From Pride and Joy, To Broken Dreams – Mary’s Baking Story

Today we feature the story of a home baker who built up a home baking business in Michigan. Unfortunately, when she moved, she found out about Kentucky’s restrictive cottage food law. This is Mary’s story in her own words.

“Several years ago, on a whim I decided to take a Wilton course, which led to another, and another. Then, I became a Wilton Instructor. It was great! I loved helping people learn to decorate because I, myself LOVED decorating. It wasn’t long afterward that I heard our governor at the time, Jennifer Granholm, signed the Michigan Cottage Food Law.

After that, there was no stopping me. I filled out the necessary paperwork to make my home-based bakery a reality, and hardly had a week where I wasn’t producing cakes, cupcakes, and cake pops for friends, family, and strangers. If you aren’t familiar with Michigan’s Cottage Food Law, here are some of the most important points (granted, it’s been almost 5 years since I lived in Michigan):

  1. There’s a $15,000 cap on gross sales per year. Anything above that, and we had to have a business license/storefront. (Note: Now Michigan’s cap is $20,000, and will increase to $25,000 in 2018.)
  2. Home produced goods MUST be produced in the home kitchen to qualify for “Cottage Food” status.
  3. Baked goods, including special occasion cakes, must be labeled with the name of the person, name of the business, full address, full phone number, and ALL ingredients.

Yes, I still had to pay taxes. Yes, I still had to keep a list of my expenses. It was a legitimate business under the law. Thanks to the cottage food law, I was able to contribute to my family’s expenses, while still being available to my two children by working at home. Not only did it benefit me, it benefits owners of cake supply stores, who also pay taxes to the state government.

Tennessee has a Cottage Food Law much like Michigan’s. There is a very popular cake supply store in Nashville called Sweet Wise that I use whenever I have a special cake for my family and friends’ birthdays in Kentucky. Not only would the Cottage Food Law help bakers in Kentucky, it would help people who opened specialty shops like cake supply stores to thrive. Imagine how this could open up a whole new income stream in a new industry!

Unfortunately, with the current Cottage Food Law in Kentucky, I had to give up my business. My passion. Sure, I was able to go back to teaching cake decorating, but it isn’t the same. Three years ago, I broke my back.  Now, most retail jobs are difficult on me. I’m not built for sitting at a desk for hours on end, either. The one thing I excelled at, I can’t do. I desperately miss it. My home-based bakery was my pride and joy.”

Mary, Home baker from Kentucky

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