Do you make the best blueberry jam on the block?
Have a cheese straw secret that is requested anytime you attend a party?
Are your pickled peppers the talk of the town?
Here in Chicago, we have an amazing opportunity to show off our homemade goods with the Chicago Food Swap. But have you ever thought about starting a business out of your kitchen? If so, Homemade for Sale: How to Set Up and Market a Food Business from Your Home Kitchen could be your ticket to getting started. It's the first authoritative guide to conceiving and launching your own home-based food start-up.
Released in April 2015, this book by Lisa Kivirist & John Ivanko shares the stories of successful "cottage food" entrepreneurs. It takes you through the business process from idea to recipe to final product, including details on:
- Product development and testing
- Marketing and developing your niche
- Structuring your business and planning for the future
- Managing liability, risk, and government regulations.
That last point is probably the most confusing to manuever and why a lot of home cooks have had their business dreams sizzle out. The food industry can be particularly challenging for start-up businesses.
A cottage law refers to home food production and sale of "non-hazardous” food products, often defined as those that are high in acid with a low pH, like jams, jellies or pickles, or low in moisture, such as breads.The Illinois law became effective in January 2012 and addresses what products can be sold, where they can be sold, how they can be sold and how much of each product can be sold. The purpose of the law is to promote and support the Illinois agriculture and cottage food industries.
The city of Chicago defines products that can be made in a home kitchen and sold to be:
- Certain fruit-based jams, jellies and preserves
- Fruit butters
- Baked goods (i.e. breads, cookies, cakes, pies, and pastries)
- Dried foods (i.e. herbs and teas).
Cottage laws give people interested in starting a business the opportunity to try it out without first taking an intimidating leap into a huge time or financial investment. Roxanne Junge, market manager for the Glenview Farmers’ Market, in Glenview, Illinois recently told Natural Awakenings, “The cottage food law is an awesome thing for people to get their foot in the door, try out a new product and sell it direct to their customers. It allows them to do this without investing too much money into the business before they’ve figured out what will sell. Eventually, many of them are able to take the next step to open a storefront or start an online sales business.”
Homemade for Sale is a must-read for any first-time food entrepreneur because of the amount of research it includes. It also provides helpful information about avoiding common pitfalls and is tailored to the home cook, including an assessment to determine whether you are ready to be a "CFO" (Cottage Food Operator).
One of the questions the authors pose in the book to ask yourself is about your food knowledge (page 52):
One of the options listed in the book to gain this type of knowledge is The Chopping Block's Boot Camps. These specialized intensive courses focus on a particular technique or ingredient and delve deep into that subject matter. If you are looking for a broader education in the kitchen, our Culinary Boot Camp is a week-long education of all of the major points covered in professional culinary school, at a fraction of the price. This hands-on education could be just what you need to get the creative food business juices flowing!
If you are interested in learning more about Homemade for Sale, you can purchase through Amazon or stay tuned to our Instagram feed as we give away two copies of this book which could help you turn your hobby into a profitable business.