FoodLab Detroit in partnership with In the Business of Food presents 'Launching & Running a Hobby Food Business'

Are you looking to explore the possibility of turning your hobby into a successful business?Are you a hobby-entrepreneur with a culinary side-project? Have you discovered Grandma's secret recipe that your friends and family just rave about? Do you have the passion, desire and motivation to start your own food business, but have no idea where to start?
Join our 'Launching and Running a Hobby Food Business' workshop series that explores storytelling, crafting a pitch, accessing funds, and other practical tools for early stage entrepreneurs.
We guide you through a hands-on process of clarifying the business idea, finding the customers, evaluating the opportunities, calculating your cost of goods and laying the foundation for the business to thrive. We will discuss resources that businesses can pursue, and platforms that you can leverage to catalyze you food-business for community good. This module is 4-weeks long and includes a speed-mentoring session on the last week.
This class is right for you if:
  • You want to know how to turn your favorite recipe/product into a marketable product
When it comes to a food business, you are:
  • Interested in starting up/in the beginning stages
  • Looking for information on the legal requirements 
  • Wondering “what do I do next” as it relates to getting your product to market
  • Unsure if starting a food business is right for you
  • Looking for resources that are available to aid in starting
  • Unsure how to accurately cost your product and price it for retail


Gain an understanding of the importance of setting up the right business entity to sell your product/service
  • Clarify your type of food business
  • Sole Proprietorship v. LLC
  • Cottage Food v. Food Establishment v. Food Service
  • Complete “Self-categorization form”

Michigan has certain regulations and guidelines that you must follow in order to produce your food under sanitary conditions and protect the health and wellbeing of your potential customer. 
  • Cottage Law (labelling requirements, types of items allowed, etc.)
  • Food Establishment (licensing, labeling, etc.)
  • Food Service (licensing, labeling, etc.)
  • What is ServSafe
  • Types of insurance

Gain an understanding of the importance of creating a plan for going to market
  • How will you make your product/where will you cook it?
  • How to explain your product. What will make customers buy it?
  • How do you find customers?  
  • What markets/events/venues are right for me?
  • Evaluating opportunities.

The price you choose to set communicates value, market position and customer expectations
  • What exactly is your Cost of Goods (COGS)?
  • How to fund (and not to fund) your business
  • Business practices v. things to avoid
  • “Wearing all the hats”/ what else do you need to consider if your business grows.

Receive constructive feedback from your peers and mentors to refine your business strategy

The evening will start with networking, followed by an elevator pitch by each business owner. Small business owners will then meet in a fast-paced group setting, asking and answering questions in areas such as: sales and distribution, packaging, marketing, social media, and finance with local-area business experts.

When it comes to your food business, a thorough understanding of: 
  • The licensing/certification process for starting a food business in Wayne or Oakland County, including costs for packaged goods and catering businesses
  • What types of insurance you will need and estimated costs
  • Various area marketplaces to consider, including costs
  • The types of locally available commercial kitchens available, including costs
  • How to determine the costs of starting & running, including ingredient costs and how to determine the retail price for your product or food service
  • You will develop a “recipe” for starting & running your food business (the first steps towards a business plan)
  • You will have an opportunity to participate in a “speed mentoring” session, after developing your roadmap, to ask seasoned food professionals their advice/suggestions/opinions on your most burning questions!

Program Format:
Background materials
  • There will be background readings and homework that need to completed prior to the weekly in-person workshop

  • Weekly in-person workshops led by experts in each topic
  • Lecture and discussion on background materials, group activities and reflection

Business Development Activities
  • Weekly activities focused on your business development
  • All business development activities build to a clear elevator pitch at the end of the workshop

Peer Mentoring
  • Weekly business development activity and receive constructive feedback from peers

Programming designed by In The Business of Food & FoodLab Detroit 

Workshop Schedule:

  • Wednesday, February 15 from 6:30pm-8pm
  • Wednesday, February 22 from 6:30pm-8pm
  • Wednesday, March 1 from 6:30pm-8pm
  • Wednesday, March 8 from 6pm-8pm

All workshops will take place at the Grand River WorkPlace. Light snacks will be provided. 


  • Early Bird Admission - $100
  • General Admission - $150

FoodLab Members receive 50% off admission. If you're a current FoodLab member, please contact Jessica (jessicaw [at] to receive the discount code.

How long is Early Bird Admission available for? 
Early Bird Admission is available until Friday, February 10. 

Can I purchase my ticket the day of?
Tickets will be available until Wednesday, February 15 at 12pm or sell-out. We cannot accept walk-ins. 

What are my transportation/parking options for getting to and from the event?
Grand River WorkPlace has a small lot next to the building and free street parking is available. 

What's the refund policy?
No refunds after Friday, February 10. 

What should I bring? 
Light appetizers and bottled water will be available. Feel free to bring an additional snack or covered drink. All materials needed for workshop will be provided.


About In The Business of Food
The Chicago raised, but now Farmington, Mich.-based entrepreneur, Jess McClary, started McClary Bros. as a bakery in her home. Flash forward three years later and McClary Bros. is on track for a $1M revenue year with products served or sold in 1,000 locations in 27 states!  Jess McClary and her team have years of industry experience and also have a keen talent for helping entrepreneurs.  With her new company, In The Business of Food, Jess plans to teach food entrepreneurs how to tackle their most pressing challenges and structure healthy businesses.

Related Programs: