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to give cake away?

(24 Posts)
KirjavaTheCat Fri 16-Jan-15 13:42:32

I've been decorating cakes as a hobby for four or so years, and I've reached a level where I feel I'm good enough to maybe start a small business (I know, another homebaking business, yawn) but I live in a rather competitive area for home bakers and I need to get myself a proper, professional portfolio together before I even think about going legit.

At the rate I currently make cakes for people that will take a long, long time. I'm currently making them for family birthdays, friends etc for the cost of supplies and ingredients and a bit on top for my time, or a lot of the time as gifts.

So to speed up the portfolio I had the idea of making a cake once a month to my own brief (in my own style and of various occasions) and giving them away. Maybe on a Facebook freecycle site or similar. Advertise that I'd like to give a cake away and anyone who has an occasion that would suit the cake can have it for free. It helps someone out who may not have been able to afford a 'custom' cake otherwise and I get the photos without wasting it. Win win.

Is this a stupid idea? I want to start the business next year some time so thought it would give me a good opportunity to to build it fast, alongside all the normal cakes I make for birthdays and parties etc. Plus, it would give me a chance to make the type of cakes I want to make rather than what the recipient would like, which I think is important if I want to establish my own 'speciality' iyswim.

Firstly, is this legal? I don't have any of the paperwork to sell cakes to the public. But if I give them away...?

Would you accept a cake from someone for free? Without thinking I'm a dodgy weirdo intent on poisoning people with fancy cakes or something?

Letmeeatcakecakecake Fri 16-Jan-15 13:46:35

I think you could set up a page on facebook and ask your friends 'like' it.

I think to be on the safe side, you should probably have a hygiene certificate, so this may be worth looking into... and public/professional indemnity insurance (if someone hurt themselves/became ill off your cake and tried to sue you ect).

If you posted a picture of the cake and asked people to enter the draw by 'liking and sharing' your page/post that would work. You could then also ask them to write a review of the cake for your website :-D

Good luck, I love cake!

PeruvianFoodLover Fri 16-Jan-15 13:52:17

I suggest you consider Product Liability Insurance - without that, you leave yourself open to financial ruin if someone chooses to sue you - and sadly, there are people out there who prey on small cottage industries in that way.

In order to get Insurance, you'll probably need to get a Food Safety qualification, and might need to register with the Local Authority - otherwise your insurance may well be invalid.

Try looking at it in a different way. Rather then view it as you giving cakes away for free, consider yourself as already "trading" as a small business, but giving cakes away as part of your marketing strategy. A lot of businesses don't bring in any income to start with as they built up their customer base.
The advantage of setting up now as a business is that you could offset expenses you incur now against future profits.

Stinkle Fri 16-Jan-15 13:52:53

What about buying some of the polystyrene dummy cakes?

I used to make wedding cakes and used the dummy cakes a lot for wedding fairs and stuff like that. You can peel the icing off and reuse them

I would register yourself with Environmental Health and look into liability insurance. I used to be with Direct Line for a fiver a month.

PicaK Fri 16-Jan-15 13:53:26

I love cake too.
But if I'm buying one I'm interested in the decoration and how well that's done. I would assume it'll taste nice.
Can't you buy those polystyrene fake cake blocks and create some diff cakes to quickly establish your portfolio?

PeruvianFoodLover Fri 16-Jan-15 13:54:07

Oh! and why not donate the cakes you make to charity for raffles/auctions etc?

You'll get the chance of free publicity, too!

KirjavaTheCat Fri 16-Jan-15 13:58:40

I've considered dummy cakes, but I want to be sure that any designs I'm advertising work on actual cake so I thought - if I'm going to have to test them on cake I may as well just make them that way first. I'm keen on having real cakes in my portfolio as well, it feels a bit... Fake, not to. I'm probably being unreasonable about that though.

I really want to avoid the legal side of things until I take the plunge and call myself a business. So it doesn't matter if I'm giving them away or not? sad

Would another alternative be donating them to church fairs and the like, or would that need the paperwork also?

BreeVDKamp Fri 16-Jan-15 13:59:04

I started my little cake co this time last year, having a baby in May though so this year will hopefully be quiet!

I think it's a great idea. I would definitely register your premises with your council, get your food safety certificate and public liability insurance before giving or selling any cakes - you'll have to do it eventually anyway, and it will cover you if anything goes wrong. I do like to err on the side of caution though.

I think this is a really good idea and might steal it!! I need to add fresh cakes to my portfolio and it's so disheartening just doing dummy cakes or throwing lots of uneaten cake away. I despise waste!!!

