Hot! My Summer with the Cupcake Queens

How cool would it be to own a cupcake shop? Between the bright decor, creation of new flavors and my daughter Emma’s obsession with all things sweet, it’s got to be the most fun you can have at work, right? So to get a vicarious thrill, we invited the biggest names in cupcake goodness to join us on stage at Spark & Hustle. Behind these sugary sweet treats are some serious business dynamos.

Push the envelope. I met Candace Nelson in the makeup room at Good Morning America. Her company, Sprinkles Cupcakes was the first to distribute cupcakes via vending machine. At 2AM when people need a sugar fix, they’re happy to swipe their credit card for a fresh cupcake—what a cool way to push the envelope and get everyone talking about your brand. Tomorrow when I take my daughter to Los Angeles for a girl’s weekend, Sprinkles Cupcakes and Ice Cream are at the top of Emma’s list.

Suck it up. Gigi Butler of Gigi’s Cupcakes USA shared an incredible story of how in just one year she had a baby, raised her alone while going through a divorce, and expanded to more than 60 locations in 19 states to rack up $30 million in sales—all while maintaining the perfect swirl of frosting. When asked how she manages to make it all happen without losing her mind, she paused and said, “You just have to suck it up."

Embrace the chaos. Katherine Kallinis and Sophie LaMontagne of Georgetown Cupcake ran their business waiting for the “perfect day,” where everything was aligned and all systems were a go without a worry in the world. Once they realized that this ideal day was never coming, they were able to fully embrace the beauty of the chaos. Today they have a highly-rated reality show on TLC, DC Cupcakes, and outposts across the country.

A business plan is only as good as the day it’s written. Pam Turkin created Just Baked on a leap of faith. She quit her six figure job while her husband was unemployed—and she had five teenagers all heading toward college. Pam didn’t waste time planning: she had an idea and went for it. Just Baked now has 12 locations and Pam is always cooking up fresh ideas.

Collaboration is king. Courtney Forrester of Sweet Cupcakes says go where loyal fans are and make them your own. She targets sports, fashion and charity and created exclusive cupcakes for partners, including Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, the New England Patriots and Boston’s Fashion Night Out. The big buzz generates awareness and sales for all parties.

Use their sweet success to cook up some of your own,
Tory

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