DiscoverThe Forrager Podcast for Cottage Food Businesses
The Forrager Podcast for Cottage Food Businesses

The Forrager Podcast for Cottage Food Businesses

Author: David Crabill

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Learn how to start a food business from your home kitchen by hearing stories from cottage food entrepreneurs about how they grew their businesses from the ground up. Does everyone ask for your recipes, or say "You should sell that"? Have you dreamed of starting a brick-and-mortar bakery, or simply want a fun hobby that brings in some extra dough? On this podcast, David interviews a wide range of entrepreneurs across America who legally sell their homemade food via their state's cottage food law. Each episode reveals strategies for marketing and selling your food products successfully from home, online, at farmers markets/events, and in stores. Learn what steps you should (or shouldn't) take, and get your cottage food business off to the right start!
29 Episodes
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Kathy Sing started her caramel corn business 7 years ago, thinking it would just be a fun hobby for about a year or so. Well, here we are 7 years later, and Kathy's Kernels in Visalia, CA is definitely not a hobby. Kathy is busier than ever, and she did almost $50k of sales last year! Kathy's treats would sell very well at farmers markets and local events, but unlike most cottage food entrepreneurs, she skipped over those and went straight into selling through retail stores. After just one year, she was already selling in 15 stores! How did she do it? What does it feel like to make $50k worth of treats from home? Kathy breaks it all down for us in this episode.Get full show notes and transcript here: https://forrager.com/podcast/29
Jeremy Davis is no ordinary dad! On top of working a full-time job and helping his kids with their homework, activities, etc, he runs his lucrative custom cake business, Designed By Daddy, from his home in Charlotte, MI. But that's not all. Last year, Jeremy went from being a longtime fan of Food Network competitions to actually participating in one, and then winning it! Then he appeared on Good Morning America, and now he will be back on the Food Network in a couple weeks (March 1st, 2021) for another baking contest. Unlike most people, marketing his business was the easy part. The hard part was learning how to bake and decorate cakes, since his wife did "all the cooking" in their family, and he considered his former self a "horrible artist". If you want to learn how to build a strong social media presence, you won't want to miss this one. Jeremy breaks down Instagram's algorithm, and also describes how he used local Facebook groups to build a following quickly. In addition to sharing an effective social media strategy and giving us a behind-the-scenes look at what it's like to be on the Food Network, Jeremy talked about cake pricing, dealing with customers, and why he thinks men usually don't decorate cakes!Get full show notes and transcript here: https://forrager.com/podcast/28
As a creative writer and published poet, Jennifer Knox was never in it for the money. But when she made $6,000 in one weekend from selling her salt blends, she knew she was on to something! Jennifer sells unique, preservative-free spice blends with her business, Saltlickers, which she runs from a commercial kitchen in her home in Nevada, IA. Jennifer's branding is fearless and unforgettable. Each of her salt or sugar blends have a creative product name like Das Bigfoot, Queen of Tarts, or Herky Perky. Although her marketing skills spark people's interest, it's the products themselves that keep customers coming back again and again. After using her home kitchen for many years, Jennifer and her husband converted their basement into a commercial kitchen so that they could sell in retail stores and ship their products nationwide. And in 2020, although Jennifer's farmers market closed down due to the pandemic, she used email marketing to stay in touch with her fanbase and keep on selling.Get full show notes and transcript here: https://forrager.com/podcast/27
In 2013, after many months of breast cancer treatments, Lisa Petrizzi-Geller began experimenting in her home kitchen. She started with cake pops, but quickly expanded to chocolate-covered Oreos and other types of treats. "It was kinda like therapy for me", Lisa says. Apparently the therapy worked! Fast forward 8 years later, and now Lisa runs POP Culture, a successful food business in Berkley, MA that is based out of her residential kitchen. Over the years, Lisa has sold her treats at all kinds of events, from small popups to large corporate events to huge festivals. How huge? One time, she did $8k of sales in a single weekend! And despite events being cancelled due to the pandemic, 2020 was her busiest year yet. As she put it, "It just kept going. I never got a break." The year culminated with the craziest of holiday seasons, where she made over 3,000 hot cocoa bombs alone! In this episode, Lisa shares creative and trendy ideas for treats, tips to prepare for a home kitchen inspection, the dark side of running a cottage food business, and what she's learned from selling at tons of events and fulfilling countless custom orders.Get full show notes and transcript here: https://forrager.com/podcast/26
