Want to Launch a Cottage Bakery? A Pastry Chef Offers Advice
Devon Morgan, the owner of Built Pastry, talks about launching a bakery from her home kitchen.
When Devon Morgan was furloughed in March from her job in restaurant sales, she started baking up a storm—like a lot of people. It came easily to the longtime Columbus pastry chef, whose professional pastry experience includes Eleni-Christina Bakery and Hilton Downtown Columbus.
Then, Morgan took her baking one step further: She launched Built Pastry, a cottage bakery, food photography and consulting business.
For a while, Morgan had been considering the idea of starting a business to help other people open their own bakeries. Selling her own baked goods was an obvious way to spread the word about her consultancy. This year, with just a small mixer and her kitchen’s one oven, Morgan has produced a variety of cookies, quick breads, focaccia, crackers and other goodies for pop-ups and markets like the German Village Makers Market.
Ohio doesn’t keep statistics on how many home bakeries launch every year, but bakers I spoke to in Central Ohio say they’ve noticed an explosion of new businesses, as hobbyists and professional bakers alike have pivoted out of necessity amid the pandemic.
In Ohio, two options exist for baking and selling baked goods from a home kitchen: a cottage bakery and a licensed home bakery. According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, cottage bakeries may sell items that “do not require refrigeration, such as breads, cookies and fruit pies.” Although a license is not required, cottage bakeries are subject to strict labeling requirements.
Home bakeries, on the other hand, are subject to regulatory oversight and allow for the baking of cheesecakes, custard-filled doughnuts, pumpkin pies and other “potentially hazardous bakery items that need refrigeration.” In addition, licensed home bakeries may not have pets in the home or carpet in the kitchen. They are also subject to inspection.
Thinking of launching a bakery from your own kitchen? Morgan shares some advice.
- “You can be a cottage bakery and not do the farmers markets or the pop-ups, but it definitely is a way to have a consistent form of income and also a way to kind of get your name out there,” she says. But first, do your research. Although cottage bakeries in Ohio do not require an operating license, some farmers markets require you to carry insurance.
- To sell your baked creations, you must carefully label them. “The very first market that I did, I tried to use Avery labels—which are everywhere—and it was a total disaster,” she says, explaining that the wording would end up crooked or cut off. She ended up investing in a label printer, which saved her valuable time. “My biggest piece of advice is, find a good label maker.”
- Rein in your menu. When she started out baking for pop-ups and markets, Morgan say she “wanted to bake all the things.” Don’t try to do too much.
- “Make sure that you have a vision of how you want to set up your table at farmers markets and that you have enough containers to hold your products,” Morgan says. “I think that it’s so important to visually make people want to come to the table.”
- Keep track of your receipts for tax purposes. All of those pans, spatulas and labels can be written off.
You can find Built Pastry online at builtpastry.com.