:46pm
post #16 of 223

One last thing (then I'm done)... To spin off of what Mike said, if you decide to do it as a business, keep in mind that it is a business. There's the whole "business management" thing that goes along with all the baking and decorating. There's accounting and bookkeeping, taxes, insurance, licenses, inventories, marketing, and all of the other analyses that need to be done to be successful and keep it going.


This is what I do not have time to do....I barely have time to get the cakes done. Like I said before, I work 40 hrs a week as an architectural designer, have 3 kids, one of which is 9 weeks old, have commitments to the church and school where my oldest goes. I really dont want to start a full blown business, but i would like to keep doing cakes because it is fun and I like to do it. Are you all telling me it is all or nothing?

Also, I live in a small rural town in Alabama. I have a friend who does cakes and also works for a caterer who is her Aunt in Birmningham so I have emailed her to inquire about being licensed...surely she can help!

loriemoms Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 3:48pm
post #17 of 223
Quote:
Originally Posted by kweenofengland

ok, well since everyone is so offended by this, please help me and tell me where to find information for starting a business. How do I find out about our laws? I am actually regretting even responding to this original question! lol!




I dont think anyone is offended..I think we are trying to show the honest truith about it all and to help you avoid getting in trouble. The law doesn't go "Oh, Ok!" if you say you didnt know. We don't want you to feel we were ganging up on you...

kweenofengland Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 3:54pm
post #18 of 223

thanks KelleyM, but if I have to have a seperate kitchen, then baking cakes is over for me. there is no way to have another kitchen for something i do everyonce in a while mostly for family. I think that is insane. Now I could see it for someone who is running a business full time and this is their sole source of income. I guess I will just do cakes for free! Is that legal?

FromScratch Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 4:12pm
post #19 of 223

Yes that is more than legal.. you can give a cake to anyone you want. And I highly doubt your family will turn you in.. unless you have some seriously bad blood. I am not speaking against making a cake for your sister and having her give you something for it. It's when you start to branch out into the general public. THAT is where the problem lies. That is where you run the risk.

Mike1394 Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 5:27pm
post #20 of 223

Kween I'm certainly not offended. I just hope you don't get caught. let me tell you though, you are running a biz. Once you sold one cake you now have a cake business. Whether, or not you decide to continue that is totally up to you.

The risk for any non legal is the risk of being sued. It doesn't matter what the reason is. You very well could lose your house. That is just fact. It's not directed at anyone.

Mike

Deb_ Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 8:20pm
post #21 of 223

I agree with jkalman, lorriemoms, mike, and tcarra, we are not trying to scare you and I'm certainly not offended at all.

The bottom line is...........laws are in place to protect ALL of us. When we go out to eat at a restaurant, we would hope that restaurant is doing business legally.....and that all of their licenses are up to date.

I'm a hairstylist and own my own Salon......I have to be licensed by the State Board of Health for that also as does my Salon and all of my employees. Honestly, I love everything about my profession, except the BOOKWORK icon_cry.gif and TAXES icon_cry.gif , but you can't have one without the other.
I know of people that cut hair out of their house, accept payment for it, and are not licensed. This really burns me up, same as people selling cakes illegally. The people that choose to not abide by the laws, make it harder for those people that do abide by them, by undercutting our prices. We have to pay to be licensed and insured and we pay the IRS, than we can pay ourselves. Why should some not have to pay as we do?

Nobody is telling you that you can't bake out of your house.........we're just telling you that the minute you accept one penny for that baked good, you've broken the law. Even if it's to just cover the cost of ingredients.

Also, when your licensed and legal, you have insurance on your business, this is why you would be protected if someone did get sick from one of your products. You can't have insurance on your baking business if your not licensed.......that's when you put your house and all of your assets at risk.

forthwife Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 9:25pm
post #22 of 223

I have a question on this. I do cakes for fun...nothing more. However, fun costs money icon_wink.gif Does anyone know if you make a cake and be reimbursed for the cost of materials, i.e. flour and sugar NOT pans and electricity (I'm talking a few bucks)? I have friends who have asked me to do this recenty and I've been hesitant to do so. I've ended up just giving the cakes for free...but I can't continue paying for everyone's cake. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

FromScratch Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 9:33pm
post #23 of 223

No.. you can't. You cannot recieve any money (or services) of any kind for your baking or it is considered a business transaction.

kweenofengland Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 9:39pm
post #24 of 223

thank you forthwife for stepping up! But you just stepped into the big hole i stepped into this morning! basically you cant do anything (apparently) that is to compete against anyone else. it is a very touchy subject. I am doing a cake for my best friends daughter for this weekend and I told her about this whole conversation and she said there was no way that she would let me do the cake for free. Now I am just waiting for someone to turn me in I guess. She said she was giving me a donation then for the cake, but as I understand I cant accept that either. so I am thinking that maybe you can have the person buy all of your materials and you just put them together for them? surely that isnt illegal...but I have been waaaay wrong today! good luck!