For Barry Sherman and his life partner, Scott, their cookie business is about a lot more than the cookies! Since 2018, Barry and Scott have run their eco-friendly and socially-conscious cookie business, Urban Bakers, in Tampa Bay, FL. Initially they started from home due to Scott being diagnosed with early onset of Parkinson's Disease, but they quickly expanded to a commercial kitchen. Their dense quarter-pound cookies are very unique. They come individually-wrapped in compostable bags with compostable labels, and the quality of the ingredients is top-notch. They also come in a variety of flavors, including root beer float, piña colada, and spicy dark chocolate chili. In addition to operating their business as sustainably as possible, they also give back by donating a portion of each sale to a different charity each month. Barry talks about the triumphs, challenges, and surprises of running a high-end drop cookie business, and what he's learned along the way.Get full show notes and transcript here: https://forrager.com/podcast/25
When Yuliya Childers moved from Ukraine to the United States, she lost one of the most fundamental staples from her homeland: good bread. Yuliya is a classically-trained pianist, but when she started making the sourdough bread from her childhood, she found that others wanted a slice as well. She now lives in Prattville, AL and has fully shifted from a musical career to running her home artisan bread business, Wild Yeast Kitchen. Yuliya's story is one of passion, dedication, and plain hard work. Every single Friday, she works for 24+ hours straight to prepare a couple hundred loaves and pastries for her Saturday market. She also runs a bread subscription service, with many customers getting her delicious items every single week. And she does all of this bread making from one regular home oven! Yuliya shares some amazing stories in this episode, including her immigration story, the time she brought a customer to tears, and how she sold bread for many years to pay for bread school.Get full show notes and transcript here: https://forrager.com/podcast/24
Lauren Inazu isn't your average 13-year-old girl. When she was 8, she recruited friends to sell and market her lemonade stand, Lauren's Sweet Treats. In 5th grade, she started a school newspaper. And now, she recently launched a cottage food business. Lauren lives in St. Louis, MO and sells all sorts of baked goods with her new business, Count It All Joy. Between school, homework, piano lessons, sports, youth group, clubs, and Bible study, Lauren is somehow finding time to fulfill baking orders. Sometimes she likes to surprise her classmates with that fact: "I think it's always kind of fun to be like, 'Oh yeah, I just have to go make four dozen cookies tonight for an order.' And they're like, 'An order?'" Lauren may be one of the most ambitious and mature 13-year-olds I have ever met, but she is not unique in wanting to make a little dough from her baked goods. Many kids reach out to me to ask if it is legal for them to sell their creations. In this episode, Lauren shares what she's learned about legally starting her cottage food business as a 13-year-old, in hopes of inspiring other young entrepreneurs to try it out as well.Get full show notes and transcript here: https://forrager.com/podcast/23
It all started with the wrong baking pan. Back in 2014, Nicole Pomije couldn't find a cookie sheet in her home kitchen, so she made her chocolate chip cookies in a mini muffin tin instead. And with that, the idea for The Cookie Cups was born: cookies that look like mini cupcakes. Nicole started her business out of her home kitchen in 2015, and she has now expanded into two brick-and-mortar storefronts near Minneapolis, MN. Although it might seem like Nicole's unique idea set her up for success, it's more likely that her many years of marketing, PR, and management experience played a much larger role. While the cookie-in-cupcake-form is still at the core of her business, Nicole has now expanded well beyond selling cookies. She's managed to put all kinds of food items into mini cupcake form, such as tacos, mac & cheese, pizza, etc. She now caters events, hosts birthday parties, teaches cooking classes, and has most recently created at-home baking kits in response to the pandemic. Nicole talks about the importance of sharing your story, managing time, starting simple, building a local following, and constantly being willing to try new things.Get full show notes and transcript here: https://forrager.com/podcast/22
These days, Dough Boy Donuts is a popular gourmet donut shop that is bustling with customers and employees, but it all started from very humble beginnings. In 2014, Melvin Roberson used Texas' cottage food law to start his donut business from his home kitchen. A year later, he expanded to a food truck, and eventually, to a brick-and-mortar location in Fort Worth, TX (now relocated to Burleson, TX). Melvin has faced plenty of obstacles along the way, including negative customers, family feuds, and a failed Kickstarter campaign. But through perseverance, sacrifice, and plenty of hard work, he has built a loyal customer base that keep coming back for one of his unique signature donuts, like the Sriracha Maple Bacon or The Last Call. Melvin's has a tremendous amount of experience in the food industry... before building a successful food business through three different stages (from home, food truck, storefront), he held just about every food service position available, ultimately managing hundreds of employees as the kitchen manager at a popular steakhouse.Get full show notes and transcript here: https://forrager.com/podcast/21
