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November 17, 2022 41 mins

Candace Nelson is the entrepreneur who put cupcakes on the map as their own category. She is the Founder of Sprinkles and Pizzana, a judge on Cupcake Wars and the author of the new book Sweet Success.

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Speaker 1 (00:03):
I'm Sam Edis and I'm Amy Nelson. Welcome to What's
Her Story? With Sam and Amy. This is a show
about the world's most remarkable women, their professional and personal journeys. Together,
we'll hear from gold medalists, best selling authors, and leaders
of the world's most iconic brands. Listen every Thursday or
join the conversation anytime on Instagram at What's Her Story Podcast.

(00:30):
Candice Nelson is the entrepreneur who put cupcakes on the
map as their own category. She is the founder of
Sprinkles and Pizzana, a judge on Cupcake Wars, and the
author of her new book, Sweet Success. So you said
goodbye to your career as an investment banker and then

(00:51):
went back to school for baking. What was next? After
pastry school? I got to work making special occasion cakes
out of my kitchen because I just wanted to be
as creative as possible. I need to do the opposite
of crunching numbers. And it was actually kind of comical
because these special occasion cakes were just they took years
off my life, I mean, making all the decorations and

(01:12):
the fillings, and then I was trying to deliver them,
and you know, on those steep hills of San Francisco,
was like they were sliding around all over the place.
I just couldn't take it anymore. And I remembered some
advice that someone had once told me, which is, if
you want a real business, you have to make something
that people will buy every day, which a special occasion
cake you can't. So I sort of went back to

(01:33):
those wedding magazines I had seen when I had noticed
that cupcake towers were kind of, you know, coming on
the scene. But at the time, cupcakes still were like
kid fair, right. They were in the supermarkets. You found
him in the plastic clam shells. They were very unsophisticated.
They were nostalgic. Everyone loved them, but they didn't really
like the taste of them. They just liked the feeling
of them. Reminded them of childhood. And so I thought,

(01:54):
what if I married like these beautiful ingredients and this
artful design I am using, you know, for these special
occasion cakes, and applied them to cupcakes, but not to
make them too fancy. They would still be like fuss free,
but somehow more elegant, more beautiful, elevated in terms of
the ingredients. The technique and the style, and that was

(02:15):
sort of the lightbulb moment for if I can like
remake the cupcake, this is a new business. And then
what did you do, Like what was your first step
after you had this lightbalb moment. Well, my first step
was I realized San Francisco was not a place to
be starting some like innovative new concept because the economy
was terrible. So my husband and I actually had a

(02:35):
bunch of friends would move down to l A And
we came down here and LA is based on, you know,
making business out of creative pursuits, right, which is essentially
what I was trying to do. And so it just
really spoke to me. And we went to all these
parties and every party would had the exact same cake.
It was that sweet lady Jane Barry cake, which is
delicious and I love it and I love Jane, but

(02:56):
I was like, hmm, this is a large city. There's
one cake. So it all was happening. So we moved
down to Los Angeles and I have to give my
husband a bit of credit here because he had his
m b A. He had worked in banking too. He
was doing financial consulting and he said, I'll start the
cupcake business with you two, like I will be your

(03:16):
co founder. I will initially be your cupcake delivery man,
and then we'll build this business together. And you can
only imagine. I mean I people were raising eyebrows at
what I was doing, but just given like you know
how it all works in investment banking and sort of
how gender plays role. Like he was getting a lot
of flak from people, but he was all in. And

(03:37):
so we came down to um Los Angeles. I started
making cupcakes out of my kitchen and it was like
product market fit immediately because I didn't even know that
many people down here. But my friends, who initially took
pity on me and we're ordering cupcakes, would take them
to parties and then their friends would order. And then
all of a sudden, people were calling me and I
had no idea how they found me. And one of

(03:59):
them happened to be Tire Banks as producer, and so
all of a sudden, I was baking cupcakes for tire
Banks out of my little we allywood apartment kitchen, and
I was like, we're onto something. And at that time
was it called Sprinkles. It was there was a moment
where it was Sweetie Cakes. There was a moment that
was like during my cake making days. And then I

