I am curious about any legal issues that could arise out of selling fondant/gum paste cake toppers on Etsy or similar craft websites while operating a cottage food company from home. I plan to become an LLC in Virginia, but I would like to sell cake toppers/decorations on Etsy.
If I sold under my LLC name, would these count under the cottage food rules which forbid me from doing online sales? I can't find anything in rules or websites anywhere about this - VA or other states to even compare.
Also, how would you package them safety for shipping? I was thinking a little bag, wrapped in tissue paper and then pad the box in bubble wrap. They're just so fragile!
"If I sold under my LLC name, would these count under the cottage food rules which forbid me from doing online sales.
That's a good question. I know a few of the members here have home business's and sell cake toppers and other products on Etsy too. I'm also curious to find out how they do it.
I think so since fondant is edible..
I have made all kinds of fondant and gumpaste toppers and I really don't think people actually eat them. I have heard lots of clients that save them as keepsakes though. Could you market them on Etsy as "made with edible materials, but not meant for consumption"?
Technically, since selling on Etsy you would most likely be selling across state borders, you may need to comply with federal guidelines for selling food. For example, in my state you need to have a commercial kitchen to sell across state lines, but to sell within the state you can have a licensed home kitchen. That being said, Etsy has a don't ask don't tell policy, so there are a lot of people who sell things they shouldn't. Just know that if you get caught it is all on you, Etsy takes no responsibility.
AWhat cupadee suggested is pretty right on. If you're making clear that they're not for consumption, but just "food safe", they're just not really any different than any other handmade item for sale. Jewelry, clothing, artwork, etc. It's relatively the same thing.
AI can't imagine people actually look forward to eating anything like that anyways. Once it's packed up and shipped, it's relatively dried out and in some cases, definitely rock hard. I'd imagine most people are planning on displaying them only, and if people do happen to chomp into them, it's just a bonus that it's actually edible. :grin:
bandofbirdies I looked into CFL in Virginia, here are few links.
Taken from the above site: Advertising online is allowed, even though internet sales are not allowed.
Maybe you could sell them under a separate business or start a Food Processing Business in Virginia. ???
As a suburban mom of two who gets invited to a lot of birthday parties (two this weekend), I would say that A LOT of people plan to eat the etsy toppers they buy. I've been to plenty of parties with toppers purchased from etsy and every single time they were eaten, or attempted to be eaten. I remember one in particular where my husband couldn't get over how hard and gross they were, but people still ate them. This is especially true of cupcake toppers, and I've seen it as a problem with plastic too. Parents diving to grab the plastic ring before their child can chomp on them. Yuck!
AYeah, so if they do get munched, well it's one hundred percent safe. I can't imagine those Etsy toppers shipping well if they were still soft, eh? Huh...and here I just wouldn't even consider chomping on them. Guess I'm too close to the business. :D
One of my consulting clients applied for the NY Home Processor permit. She was denied because she had an active etsy storefront. After she closed her shop, NY approved her permit. I was quite surprised that NY did any proactive cross checking.
I'm a licensed and inspected home-based business in Richmond VA, and I have an Etsy shop. I sell some topper-y kind of things but mostly inedible stuff.
If you're selling under your business that's listed in the state of VA as a cottage food law business, and it says specifically that you can't sell online under the cottage food law, I think that answers the question. If you started a different business that was inspected, or got your current business inspected, the situation would be different. But if it specifically says that online sales aren't allowed under the cottage food law then you can't sell online.
If you sell anything that's edible online there are regulations that involve the FDA as well as state laws, too. There are exemptions for licensed and inspected home-based businesses, but not for uninspected ones.
I'll also mention that people think that if you label something "not edible" on Etsy then you're safe, but if you're selling something that people would reasonably expect to eat (i.e. something colorful made from fondant that you put on a child's cupcake) then I doubt that you'd get away with it if it became an issue. I do a lot of gumpaste that I say shouldn't be eaten but those are generally wired flowers, and I'm marketing more to brides than to kids' birthday party moms.
Yeah, so if they do get munched, well it's one hundred percent safe. I can't imagine those Etsy toppers shipping well if they were still soft, eh? Huh...and here I just wouldn't even consider chomping on them. Guess I'm too close to the business.
When my niece was three, she ate an intricate and really pretty "sebastian the crab" figure that my husband had made for her "under the sea" cake. He had left it on the table to dry. All that was left were a couple of claws. It looked like a bird had swooped in and carried him off! When we asked why she had eaten the figure, her reply was, "because he was delicious. " LOL
Anyone will eat anything it seems.
Oh, ugh...I just got this review on Etsy for some gumpaste seashells: "Everyone gave us compliments and said how lovely they looked and my flower girl said they were delicious!"
So yes, people will eat them. And these were straight-up gumpaste, hard as a rock, there's no way they were delicious!
kids love that stuff