Roxane Daigle is like many of us; focused on family and good food. The last thing she ever anticipated was that one day she would be lobbying her state senate to try to get a law changed. But then again, she never anticipated that something so very basic – so very American if you will – as making cakes at home so that she could help care for her grandson could land her in hot water. Not one to be easily deterred, Roxane is now focused on bringing a Cottage Food Law into effect in Louisiana. Read more about what steps she’s had to take and how you can help. Read more
Posts from the ‘Kitchen Space’ Category
Never underestimate the power of a motivated woman – especially when that woman is motivated by the health of her child! Felicia Hill of FH Cakes was the one-woman force behind helping get a Cottage Food Bill – a law which enables small food businesses to legally operate out of a home kitchen – passed in Washington State. I had a chance to talk with her to learn more about how this stay-at-home mom helped change legislation that will impact hundreds if not thousands of small food entrepreneurs. Read more
Wow, there’s been a flurry of changes in the Cottage Food world in the past six months that’s it’s been hard to keep up! In case you don’t already know, Cottage Food Laws pertain specifically to home based food businesses which allow you to use your own kitchen rather than a commercial kitchen to make your products. Read more
If you’ve always thought that you’d like to give food entrepreneurship a try but have been hesitant to jump in with both feet and rent commercial kitchen space, the good news is that it’s now possible in many states to start a home bakery or other small food business from your own kitchen. Since the rules and regulations vary by state I’ve included a Home-Based Food Business page to this website with information about the Cottage Food Laws as they apply on a state-by-state basis. I will work to keep that page up-to-date with all the latest home food business news since the rules are changing so rapidly. The fact that so many states are now coming on board and allowing home-based food businesses though is very exciting as it opens up this sector of entrepreneurship to anyone (living in states that allow it) who has a passion for good handmade food while lowering the startup costs required to get going.
Unless you are one of the lucky ones who can operate a food business out of your own home due to local cottege food laws, you will likely need to find some type of commercial kitchen space to make your artisan food products. One option worth checking out is Commercial Kitchens for Rent which is an online resource of commercial kitchen spaces that can be rented by small food entrepreneurs. To make searching easier, the site is divided by state or you can do a search based on locations within a certain proximity to you.
I had the pleasure to spend some time on Friday catching up with Aaron Barthel, founder and Experimenter Extraordinaire of Intrigue Chocolates Co. Aaron was featured in my first book, Starting A Part-Time Business, where he shared with me his experiences of starting an artisan truffle company while he also worked not one but several other jobs. That story ended with Aaron saying that he was working on moving out tof he shared kitchen space he rented and into a workshop of his own.
I’m so excited to share that after a lot of hard work, Aaron has done just that and opened up a beautiful space in the heart of Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square neighborhood. I only had my phone with me but I did manage to snap a few pictures:
I also had to get a picture of some of the spices Aaron uses to create his unique and delicious flavors:
If you’re a Seattle local or will be visiting this beautiful city at any point, be sure to check out Intrigue Chocolates Co. workspace at 76 S. Washington Street. When you stop by you’ll be treated to a free tasting of all the flavors Aaron has available at that time and you will undoubtably want to bring some home! In case you’re not in the area you can also purchase Aaron’s chocolates through the Intrigue Chocolates Co. website. Right now the flavors he’s offering are cleverly conceived of to be perfect for Father’s Day with Cabernet Sauvignon, Scotch, and Bourbon flavors. While they’re all delicious the Jamacian HOT Chocolate still remains my favorite as the flavor profile just unrolls on your tongue like nothing I’ve ever had before. I would like to be able to tell you that I bought some for my Dad for Father’s Day but the truth is that the truffles I took home with me are already gone!
Times they are a changing! Until recently if you wanted to start a food business you had no choice but to rent or build out a commercial kitchen before you could get started – neither of which is cheap. Some states though have passed laws that may make it possible for you to start your small food business in the comfort of your own kitchen.
Loosely known as Cottage Food Laws, there is a movement across the U.S. to allow home-based food businesses to be licensed and sell their products to the public. On it’s face value this is wonderful news to anyone who has ever wanted to start a small food business but hasn’t wanted to commit to the cost of renting commercial kitchen space. Currently, the following states have passed Cottage Food Bills: Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusettes, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming. Alabama and Indiana also allow bakers to make products in their own kitchens for sale exclusively at farmers’ markets.
While each state differs somewhat, in most cases production of food at home is limited to non-potentially hazardous products which may include, depending on the state, baked goods that don’t require specific storage temperatures, pickled products, jams, jellies, and other items such as granola, and candy. Before you get too excited though be sure to read the fine print for your state. Some states require that your home kitchen be licensed by a health department official while others let you operate out of your kitchen without any oversight. Some won’t allow kids or pets in the same facility as your home kitchen which is not too feasible if you have kids or pets in your home (and plan on keeping them!). Some limit where you can sell your products and others put limits on how much revenue your business can bring in during a year which, after you take out your costs, may not make it profitable for you.
A handful of other states, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, South Dakota, and Washington, have similar laws pending in their legislature right now. Advocates argue that allowing small food producers to utilize their own kitchens will create jobs and businesses, promote locally-produced goods, and help the economy grow. On the flip side, some argue that home based kitchens have a higher likelihood for passing along food borne diseases if they aren’t kept to the same high standards as commercial kitchens and bakeries (though it’s often noted that Iowa, which instituted cottage food laws back in 2005, has had only one instance in food poisoning from a home-based kitchen since the law was enacted).
All in all, while these cottage food laws don’t take out all the obsticles to starting a food business, it does provide entrepreneurs with some new options. This is certainly a great option to anyone just starting out who wants to test the market without committing to renting commercial kitchen space – assuming of course that you live in one of the above states!
We couldn’t let this go by without drawing attention to it. In case you haven’t yet seen it, the New York Times did an article about a Queens shared commercial kitchen space and some of the people who have started businesses in it: