Texas Broken Hearted Cake Decorator

Business By sugarlovemom Updated 6 May 2010 , 3:06pm by cakesdivine

sugarlovemom Posted 5 May 2010 , 3:31am
post #1 of 22

Hi there all you kind people... i'm just so sad and so dissapointed...I live in Houston, TX. i'm a newbie on this and was totally triple excited about having my own business and grow big and make this amazing pieces of art ( i mean beautiful cakes) and then i read not legal to do it from home... i wans't planning to have a bakery at home of course... u have to start somewhere... and starting a business as it is... u need a lot of money and of course i dont have it... all i have is my passion for cakes and my heart broken... not only i discovered i'm not able to, but that i'm "ilegal"... and i had some truly happy and loyal clients... what do i do now? i dont want to go against the law... but i wasnt making that many cakes to actually have an income an rent a place..... can u guys tell me about how you started... maybe i can catch up some hope....im sorry guys.. i'm just very sad and needed to get this out somehow... icon_cry.gif

21 replies
LuluSweetArt Posted 5 May 2010 , 5:02am
post #2 of 22

Hi. I know exactly how you feel. I have the same problem here in California. My suggestion: rent a kitchen. There are commercial kitchens that can be rented for however many hours a week you need them. I spend a little over $300 a month for my rental space. It's cheaper than renting a full on space or building your own bakery and it will allow you to legally build your client base. Once you have enough clients to justify it, then you can start your own bakery. Good luck!

cakesdivine Posted 5 May 2010 , 3:19pm
post #3 of 22

I had heard that Harris County which is the county the the majority of Houston is in no longer allows shared kitchen space ie:renting time from an existing commercial kitchen. Really sucks if that is the case. The only way to find out is to contact the HD. Are you inside Houston city limits or are you in the burbs? If you are outside the city limits then Harris Co. HD (if you are in Harris Co.) handles your area, if you are in the city limits then Houston's HD is the governing entity. All I can tell you is to hang tough, save your pennies, and most importantly join the crusade to have the law changed in 2011. Visit www.texascottagefoodlaw.com for more information on how to get involved with this movement!

NerdyGirl Posted 5 May 2010 , 3:40pm
post #4 of 22

I hope that as many people read this as possible: There are government and private grants out there for small businesses, individuals, women, minorities, etc. Grants do not require you to pay the money back, but the grantors do require that you show your budget, and show what you're doing with the money. I took a grant writing course in January and learned so much about the process. There's help out there if you look for it!

jewels710 Posted 5 May 2010 , 3:41pm
post #5 of 22

Extra Question...

How do you go about finding a commercial to "rent"?
Do you just start asking businesses?

heatherscakes4u Posted 5 May 2010 , 3:49pm
post #6 of 22

I had the same obsticle here in California. I think it's pretty rediculous myself and if you are making cakes on a smaller scale- 2 to 5 a week I would't worry about it, just don't advertise and use word of mouth. I worked from home for 2 years and then got busy enough to get my own place, but found a restaurant that I share 1/2 of everything with. When I was working from home I did get a call from the heath department- I just told them I wasn't making them anymore and they left me alone after that. I think that almost everyone has to start from home. You have to build up a customer base and save for all of the equipment costs somehow. Good Luck! icon_biggrin.gif

cakesdivine Posted 5 May 2010 , 4:37pm
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by prettymarysunlight

I hope that as many people read this as possible: There are government and private grants out there for small businesses, individuals, women, minorities, etc. Grants do not require you to pay the money back, but the grantors do require that you show your budget, and show what you're doing with the money. I took a grant writing course in January and learned so much about the process. There's help out there if you look for it!




No there aren't. Bakeries and food establishments do not qualify for these grants AT ALL. Been there, done that, have the bumper sticker for it. Grants are only given for specific types of businesses and they are businesses that directly help the environment, the government, or the community. The government does not view a food business as doing any of those things.

cakesdivine Posted 5 May 2010 , 4:43pm
post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jewels710

Extra Question...

How do you go about finding a commercial to "rent"?
Do you just start asking businesses?




I rent a church kitchen that was approved for commercial use. You can go to donut shops, restaurants, cafes, other bakeries that maybe don't offer decorated cakes, or an incubator kitchen (a business that has several kitchen stations for rent for food manufacturers, caterers, and custom cakers.)

