redbutterfly Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 3:40pm
post #1 of

Hello CC!
I started making cakes from home as a hobby. Made them as gifts then I got orders. I know, BIG MISTAKE! I signed up for the site a while back but never really browsed through it...I just started reading the forum last a couple of weeks ago.

After reading posts after posts, I have learned so much I didn't know before. icon_redface.gif I'd really like to turn down a person who has been communicating with me via email since last year for a cake. Her order is due in a month. I don't know how to break the deal. I've sent her a contract since she asked for one. No payments made yet. I'm afraid she'll go crazy on me for canceling but I'm even more afraid of getting fined for baking at home.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. I know I've made a mistake of selling cakes but I want to get everything I need to be legal before I make another. I've learned so much I wish I knew before. It's been very emotional for me knowing that I've been doing it all wrong when I've finally found my passion icon_sad.gif

51 replies
MnSnow Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 3:50pm
post #2 of

You're right about being legal--while I understand why some aren't, I don't condone it. It really isn't worth getting caught. Fines are expensive and although the chances of someone getting sick are slim, the chances are still there.

When you do get legal an unsigned contract and unpaid deposit= no order

redbutterfly Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 3:57pm
post #3 of

Thank you, would you have any suggestions on how to break the news before she sends me back the contract and deposit? TIA!

Norasmom Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 3:58pm
post #4 of

Just be honest with her and tell her that you need to become legal in order to make her a cake, and that you are very sorry. If I were her and you told me this, I would just find another bakery without being too angry.

WykdGud Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 4:01pm
post #5 of

Dear XXX,

I'm afraid that due to a change in circumstances, I am not able to accept any orders for payment, and am therefore unable to make the cake you have requested. I apologize for any inconvenience and am happy to help you with a referral to another baker if you would like.

Best wishes on your (wedding? birthday? divorce?).

jason_kraft Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 4:04pm
post #6 of

If you first lined up another reputable bakery that has the availability to make the customer's cake, the customer will probably take the news better.

redbutterfly Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 4:33pm
post #7 of

Thank you all for your help. Now I just have to pray and hope she doesn't report me icon_sad.gif


Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

If you first lined up another reputable bakery that has the availability to make the customer's cake, the customer will probably take the news better.




Great idea! Thanks! thumbs_up.gif

redbutterfly Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 4:39pm
post #8 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by WykdGud



Best wishes on your (wedding? birthday? divorce?).




Thanks for the sample thumbs_up.gif

The last part made me smile...I needed that. Thanks! It's been such an emotional roller coaster these past two weeks and I'm really glad I have CC to turn to.

mena2002 Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 5:37pm
post #9 of

Let us know how it goes!

Good Luck icon_smile.gif

VanillaCoke Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 6:13pm

well, if you haven't done anything for her, there's nothing to report icon_smile.gif

Iggy Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 6:32pm

Red, if you've been communicating with her since last year and the event is a month away, I believe that you should do it. After all she came to you for her cake. Charge her what you agreed on. If anyone asks, you can say you donated the money to a charity that is dear to your heart.

jason_kraft Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 6:37pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Iggy

Red, if you've been communicating with her since last year and the event is a month away, I believe that you should do it. After all she came to you for her cake. Charge her what you agreed on. If anyone asks, you can say you donated the money to a charity that is dear to your heart.



The issue is not that OP making a profit, it's that she is operating illegally and has no protection from liability. If she does make the cake from home and wants to stay within the law (assuming her state has no cottage food law) she would not be able to accept compensation at all.

TexasSugar Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 6:37pm

What kind of event is it? If it is a wedding, does the venue allow baked goods from home? If not, that is your way out. And I would definitely try to have suggestions of places she can go to get the cake.

Iggy Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 7:03pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by Iggy

Red, if you've been communicating with her since last year and the event is a month away, I believe that you should do it. After all she came to you for her cake. Charge her what you agreed on. If anyone asks, you can say you donated the money to a charity that is dear to your heart.


The issue is not that OP making a profit, it's that she is operating illegally and has no protection from liability. If she does make the cake from home and wants to stay within the law (assuming her state has no cottage food law) she would not be able to accept compensation at all.




