Success has been extra sweet for Sprinkles Cupcakes founder Candace Nelson. Left jobless after the dot com bust of the ’90s, she made her way to pastry school. After graduation, she initially worked out of her kitchen creating special occasion cakes, but Candace had bigger ideas—for a smaller product. With a mission to revamp the common cupcake, she opened the nations first ‘cupcakery’ in Beverly Hills in 2005. Now the proud mastermind behind 10 locations across the country, and the judge of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, Candace’s most recent store just popped up on Friday in NYC—where I was lucky enough to catch both Candace and a cupcake!
What made you choose the cupcake?
The cupcake is of course this beloved American tradition, but really hadn’t been reinvented ever. It was still sort of this thing that you would pick up at the supermarket and who knew what was in the frosting. The bad colored frosting and sprinkles appealed to kids, but not to adults. So I set out to marry the idea of the special occasion cake with the childlike aspect of the cupcake, and that’s where the idea for Sprinkles was born. I felt like, we all have these amazing memories of cupcakes, but why do they have to just be for kids when they can also be elegant enough for adults?
What is your favorite cupcake flavor?
The dark chocolate without sprinkles, that’s my go-to flavor throughout the years. I’ll go for it more often than not, but I do have a slew of other favorite flavors. I love the strawberry and I love the banana. I love the pumpkin and the chocolate marshmallow. The peanut butter is awesome, key lime is coming up and that’s super good, and the German chocolate is incredible. I mean, there are so many to choose from, when I get sick of one, I just kind of rotate on to the others. But dark chocolate is usually the one I’m reaching for.
For someone who works around the clock seven days a week, what do you do to stay looking refreshed?
Honestly, I’m not fresh unless I get sleep. Sleep is a priority for me. I’m so jealous of those people that only need five hours because that is so not me. I need eight hours and I’d prefer nine. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m just that sort of person and if I start to feel myself getting run down, I go to bed early and skip that glass of wine and say no to whatever event is going on that night. For me sleep is where it all starts. I love to eat and I would still take sleep over food.
Running straight from work to an event, do you have any quick fixes or tips you can share with us?
I use products that I’m obsessed with for curly hair from Lorraine Massey’s New York-based salon, Devachan. I think she has two salons now and the products are called DevaCurl. She makes this gel that is just amazing and when you wet your hair again, it reactivates it so you can easily freshen up your curls throughout the day. I’m actually going to get my hair cut soon—I won’t let anyone else cut my hair but her! I wait until I have a reason to come to New York and I will always schedule with Lorraine because she is the curly hair guru. She cuts curly hair dry, she has this whole system and it works.
Since you have your hair and makeup done for television, do you have any new discoveries or beauty must-haves?
There’s an amazing concealer slash highlighter that you can put under your eyebrows and it’s by YSL called Touche Éclat. I’ve worked with a bunch of different makeup artists now and they’re like ‘oh yea that’s our secret thing.’ They all swear by it…that and the YSL mascara. In fact, I was getting my hair done up the other day and I said that I had that product and the stylist goes, ‘oh really, you know what your doing!’ I wouldn’t go that far, but I definitely try to pick up as many tips as I possibly can.
Another must-have for anyone on the go are Dr. Dennis Gross’ EZ4U Facial Towelettes, which you can pickup in the Birchbox Shop.