You started cooking as a hobby. Maybe you started making craft cocktail mixers from home one weekend out of boredom. Perhaps you picked up some pandemic cooking skills. Or maybe your friends won’t stop talking about how you should start selling your homemade snacks. No matter how you got to this point, one thing is certain: you’re thinking about turning your passion for creating delicious, memorable meals into a food business.
It’s something we’ve heard time and time again. After her friends and family tasted her vegan cookies, Lisa started her home-based bakery in Pennsylvania. Angela’s cousin told her that her baked goods were “good enough to sell,” so she launched a food business from her home in Wisconsin.
Selling the food you make from your own home carries a few key benefits: the most obvious being that you’re at home. You don’t have to pay extra for a commercial kitchen or worry about time slot availability at a shared kitchen space. If you’ve been toying with the idea of selling your home cooked food to the public, here are three reasons why you should take the leap.
Empowering Your Local Economy
In a time where so much of what we consume and use is made by machines, it’s refreshing to make and receive something that’s handmade. Even better than that is when you can buy something that’s handmade in your city or region. By participating — both by making and by purchasing — in the artisan economy around you, you’re fueling a flywheel of economic growth for you and your neighbors. When you sell your homemade food to the public, you’re empowering your fellow makers.
The cottage food industry is overwhelmingly female, and mostly based in rural areas. According to an Institute for Justice report, “cottage food producers are primarily women who live in rural areas, have below-average incomes, and operate their businesses as a supplemental occupation or hobby.”
The domino effect of supporting cottage food producers is clear. When you support small, home-based businesses, you’re not just helping the maker. When you seek out cottage food artisans who use local ingredients, you’re indirectly contributing to the success of farmers and other food producers. You may also be reducing the distance your ingredients need to travel to reach you, reducing your environmental impact.
The Flexibility of Being Your Own Boss
Don’t want to deal with the red tape and bureaucracy of working for a large corporation? A cottage food business provides you with the flexibility to set your own hours, choose the orders you want to fulfill, and decide which products to sell.
If you only want to bake and sell a single type of sourdough bread, you can do that. If you only want to fulfill orders via pickup from your home, you set the rules. If you’d like to take a week off from baking or making, you can let your customers know that you won’t be available. This benefit isn’t unique to cottage food makers, but it is a perk of running your own business. Luckily, there are also apps for selling home cooked food that make this really easy to do.
Building Community Through Food
Have you ever struck up a conversation with a fellow shopper at your local farmers’ market about the food you were purchasing? Imagine if your customers came together to discuss their favorite products from your business, or to share recipes that they’ve used your creations in. When you own your own cottage food business, this isn’t just possible — it’s bound to happen at some point, even if only through social media comments.
By crafting delicious, fresh, local food and selling it to your community, you’re opening the door to community creation. Your customers want to support your business, and they’re likely eager to see how your other customers are using your products and where they can find other food artisans like you. Your business has the power to fuel a community — one with loyal fans who make sure to visit your farmers’ market stand every week or who place delivery orders every holiday season.