New from Illinois

Hello, all!

I am so happy to have found this site, from the state of Illinois! I am a mom of 3 daughters with my youngest in high school. As two of our girls are out of the house, I have a lot more time. Many, many moons ago I studied hotel/restaurant management, as well as was a certified wedding/event planner and designer and sold cakes out of my home when the girls were toddlers. Yet, to me, I have always had a passion for, and always baked, cookies and decorated some over holidays and for special events. However, the fancy decorating was put on hold while they were younger and we did the messy (but such fond memories) decorating with the kids doing most of it.  

Fast forward, I need something to do for me, and would love to do cookie decorating and bring in some income which we can also use.

Researching the Cottage Food Laws in Illinois has been challenging. I found Illinois only allows selling at farmers markets until a year ago, where they now have a home baked goods ordinance in addition to my own county, allowing me to sell $1,000 a month. Not a lot. But what I am coming up against is confusing. Speaking to health department and the city they are telling me conflicting pieces of information. Am I ok if the health department confirms an amendment was done for my county or do I need to also follow the city. They both admitted it was very confusing for them as well - sigh.

Right now I am happy to just sell a little to bring in a little income and improve my decorating skills, although not sure what to do with all the baked goods I practice with - haha! Any tips you have are greatly appreciated!

Looking forward to reading more on this site!

Wendy 

Yorkville, Illinois

Original Post

Hi, it's me again -  for real this time! (Above was an automated response.) I hope you enjoy the site. I can't help much with Illinois cottage food law, but it sounds like you'll need to decipher it if you want to start producing from your home. I am sure someone here has already gone down that path, so hopefully s/he will chime in with some advice. I suppose you could always reach out to other cottage food operators in your area for specific advice as well. Best of luck. Please keep us posted on how your exploration unfolds!

Hi Wendy and welcome. I'm a hobby baker in Illinois and have only heard not-so-good things about our cottage laws. I once met a cookie decorator from Barrington and she told me she went thru all the hoops (getting certified, making labels, etc) and she baked in a commercial kitchen outside her home because she couldn't be legal in her own home (not sure of the reason). When I asked her where she decorated she kinda winked at me. So, I'm thinking she wasn't exactly legal. She also said she paid $800 for insurance, in case someone decided to sue her for a bad cookie I guess. My point is that if you're only allowed to make $1,000 a month and you have to pay insurance, is it worth it? Good luck figuring it all out. I have a friend that had a petition going a while back, had thousands of signatures and spoke to state representatives to change the laws, she does cakes, but had no luck and gave up. A woman I work with has a daughter that quit her full time job and leased a small building to make cakes and cookies. It wasn't even going to be a storefront. Cook County kept telling her to make all these changes in the building (like move a vent over one foot) that she never opened and just bakes from home now. It's frustrating. One last story. My husband's office doesn't use their cafeteria any longer so they lease it out to a couple of food truck businesses. They each have certain days. Anyway, a Gigi's cupcake franchise used to bake there. Not sure you want to do a cookie truck haha!! I wish you luck

Hi Joanie!  Thanks so much for your information!  It seems like the county and city have precedence over state so depending on county I am finding makes s difference.  Thankfully the homeowners insurance I have will do a very cost effective liability if done in home.  I got so many different quotes but they will tie to overall home too.  Good idea on the leasing of space, too!  We will see what happens!  I know there are MANY in our area not doing it legal.

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