I learned about Cottage Bakers Market while searching for upcoming weekend events in Bellevue… that happened three weeks ago. The first Cottage Bakers Market was held on May 4th and I’m glad that I attended. On its website, there was a promotion for “free samples” and “free treats” and I’d be lying if I say that those weren’t the baits that got me, but besides the free treats, I was interested in seeing the vendors and their wares, and hearing about their stories, like Erin’s from Irish Rose Bakery and Arceli from OH MY FOODNESS.
I love marketplaces, with Pike Place Market in Seattle and Covent Garden in London being two of my favorites, so I couldn’t pass up checking out Cottage Bakers Market. Marketplaces help invigorate communities and allow creative people to get together and show off their creations, and I wish there are daily marketplaces at the Eastside; at least we have the weekly farmers markets though.
Cottage Bakers Market’s coordinator, Felicia Foster, deserves recognition for her enthusiasm and great idea of bringing small business owners specializing in baked goods all in one place. In my book, any event that accommodates people who enjoy making sweets and people with a sweet tooth is a fantastic event.
How did your inspiration for coordinating the Cottage Bakers Market come about?
The first spark of inspiration came from my brother and sister in law who own a small business selling cake toppers. They knew of a temporary market in British Columbia where bakers could come sell their products. I briefly toyed with the idea of opening my own little bakery business, but discarded that notion in favor of using my project management experience to organize the market event instead.
How long have you had the idea of promoting local small-business bakers?
Not long at all! About 8 months ago I discovered the Washington State cottage kitchen community, created by the recently-passed Cottage Foods Law. This Law allows the processing of certain foods in an inspected home kitchen for sale directly to consumers. After reaching out to several cottage bakers, I discovered a real demand for an alternative marketing avenue, besides farmers markets and craft bazaars. From this realization, I knew the mission of the market needed to be the support and promotion of cottage bakers and other local small food businesses.
Was it a long process developing the idea and implementing the plan?
With the decision to hold the first market in May of 2013, I had about 7 months to implement the plan. I made a lot of task lists, talked to many helpful people in the industry, trusted my years of experience as a project manager, and most importantly, drew strength and inspiration from the excitement expressed by the vendors I approached. In the process, the vendor lists grew to include small food businesses who worked out of rented commercial kitchen space, and not only home-based bakers.
Do you have a sweet tooth yourself? What’s your favorite type of treat?
I have a weakness for coffee flavored desserts. Tiramisu is a definite favorite… and so is Haagen-Dazs Coffee ice cream!
Are there any plans for expansion or hosting the event in other cities?
No plans at the moment, but if there is continued support in the community and demand for artisan specialty baked goods, I am definitely open to expanding. I would like to look into doing some outreach to spread the word about the Cottage Food Law because I think it offers unique and much-needed opportunities for self-employment.
When and where is the next Cottage Bakers Market event?
The next one is on Saturday, May 11 at Northwest Arts Center in Bellevue. Then there is one scheduled for Nov. 2nd at the same location. I am planning for a second date in November. Our Facebook page will post updates to keep everybody in the loop.
Are there any groups or people you’d like to thank for helping you coordinate and help make your idea become a reality?
Felicia Hill, the woman behind the Washington State Cottage Foods Law was very supportive. I found a lot of practical marketing and business-related suggestions at and the owner Jennifer Lewis (based here in Seattle) always offered words of encouragement. Jane and the staff at Northwest Arts Center provided invaluable day-of-event assistance. My family has been a constant source of strength and inspiration!
Felicia knows that it’s the vendors who are “the heart and soul of the Cottage Bakers Market” and says, “The passion they have for their craft is evident in their delicious goodies. I encourage folks to come and meet these artisans and support local small food business entrepreneurs!”
Mark your calendars for the next Cottage Bakers Market event which will be on Saturday, November 2, 2013 at the Northwest Arts Center in Bellevue. It’ll be a good time to buy your Thanksgiving dessert(s) so all you’d have to do is focus on the turkey and trimmings. Unless you do enjoy making desserts, in which case, check out the Cottage Bakers Market to get your sugar fix and say hello to the vendors.