What Types of Products are Made in a Cottage Industry?

Lumara Lee

Cottage industries are a way for people in economically depressed and/or rural areas to make a living from self-employment that doesn’t require a large capital outlay. Therefore, cottage industry products usually are made with locally grown or inexpensively produced materials that are crafted in the kitchen or home workshop. Some common cottage industry products include candles, handmade body care products, baked goods and canned goods, as well as textiles, furniture, wooden toys and dolls.

Some lip balms are made in a cottage industry.
Some lip balms are made in a cottage industry.

A home-based business in textiles is a good example of a cottage industry that can raise or grow its own material, process it and sell it. A homestead can keep sheep or alpacas for wool and can grow cotton and flax. All of these natural fibers can then be spun into thread or yarn, dyed and woven into products such as clothing, place mats, hand bags, wall hangings and other hand-crafted creations. These homemade products can then be sold online or through local retail outlets.

Chandlery, or candle-making, is a type of cottage industry.
Chandlery, or candle-making, is a type of cottage industry.

Body care products are common in the cottage industry. Natural products are always popular, and the ingredients can be grown in the home garden and combined with other products in the home kitchen. Salves, lip balms, shampoos, moisturizers and soaps are just a few of the many products manufactured by home-based businesses.

Soap making is a form of cottage industry.
Soap making is a form of cottage industry.

Candles are popular with home-based businesses and the buying public. Although inexpensive candles are available at some discount outlets, people enjoy buying and receiving handcrafted candles because of their beauty and uniqueness. A home-based chandler can create a custom candle for a specific occasion that incorporates a specially selected scent.

Flea markets are good sources of inexpensive, used furniture that can be transformed into beautiful, hand-painted creations.
Flea markets are good sources of inexpensive, used furniture that can be transformed into beautiful, hand-painted creations.

People who enjoy working with their hands and like to fix up and paint old furniture can turn their hobby into a home-based business. Flea markets, yard sales and thrift shops are good sources of inexpensive, used furniture that can be transformed into beautiful, hand-painted creations. Some of these items are then prominently displayed in front yards next to signs that let the driving public know that there is a cottage industry in furniture located there.

Web content can be produced and marketed online in a home-based business.
Web content can be produced and marketed online in a home-based business.

Just about any hobby can be transformed into a cottage industry. Whether a person likes to bake, enjoys growing plants for natural fibers or food or likes to work with his or her hands to create a homemade product, a business can be developed. The Internet has revolutionized marketing and sales, so a person or family that runs a cottage industry can create a product from start to finish and sell it without ever leaving home.

Locally made perfumes make up part of the cottage industry.
Locally made perfumes make up part of the cottage industry.
Artisan jewelry is considered part of the cottage industry.
Artisan jewelry is considered part of the cottage industry.

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Discussion Comments


I am interested in visiting cottage industries where our youth could learn skills of self reliance.


I am a below average intelligence person without any computer knowledge. I am unable to take up employment. I wish to start a home industry which I can run alone or with one or two assistants. I am not trained in any skill, but am willing to work hard.


I know a lady who does nothing but grow and sell flowers and plants. She has spent many years cultivating her flower farm, and she now is able to employ several people to tend it full-time.

She told me that she started out with just a few tulips and rosebushes. The people in her neighborhood noticed how beautiful her plants were, and they asked her for cuttings and bulb offshoots.

That made her wonder if it might be possible to start selling them and survive solely on that. She decided to give it a try.

She spent all her time and energy planting and tending an ever-growing garden of beautiful flowers of all kinds. She put up signs advertising the prices of different types, and soon, she started seeing customers on a regular basis.

This lady’s story is inspiring to me. She found something she had a knack for and loved, and she managed to convert it to a career. I only hope I can one day do the same.


I have a friend who makes scented candles and soaps, and her business thrives around Christmas time. She spent a lot of time preparing and studying before she started to make her products, and this helped her do well.