Cuban-inspired, vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, organic, low-carb, allergy-friendly, diet-specific, healthy... Noel's baked goods are certainly unique! Noel Martinez runs his highly specialized bakery, Mami's Bakes, from his home kitchen in Pittsburg, PA. Noel started baking gluten-free for himself when he was diagnosed with celiac disease 20 years ago. Then he started baking sugar-free and low-carb for his "Mami" (mom), who had diabetes. After Mami passed away in 2019, Noel finally decided to start selling the baked goods that his family and friends had raved about for years. He started selling to coworkers, and soon enough, they were keeping him busy with orders every week. They also had no problem paying top dollar ($40 for a coffee cake, anyone?) for his products, even though most of them had no diet-specific needs! Only 6 months in, Noel is still in the early stages of his business. Despite his consistent sales and enthusiastic customers, there are growing pains as well. Noel shares a view into the ground floor of a new business, including his process for improving recipes, pricing products, building an email list, attracting raving fans, sourcing ingredients, and finding time to run a side business while working two part-time jobs.Get full show notes and transcript here: https://forrager.com/podcast/20
Becca Aronowitz from Richmond Hill, GA makes some of the best cake pops you have ever seen. After Becca quit her job as an art teacher in 2012, she started Sweet Whimsy Shop to sell her cake pops and help support her family. 8 years and 40,000+ cake pops later, Becca has become a true master at the cake pop art form. But unlike many entrepreneurs that start with big dreams for the future, Becca never envisioned becoming well-known for her cake pops. As she puts it: "I had not thought about that at all. I just thought this is a way that I can sell cake pops. That was really where it ended." But that's most definitely not where it ended for this "pretty extreme introvert". So far, her largest order totaled around $4,000, and her cake pops have even appeared on national television! Becca talks everything cake pops: making, pricing, sculpting, decorating, inverting, etc. She also shares her journey from art teacher to business owner, how she handles social media as an introvert, how she runs her business on two hours per day, and some crazy experiences she's had along the way.Get full show notes and transcript here: https://forrager.com/podcast/19
For Mallory, it all started with a chocolate chip cookie. But that was just the beginning! Mallory Dies, owner of The Crassy Cookie in Stafford, VA, tried selling many variations and flavors of her drop cookies, and ultimately found the most success with her innovative gourmet cookie sandwiches. These cookie sandwiches are certainly unique. They range from "safe" flavors like rainbow chip, strawberry shortcake, or choco fudge brownie, all the way to more "oddball" flavors like blueberry lemon-lavandula, fruity pebbles, and matcha munchie. Mallory shares how she slowly built a customer base (twice) and had self-doubts along the way. As an introvert, she resisted putting herself into her brand, but eventually "bit the bullet" and started developing significant engagement on social media. She also shares many marketing ideas that have worked well for her business, like creating monthly boxes, adding bonuses to orders, and promoting her products in local Facebook groups. Despite the many challenges with selling basic drop cookies (short shelf life, low perceived value, etc), Mallory has found many ways to make a cookie business work well for her.Get full show notes and transcript here: https://forrager.com/podcast/18
Nicole Barry is a classically-trained French pastry chef and an expert macaron maker. But after working long hours in 5-star hotels and restaurants, Nicole and her husband started a family, and she wanted to stay at home with the kids. In 2016, Nicole started Bake Toujours, a cottage food business in Pasadena, CA which allowed her to take her skills to the farmers market. She built a customer base and generated a decent side income, even though she could only work 3 hours per day while her kids were in school. Nicole's macarons really stand out. Her Instagram feed showcases so many different flavors, color swirls, decorations, and custom shapes: unicorns, rainbows, strawberries, foxes, flowers, and even Eeyore! In 2019, she took her skills to YouTube, where she posts amazingly high-quality videos and tutorials. Within a year, she accrued over 10k subscribers, with over 150k views on her most popular video! Nicole now lives in Portland, OR, and she has put her cottage food business on hold while she focuses on her growing YouTube audience. In this episode, Nicole shares many tips on making and selling macarons, as well as her transition from prestigious restaurants to farmers markets to YouTube.Get full show notes and transcript here: https://forrager.com/podcast/17
Over the past decade, Jennifer Lopez and Emily Blattel have sold dozens of custom cakes that run the gamut from elegant buttercream cakes to realistic cake sculptures. The results are always exceptional, and sometimes they are nearly unbelievable! This dynamic duo runs The Cake Mom & Co. from their homes in Paducah, KY and Scott City, MO. Because they are both amazing cake decorators, I thought this interview would be focused solely on cake artistry. But they ended up touching on so many facets of running a cake business that I had to split this episode into two parts. This is Part 2, and you can listen to Part 1 here. In this second half of the interview, they covered startup advice, the ordering and design process, business partnerships, social media platforms, cake supplies, promotional giveaways, and cake competitions. Jennifer also explained how she helped changed Kentucky's cottage law, even though she initially had no intention of spearheading that effort!Get full show notes and transcript here: https://forrager.com/podcast/16