(04:20):
had this vision of I don't know, I was walking
through an airport and I had this vision when I
looked at the the food court area of Sprinkles, And
not that I was wanting Sprinkles to be a food
court brand, but there was something spoke to me about
this name and how it was going to be huge.
And I think there's so much in a name, and
I feel so fortunate that the name was available for

(04:42):
us to use because Sprinkles is so strong, right, and
it's it feels good in your mouth, it's fun to say,
it's elevated like Sprinkles or the decoration on top of
the cupcake. It's aspirational. And so just even with that name,
I knew that there was there was something there. What
did you envision Sprinkles becoming in those are early days.
I would have been happy with it being a successful,

(05:04):
you know, bakery in Beverly Hills, But every entrepreneur has
a dream and a vision, and my vision was like
Sprinkles in every city across America and ultimately the great
American bakery brand, right, but at the time, you know,
I had to sort of temper my vision because it

(05:24):
was let me walk you through the time in which
we opened sprinkles. First of all, it had never been
done before. The first ever cupcakes only bake geren. It
was really kind of the first ever I hate this word,
but it has some meaning gourmet cupcake. Right. It was
the first time cupcake had really been elevated. So people
were already saying, like, hmm, there's a reason bakery sell
lots of things. Then we're also opening this concept in

(05:47):
l A, which, as we know, people don't really think
of people in l A eating cupcakes. They think of
a more as you know, doing yoga and drinking green juice.
And then on top of that, the South Beach diet
was like on the New York Times best selling list.
It was low carb, like everyone I knew was eating
low carb. I was even eating low car but it
was still I could have a dessert afterwards. But the

(06:10):
thing is, I think one thing that was really important
is that because I was coming from somewhere else, I
really was able to see l A through clear eyes,
not through these sort of ideas of what l A
is like, not not through the stereotypes, and so I
was driving around looking for retail locations and I was like, jeez,
there's an awful lot of donut shops and burger joints

(06:31):
in this town, like a feeling people might be eating
cupcakes more than they are letting on. So, when did
Sprinkles leave your apartment? I was ready to sort of
you know, sign on the dotted line a lot earlier
than we could find a spot. So I ended up
you know, selling out of my home kitchen probably for
a year and a half and then went dark for

(06:54):
a little bit as we were building the store. But
it was really really tight. I mean it's so different now, right,
like you can find retail space out post pandemic, but
at the time, like it was really hard to find
retail space. And there were a couple of locations that
fell through that I think, you know, the heavens that
they did because they were kind of in so so areas.

(07:14):
And the thing with retail is my god, location, location, location, right.
I mean, the Sprinkles of mid City or the Sprinkles
of Deep Venice wouldn't have had the trajectory that is
Sprinkles Speverly Hills. Did we opened, All the agents were,
you know, lining up. All the stars were coming to
see us after they visited their agents. All the tourists

(07:37):
were coming by after They couldn't buy anything on Rodeo Drive,
but they could they could buy three dollar cupcake and
feel like they were partaking in you know, Beverly Hills
Hollywood culture. And so it was the location itself played
such a large role. And you know, even when we
expanded to other areas like you know, Dallas, we were
the cupcake shop from Beverly Hills that ended up becoming

(07:58):
our our reputation and now a quick break. As you
grow a business, obviously it creates a lot of stresses
that you don't expect. And here you were a newlywed
running a business with your husband for the first time.
How did that relationship evolved? Did you experience any kickups

(08:20):
along the way or was it always smooth sailing? Oh?
Come on now, no, But I will say, you know,
all of my friends are like, I don't know how
you work with your husband, co parent with him, live
with him, socialized with him. You guys still seem to
like each other. And it's definitely not for everyone. But

(08:43):
I think you know, in general, having a co founder,
I believe is really important. Not that there aren't like
incredible solo founders out there like killing it obviously, then
it comes down to just a really strong team. But
having Charles's support for me at the beginning was really everything,
because I really didn't have the confidence at the time

(09:03):
to take that first step. It wasn't what I had
been brought up to do. I was like brought up
you know, my dad was a lawyer. We were all
very risk averse in our household, and so having his
support was really important initially and then going forward we
were able to choose our lanes. You know, I was product,
I was marketing. I became the face of the brand,
and he was like, you know, signing the leases and

(09:27):
doing the contracts and you know, managing the people. But
he's he's a great manager. So we really have complementary
skill sets. Now, one thing that I'll say is I
knew that I could work with him. And the reason
I knew that is because we actually did work together
before we started dating. We worked together in the in
the investment bank, and we would be you know, putting

