Six-hundred restaurants closed their doors during the pandemic, but home baking businesses have taken off.
“I had been talking to my co-workers about baking and looking at it as a secondary venture and they said 'if you start we’ll buy your stuff no problem.' It really was an opportunity to follow my passion,” Cyndi Frank said.
Frank operates The Frankery out of her home in North Haven.
“The baking is my nights and weekends job and then I work in a school full-time,” Frank said.
Ashley Nelson of Sweet Nelsons saw her decorated sugar cookie orders start getting canceled in April but instead of giving up, she pivoted to making cookie decorating kits.
“Literally could not keep up with them. Everybody in town was decorating cookies at home because these kids were home and parents were losing their minds,” Nelson said.
Nelson has since opened up a cookie decorating studio in woodbury for private groups to do cookie decorating classes.
“Do we open up a second business during a pandemic? That doesn’t seem anywhere sane. Like I have four kids and I need to be home. It would just be at night and the weekends but are people going to come to this if we offer it?,” Nelson said.
Every class has sold out since July.
“If 2020 has taught us anything it’s that you have to be adaptive, you have to be flexible,” she said.
The Department of Consumer Protection says they have issued 190 cottage food licenses since the beginning of the pandemic. That’s 62 more than in the same period last year. The program launched two years ago and now there are now more than 400 people across the state cooking up creations in the comfort of their own kitchens.
Bria Day, owner of Disheveled Diva, got her cottage baking license in October.
“Because this is a side project for me I thought if I can do two cakes in a month that would be amazing. And I’m averaging two cakes a week at this point,” Day said.
She also does hot cocoa bombs.
“Admittedly as a result of the fact that I make from the marshmallows to the melting of the chocolate from scratch, it’s a bespoke creation for sure,” Day said.
Kevin Masse, of West Hartford, started Small State Provisions in October 2019 but has seen his sourdough bread subscriptions increase to the point where he’s looking to move to a commercial location.
“A lot of my growth has been organic. Somebody will buy bread and the next thing I know I’ve got a little cluster of customers that happen in that same area,” Masse said.
Under state law, cottage bakers can only do $25,000 in annual revenue. However, Masse said it was a great opportunity to help him incubate and scale his business.
“Right now I only bake Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, but at the beginning of the pandemic I was baking every day of the week because I think like so many other people I was like 'what can I do to fill my time while I’m at home working my other job?'” Masse said.