Well first off, HELLO, my name's Melissa and I'm 25! I'm brand-spanking-new here to the forum and this will be my very first post!
I'm a bit of an entreprenuer (as I'm sure MANY of you are!) and I am currently in the process of building my home based baking business. I'm going to focus mainly on custom cakes and cupcakes but will also feature muffins and eventually cookies at some point.
I'm mid-way through the process but, boy, my town (Westford) is not very business friendly... so much red tape! As of right now, I'm awaiting my July 20th public hearing with the local ZBA (Zoning Board of Appeals) since I need a Special Permit to do business from home within my zoning district. That in itself was such a huge pain to figure out and apply for. There is a small chance they could deny me, but I think all will go well. Everything is sort of on hold until the hearing is over with.
I've already taken a decorating class to make sure I know the 'basics'. I'm an artsy person and have made several cakes over the years without any formal training but I thought it would be a good idea to brush up a bit. I'm definitely a hands on learner!
Anyways, once I'm (hopefully) approved for the permit, I still have to take my ServSafe Certification test, obtain a Residential Kitchen License, Business Certificate, Farmer's Market Permit, and also pass my BOH inspection. I'm sure there are things I'm missing, the list just seems to go on and on and on... ahhh! My website is still a work in progress (I'm doing it myself) and I'll make sure to post the link once I'm ready to go public with it.
I'm being very optimistic, however, and hoping to open for business at some point in August/early September.
Any advice for dealing with all the crazy rules and regulations here in MA would be greatly appreciated! Or just to say hi and introduce yourself is very much welcomed too!
I hope to make some friends here- I don't get out enough... lol!
Hi Sweet Pea,
I don't have any advice on dealing with Ma. regs. (I'm not in Ma.)
I just wanted to say I love your energy and enthusiasm. Welcome to cc!
Hi, I'm in MA too! Fortunately I don't have the zba to deal with, just the boh. Can't wait to see to see your website! Good luck, I'm sure all will go well. MA isn't nearly as strict as other states.
haha- Maybe not where you are! Good lord I feel like I'm jumping through hoops like a circus monkey to get my business "legit"! It's pretty ridiculous!
The zoning thing was just such a huge pain because of the time it took. I needed to file 4 weeks prior to the hearing date and I missed the cutoff (in May) for the June hearing since I didn't find out about this whole mess until after. So since I wasn't able to make it, I had to wait an entire extra month just to FILE then wait 4 weeks for the hearing! CRAZY I TELL YOU! And just to file, I had to go to the Assessor's office and put together a huge packet with all kinds of information: plot plans, photographs, legal ad paperwork for the newspaper, a few forms, official abutter's list and on and on. Plus, it cost me $200 to file for this permit! It was a bit discouraging to say the least... but oh well.
Thanks for the hello's and welcomes! I'm glad to see people here are friendly- I'd love to make some cake-friends. My family can only take so much cake stuff before the accuse me of trying to make them all fat! I'm always trying new recipes and having them taste test hahah
first congrats on getting started. I would suggest sitting down with the BOH as well as the building inspector and plumbing inspector as they will visit before the BOH.
Most towns will make you install a grease trap even in your house now and that would be good to know before hand and there are some sticky rules here in mass on how it is to be installed. As far as the BOH, depends on the town but they may require a 3 bay or allow you to use a bucket for the 3rd bay for soaking.
I would get going on the servsafe and not wait. Its a easy class but you dont want that to hold you up when things start moving.
You may also want to talk to your insurance company and the fire dept. to understand if you need to have a fire extinguisher within reach. Some will require that although the residential is a little easier.
We just went through opening a small customer cake shop here in the Worcester area (Commercial Space) and it seems to be taking hold and expect to be positive this year.
Licensed home kitchens in MA are a lot different than a storefront shop.
There are different requirements that bakershusband may have needed for his shop that home bakers do not.
The main thing is keeping a shelf in the fridge for your business supplies and separate storage for your baking ingredients.
No grease trap, no 3 bay sink (just your own normal kitchen sink is fine) and if you have well water you'll probably need to get it tested too.
You can take your servsafe course and test right on line, that's how I did it.
It's a LOT easier to get your home kitchen inspected because well, it's your home kitchen.
Storefronts (commercial) are an entire different thing.
Good luck to you!
Welcome SweetPea....I am from MA and I have contacted the board of health in my town and she said there wouldn't be any issues with baking out of my home--the issue I am having is insurance. I spoke with another CC member and she told me that I would have to get a full service insurance agent. When I spoke to my home owners insurance, she told me that I could not separate my home from business without creating an LLC. I have done some homework and the cost for LLC and to get started would run me about $1500 and then I went over the taxes with my tax lady---wow! I currently work a 40 hour job and was hoping to do this on the side and hopefully build my business in either the event that I lost my job, or that my business could replace my job. Does anyone from MA have any input concerning insurance? I'm really shocked at how many people bake out of their homes and sell without insurance! I currently work in the food business, and let me tell you, you do not want to be in a situation without insurance---once your cake/cupcakes/cookies leave your home, you don't know who is going to eat them and who could potentially "get sick".
My husband and I plan on looking into full service insurances over the next couple weeks. This plan of mine has been "baking" for years and to be honest with you, my desire grows stronger and stronger, unfortunately this economy is a mess, and I have to say I'm not sure I can afford to be paying all sorts of taxes and insurance. HTH
Regarding insurance, I would advise trying a different insurance company. State Farm and The Hartford both sell business liability policies which are separate from a homeowner's policy, premiums are typically $400-500/year.
FYI, a MA LLC would cost $500/year plus another $700 or so in initial fees. Filing taxes with an LLC is no more complicated than filing with the default business type (sole proprietorship or partnership).
I am Lizbeth and I am from Hartford CT, I am trying to gather a group of bakers that are interested in taking classes with sugar artists. I have talked to one and she said I need a group # first and then she will tell me the $$$. She is a great decorator. I hope this is the first of many classes.
Please e-mail me Lizbethlopezacevedo@yahoo.com Classes will be held in Hartford, willing to change location depending on how many participants we will have from Mass.
I am also in Massachusetts, but I only bake for friends and family. I just wanted to wish you the best in your new business adventure.
@Lizbeth... Great Idea! I will email you for more information.