(09:49):
together pitch books late at night, you know, sixteen hour
grueling days at the investment bank, and he was always
the one with the sense of humor, and he was
always the one who of all the people who worked
at the bank, like knew the parking attendance names, and
knew like their family and knew what sports team they
were cheering for. So I knew that, like we could

(10:10):
work together under dress, and I also knew I just
really liked how he dealt with people, right, like how
he interacted with people. So you signed your first lease,
and at what point did you feel like, Okay, this
brand is exploding? You know, there were definitely a few
different moments where we kind of exploded. The first explosion

(10:32):
was really day one because Daily Candy had written about us,
and for those people out there who don't remember, Daily
Candy was sort of the original email newsletter telling everyone
in town what was hot and happening, and it had,
as you probably remember, you guys, like the most incredible,
incredibly loyal, like fanatical following people did what Daily Candy

(10:53):
told them to do. Did you pitch ta get Daily Candy?
They reached out to us, and I was like star struck.
The Daily Candy had reached out to me from my
little home apartment, and it was so powerful that actually
we wanted to push the opening, and they said, we'll
pull the story if you don't hit that date because
that's the date that emails going out. We're like, we're

(11:13):
going to open that day. So we we absolutely frantically
tried to get it together as best we could. But
even then, you know, I baked through the night. I
baked all the cupcakes. I could have possibly thought somebody,
you know, people would come in and buy that day
and more. I filled the display case. I think we
had two hundred cupcakes, right, And the assumption was that

(11:36):
people would come and buy one or two. I mean,
isn't that how people enjoy cupcake? No, No, people were
buying one to two dozen. And at the time, my
little mixers. I was literally, I mean, this is how
naive like, I mean, I just laugh when I think
back to it. I was working with little mixers that
yielded one or two dozen. So people were coming in

(11:57):
one at a time and there was a mob, and
so we were we were sold out by noon, and
then all these customers were so excited come have a
taste of sprinkles. Were like our happy line turned into
an angry mob and I just was hiding in the back,
baking as fast as I could, and Charles was like,
you know, pouring on the Oklahoma's city charm as best
he could. But we had, you know, people yelling at us.

(12:19):
We had agents assistants like standing their sweating because they
had been told not to come back without two dozen cupcakes.
I mean, it was just like the parade of humanity
we saw, and just the range of emotions was unbelievable.
So that first burst was daily Candy. Then a few
months later, Katie Holmes was on Entertainment tonight, one of

(12:42):
the entertainment shows on some press junket for for a
movie she was coming out with, and she talked about
sprinkles as being her little secret in Beverly Hills. And
that was again a little history lesson back when Tom
Cat days. Tom Cruise was courting Katie Holmes and that
a media frenzy and the one thing the media knew

(13:03):
that she liked were sprinkles cupcakes, so they were always
trying to apply her with sprinkles cupcakes on the right
carpet to get the interview. And so we somehow we're
part of that old phenomenon, and then eight months in
Oprah Winfrey called and said she wanted the cupcakes for
her studio audience on the show. And that was just like,

(13:24):
oh man, that was a pinch me moment for sure,
getting that call from Oprah and then fulfilling those orders.
At that point, did you say, okay, we gotta open
in multiple cities or how did you react to the Oprah?
So we had lines, you know that wrapped around the
block for probably months, I mean probably a couple of months,
and it was sort of sad. I mean, with any

(13:46):
sort of growth, there is some loss that comes with it,
you know, in so many, so many different areas, right.
I sort of liken it to raising a child too,
write like you you you want to raise the child
or the business to get to us age where it
can grow. But in the growth comes change. And so
all of a sudden, like we had all these great regular,

(14:06):
you know, neighborhood customers and they were like, I can't
get in anymore. And so we kind of like all
of a sudden, we burst onto the scene. We were
like this international brand because of Oprah and the people
who got us there. I felt like we couldn't service anymore.
That was sad for me, but it was also a
wake up call because it was time to scale and

(14:27):
I had to let go of my control and my
perfectionism and hire that team because for some reason back
in the day, my husband and I were still like
the main labor and granted we were really helping with
the profit margin because we basically had no employees, but
we were about to die. We were literally about to die.
Like there were moments where we just slept like after

(14:49):
work with an april enrolled under our head. It's such
crueling work. And the way that we were doing it,
which was I'm the only one that can make my
cupcakes and he's the only one that can box the
cup akes, was ridiculous, right. So I remember hiring the
first baker and I was like, oh my god, this
is like the biggest, you know, leap I've ever made.

