Sprinkles Cupcakes Founders Share Advice for Budding Entrepreneurs


Red Velvet, Cinnamon Sugar, Peanut Butter Chip, oh my!

Sprinkles Cupcakes recently celebrated its one-year anniversary since opening its doors in the Windy City in July 2010.

Naturally, the celebration was drool-worthy with champagne and tiers of Chocolate Marshmallow, Salted Caramel and the chain’s signature Red Velvet mini cupcakes.


Amidst the flavors and frosting, founders Candace Nelson and her husband, Charles, made an appearance at the store to talk about juggling business ventures and raising a family.

Since opening the first Sprinkles store in 2005, Nelson has become a rising star in the dessert world as a judge on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars,” as well as a role model for working moms and entrepreneurial women across the country.

To create a successful business, she says an important ingredient is having someone close for moral and physical support.

“You have to have that backup person, whether it’s your mom or your dad living down the street or it’s a brother, sister, friend or nanny … making sure you have that support system around you is key,” Nelson says. “[My husband and I] live away from our families, so we’ve had to fabricate that ‘secondary’ family where we live.”

The most important thing, she says, is being able to take a leap of faith with your idea.

“Ultimately you have to embrace the ‘What if”—like, ‘What if it fails?’ Can I live with that?” she says.

For Nelson’s sugary dream, she says the answer was simple: “[Failure] would be less disappointing than not doing it at all.”

When the Nelsons opened their first store in Beverly Hills, they manned the store, working all hours of the day.

“The first year, I ran the cash register and the whole front of the store and [Candace] made all the cupcakes and frosted them all,” Charles says.

Charles’ advice for entrepreneurs is, “If you have an average idea and average intelligence and you work your ass off, you have a good chance at being successful,” he says.

So what’s next on the menu for Sprinkles and the Nelson family?

“We’re going to be moving on to another concept in Beverly Hills later this year, which is going to be another dessert concept. We’re going to be expanding the Sprinkles brand of desserts, and that’s our main focus right now,” Charles says.

The Sprinkles empire is flourishing for the Nelsons—apparently, they can have their cupcake and eat it, too!

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