I never said she was looking for a profit. I'm not getting into yet another legal/not legal discussions in this post. There must be thousands already. The subject has been beaten to death. If she doesn't want to charge her because she's afraid of "breaking the law", she can give her the cake and the nice lady can do whatever she wants.

Let's face it people, there are thousands of cakers here who make beautiful, delicious, safe cakes as a hobby. That is perfectly legal where I live and if someone wants to give me a token of their appreciation, then so be it. Some hobbyists (and I'm not referring to cakers who make 5-6 or more cakes a week) like a once in while cannot afford the expense nor justify the cost in opening a cake shop. Period.

jason_kraft Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 7:08pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Iggy

If she doesn't want to charge her because she's afraid of "breaking the law", she can give her the cake and the nice lady can do whatever she wants.



Absolutely, I should have clarified my earlier statement that she cannot legally solicit compensation from the customer, but if she makes the cake for free (and doesn't do anything business-like, i.e. send an invoice or include business cards) she should be fine if the customer decides to give her a gift completely unrelated to the cake (wink wink). Of course whether or not you think this is morally correct is something only you can answer.

Quote:
Quote:

Let's face it people, there are thousands of cakers here who make beautiful, delicious, safe cakes as a hobby. That is perfectly legal where I live and if someone wants to give me a token of their appreciation, then so be it. Some hobbyists (and I'm not referring to cakers who make 5-6 or more cakes a week) like a once in while cannot afford the expense nor justify the cost in opening a cake shop. Period.



I thought you didn't want to get into a discussion of legal vs. non-legal cake businesses? icon_wink.gif

Iggy Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 7:14pm

I really didn't....I had a weak moment. tapedshut.gif

redbutterfly Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 7:22pm

Thank you all for your input! I really appreciate it. I've already done the whole invoice and sent her the contract. I just found out through reading the forums that I am not allowed to sell cakes from my kitchen icon_cry.gif

bakingatthebeach Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 7:26pm

Im a critical care nurse, and instead of knitting or painting for stress relief on my days off, I bake and decorate. People pay for the ingredients and I make them their cake for them. I have done a few wedding cakes but I tell them upfront to get permission from the venue if its ok they bring a cake from outside thats baked by their friend in their home (surprisingly only one place said no),

I make sure they did this because when I deliver it I ask again, now your sure its ok cause I did this at home as a wedding gift to them, and the manager says no problem. As above, I do maybe 4=6 cakes a year for other people, otherwise I decorate and feed everyone at work lol! anyways if the cake is going someplace to be served, that might be your out, because they dont allow outside food.

debbief Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 7:29pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Iggy

I really didn't....I had a weak moment. tapedshut.gif




icon_lol.gificon_lol.gifthumbs_up.gif

scp1127 Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 5:37am

The right thing to do is to give her the cake for free. I had an order for two birthday cakes that I was sure would be after my commercial kitchen was finished. It wasn't.

Two weeks before the party I informed him that my kitchen was not finished, but I had HD approval to give away cakes. Under the circumstances, I told him that I would make both cakes, but they would be free.

I have gotten so many word-of-mouth recommendations from him. As it turned out, the circumstances worked to my good. This is a story people like to tell... "I got my cake free and this is why"... plus he loved the cakes.

kaat Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 12:53pm

Is there a legal kitchen nearby (church, community centre) that you could rent? Legal kitchen, legal cake, happy bride???

Dani1081 Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 1:24pm

Ugh. . .that's a tough situation. I know it'll cause some comments, but I feel bad for the person who has 1 month to find another baker for their wedding cake after thinking for a year that their cake was booked. Keep in mind that if you have a contract with this person, they could sue you for not honoring the contract. I think I'd have to make the cake and figure out what to do about the payment part by following your head and heart.

warchild Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 3:39pm

I'm afraid I have to agree with Dani 1081. Cancelling one month before the cake is due is inexcusable. How you just found out it's illegal to make cakes in your home kitchen, is a bit surprising as you state you've been making cakes for some time. You had to have a tiny inkling it might be illegal to work from home without a licence?