Just start asking then get a website to be your "storefront".

NerdyGirl Posted 5 May 2010 , 4:50pm
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesdivine

Quote:
Originally Posted by prettymarysunlight

I hope that as many people read this as possible: There are government and private grants out there for small businesses, individuals, women, minorities, etc. Grants do not require you to pay the money back, but the grantors do require that you show your budget, and show what you're doing with the money. I took a grant writing course in January and learned so much about the process. There's help out there if you look for it!



No there aren't. Bakeries and food establishments do not qualify for these grants AT ALL. Been there, done that, have the bumper sticker for it. Grants are only given for specific types of businesses and they are businesses that directly help the environment, the government, or the community. The government does not view a food business as doing any of those things.





Have you checked foundationcenter.org or grants.gov, particularly within the individual grants category (it's a subscription service on foundationcenter.org)? Also, have you checked your university library? I found a few potentials.

sugarlovemom Posted 5 May 2010 , 4:52pm
post #10 of 22

thank you all for your answers... Heatherscakes4u, exactly that is what my husband said... that all this big decorators started just like that.. from home and then they grow and took the next step...and all i'ts been mouth to mouth.. and i make sure i keep a very clean kitchen.. use best quality stuff... never thought of myself like doing something ilegal... i actually work at a big hotel and my GM wants to use me as her cake decorator for them to offer hotel facilities for events, weddings.. etc... only 2 requirments: need to get a food handling certification that i can do online and need to use hotel kitchen.... will i be still ilegal doing that? could i actually register a business using somebody's else kitchen?

tastyart Posted 5 May 2010 , 4:58pm
post #11 of 22

sounds like you have a great set up. Use the hotel kitchen, get the proper lisences and your good to go!

cakesdivine Posted 5 May 2010 , 4:59pm
post #12 of 22

Yes. Bakeries and food establishments do not qualify at all. It is more about the type of business you are opening first, then if you are a minority. There have been a few other threads on here about this and many grant experts who have chimed in and all let you know food biz does not qualify.

Private investors might be a route to take, but they aren't true grants. They are captial fundings that always have some sort of strings attached even if you never have to pay it back.

metria Posted 5 May 2010 , 4:59pm
post #13 of 22

i feel your pain! i grew up in Humble, btw. i'd be hopeless starting up my own business, but isn't there hope we can be hired by an already established cakery?

cakesdivine Posted 5 May 2010 , 5:05pm
post #14 of 22

Just one other thing for the OP. Houston is very saturated with cakers legal and illegal. Advertising is the only way to get your name out there. Word of mouth is unreliable and does not guarantee orders. And if the "word" accidentally gets to the wrong ears you could end up losing more money than what it would have cost to try to rent a comm kitchen (if it is still acceptable to do so in Harris Co.)

Ask Leah_S about doing things under the radar...she is the prime example of how it is not a good idea to try that, especially in Houston. Here in Texas right now the HD is on the warpath about illegal bakers because we actually got a bill to the House of Reps in 2009 to change the law. Montgomery & Harris County HD's were the biggest opponents at the hearings.

cakesdivine Posted 5 May 2010 , 5:10pm
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenjcakes

thank you all for your answers... Heatherscakes4u, exactly that is what my husband said... that all this big decorators started just like that.. from home and then they grow and took the next step...and all i'ts been mouth to mouth.. and i make sure i keep a very clean kitchen.. use best quality stuff... never thought of myself like doing something ilegal... i actually work at a big hotel and my GM wants to use me as her cake decorator for them to offer hotel facilities for events, weddings.. etc... only 2 requirments: need to get a food handling certification that i can do online and need to use hotel kitchen.... will i be still ilegal doing that? could i actually register a business using somebody's else kitchen?




Jen, if Harris Co. hasn't changed to not allowing shared kitchens then you deal with the governing HD as to what they will require from you. Each HD has different rules and regs but all must follow the guidelines that Texas mandates then they can add on their own hoops and obstacles from there. Houston is one of the hardest HD's to deal with. I know, I started my biz in Houston 10 years ago. so glad I am in rural Texas now and only deal with the State HD.

