Georgia residents can now legally sell goods they bake in their homes, thanks to the efforts of a Cobb County woman.
New regulations allowing home businesses went into effect this month, just over a year after Sara Rylander started her venture with a petition and a Facebook page.
"It feels awesome," said Rylander, who lives in Acworth. "In the past year, I've heard so many great stories from other bakers and received so many notes of appreciation. It's really been amazing."
After sending a letter to Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth), the legislator set up a meeting with Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, and the process "snowballed" from there, Rylander said.
"It was a great example of how our local lawmakers really do look out for their constituents," she said. "Honestly, I just gave them a nudge. The great people at the Department of Agriculture really worked hard to make sure they came up with regulations that were beneficial to everyone involved."
Previously, if bakers wanted to sell goods from home, they had to have a second kitchen completely separate from the home's living space, a special zoning permit and certain commercial pieces of equipment, among other requirements.
"The list was long enough that it was very prohibitive for many people just starting out," Rylander said. "The result is that the state of Georgia had lots of underground bakers who would sell from their homes quietly, hoping they'd never get caught. In other cases, people just didn't realize what they were doing was illegal."
Now, bakers only are required to have a residential kitchen, a city or county permit, a food handling certificate, home inspection and special labels that state the baked goods are made in a home kitchen.
"These regulations will help so many budding entrepreneurs get off their feet and start that business they've always dreamed of," Rylander said. "When I think of all the businesses that are going to crop up as a result of these regulations, all the families that will benefit, I can't help but smile."
Rylander said she didn't face as much opposition as she expected. Her petition garnered 2,363 signatures, and 895 people have "liked" her Facebook page.
"Almost everyone has been supportive, mainly because they're either bakers themselves or they have a baker in their life," Rylander said. "Every town and city in Georgia has at least one cake lady. And, that cake lady is typically beloved in (the) community. This is a way to let all those aspiring cake ladies out there get going, and I think the public liked that idea. Plus, in this economy, any way that a family can supplement their income is a very good thing."