That aside..

You need to put yourself in the persons (your customer) shoes. (I could be wrong but I'm assuming this might be a wedding cake)

Your customer took you on in good faith a year ago, has been communicating with you regularly, thinks all is well, and she'll have her much anticipated cake in a months time.

You need to figure out a way to honor this instead of telling your customer, "oh so sorry, I'm not legal, can't make your cake after all."

Take the suggestions given by other posters and work with them. You can find a way to do this.

vtcake Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 9:54pm

You shouldn't tell her you're not legal. Why give her that information and thus open up an easy way for her to get retribution because you're cancelling only one month from the due date? One month! I think you'd better suck it up and start baking.

jason_kraft Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 10:04pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by vtcake

You shouldn't tell her you're not legal. Why give her that information and thus open up an easy way for her to get retribution because you're cancelling only one month from the due date?



What kind of retribution?

ConnieJ Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 10:32pm

I believe you should make her the cake for free (as long as the venue will accept it). Despite the fact that you just learned it was illegal, it is not her fault and I don't think she should suffer because of that. Had you found out months before where she would have had adequate time to find another baker, then that would be a different story.

I know you didn't mean to put her in this situation and it sucks that you would lose the money for your time and work, but if at all possible you really should do the cake for her.

I also had a similar situation where I had an order and then found it was illegal in my state. I had to take the hit and not penalize the customer for my error. Please don't think I'm trying to be unkind or lack understanding. The right things are sometimes not the easiest things to do.

kakeladi Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 10:45pm

OK......OP has stated NO MONIES have been paid - yet. NO contract has been signed.

Yes, it would be difficult to cancel such a short time ahead of the event. At this point personally I would contact customer and explain that you work out of your home and that you just found out that it is considered illegal. Do they want to continue with you or find someone else?

Put the ball in *their* court. Let them decide. As to whether to accept any $$ or not I see NO PROBLEM with charging **FOR THIS TIME ONLY** then stop taking ANY orders.

When I was a home baker I had people who specifically sought out a home baker rather than go with the local in-store bakeries.

cakesbycathy Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 11:06pm

We are assuming this is for a wedding...it may or may not be. I know some people who plan for "big" birthdays (30, 40, etc) way ahead of time.

The bigger issue is whether or not the venue will even allow the cake.
Regardless...NO payment has been given. How long ago did you send the contract? Just recently? 6 months ago?

sebrina Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 11:36pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by Iggy

Red, if you've been communicating with her since last year and the event is a month away, I believe that you should do it. After all she came to you for her cake. Charge her what you agreed on. If anyone asks, you can say you donated the money to a charity that is dear to your heart.


The issue is not that OP making a profit, it's that she is operating illegally and has no protection from liability. If she does make the cake from home and wants to stay within the law (assuming her state has no cottage food law) she would not be able to accept compensation at all.




Would that include compensation for supplies? I was just wondering if it would be legal if she only got reimbursed for the amount she has invested in the cake? That way she can complete the cake, still save face with the bride & not profit anything. Would that work?

jason_kraft Posted 5 Jun 2011 , 12:15am
Quote:
Originally Posted by sebrina

Would that include compensation for supplies? I was just wondering if it would be legal if she only got reimbursed for the amount she has invested in the cake? That way she can complete the cake, still save face with the bride & not profit anything. Would that work?



Compensation is compensation, whether you are making a profit, breaking even, or taking a loss. She would still be violating the law if she accepted money for supplies, or even the supplies themselves. The exception that would allow OP to accept compensation would be if the cake were made entirely in the customer's kitchen or the venue's kitchen, but that's probably not feasible, and OP would still not be insured for liability.

The options are:
A. Make the cake for free
B. Tell the customer she can't make the cake
C. Accept money for the cake and risk getting busted for operating illegally as well as the potential liability risk from a commercial transaction (since OP has no insurance)

If I were in this situation I would choose option A if I was planning on starting a legal cake decorating business, or option B if I just wanted to keep going as a hobby (after lining up another bakery to take over the cake).

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