Entrepreneur in Focus: Candace Nelson

If you want to become an entrepreneur in the future, here’s a piece of business advice for you: build your startup or company around your passion. This passion will give you the drive to succeed. What’s more, it will keep you going when times get tough.

An example of an entrepreneur who built their business around what they love to do is Candace Nelson. Many know Candace as the judge at Cupcake Wars, an American reality competition series based on whipping up professional-style and unique cupcakes.

Candace, however, is more than a judge. There’s more to her than evaluating delicious cupcakes from contestants.

Who is Candace Nelson?

Candace Nelson is a talented pastry chef and owner of Sprinkles Cupcakes, her first cupcake bakery.

Her love of baking cupcakes began at an early age. She always grew up baking with her mother. She loved whipping up classic American desserts, specifically cupcakes, cheesecakes, brownies and chocolate chip cookies.

Candace Nelson grew up in Indonesia. During this time, she couldn’t obtain those American desserts in local stores. She, therefore, decided to make these treats by herself if she wanted to eat them. This was something she did throughout her childhood.

From Banking to Baking

Before Candace Nelson entered the cupcake bakery world, she along with her husband Charles, worked as an investment banker in Oklahoma. Unfortunately, the dot-com bubble burst, which collapsed her banking career and left her without a job. This was the moment in her life when she turned her focus to baking.

When Candace Nelson made the career shift to baking, she did so to look for a more meaningful path and bring a little more joy to the world. She had to reskill by enrolling in a pastry school.

She graduated in 2002 from the professional pastry program at Tante Marie’s Cooking School located in San Francisco, California. Three years after her graduation, she focused on making cupcakes, specifically opening up a shop that sold only elevated cupcakes made with top-quality ingredients.

Candace, together with her husband, opened up their first bakery in Beverly Hills. Candace Nelson’s Sprinkles Cupcakes offers 25 rotating flavors, with red velvet proving to be the ultimate hit.

When Candace isn’t whipping up delicious cupcakes at her bakery, you can find her in Cupcake Wars and Sugar Rush. The latter is a baking competition show on Netflix, which features contestants flexing their creativity and whipping up sweet and sometimes unexpected desserts.

What Made Candace Nelson Successful?

Candace Nelson’s Sprinkles Cupcakes was a hit with many celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey and Tyra Banks. Source: Pinterest

The net worth of Candace Nelson sits somewhere between one and five million dollars. Candace attributes this success to her exclusive cupcake bakery. Pouring her time, money, heart and soul into her bakery visions generated more success than she and her husband could have ever imagined.

Given that Sprinkles Cupcakes uses only the finest ingredients, this has attracted the attention of many famous personalities, including Katie Holmes, Ryan Seacrest, Blake Lively, Oprah Winfrey and Tyra Banks. Famous shows, including The Martha Stewart Show, Good Morning America, Today Show and Oprah, have featured Candace’s unique and delicious cupcakes.

Her popularity amongst the celebrities has dramatically contributed to Candace Nelson’s nationwide success. Sprinkles Cupcakes has more than 10 locations across the United States along with a Sprinklesmobile cupcake truck.

Not an Easy Journey to Success

The success of Candace Nelson is far from a short and easy road. When she opened her first Sprinkles Cupcakes store in 2005, this hardworking businesswoman and pastry chef worked every day, including weekends (enough to make an employee feel burned out). Back then, she was only getting a mere two hours of sleep at night. Sometimes, she sleeps on the floor of her bakery.

Her hard work and dedication, however, have paid off.

What is Candace Nelson’s Cupcake ATM?

Candace Nelson launched an ATM that dispenses delicious cupcakes 24 hours a day. Photo by Cupcake ATM – Sprinkles Las Vegas Strip via Flickr Creative Commons

Apart from opening several Sprinkles Cupcakes locations, Candace Nelson opened a 24-hour ATM that dispenses not money, but cupcakes. This automatic cupcake machine dispenses all sorts of cupcake-related products, including cupcake mixes, freshly baked cupcakes and even cupcakes for dogs.

You might be asking yourself, “How can a cupcake inside an ATM stay freshly baked?” According to Candace, her employees restock the ATMs with fresh cupcakes throughout the day — and also by the last staff member who leaves at night.

Candace Nelson came up with the idea of a cupcake ATM when she was pregnant with her second son. At that time, she was craving for a dark chocolate cupcake after Sprinkles Cupcakes had closed. She then thought that there’s no reason that she should not be able to get a cupcake any time, day or night.

How Does the Cupcake ATM Work?

Candace Nelson’s cupcake machine is somewhat similar to how touchscreen ATMs operate. After touching the screen to begin, the computer will guide you through the cupcake choosing and purchasing process.

Once you’re at the checkout section, you’ll then pay for your order by credit card (cash is not accepted in this high-tech machine). Then, just wait for a few minutes, and you’ll get a delicious, mouth-watering cupcake.

When Candace Nelson lost her banking job due to circumstances beyond her control, she looked at this as an opportunity to pursue her passion. Today, she’s one of the most successful pastry chefs and entrepreneurs out there.

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