Mike1394 Posted 23 Oct 2008 , 12:18am
post #25 of 223
Quote:
Originally Posted by kweenofengland

thank you forthwife for stepping up! But you just stepped into the big hole i stepped into this morning! basically you cant do anything (apparently) that is to compete against anyone else. it is a very touchy subject. I am doing a cake for my best friends daughter for this weekend and I told her about this whole conversation and she said there was no way that she would let me do the cake for free. Now I am just waiting for someone to turn me in I guess. She said she was giving me a donation then for the cake, but as I understand I cant accept that either. so I am thinking that maybe you can have the person buy all of your materials and you just put them together for them? surely that isnt illegal...but I have been waaaay wrong today! good luck!




It appears that your upset about this. There is no reason to get upset at anyone here, this is just fact of the law. Most states are worried about cross contamination with other foods. As an example if someone cooks a fish, and then a makes a cake without cleaning well enough there is a chance. Now this isn't saying you do this. Frankly it's no nevermind to me. These are just the facts. It's up to you whether, or not you take the chance.

Mike

wendalynn11 Posted 23 Oct 2008 , 12:41am
post #26 of 223

I would talk to your individual state governing board (Dept. of Ag, Dept. of Health, etc.). I was told you can accept any amount of money for your cakes as long as you are not advertising you are not running a business. I have decided not to take money for my cakes at this time but I was told I can without being licensed, at least here in NC.

step0nmi Posted 23 Oct 2008 , 12:49am
post #27 of 223

yea...apparently this site has only turned into the 'professional bakers' site and no one starts in their home anymore. so yea...I am illegal and I do it in my home and I have been for the last year and a half and no one has turned me in! so what! I sell to my friends and family because they feel that should pay me for my time. there's my rant for the day icon_razz.gif

but giving cake out for free is not going to get you customers...only because they got it for free and that's what they'll be expecting down the road. I've tried it and it didn't work.

I think the thing that IS helpful is calling your local gov't health dept and see what the regulations are. don't be scared to talk to them if you find out info and decide you can't get legal. just start doing stuff by word of mouth. people will be glad they met you!

good luck! icon_smile.gif

step0nmi Posted 23 Oct 2008 , 12:52am
post #28 of 223
Quote:
Originally Posted by kweenofengland

thank you forthwife for stepping up! But you just stepped into the big hole i stepped into this morning! basically you cant do anything (apparently) that is to compete against anyone else. it is a very touchy subject. I am doing a cake for my best friends daughter for this weekend and I told her about this whole conversation and she said there was no way that she would let me do the cake for free. Now I am just waiting for someone to turn me in I guess. She said she was giving me a donation then for the cake, but as I understand I cant accept that either. so I am thinking that maybe you can have the person buy all of your materials and you just put them together for them? surely that isnt illegal...but I have been waaaay wrong today! good luck!




yep! that's illegal too! basically any exchange of goods or money for the service out of your home is not legit...but seriously..just call your health dept and see...you never know the info you will find out unless you get off of this site

PSLCakeLady Posted 23 Oct 2008 , 12:55am
post #29 of 223

I started doing cakes at home and felt so freaked out about it. I eventually opened a shop but different states have different rules and some let you do it from home. My state is funny (FL) they will let you do it from home with certain stipulations, like ya have to have a separate enterance and long story short have things in your kitchen that you would need for a commercial type bakery. If I had a three car garage (because my husband hogs the two-car with his tools) I would use that space for only cakes and build a wall and have a door that leads to the outside. Then I could set it up with a skin, small under the sink grease trap and everything else I need. However, no such luck and I have not been able to do it that way. I know friends who have been doing it forever at home. We all have a tendancy to "be legal" but it's not always a reality for us all. I have sold my shop so I'm back to square one. Don't fret, I've only heard of one person who turned people in and it was just so wrong. There is only so many cakes one person can possibly do anyway so why they should intervene is really beyond me. Do your thing honey!

FromScratch Posted 23 Oct 2008 , 1:06am
post #30 of 223

It does suck when you learn the cold hard truth. Damn that uncle sam and the health deaprtment for wanting to regulate things so that things are done in a safe manner. (please read that with some sarcasm and some truth)

Now.. I will probably get flack for it, but I see nothing wrong with having your family and friends compensate you for your ingredients and time. Your family and friends aren't going to turn you in the the health department if they get an upset stomach from your cake. It's the general public thatyou need to be worried about. So if making cakes for your friends and family is what you do then do that and yes have them give you a little sumthin'-sumthin' for your efforts. Just stay away from selling cakes to strangers. I see it as an un-necessary risk..

No one here would ever turn someone in.. at least I would hope not. This isn't professional cake baker central, but when you ask a question (especially in tru business forum) expect people to answer turthfully. The only thing I want to accomplish by my posting is to get the facts out there.. what you do with those facts, of course, is up to you entirely. icon_smile.gif

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