PTBUGZY1 Posted 5 May 2010 , 5:12pm
post #16 of 22

jenjcakes- your right it is soooo frustrating, I'm a hobby baker, love doing it, I'm not in a position to open a business and have no client base/list (that would be illegal). I only want to be able to make the occasional cake to be purchased when asked to but still can't. Maybe one day things will change.

cakesdivine Posted 5 May 2010 , 6:20pm
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by PTBUGZY1

jenjcakes- your right it is soooo frustrating, I'm a hobby baker, love doing it, I'm not in a position to open a business and have no client base/list (that would be illegal). I only want to be able to make the occasional cake to be purchased when asked to but still can't. Maybe one day things will change.




PTBUGZY1 If you haven't already come join the ranks for bakers legit and illegit...LOL icon_wink.gif who are trying to get that law changed! visit www.texascottagefoodlaw.com for information on how to get involved! 2011 is right around the corner! The fight begins now and we need all the supporters we can get! icon_biggrin.gif

kelleym Posted 5 May 2010 , 6:27pm
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesdivine

Quote:
Originally Posted by PTBUGZY1

jenjcakes- your right it is soooo frustrating, I'm a hobby baker, love doing it, I'm not in a position to open a business and have no client base/list (that would be illegal). I only want to be able to make the occasional cake to be purchased when asked to but still can't. Maybe one day things will change.



PTBUGZY1 If you haven't already come join the ranks for bakers legit and illegit...LOL icon_wink.gif who are trying to get that law changed! visit www.texascottagefoodlaw.com for information on how to get involved! 2011 is right around the corner! The fight begins now and we need all the supporters we can get! icon_biggrin.gif




And PLEASE become a "Fan" (or "like" us, whatever it is now) on Facebook. Invite your friends and family too. Our most critical task now is getting people informed and involved:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Texas-Bakers-Bill/292920830821

PTBUGZY1 Posted 5 May 2010 , 6:55pm
post #19 of 22

cakesdivine and kelleym-----I'm already following the progress on facebook, thanks for the info, I try to keep as informated as possible. :^)

TracyLH Posted 5 May 2010 , 7:04pm
post #20 of 22

I wish you the very best with this. Saving for a friend in TX.

sugarlovemom Posted 5 May 2010 , 9:44pm
post #21 of 22

so... basically pray for the law to change or win the lotto... right? with economy being so messed up i cant understand why not to give us a hand on this.... cakesdivine and kelley.. i'm on it too.... does anybody knows the aprox budget to start running a small business? when i say small i mean a small kitchen and a small bride's room.... just to have an idea... thanks again

cakesdivine Posted 6 May 2010 , 3:06pm
post #22 of 22

It will depend on where in Houston you actually live. In the city you deal with zoning and generally can't put a small separate building on your property to do as a kitchen, but if you live out in the burbs or in a more rural area of Htown and you are dealing with Harris or Fort Bend counties as long as your subdivision doesn't have in it's deed restrictions that no business can be run on your property then you have a shot and the cost will be less than renting a facility. The buildout and equipment will be your biggest expense. Some HD's require only commercial appliances others will allow residential, but be warned if you use residential appliances for business use it does automatically void the warranty. You can lease commercial equipment if you have good credit or buy used at auctions, ebay or craigslist.

You can pretty much expect to spend no less than $30,000 and usually it will end up costing you $100,000+ just for a small scale cake shop/kitchen. You will for sure need a 3 sink system and grease trap (size will depend of what your HD requires). These things do not come cheap even used is pricey. Every now and again you can get a great deal at an auction, that is if everyone at the auction tries to keep the bids to a minimum, but sometime people are just out to win and end up paying more for the item than if it were brand new. I have seen it happen, and then I have seen auctions where everything goes for literally pennies on the dollar. There was one auction I went to about 6 years ago. It was a closed down Marie Callendar's. The huge built in oven that had 6 rotating baking plates this thing was huge! You could bake 36 full sheet cakes at once in this monster. At any rate the auctioneer said they were starting the bidding at $100 and that they had lined up a company that would remove it and transport it for $2500 so basically you knew you were in for at least $2500 plus what you bid right?...Well the guy who did win it paid $300 for the oven, AND did not have to hire the company to remove it...His brother owned a company that had the certification to remove and install such ovens and appliances. Crappy thing was, I didn't know my cousin's company could do that too or I would have bid on the darn thing...All I saw was $2500 to pay someone to remove it...LOL! So you can find the occasional price gem but it is a process, there is nothing fast about getting a food business open especially in Houston. Good Luck Dear!

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