(15:10):
And then within a week he was like making the
cupcakes great, and all these people were frosting my cupcakes
better than I could have ever frosted them. And I
was like, oh, oh right, they can do it too,
They can actually do better than me. All right, moving on,
so then we, you know, a year in we opened
in Newport Beach, and we had great success in Newport Beach,
and then the next step for us was proving that

(15:31):
we were a national brand. So instead of continuing to
grow in Southern California, where a brand was fantastic and
it would have been like an easy win, we took
a risk and went to Dallas, Texas as our third location.
And the idea was that a lot of people were saying, oh,
it's just a trend. You know, this is only something
that could fly in southern California where everyone so air

(15:51):
musing air quotes shallow, and we were like, no, I
think there's more to this, Like cupcakes are innately a
mirror a can. People love a cupcake, and we're just
giving them more reason to love a cupcake. Everyone has
a birthday and there's lots of celebrations, and there's a
lot of reasons for people to buy great cupcakes. So
we went to Dallas to prove that our concept head

(16:12):
legs on a national level. How did you go from
having difficulty letting someone else bake the cupcakes to being
in a different city than your brand. That is definitely
releasing control and that was hard for me. But what
we did and granted I was nine months pregnant at
the time we moved to Dallas. We moved to Dallas

(16:34):
for three months. We hired, we trained, we worked alongside everyone,
and we made sure like with with you know, kid
gloves like that this we were going to launch this
business exactly the right way, with the right company culture,
with the exacting standards. And that's really what it took.
Then when you went to other cities, did you have
to do the same thing or were there no other cities.

(16:56):
So as we grew, we were able to grow our
team right, and we loved promoting from within. So literally
the people who were becoming regional managers had started, you know,
as cupcake associates, boxing cupcakes, but we knew that they
like lived and breathed sprinkles, and they understood the company culture.

(17:17):
They were the company culture. They had been raised with us,
They've been brought up with us. So we were able
to spend less time in each market, but certainly we
still went to every market, and you know, ultimately that
was what was hard in terms of as my kids
started to get a little older and they started to
approach school age, I couldn't really do that anymore. And

(17:41):
that was that was one of the reasons why we ultimately,
eight years in, decided to pursue a sale, a significant
sale of the company. What was that process like, because
we talk a lot on this show about the process
of building a company and growing a company, and we
rarely get a chance to hear from one who solicited

(18:01):
a buyer and successfully sold. It's so interesting because I
was definitely raised in that culture, going back to the
banking days, where that's the dream, right You you found
your company, you scale it, and you sell it. That
is what every founder wants, and it was what I wanted.

(18:23):
But again with the growth and the loss, there was
so much loss in that process for me, and I
think the hard part two is the best time to
sell your company or get strategic investment at great valuations
when everything is going really well, right, and so things
were just going gangbusters for us, and ultimately my husband

(18:47):
wasn't ready, which is weird because it was really you know,
it's mostly was like my first child. I identified with
it so much, and I was I mean, they called
they called us Mrs and Mr. Sprinkles for God's sake,
like it was our identity. And you know, we kind
of had a family meeting about it and basically convinced Charles,

(19:07):
like this was the way. Like I had kids, now,
I'd grown up moving all the time, I wanted roots.
I didn't want to be on the road when my
kids were supposed to be you know, at soccer practice.
And so it was really a personal decision for me,
and I think kind of a sacrifice for me because
I was sacrificing one thing for the other. And ultimately
we found an incredible partner and everything has been amazing.

