Is This A Bad Idea?

Business By CakesbyBecca Updated 7 Jul 2008 , 11:56pm by CakesbyBecca

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CakesbyBecca Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 9:19pm
post #1 of 17

Last month, I finished Wilton's Course 3 and have REALLY enjoyed cake decorating. I would love to turn my hobby into a business. Unfortunately, I live in CA and we all know what fun setting up a cake decorating business in CA can be icon_confused.gif . I definitely want to do this legally, but I'm not good enough yet to open a full-blown business. I would love to make cakes pro-bono all the time, but we are working hard to get out of debt and don't have a lot of cash to spare. So I was thinking of doing cakes at cost. Basically, I would have the "customer" either pay for the ingredients and the supplies or bring them to me themselves and I would make their cake, after they signed a waiver saying they wouldn't sue me. Can I legally do that? I see it as a way to continue building my decorating skills without having to fork out a ton of my own cash (that I don't have).
Any thoughts?


16 replies
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Aliwis000 Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 9:26pm
post #2 of 17

Okay I am in Texas but I think it is similar and from what i understand excepting any payment, even for the stuff in the cake is a no-no. Now I have always wondered what if they go shopping and bring it to me, that I dont know. I know someone on here knows the answer good luck!!

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loriemoms Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 9:27pm
post #3 of 17

Sounds awfully risky to me! I would ask a lawyer first..

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sun33082 Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 9:32pm
post #4 of 17

Some states allow you to accept money for the cost of ingredients. You have to keep proof that it only covered ingredients. I would check into it.

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tcakes65 Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 9:32pm
post #5 of 17

I agree. You're still exchanging cake for money. It's a big risk as it takes only one person reporting you as illegal. Instead of working under the radar so to speak, you could always apply for a decorating job at a bakery or partner with another cake decorator in starting a cake business. Just be careful because it only takes getting caught once.

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TC123 Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 9:41pm
post #6 of 17

Hi... Let's see what someone with "legal" experience has to say, but the last I had checked, it is considered "doing business" if you accept any form of exchange of goods (such as accepting money for ingredients, or the actual ingredients). I would consult an attorney, or maybe your area's Department of Agriculture or Board of Health. ... Just some ideas.

I sympathize with you entirely. I'm just not sure there's a way around it, other than doing cakes for family and friends. ... Before I moved to the country, I used to bake cakes for the people who worked for me. I would bake one cake for everyone who's birthday was in June, for example. It gave me the opportunity to be creative and do what I love. (I absorbed the costs, of course, but I didn't mind. It was my gift to them.)

Best wishes to you. icon_smile.gif

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fondantgrl Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 9:44pm
post #7 of 17

Well I live in CA (Sacramento County) and because CA is strict about food business, that made me not want to do it... Sometimes when people twist my arm into making them a cake, & since I CANNOT accept money, I just ask them to "trade" something for it.. Last month a mom really wanted me to make a cake, so I told her to cook me and my family a meal.. and so she did. We "bartered" food.. she got her cake , and I didn;t have to cook for two nights.. icon_smile.gif

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FromScratch Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 9:59pm
post #8 of 17

That is actually still considered doing business. Not that your mom would ever turn you in for it, but if you did that with a stranger you could still get in trouble.

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tigerlilly Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 10:02pm
post #9 of 17

Unfortunately in CA you are not able to accept money or any sort of exchange for doing anything food related. It is illegal to accept ingredients and bake for someone. Ca is a very strict state thumbsdown.gif

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all4cake Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 10:04pm
post #10 of 17

I have no clue as to the legalities.....

I just don't see how it would be considered doing business if the person wanting the cake bought the stuff and OP put it together and decorated it. How does the OP profit from doing this? There wouldn't be an actual exchange of goods...more like, she babysat the goods and gussied them up before returning them to the owner...

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homemaluhia Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 10:11pm
post #11 of 17

Making a profit has nothing to do with "being in business." Many of these laws protect the brick and mortar bakers who pay overhead, salaries, insurance from having to "compete" against home bakers with no overhead. It isn't only bakeries, but also most other businesses.

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ANicole Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 10:13pm
post #12 of 17

What about just practicing on dummy cakes for now, and if there is a 3-D cake or irregularly shaped cake you want to try, just doing that for family? I know it's not the BEST idea, but you could build a pretty good portfolio with dummy cakes.


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all4cake Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 10:20pm
post #13 of 17

Okay, that makes sense. I've never heard it put that way before.

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aundrea Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 10:31pm
post #14 of 17

to me it sounds like a GREAT idea.
but i dont think there is any way around the laws in CA.
im still stuck on, if you shovel someones side walk, or rake leaves, or babysit for a neighbor - how is that different than someone purchasing your supplies and you baking them the cake? i guess it has to do with food so the risks are much higher. all that aside from competing with licensed bakers i totally understand where you come from too.
good luck with your decision.

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Ednarooni Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 10:31pm
post #15 of 17

Maybe you could intern at a cake shop, get more practice in AND make money...sorry...wish I could have been more help.

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fondantgrl Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 10:43pm
post #16 of 17

If you really want to do this, rent a commercial kitchen.. Ask a church or a TV station or any non profit place of business who has a commerical kitchen if you can use their kitchen and pay by the hour. if you are really serious about going in to business.

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CakesbyBecca Posted 7 Jul 2008 , 11:56pm
post #17 of 17

I actually do have a commercial kitchen I can use for $25 an hour, but my problem is I can't afford that right now. Back to the drawing board icon_smile.gif .


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