Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Your Cottage Foods Business and the Internet

As soon as I heard the California's Cottage Food Laws I jumped for joy! Before this law went into effect, you could not sell any foods that were not prepared in a certified, commercial kitchen.
Fresh Baked Honey Wheat Bread - Nothing Else Like It
A while back I had a friend that created the most delectable chocolates I have ever tasted to this day. She tempered her own dark chocolate blends, then added roasted Macadamia nuts from her own trees in Whittier, CA. She rented nighttime kitchen space from a Chocolate shop in town even though it was very expensive. She worked long nights and marketed during the day. In a few months, she had all the customers she could handle and life was good. Then the shop owner was offered a position with Disney, she closed the kitchen and the chocolate shop down the next day.

Without a certified, commercial kitchen to create these wonderful small batches of specialized chocolates, my friend had to go out of business. She was so discouraged, she never ever tried again. Oh, I miss those chocolates. 

Maybe you have always wanted to sell your goodies from your own kitchen. Maybe you have already heard about the Cottage Food Laws that are slowly sweeping the nation. If you are lucky enough to live in a state that offers you the opportunity to make money from your cooking and baking, and the passion is strong, now it the time to rock and roll!

The Cottage Foods Laws vary from state to state and not all states have them, yet. Check with your state's department of health or county offices for the rules and regulations before you start. In California, you cannot sell anything that needs refrigeration and that eliminates lot of things, but still leaves breads, spices, candies, chocolates, dried fruits and much more. You also cannot ship your products anywhere. This means you have to provide pick up or delivery service and/or sell your goods at swap meets, yard sales, farmers markets and flea markets. Oh, well. At least you can sell, right?

Since you cannot ship your home-made items, many people think that they cannot advertise on the Internet. You can use the Internet just like any other business, like a pizza restaurant does - take out and delivery. You can still receive orders and payments over the Internet. Just market locally, like a pizza place. 

Some Cottage Food Business have a large budget, others not so much. If you can invest in a nice website with a blog and shopping cart, along with local advertising, yeah! It can only help. If you are starting this business because you need money, then look to Craigslist.com and Nextdoor.com. List your business with your local chamber of commerce, senior center, PTA, Boys and Girls Clubs and other organizations in your area. You can also list your items in online marketplaces, such as HandmadeCatalog.com, just be specific that your business is a pick up and delivery business. 

Many small home-based food companies become larger in a few years and move on to a commercial kitchen and grow and grow. Whether this is your dream or not, your business will benefit from an online presence. Start as soon as possible and tell everyone about it. 

Wishing you the best with your Cottage Foods business. 

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