Home Baking Biz Question/advise - (In Massachusetts)

Business By meredith1851 Updated 11 Aug 2009 , 12:02am by Deb_

meredith1851 Posted 9 Aug 2009 , 9:27pm
post #1 of 18

Hello,
After being laid off 6 months ago from the corproate grind, I have been following my passion of baking in all my free time. Many friends and my husband have supported my thoughts on maybe trying to kick start a new career in baking cookies and cupcakes etc. from home for friends, neighbors and family and see where it goes. I live in MA and am wondering if others out there know of any legal ramifications for operating out of my home kitchen when I am just getting started real small right now. Again, this is very early on and am just tinkering with the idea...my next door neighbor has 2 kids and she has been taste testing for me lately. She asked me to do a couple dozen cupcakes for Halloween, Christmas and Thanksgiving! I don't even know what is reasonable to charge as a newbie home baker. Any general advise on operating from home would be very much welcome. (I know there are books out there but sometimes hearing straight from the horses mouth can be more valuable...at east that is how I feel.)

Thanks icon_biggrin.gif

17 replies
Deb_ Posted 9 Aug 2009 , 9:39pm
post #2 of 18

Hi from a fellow MA baker.

We are one of the few fortunate states that can have our home kitchens licensed.

I would recommend that you contact your local HD or Dept of Agriculture (depending on your county).

The process is pretty inexpensive since you'll just need to have your kitchen inspected, it's not like adding on an entire separate kitchen. Of course you'll want business insurance to protect your home/assets. My policy is under $200 a year.

Since it is legal in MA I recommend you go ahead and get the inspection, it's really pretty easy.

Good luck!

meredith1851 Posted 9 Aug 2009 , 9:49pm
post #3 of 18

Hello and Thanks for responding!!
I live around the Worcester, MA area......anything special I need to know about this inspection you are referring to and how to prepare? (I do have a cat and was worried that could be an issue but he doesn't ever go on the counters or anything.) Thanks again!!

elliespartycake Posted 9 Aug 2009 , 9:58pm
post #4 of 18

I am new to this business and just recently had my home kitchen inspected and approved by my local health department. It was easy really...the bigesst concern for the inspector seemed to be the temperature of my fridge and my hot water. In addition I was required to pass the ServSafe course on food safety. You can take this course through many of the Massachusetts community colleges. Good luck thumbs_up.gif

Deb_ Posted 9 Aug 2009 , 10:02pm
post #5 of 18

Pets are OK, you just can't have them in the kitchen at all during the baking times.

Some things the inspector will look at.......

~All cake supplies/ingredients need to be in a separate closet or cupboard. It can't be in with "family" food or supplies, so cleaning out a pantry if you have one and dedicating it just to your "cake stuff" is a good idea. Same with your fridge, if you don't have an extra one for cakes, then you'll need to clear a shelf in your family fridge for milk, butter, eggs (anything cake related).

~If you have well water (which I do) they will test it.

~In MA we aren't allowed to sell "perishable" goods, i.e. anything that requires refrigeration. So I had to submit my recipes for approval.

~They're basically looking for the correct hand sanitizers, dish/pan sanitizers, cleanliness of work area in general, they'll check fridge/oven temp., really common sense stuff. It's a good idea to not have the cat around at all on the day of the inspection.

If you call your local HD/DOA they'll send you out a packet outlining exactly what is required and what the cost of the inspection is. Every county has different requirements, I'm in South eastern MA about 1 hr from Worcester.

It's a little bit of paperwork, but really nothing to worry about. The inspection was the simplest part of the entire process and the quickest part too.

HTH

leah_s Posted 9 Aug 2009 , 10:23pm
post #6 of 18

Hey, dkelly - where do you get your cake biz insurance? Mine is too $$$.

Deb_ Posted 9 Aug 2009 , 11:07pm
post #7 of 18

Leahs, I have it through Metlife, but I get a multi policy discount for having my home, car, life and Salon policies through them.

When I had priced it out separately it was closer to $350 per yr. I also just dropped it down from $2million to $1million.....I didn't think I needed so much for a home business.

TheBlonde Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 12:16am
post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by meredith1851

Hello and Thanks for responding!!
I live around the Worcester, MA area......anything special I need to know about this inspection you are referring to and how to prepare? (I do have a cat and was worried that could be an issue but he doesn't ever go on the counters or anything.) Thanks again!!




Hey, I live right outside of Worcester too, actually in Millbury. I was thinking about selling from home as well. I just have been so busy with my full time job that I haven't had time to research. I'm glad you brought this up though. I have a separate room in my house I decorate in. Maybe since it's legal to use my regular kitchen at home I will go get my license. Seems easy enough.

meredith1851 Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 1:07am
post #9 of 18

Deb,
Sorry for all the questions, but you have been so helpful. When you say you can't sell "perishable" items, would that mean that you can't sell cakes or cupcakes that have frosting which requires refrigeration ? (like cream cheese frosting.)
Also, they asked for your recipes with ingredients listed?

"Theblonde", I am in Rutland....was in Millbury yesterday actually to sign up at Michaels for the Sept cake decorating course. Figured I should take those classes since it is so affordable.....even though my intentions are to do mostly cupcakes.

What do you guys charge for a dozen and 2 dozon cupcakes?

MelissaMay Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 1:28am
post #10 of 18

OP thanks for posting this question. I'm in the same boat and have gotten some great feedback from dkelly (thanks again Deb). I too am looking to get licensed, does anyone know...do you have to have the servsafe course completed before you have your inspection?? Thanks! Good Luck to you!

Deb_ Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 2:01am
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by meredith1851

Deb,
Sorry for all the questions, but you have been so helpful. When you say you can't sell "perishable" items, would that mean that you can't sell cakes or cupcakes that have frosting which requires refrigeration ? (like cream cheese frosting.)
Also, they asked for your recipes with ingredients listed?




icon_sad.gif Sadly yes, my cream cheese icing was a thumbs down with my HD thumbsdown.gif

So anything that requires refrigeration is considered perishable like, cheesecake, whipped cream icings/fillings, fresh fruit (uncooked) fillings, mousse type fillings, and cream pies.

I had to submit all of my recipes that I'd be using i.e. cakes, fillings, icings, cookies, etc., and I had to bake a sample cake for them to test the PH (and enjoy with coffee, I'm sure LOL!)

Melissa I took the servsafe course/test on-line. I did complete it prior to getting my license and inspection. Here's the link to the site. http://www.servsafe.com/

meredith1851 Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 2:21am
post #12 of 18

Wow Deb.....thats rough. Oh well..no Red velvet cupcakes w/cream cheese icing for me I guess...LOL.

I don't have a set list of specific recipes I use....I guess this means I will need to come up with a few standards from the sounds of it huh?

Thanks again!!

Deb_ Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 2:35am
post #13 of 18

Meredith,
Here's a link to Earlene's Cream Cheese Icing that she claims does not need refrigeration. I haven't tried submitting this one yet to my local HD, so I'm not sure if they would agree with Earlene.

Submitting the recipes sounds like more of a hassle then it is. I have my core cake recipes that I use all the time, really it was the fillings and icings that took some work to get just right. No IMBC or SMBC either icon_sad.gif

It's really not that bad, it's basically common sense stuff.

meredith1851 Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 4:03pm
post #14 of 18

Sounds like I would also need to get a biz license and insurance before any inspections happen as well...correct?

I want to reiterate that I am really just in the beginning stages of seeing if this will even work andif it is something I want to do long term. Do I still need to do ALL the things mentioned above for this? I guess what I am really asking is what is the minimum I need to do if I just want to do this real part time on the side...a few cupcakes here and there for friends and neighbors? Can I technically do this w/o the inspection and biz license/insurance stuff till I decide if I really want to pursue it?

Deb_ Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 5:58pm
post #15 of 18

I baked for friends and family for over 20 yrs because when we were first married we owned a home in Rhode Island and I couldn't bake from my home.

I always say, I had 20 yrs of practice before I actually started making money, which is true because I never charged for my cakes. If we went to a party, I just brought the cake as my contribution.

So if you just keep it to baking for your family and I'd say very close friends that you know won't turn around and sue you if they God forbid get sick or have an allergic reaction to one of your items, you can do it.....legally though, you can't accept any money.


So once you get to the point where your name is getting out there and strangers start calling you, then you'll know it's time to take the plunge and get legal/licensed.

I was inspected first, then registered my business name and got insurance, so that was the order of things for me. This is just my part time job/therapy. icon_lol.gif

Good luck! I'd at least contact your HD and ask them to send you all the information so you'll know what you need to do in your area and the approximate cost of it all.

MelissaMay Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 7:39pm
post #16 of 18

Deb,
Thank you again, how did you learn all of these "rules"?? I am doing it backwards i think LOL. I hope to get there eventually. Thanks for taking the time to explain all of your steps...it's extremelyhelpful!

meredith1851 Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 9:50pm
post #17 of 18

Thank you SO much!!

Deb_ Posted 11 Aug 2009 , 12:02am
post #18 of 18

My pleasure. I'm happy to help a fellow cake buddy anytime I can! icon_biggrin.gif

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