sophie691 Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 12:39am
post #1 of

I have been making cookies and would like to sell online. I dont know where to start though. Where and how does one go about marketing online? Esty seems to be one site that I have noticed, are there others.
Anyone??? Thanks

22 replies
scp1127 Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 7:05am
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You need FDA approval in addition to state and county requirements to sell across state lines (except if you live on a state line) and worldwide.

Your state dept of ag can give you an application. You must have a separate kitchen with all the restaurant-type requirements met. You must register with the bioterrorism act, have a recall protocol in place, and keep strict records for the required length of time for recalls.

There are stiff penalties for non-compliance. All products must bear the official FDA nutritional information label, acquired through them. The FDA will then send a rep to inspect and approve your kitchen. My local heath dept requirements are so involved that my kitchen automatically qualified.

GeminiRJ Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 4:08pm
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When I read your posting about these requirements on another thread, I was amazed. Then, I realized I had read about this in our local paper not too long ago. Apparently, the new rules are having a hugely detrimental affect on small businesses specializing in artisan cheeses. It's basically putting them out of business, and they were trying to get some of the requirements changed. I don't know if they were successful, but I'm guessing they're S.O.L.

If you can jump thru their hoops and still run a profitable business, more power to you!

scp1127 Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 6:52pm
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GeminiRJ, I just happen to be in an area where a separate home kitchen has the same requirements as restaurants. The actual things to do for the FDA are minimal after that. I think the label is only $5.00 per recipe. And the recall setup is just one extra form where you do a one line entry. And then the registration with bioterrorism is pretty straightforward. Since some of these requirements started after 9/11, I doubt they would get any easier, and possibly harder.

I really don't think the average baker thinks of this registration requirement. I am near a state line, so I had to find out how to legally operate in both. I also want to be able to ship packages of cookies to servicemen overseas at a below cost price, so that is how I found out about the FDA requirements.

Your cookies are so fantastic. I sure hope you can find a church kitchen or some alternative, because you have so much talent.

GeminiRJ Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 12:21am
post #5 of

scp1127, thank you so much for all the information! It gives me a good idea of what would be involved in getting legal and selling (on-line or otherwise). Definitely something to think about. Right now my "real" job is very stressful and time-consuming, making it harder to follow my "cookie dream". But who knows what will happen.

writersblock15 Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 2:10am
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Most of the people I know, including myself, would never buy homemade food from strangers on the internet.

scp1127 Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 8:54am
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You can't make it look like homemade food. Professonal websites and professional packaging, the works. Google gourmet food on the internet. Those places are thriving without the expense of a storefront. Upper income people think nothing of putting out $75 to $90 for a box of cookies or a cheesecake to arrive overnight.

Many of these places are small operation bakeries just like us that took it to another level. I have an entire expansion plan ready to go for internet sales when my daughter joins me full time. My site, packaging, and entire business setup are geared to having people locally enjoy my baked goods, and then be able to send the exact same thing to relatives who live in other areas. My business was built for my three daughters (25, 23, & 16), and the internet will play a bigger part in commerce every year.

GeminiRJ Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 12:46pm
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scp1127, all the best to you in your business! You sound like you're one smart cookie! (Pun intended) I want to be like you when I grow up (though I'm guessing we're very close to the same age).

scp1127 Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 1:11pm
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GeminiRJ, when I grow up I want to be as talented as you. By the way, 49. If you can find a kitchen, pm me and I will share what I do. Once the kitchen is obtained, the rest is easy and not very expensive. You have what it takes!

Kiddiekakes Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 4:31pm

I agree with scp1127...There is a huge market for online sales of Gourmet cookies,cakes etc....If you get all the other stuff required then Go for it!!!

GeminiRJ Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 6:30pm

Looks like I've got some thinking to do. I would certainly need to get all my ducks in a row, because I know my husband won't be very supportive. My sons, however, would be highly supportive! They're both getting their masters in accounting degree (very identical twins), and they'll be happy to have me employ them as my accountants!

Dreme Posted 25 Jan 2011 , 11:32pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

GeminiRJ, when I grow up I want to be as talented as you. By the way, 49. If you can find a kitchen, pm me and I will share what I do. Once the kitchen is obtained, the rest is easy and not very expensive. You have what it takes!





Does the FDA require that there be a separate kitchen regardless if your state oks you to use your home kitchen? How do you write a recall policy? If you sell cookies on etsy do you need these same things in place?

Is it serious if you sell to maybe two clients during the year out of state without being registered with the FDA?

I would really love to expand to more of out of state business but it seems like if you can't have a home based business that might not be feasible for the long run. Where do you begin as far as looking for a commercial kitchen? Professional printed packaging & design?

scp1127 Posted 26 Jan 2011 , 3:13am

I am sure that it has to be a separate kitchen because I know you need the three compartment sink and floor drain. It's like everything else, if you engage in interstate commerce, the FDA is involved. It's like a drug deal...

"Well,I mostly sell in state, and only a few times across state lines". That's still federal prison. And that guy that shot those people in AZ... one was a federal judge... now it's federal. I don't mean to equate cakes with drugs and murder, but no one knows the answer as to whether or not you will get caught.