(19:29):
But I wasn't prepared for the journey that I would
have after that, just in terms of letting go of
something that it's like so important to me. I mean,
I walked into I'm getting emotional thing about it. But
I walked into the baker the other day and like
the entire staff were the people that I trained, like

(19:49):
in two thousand five, still working there, and they all,
I mean, these people gave me my baby shower, right Like,
they all came and gave me hugs, and I just
was like, it's still so visceral, right, It's so emotional
for me. It wasn't just a business, you know. And
it's funny because throughout this process I really had to
figure out, like, Okay, clearly I was over identifying with

(20:11):
my business, like who is Candice Nelson? But got to
spend some amazing time, you know, like building a home
for my children, taking them to school, you know, leaning
into the charity events and being like, you know, the
PTA person for a little while. And I got to
have some of that time, which was such a privilege

(20:33):
and such an honor, and then ultimately found myself back
in the food business with Pizza on Us. So I
didn't learn my lesson the first time clearly, And what
were the logistics of the fail like take us through
how you let people know that you wanted to sell
your company. Well, we hired an investment banker who was
sort of you know, well known for this sort of transaction,

(20:57):
and put together a pitchbook and you know, be serviced
it to everyone we thought strategic and financial buyers and um,
you know came back with initial interest and based on that,
we had meetings and you know, it's like any relationship.
Obviously there's a financial part of it, but there's also
just who is gonna be the right person to carry

(21:20):
care for your child that's growing up? Right? And I
also had seen in the investment banking days this idea
of founder syndrome where and I knew that I could
be I could be guilty of this right where the
founder doesn't want to let go because they think that
they know best and only they know best. And I
had been that person, as we discussed. But ultimately Sprinkles

(21:42):
became a national retail brand. That meant that there was
never a time in any of the twenty four hours
where there wasn't someone at a store, where there wasn't
some time where the oven could be breaking, and we
beginning calls in the middle of the night. Became an
operational challenge. And ultimately what rules me is the creative part,
the ideation, the concept that you know, building the brand,

(22:05):
go to market, all of that is what I love
and what I'm best at. And so I didn't want
to be the one who was sort of choking the
growth of my company potentially because I wasn't the right
person to be scaling a national brand. And so we
ultimately found a private equity firm great with restaurant in
retail and and really got like the specialness of the brand,

(22:28):
and so it was a great process. I mean, my
own emotional issues aside. What do you think to find
the culture of Sprinkles and has it changed since the investment.
I mean, I I hope not. I'm not operational day
to day, but I think the fact that I walked
in and all those incredible employees were still there really
speaks to the fact that that we built a strong

(22:48):
culture that was able to exist even after we were
no longer involved in the day to day. You know,
Sprinkles was always about joy and delight, eight and fun,
and it was conceived during a time of real darkness.
And I've always found I think the thing I love
about food is this idea that it unifies and it

(23:10):
connects people in a way that's not complicated, because we
live in a really you know, divisive, fractured time and
there are very few things that can do that authentically.
And so I love that about food in general, you know.
And and that's kind of my mission is to just

(23:30):
inject a little It's not it's not a heavy heavy lift,
it's it's just a little something. But you know, customers
would come in to feel better after a breakup, or
they'd come in to celebrate, and we made any moment,
whatever it was a little bit better. And now a
quick break. When did Cupcake Wars arrive in your life

(23:50):
and what role had that played? Oh my gosh, Cupcake
Wars came out of nowhere. I literally was like the
baker in the back with my baseball hat on, and
granted media would come. There was definitely a lot of
media that you know, featured sprinkles, and I would come
out sort of reluctantly from the back and be like, okay,
this is my business. And you know, I definitely had

(24:12):
no glamor, I had no media training. I was not
I was yeah, I was not ready for the camera.
But then this cupcake thing just wouldn't die. And there
was a producer who was driving down Little Santa Monica Boulevard,
which was our first location in Beverly Hills, and she
drove by our store and then she drove by a

(24:32):
block later a new store that had come into town
from New York that was also selling cupcakes, and she's like, goddamn,
cupcake were out there, and she's like, oh, ding ding
ding ding, Like producer like, that's a show, And so
she pitched the Food Network. They decided it would be
best as a competition show. And they had to come
after the Queen of Cupcakes. Our pilot was filmed under

(24:54):
a tent on the grounds of U c l A.
I mean it literally was like so just like piece
together with like tape and uh duct tape, and it
got picked up and it went on to become a
hit show. I filmed over a hundred episodes as a
cupcake Judge. It was syndicated internationally. It's still airing. Aired

