Here is how I have structured the cottage business for beta sales my first month:
I make four recipes each week.
I have the materials and capacity to make 12-18 pints of each recipe.
I use Facebook to advertise, email for ordering and I deliver each order in person.
Each week I send out a newsletter with the four recipes available the next week, and the prices for each, and Monday I head out on deliveries.
If I sell $500 in food each week I will be pushing the limit of what is allowed through the Cottage Food Laws in Alaska, which is $25,000/year gross sales.
I have been in retail for awhile; I am pricing each product at retail, not wholesale, which should make it profitable, not just a hobby, in the long run.
When I added up my first weeks sales last night I had grossed $354 my first week, not too shabby! I asked my husband, who is home for two days, "would you ever work that hard in a week to gross $354?" Of course the answer was no, but he asked, "are you having fun and are you doing this just for money?"
It's definitely not just about money, it's about putting healing foods into the guts of people I care about. I can't afford to LOSE money and I prefer not to just break even, because our family's usual source of income has been decreasing for the past 7 years (we are a commercial fishing family).
I expected no more than 12-15 customers for at least a few months. It's exciting to have people contact me to be added to the customer list, and honestly a tiny bit intimidating to find a way to produce enough for 20 regulars my second week.
Oh my gosh @melancholy-bear -- I added another 3 customers during the day and asked my husband, "how much do I need to make each week for you to stay home and help me?" ha ha! Honestly, if I could set up to meet DEC regulations for kefir (and to make kombucha consistently) this would support our family, I am sure of it. Just have to keep my head as I get started because growing too fast makes for unhappy customers--if they can't get what they want when they want they go away! *I don't want to grow that much or be that big, I just see it is a reality. People are STARVING for real food.
@bearyhappy-lisa That's awesome! We hope to do that too someday. Did you start by basically notifying your friends and neighbors on facebook? Did you feel the need to start an LLC business first in case someone decides to sue (God forbid)?
Where do you buy your glass jars cheaply? Bottles and caps seem like a big cost when we think about selling kombucha. Do the customers return to you the empties and get a discount?
I have a few things going for me. I have had a retail shop in Petersburg since 2013 so I had a customer base. I started selling culturing supplies and teaching classes on the topics last year, I think people associate me with cultured foods here. I did start with Facebook to let locals know what I would be doing, I really didn't expect more than 10 people to be interested, thinking it would be a much slower start.
In January I closed down the brick and mortar shop I'd had for years and opened the small studio I work out of now, on our property. My primary business is set up as an LLC, but what I am doing now, as Cabin Culture, is just as me, from my home with a basic business license--my other business still has oodles of insurance, but not the Cabin Culture business. Our local economy has been tanking for YEARS, what everyone else is feeling right now, our town has been experiencing for years.
I buy pint jars at retail in town for $1.77 each, adding that on top of the price of the food. Customers returning jars get $1.77 back. Some do and some let me know they will always just buy the jar. Last night my husband asked if I was going to start sourcing jars at wholesale, or a much cheaper price for larger quantities, so now I will. It was hard to know how many jars I would need or use at first, and I didn't have the money to buy bulk lots of jars, now I can reinvest a bit of what I am making. I also bought 4 more 2 gallon crocks. :)
Uline is a great source for some products, but you really have to buy pallet fulls to get a good price break. I refuse to shop Amazon, as a small business owner; I have not bought from them for years. As a retailer I suggest the platform FAIRE and specifically the companies Amici Home and Mason Tops for resale supplies.
There are a few things I have noticed about our customers. A huge range of income sources, but most are Christian or God based families. Many are struggling with health issues and because I am so outspoken about my own journey, they know I was like them once and see how much healthier I am now.
Even with the insane state of things, and our state is failing this test tremendously, my customer list just keeps growing. I really do believe people are starving for healing food the way they are starving for God in their lives.
Oh! I am trying a few recipes without air locks to see how it goes. The hermetically sealed I will have to burp daily, I expect.
Thanks for the resources. It sounds like you have a great story. each sale sounds like you're giving the people a little bit of logos with every jar. They do need God. We all do. Logos rising!
I just got delivery of some vented tops, glass weights, and a kitchen scale today, and now all I'm waiting on is the jars in order to get started.