How to start your own kitchen business – The Irish Times – The Irish Times | Directory Mayhem

Most adults, especially those with families to support, know how time-consuming meal prep can be — shopping, prep, and cooking can take ages, especially when you also need to find time to get your actual work done. And in addition to hours of work at the hot stove, good food can also be expensive.

But some people are ahead of the game and have integrated their time in the kitchen into a business, preparing food to sell or, in our increasingly digital world, showing others how to cook through online video courses.

Jolene Cox is one of them. She lives in Dublin with her husband Damien and daughter Lily Mae and was running a cooking program for parents in south Dublin when the pandemic hit and all her bookings were cancelled.

Having previously hosted cooking camps for kids during the school holidays, she decided to take her business online and set up some fun and easy-to-follow classes for aspiring young chefs from her own kitchen.

“My cooking club places a lot of emphasis on getting kids involved in the kitchen, teaching them lifelong skills and also that healthy eating can be fun,” she says. “It’s designed to bring families of all ages together to interact and be part of an inclusive cooking community, with step-by-step instructions, printable recipes, in-store shopping budget tips, personalized weekly meal planners and recipes that translate into Convert shopping lists with just one click. We also have Kids in the Kitchen tutorials, led by my daughter and mini chef Lily-Mae, that focus on peer learning in a fun and accessible environment.”

The founder of One Yummy Mummy: Family Cooking Club says it took very little change to start her business from home, and the fact that she teaches others how to cook in her own kitchen means she’s in a similar space as their students work must be beneficial.

“I just have a regular standard kitchen that works really well as this is a home away from home for our club members. We’re a family cooking club, so there’s no better place than a real family kitchen,” she says. “Also, it’s extremely easy for Lily Mae and I to work as we know where everything is – same goes for our members working from their own familiar environment which is a bonus. Plus it means we’re a totally accessible, welcoming community with very few barriers to becoming a member.”

Starting her business from home couldn’t have been easier with very few adjustments required. “When I started teaching, no structural changes were necessary,” she says. “All we needed was extra lighting for the winter, some handheld cameras, more tabletop cooktops, and a microphone. And when it comes to health and safety, I develop every recipe for our class with kids in mind, so it has to be safe and age-appropriate. Having my own eight year old cooking with me is a huge confidence booster for the kids. We use utensils like scissors and graters with the younger kids in favor of knives. The kids also learn about the importance of safety and hygiene in the kitchen.” Being able to work with her daughter is a big plus of her job, and Cox says it also makes the classes more kid-friendly. But she would encourage anyone else thinking about doing something similar to plan ahead and prepare for hard work.

“I think the main benefit is being able to work with my daughter since all of our children’s classes are taught by Lily Mae,” she says. “Research shows that children learn more from their peers. This is because they are relaxed and fun with other children and I am always available to give them expert advice. Another benefit of working in my own kitchen is that there are fewer overheads as we don’t have to rent a space, so we can pass this saving on to our members by keeping our fees at €10 per month.

“My advice to anyone thinking of starting a home-based business would be to research the market first. Understanding the need (or demand) and knowing that you can provide a solution to meet it is crucial. Whether it’s chocolate making or jam, knowing your unique selling proposition inside and out is crucial. Turning a hobby or passion into a viable business is not only hard work and takes many hours, but you need to be sure there is a market for it. But while it’s definitely a roller coaster, it’s your own roller coaster.”

Better to bake it yourself

Lynsey Bleakley agrees. She lives in Co Down with her husband James and daughter Yazmin where she runs the luxury bakehouse Bumble & Goose, delivering brownies and personalized biscuits across Ireland and the UK. Having previously worked as a nurse taking care of new mothers and babies, she decided to quit as she felt unable to work with babies after suffering multiple miscarriages.

As she recovered and healed, she began baking to deal with her grief. Although she initially gave away cakes and brownies to friends and family, her husband suggested that maybe she could try to sell them. After taking advice from the local council, they invested their life savings into renovating part of the house to accommodate the new business, and after it was approved by the authorities, they began selling their baked goods online.

“We spoke to environmental health [officials] before we did anything and they gave us the spec we need for a five star rating,” she says. “This included a separate hand basin, tiled walls, fully washable surfaces, food safety plans and allergen education.

“Our local council was very helpful and guided me on everything I needed for compliance including food labeling and food hygiene assessment. I have completed training on allergens and food safety and food hygiene and have public liability insurance. We also took advice from the construction supervision on the construction and design of the bakery.

“The initial bake kitchen my husband built just for me and was 3m x 3m, but it quickly became too small so we expanded. Then shortly after we developed our website and shipping solutions with custom shipping and gift boxes, Covid arrived. I thought we were going to have to close but then we got the okay to continue trading and shortly after that the website took off in a big way and I started shipping my products all over Ireland and also the UK.”

Bleakley says that while it took a lot of work to set up the company, it was really worth it and the operation has grown from just managing the entire show to a team of nine. In fact, due to expansion, the family moved to have enough space for production.

“I love running my business from home as it gives me tremendous flexibility to manage my workload and day as needed,” she says. “The business has grown tremendously since opening and we moved a year ago (and with it the in-house bakery) as we needed more space for our growing team. Staying at home was very important to me as it has massively improved my quality of life and having our team based there is an added benefit. My daughter and her boyfriend both work for me; my father and father-in-law are my delivery drivers; and my mum also helps in the bakery, so it’s a real family business.

“My advice to anyone thinking of doing the same would be to weigh how being home all the time makes you feel as it will not be for everyone. And if you think it might work, then seek professional advice before you begin so you reduce the risk of costly construction mistakes. I also found it helpful to speak with Environmental Health early on as having a good working relationship with them is vital to the safety and success of your business. But while you can expect to work long hours to get your business off the ground, it doesn’t feel like work when you love what you do.”

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