Over the past decade, Jennifer Lopez and Emily Blattel have sold dozens of custom cakes that run the gamut from elegant buttercream cakes to realistic cake sculptures. The results are always exceptional, and sometimes they are nearly unbelievable! This dynamic duo runs The Cake Mom & Co. from their homes in Paducah, KY and Scott City, MO. Because they are both amazing cake decorators, I thought this interview would be focused solely on cake artistry. But they ended up touching on so many facets of running a cake business that I had to split this episode into two parts. This is Part 1. In this first half of the interview, they covered their startup journey, online marketing strategies, photography, pricing, delivery, and many stories of their triumphs and near-failures. Make sure you listen to the end to hear the "beach cake" story, which led Emily and I to agree that Jennifer is a veritable "crazy cake lady"!Get full show notes and transcript here: https://forrager.com/podcast/15
Patricia Bedford lives in Pflugerville, TX and mainly sells cupcakes and cakes with her cottage food business, Suga's Cakery. Patricia actually has an engineering degree and worked as an engineer for 10 years before she completely changed course and started her home bakery. She has gained quite the following over the past 5 years, and she is now in the process of building a food truck to expand her business to meet customer demand. Patricia shares her online marketing strategies for becoming a top ranked bakery in her area, how she created a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $17,000, and how she is transitioning her business to a food truck.Get full show notes and transcript here: https://forrager.com/podcast/14
Whether it's putting a smile on an ill child's face, delivering a stunning floral wedding cake, or contacting state legislators to change the law, Kathy Cherie is always baking a difference in her community. Kathy lives in Elk Grove Village, IL and has operated her cottage food business, Cake Du Jour, for nearly 40 years. Her business is somewhat under-the-table, except that her health department has known about it for decades. Kathy would love to help the next generation of bakers in Illinois do what she could not: run a home bakery legally. Her county (Cook) still doesn't allow home kitchen operations, so she continues to advocate for a statewide law. Although she loves baking for all occasions, she especially loves donating "dream cakes" through the charity Icing Smiles, where she gets to support families with a critically ill child. She has made over 20 dream cakes so far. In addition to her charitable and legal efforts, Kathy talks about making photorealistic sugar flowers (her specialty), gives pricing advice for custom cakes, and shares tips on how cake decorators can improve their skills.Get full show notes and transcript here: https://forrager.com/podcast/13
Most people run a business to make a profit, but Joanne is not too worried about that aspect of it. Rather, she cares much more about supporting her community and having fun in retirement! Joanne Littau lives in Denver, CO and has been selling jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butters since 2014 with her cottage food business, The Jelly Jar. Some of her creations have won prizes at county fairs in Colorado. I have known Joanne for many years and visited her market a few years ago. I even had an unopened jar of her marmalade in the fridge, which I tasted in real-time during the interview! Joanne talks about why it's difficult to make money from selling preserves, what practical tips to follow when canning goods, and what makes the cottage food community so special.Get full show notes and transcript here: https://forrager.com/podcast/12
When Dr. Christine Bertz started beekeeping, she didn't care if she made any money from it. In fact, her main motivation was to support pollinator conservation efforts. But now, only three years in, her honey business is blossoming and she is having trouble keeping up with customer demand! Christine lives in Memphis, TN and sells honey and jams with her cottage food business, B & Bees Provisions. In addition to selling, she gives her products away to benefit charities through her participation in triathlons and marathons. Christine talks about the importance of beekeeping, how to start a beehive in your backyard, and how her fear of bees has transformed into an utter fascination and love of them.Get full show notes and transcript here: https://forrager.com/podcast/11
When it comes to creating custom decorated cookies, Tina is very prepared. She owns a plethora of cookie cutters (including over 500 just for Christmas), and amazingly, she is always looking to buy more! Tina lives in Saginaw, MI and has run her popular cookie business, the Chunky Chicken Cookie Company, for the past three years. Whether she is designing cookies or naming chickens, her creativity shines through. Tina talks about how she manages to decorate hundreds of cookies each week, as well as pricing, resources, and what she's learned over the years. She also shares her philosophy about putting life onto cookies to make the world a happier place.Get full show notes and transcript here: https://forrager.com/podcast/10
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