She uses a mixture of essential oils and herbs to concoct her signature scents. I have even seen her crush peppermint candies to use in the holiday mint candles. She does things unconventionally, and this is what draws people to her products.

She operates her business from her home all throughout the year, but she makes the bulk of her salary during the last three months of the year. She really wouldn’t have to work the rest of the year if she didn’t want to, because her stuff is that popular as gifts.


@OeKc05 - The thing about selling homemade food is that you always have to alert the public to any potential allergens in your product. My sister started selling some cookies with ground up nuts in them, and someone with a peanut allergy threatened to sue her because of the reaction he had after eating them.

She realized that she should have put a label on them stating that they contained nuts. She was just so excited about being able to sell her cookies that she overlooked this important fact.

The man who threatened to sue changed his mind after she apologized profusely and showed him her new label design that clearly stated that nuts were present in the cookies. She had been afraid that he would put her out of business, but her dream didn’t have to end, after all.


My friends and family loved my chocolate orange truffles so much that they actually told me I should sell them. My cousin offered to be my first customer.

Since these truffles don’t have to be refrigerated and they can sit around for weeks without getting stale, I thought this might not be a bad idea. My cousin is friends with our local grocery store manager, and he asked him if I could possibly sell my truffles there.

I agreed to give him a percentage of the sales, and he let me display my truffles there. Within a week, I had sold twenty boxes. I was thrilled!

Inspired, I visited a couple of gift shops around town, and they agreed to let me sell my truffles there. Before long, I was making a living doing what I loved!


@Monika - I've seen yarn for sale that was made in a cottage industry also. I see what you're saying about that yarn company being a cottage industry "with a twist" because they sell online. However, I don't think selling online means something isn't a cottage industry. The product is still made at home, after all.

I think websites like Etsy are good examples of online cottage industries. I've definitely seen a lot of things for sale on there made by people who work from home with local materials.

I think the Internet just gives central cottage industries the chance to expand their reach a bit more. I think it's great!


I'm a knitter, and I've noticed several examples of knitting supplies made in a cottage industry, but kind of with a twist. The whole vibe is much different than the manufacturing industry, I can tell you that much!

A notable example is a company that makes wool yarn in Uruguay. The yarn is spun and dyed by local women. They sell the yarn locally, but they also sell if online and to yarn stores. You can go on their website and read a lot about their business and the women who make the yarns.

It's definitely a cottage industry in the Internet age!


Although I never thought of it quite this way, my neighbor has a small cottage industry.

He makes all kinds of wood products that he has for sale outside his house. Many of these are seasonal items that draw people all year long.

It is not usual to drive by and see birdhouses, wooden benches, chairs that change with the different seasons.

I really don't know how much he makes from this small business, but just know that he enjoys working with wood. It is always nice if you can make a little bit of money doing something you enjoy.


I have a small cottage business that I run from my home and online. The internet has made something like this so much easier. I have sent my products to other countries just because of having my own website.

I raise honeybees and make beauty products from the beeswax and honey from my beehives. Many people are looking for special products like this and social media has helped make this much easier.

Participating in craft fairs and farmers markets helps to get a local market too. If you have a good product, you will have many customers who keep coming back to buy your products over and over again.

It really doesn't take much to get started with a small business like this. This gives you the advantage of being able to grow and expand as your business grows, instead of going in to debt to get started.


I love to purchase products made from a cottage industry for gifts for myself, family and friends.

Especially if you have a change to visit with the creator of the product, and see first hand how they are made.

We have a small community in our state that feels like a step back in time. There are many small shops that specialize in items such as candy, bath products, pottery, handmade rugs and iron works.

One store is a husband and wife team where he has a blacksmith shop on one side, and she has pottery and handmade rugs on the other side.

Any time I purchase something here, I feel like I am buying a unique, quality product that really adds a special touch that you won't find in a regular retail store.

They have a pretty steady stream of business because their positive reputation has steadily built by word of mouth over the years.

A small industry like this can still be profitable, even in a world of high tech gadgets. These are usually the kind of places I seek out when I am looking for something special.

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