I am writing a cook book too (as a hobby) and thinking I might get a local focus group going, we can meet up and I can feed them cake and get feedback on my recipes grin

Good luck!

whothehellknows Fri 16-Jan-15 14:00:15

If you have a facebook page, you could do a monthly give-away for people who have shared/liked your page that month. It's a common way to raise your facebook profile.

Also, if you have any chocolate cake and would like to give it to me, YANBU.

BreeVDKamp Fri 16-Jan-15 14:02:20

Yes, honestly, do the legal side of things now! It's not that scary or that much of a hassle really, it'll feel good to be one of the 'home bakers' doing things right (I'm sure loads of them are cutting corners!) and it's fun to sort out serious things (makes me feel like a grown up, anyway blush)

KirjavaTheCat Fri 16-Jan-15 14:12:56

Haha yes, it does feel intimidating, all the legal stuff which is why I want to avoid it for as long as possible blush

I think I like this idea so if I have to get it sorted for it to happen, then I will have to get it sorted!

PeruvianFoodLover Fri 16-Jan-15 14:13:02

So it doesn't matter if I'm giving them away or not?

Not really - if someone falls ill from your cake making, then they're not really going to care if they paid you or not! It's different if it's for friends and family, but once the general public are involved, that creates liabilities that could cost you a lot of money just in legal fees - even if it ends up that a judge rules in your favour! Your home insurance 'might' cover you.....perhaps worth checking?

Legally, the requirement to register with Env Health as a food producer isn't defined by whether you are a business or not, but by the frequency and degree or organisation involved in the production of the food. What you are proposing is regular and organised - and tbh, if any of the other "cake bakers" in your area found out what you were doing, they might report you (it's a cutthroat business!) and you don't want Env Health on your doorstep asking questions!

flashheartscanoe Fri 16-Jan-15 15:35:09

People dont appreciate it when things are free and will be likely to think there a catch.
I think you should auction them for charity- no reserve price. Set up a facebook page.
You'd get more publicity that way (contact the local paper) and it could be a bit of fun for people to get involved and try and 'win' a cake each month.

HandMini Fri 16-Jan-15 15:40:32

Look at Free Cakes for Kids. You are their dream come true.

Gawjushun Fri 16-Jan-15 15:43:47

Quite a few charities like this. Might be a good way to practice and do good!

Adarajames Fri 16-Jan-15 23:24:49

Yes, check out Cakes for Kids, my sister makes cakes for them and they are always over the moon when they get them; you could maybe talk to local paper about it, do a sort of human interest story about you to get some publicity for you and the organisation too?

corgiology Fri 16-Jan-15 23:31:19

I think you may attract all the bargain hunters/people who enter lots of competitions but have no intention of ever recommending your cake/buying your cakes smile

musicalendorphins2 Sat 17-Jan-15 03:58:38

you could maybe talk to local paper about it, do a sort of human interest story about you to get some publicity for you and the organisation too?
This is true. A story in a local paper about a man who gives free meals or pay by donation, in his restaurant once a year, was the reason why we decided to go there to eat a few times. The food is just ok, but we give him the business, as he is a good guy.

Legwarmersforboys Sat 17-Jan-15 04:50:20

I'll second the Free Cakes for kids, there quite active round here & I often see them in the local paper

EstRusMum Sat 17-Jan-15 05:13:41

Why don't you use those cakes for a charity tea mornings (or whatever they are called)? So you'll collect some money for charity and get some sort of focus group?

TheMuppetsSingChristmas Sat 17-Jan-15 09:11:12

Get your legals in place and then donate one a month to a different local baby group meeting, free advertising at a core market group! Spring/Easter fair season coming up too, speak to all of your local school PTA's re having a stall and donating a raffle prize.

TheMuppetsSingChristmas Sat 17-Jan-15 09:14:49

And if you truly want to just give them away, how about a local women's shelter or old people's home? Family of residents in the latter might be interested in cakes for notable birthdays & anniversaries.

SacredHeart Sat 17-Jan-15 10:52:34

Just an FYI if you go down the Facebook route, bearing in mind you said it's a competitive area, asking people to share a post to enter a competition is a breach of Facebook policy and can result in your page being banned or suspended. Any of your competitors could report it and you could be out of action for weeks or even months.

It happens more than people think so make sure you follow policy.

woodwaj Sat 17-Jan-15 11:11:45

I would do it as a facebook giveaway but also state how much the cake would be if someone would like to order one on the back of seeing what you can do! You might get sales quicker than you think!

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