But with the feds, it's not how many times you do it, it's if you do it once. And they are very serious about registration with the bioterrorism act. I don't know the chances of getting caught. But I would guess the problems start with recalls, such as eggs. If a person gets sick from mail order cookies, the FDA will be involved.

I would not dare do it once. They take food shipping seriously since 9/11. I am sure the requirements are online somewhere, or cal the state dept of ag. That is where the FDA inspector is in our state.

The recall protocol is up to you as to how you do it. The form just tells you what info to have on hand and for how long. But you are required to keep track of what you produce daily and who got it, which is pretty easy in the baking business.

I have a question to ask when they come to inspect and it is this: if I always buy the same brands of eggs, butter, etc, do I have to keep lot numbers, or can I just have returned all unconsumed products made with that brand during that time? My plan is to mass email and ask for all frozen and unconsumed products back. It can't be that much, maybe a few cookies someone may have frozen for later, or part of a cheesecake.

My kitchen is the first floor of a three story home. I am approved because I met all of the requirements, but it was expensive.

Instead of doing it myself, I hired a web design company. Because they have all of my artwork, they can pop out anything I need at a very low price. So program ads, car magnets, labels, etc., take her about five minutes to produce. They have made sure that I am in the right categories in the right cities, and make sure I show up as one of the first in my categories (which is hard in my case because I advertise outside of conventional categories).

They also saved me $60.00 a month on credit card fees, so in 10 month, that savings alone will pay for the initial $600.00 investment. Because of my marketing background, I did design everything, logo and site design, so that saved me a lot.

OneCreativeCookie Posted 26 Jan 2011 , 11:44pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeminiRJ

Looks like I've got some thinking to do. I would certainly need to get all my ducks in a row, because I know my husband won't be very supportive. My sons, however, would be highly supportive! They're both getting their masters in accounting degree (very identical twins), and they'll be happy to have me employ them as my accountants!




I just replied to another thread with similar theme, but wanted to share that in my experience, selling only locally, the state (VA) was very easy to work with and the entire set-up of my business was quite reasonably priced. My standard residential kitchen (with a few small modifications in how I store things) was fine with the state.

I think I am in a more "lenient" state, but I just wanted to encourage you to look into your state requirements before you write it off totally. I am paranoid about someone having an allergic reaction (my cookies contain nut extract) so I was sure to have my insurance policy in place before the first batch went out.

Perhaps license to sell just locally/within your state would be enough to get you started...it certainly is for me icon_smile.gif Seems a shame not to be paid for your amazing art!!

ralary Posted 27 Jan 2011 , 7:28am

I have ever saw a place sell their own stuff,looks good
http://pinklighthouse.com/bb/

alleykat1 Posted 27 Jan 2011 , 7:58am

so if you just want to sell locally in your state and are a legal kitchen you can sell online though right? without all the other certifications?

scp1127 Posted 27 Jan 2011 , 10:28am

Yes. You can do anything you want in your state. If you live near a state line, like I do, you can do business in the other state too in the area just over the line. This falls under the fair trade between states act. You still must register with their health dept, and if their requirements are similar, all is well. They can inspect your kitchen at will, just like your local health dept.

I need to add something. My brother-in-law owns a restaurant in the next county where health dept regulations are very lax. When he wanted to give away hamburgers and hot dogs at his mother's store (in my county)during a festival, he found that even though he had a license in another county, he had to abide by this county's rules... running water on site (a parking lot), and a few other sanitation requirements, which made it impossible. But, he could fully cook his food in his county and reheat it here. So, if you have a situation like this that involves preparation off-site, check first.

alleykat1 Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 4:27am

thanks icon_smile.gif

GeminiRJ Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 12:46pm

This has been a very informative thread! I know what some of the requirements are for getting legal in my city, and I know that at this point, it isn't going to happen for me. I'm just too slow of a decorator to turn a profit once everything is said and done. And having a stressful full-time job is too draining to then go put in extra hours decorating after leaving the office! But having this information is a good thing.

pinkpiggie78 Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 1:34pm

So a majority of these folks selling on etsy are illegally selling cookies? Wow!! I know a home bakery in my area that has an "online only" business, so they definately are breaking the law.

scp1127 Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 3:04pm

They could be FDA approved, but I doubt it. It costs very little. The real cost is the kitchen. But anyone interested, it only takes a call to the dept of ag and they send out the package. Even if you don't want to be certified, the recall system is worth getting the packet.

bonniebakes Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 3:15pm

This thread has been very helpful - thanks for all of the information! I haven't been considering selling on-line, because I'm in MD and I can't legally sell from my home kitchen. But this is excellent information for me to file away for sometime (hopefully) in the future.

sophie691 Posted 2 Feb 2011 , 4:36pm

Every thing here is good to know. I diffently have a different outlook on things now.
In my state there is no home cooking allowed. But, how would I handle it (such as inspections) if I were to rent kitchen space?
Where would I then begin to get legal?

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