My mom never let me in the kitchen growing up. The kitchen was considered her domain. I never really learned to cook or bake until I went off to college.
As I shared an apartment with other women, that’s where my culinary journey began. I would watch cooking shows to pass the time, read cookbooks for fun, and eventually started practicing and experimenting with flavors and techniques.
Although cooking seemed essential, I had a passion for baking. I loved being able to share my goodies and spread joy with every bite of cookie, slice of cake, or roll of bread. Even with my passion, I considered myself an average baker and never thought that I would consider how to start a baking side hustle.
Until the pandemic hit. In the middle of March 2020, my life seemed to shut down. My husband was required to work from home, and the kids transitioned to virtual learning. Being a stay at home mom, at the beginning, this wasn’t so bad.
The new schedule seemed like an adventure, but as days turned into weeks with no end in sight, I realized that whatever was happening was becoming my new norm. I was constantly surrounded by my family, unable to leave my house, and even though I loved them, I needed a break.
So, I turned to baking. Baking became my creative outlet to burn off stress. At this time, I focused on making my favorite breakfast item: the bagel. After many trials of various recipes and techniques, I created my own hybrid recipe that consistently created a delicious plain bagel. From there, I started experimenting with various flavors.
Of course, I had to share my beautiful creations on social media! At first, my posts would get simple thumbs up and random comments of “Looks good!” or “Yummy!” As I baked more and posted my pictures, those comments evolved to “I want some. Can you sell me a batch?”
With every new picture, those types of comments increased so much that I had to pause and think about it: could I start a baking side hustle? Do I have the time to commit to this? Is there a big enough of a demand, and do I have enough inventory to fulfill all the demand?
In the end, all things boiled down to one simple question. Do I want to sell baked goods from my home?
I used my husband as a soundboard to think through the process. I loved baking and loved sharing, but I also wanted to ensure I covered all of my costs. With his help, we began the process of starting a home baking business.
Our first step was to figure out what product would I provide. I made a variety of bagels, but I didn’t necessarily need to offer all of them. I narrowed down my menu to five flavors of bagels.
Then, we calculated the cost of each batch. I gave him a master list of all my ingredients, cost, and measurements. My husband created a spreadsheet that showed bottom-line costs for each flavor. From there, I was able to determine how much to charge to compensate for my time and utilities.
Now, out of the entire process, I think price determination is the most difficult one. When I first looked at my prices, I felt that no one would pay that amount! Why would anyone spend almost twice as much for my bagels when they can run to the store and buy the same thing?
It was my husband that kindly reminded me that my bagels were not the same as the grocery store variety. They were better. These bagels were homemade, no preservatives, custom ordered and…wait for it…made with love.
Also, how often did folks get to eat bread freshly baked within the same day? In this bustling, busy society, not that many. But there is still a fine line between comparable and outrageous in price. After much debate, I settled on what I considered a sweet spot and moved on to the next step.
In the beginning, I didn’t have a concrete business plan at the time, but looking back, there were definite stages that I would consider as the process of executing a business plan. After establishing a menu of goods and their cost, it was time to let the world know that I open!
Most of my interest came from Facebook, so I started there. I posted on my timeline that I was selling bagels from my home. I gave very precise instructions on how to order, what to expect with each order, and how to pay.
Soon enough, I had several comments with orders. As the orders were coming in, I started organizing them by batches of execution. Because I offered various flavors, I tried to streamline the process for maximum productivity.
Once I could figure out when the orders would be available for pickup, I would either private message or text the customer with the estimated date and time range for pickup, further payment instructions, and thanking them for their order.
The next few days were filled with creating a to-do list of orders, baking the orders, arranging pickup from my front porch (remember, the pandemic is still going strong, so people loved being able to grab and go), and checking them off as each order was completed and paid. This cycle continued organically for the next several weeks. As more orders were completed, taken home, and consumed, I’d receive positive feedback on my personal Facebook page.
Some clients would post pictures on their personal pages of their freshly baked, homemade bagel while tagging me in the post. Their friends became interested in ordering. Through virtual word of mouth, I was selling more baked goods from my home.
Soon enough, my hobby was no longer a hobby. It transformed into a baking side hustle. I was getting paid for something I loved to do. If you have a passion for baking and have an item that you specialize in, don’t be afraid to start a home baking business. The potential is endless.