Christine Black is an avid home baker, one who bestows treats on her friends, family and co-workers. As requests for her goodies grew, she considered renting commercial space and actually growing her passion into a business. But when the "cottage food bill," which allows home cooks to sell their goods directly to consumers under certain circumstances, was signed into law at the end of March, it gave her a chance to launch immediately.
And so Cake Pandemic was born.
Under the measure, which was signed into law at the end of March, the home cooks must register with the state (at $100 a year), and label their products with their name, address, contact information and the products' ingredients, as well as this disclaimer: "THIS PRODUCT WAS PRODUCED IN A HOME KITCHEN THAT IS NOT SUBJECT TO STATE LICENSURE OR INSPECTION. THIS PRODUCT IS NOT INTENDED FOR RESALE."
"The passing of this bill made the dream a reality for me," Black explains. "I was able to launch much earlier than initially planned due to the lifted financial burden of renting a facility. It allowed me flexibility with my time. I do not have to worry about an hourly rate, and I can bake at times that work for my schedule. It is possible to bring in some revenue going forward without the additional overhead costs." And there are plenty of costs involved with a commercial kitchen.
"I don't have formal training, just a passion for food, art and pleasing others," continues Black, who holds down a full-time job as a legal assistant. "I found a way to nurture that passion in baking. The first time I can recall the desire to perfect my skills was after my grandmother passed in 2009. She had a tradition of baking a mincemeat cake for my father each year. When she passed, I was determined to not let the tradition die with her. I wanted the cake to be as good as hers, and that is where it all began."
That mincemeat cake is now on the Pandemic menu, along with pies, biscotti -- flavors range from cranberry pistachio to lemon blueberry -- and a variety of cupcakes, including Sublime Lime, Strawberry Lemonade and Mucho Moch. Black says she's constantly inventing and experimenting with new flavor combinations.
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The ultimate goal, she notes, is to have a storefront in Denver or close by, and this first step is way to raise both interest and capital. "I'm just kind of seeing where this takes me," she explains. "It's slow, and I'm just getting out there. This gives me an opportunity to see if the demand is really there and if I can do this full time."
While she researches that, she's also contemplating joining a farmers' market. In the meantime, the best way to track down her goods is to order them directly via the Cake Pandemic Facebook page or by e-mailing Black at firstname.lastname@example.org.