If your charcuterie boards are popular on Instagram or at your annual office party, you may want to consider cheese sculpting as a side hustle. With the foodie thing - along with most people's desires to experience some form of luxury - this microniche business can be a success. Even if you live in a small town where's the average person's palette isn't adventurous, you can still make money.
How to Get Started as a Cheese Sculptor
You can actually begin practicing at home using a basic sculpting kit ($5-10 at most craft stores or Amazon) and a 5lb processed cheese block. Why the processed stuff, you ask? Unless you love regular cheese enough to eat it daily, the processed version is much easier to manipulate and costs less. This is the main reason why Velveeta is popular for making certain dishes.
Also, if you're frugal like me and you want to freeze a portion of it, the thawed portions will have a different texture. Most cheeses are brittle at this stage and almost impossible for intricate sculpting. However, as you're getting used to the handling of tools and the texture, most of your patterns should be pretty basic. Since there are no templates for sale, you can draw your own on the block itself and learn how to create cheese art.
The nice thing about cheese is the flavor is pretty much what a person expects. Yes, some peppery cheese brands are spicier than others or have a more intense smoke flavor. This is to say that most cheese eaters can tell an aged Swiss from a white American.
If you have a visual online presence, this may be the first place to get feedback, outside of family and friends. An Etsy or Instagram account may be the ideal place to begin the sales process or if you have tons of pics to show off, a personal website with a 3rd party cart will do. By this stage, you should have moved on from the processed stuff unless this is what you want to market.
Also, if your local college or library is hosting live classes, this is a good idea as well. It should be considered a supplemental resource that answers questions about technique, sales, and more. If you live near a cooking school, this is another possibility although their class prices may be significantly higher.
What Kind of Clients are Likely to Buy My Cheesy Creation?
You're going to get a lot of online looky-loos and that's a good thing because when they share, you may connect with a buyer. This is where good pictures and layout will come in handy. If you're so inclined, taking a food photography class is a good idea.
Besides visuals, the selling point is going to be in the design itself. The more detail, the more time it will take to practice but you can charge a nice bit of change for the time invested. To get an idea of how to price your products and services, calculate the money spent on ingredients and advertising, along with how much the average sculptor makes. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
If you're the extroverted type, reaching out to caterers, event planners, and even office personnel in charge of those wonderful office parties is a good move. It gives them a chance to see your product in person. You can also rent a temporary outdoor space to show off your work for immediate sale as well as promote custom orders.
Is There Anything Else I Should Know?
The packaging and shipping of your creation determine whether another person will buy from you again. If it arrives broken, melted, or extra-smelly, this can tank your business before it gets started. Here's an extensive review of how to ship cheese through the U.S. Postal Service.