(25:14):
for a while on Netflix. Now it airs on like
Discovery Family Channel. But it's funny because I recently started
a TikTok account, and I can't tell you how many
people out there are like, I remember you. I grew
up with you. Like my family used to watch Cupcake
Wars all the time. And that's like I mean, aside
from the fact that makes me feel really old, I'm

(25:36):
very proud of that show. I definitely got sick of
eating cupcakes, particularly when the challenge ingredients were like fried crickets.
That was problematic, but it was really fun to be
part of that. And honestly, I think Cupcake Wars really
shined a spotlight on what was going on in the
industry in general, because in two thousand eight, you know,

(25:57):
the bottom dropped out from the economy nationwide, not just
in the tech industry, and a lot of people lost
their jobs, and a lot of people turned to opening
cookcake bakeries as their form of entrepreneurship because they had
seen this model be successful. We were known all around
the country are all around the world really for our
lines at the door, and there's not much of a

(26:17):
barrier at entry, like as far as starting a business,
you know, opening a cupcake shop is not that expensive
or hard. And so there were all these people across
America opening these cupcake shops and then coming to Cupcake
Wars to like, you know, stake their claim to the
best cupcake out there. So it was it was you know,
it was really actually a phenomenon that was very real.
Wasn't just for TV. Now, tell us about Pizzana. You know,

(26:41):
I love my food. I in particular clearly love my
handheld foods in my like you know, comfort foods. I
met our executive chef, Daniel A. U d T at
a pizza party. He was catering, and I took one
bite of his pizza and was blown away. So of
course I went to go meet him and we spent
the rest of the party like paking out to bakers basically,

(27:02):
you know, like we deal in different types of dough,
but we were two chefs and bakers that were just
sort of sharing mutual admiration. He loved sprinkles, he's the
sweet tooth, and I loved his pizza. And he shared
his incredible story with me, which is that he had
immigrated from Naples, Italy, with two in his pocket and
his grandmother's sour dough starter, which is still the starter

(27:23):
that we used to make all of our pizza doughs.
And he was just saying like, I would love to
have a restaurant one day, and I literally could not
stop myself from blurting out, I would love to do
that with you. And so that match was lit, and
you know, we built a brand around him, um, created
a menu and found our first location in Brentwood, and

(27:46):
it's been incredible to watch his star rise, him come
into his star power as a chef and like a
worldwide known pizziolo. Now, what's your favorite topping for pizza?
I like classic flavors. I like simple flavors. I feel like,
you know, something simple done really really well is like

(28:08):
the holy Grail, right, like always in cupcake Wars, people
could pull all these bells and whistles, but the cupcakes
I remembered were like the insane chocolate cupcake, like a
chocolate cupcake that you would dream about with nothing else, right,
because that's really hard to do. And so for me,
the margarita pizza is how I judge any you know,

(28:28):
pizza place or or pizza maker, and there's really I
don't think you can really improve on it, although I
will say the caccio epepe which Danielle is known as
a bit of a pizza maverick, where he will like
mess with tradition and he has used traditional pasta flavors
in a lot of cases, the most famous one being

(28:49):
this catchoe a peppe pizza to translate onto the top
of a pizza, and he inspired his own like now
you find catchuo peppe pizzas like on menus across the
word old. But that was his creation and it is
incredible because it's just creamy and peppery and like chewy
and crunchy. It's just like got all the things going on.

(29:11):
But I also have to say, you know, because we're
in l A and uh, we do have our you know,
non pizza eaters. We've got great salads and other you
know antipasta too. How often does your own family eat there?
I mean, do you feel like your kids at this
minn are sick of pizza and cupcakes? Honestly, we rely
on it entirely too much. And now I mean talk

(29:31):
about like the pinnacle of laziness. We are now shipping
our pizzas frozen nationwide on gold Belly. But so we
have all these frozen pizzas in our freezer so instead
of I mean, we're not that far away from our
West Hollywood location, but even then we're like, well, let's
just pop a pizza on in the oven. So we
rely on it entirely too much. But it's fun, I

(29:53):
have to say, like peddling in all the kid foods.
It's you know, my kids friends are always happy to
come or and have a play date because we know
they're going to be fed. Well, what is the biggest
difference for you between starting the two businesses, Like you're
now a seasoned entrepreneur, Like, how does it feel different
this time? If it does, well, definitely feel like I

(30:14):
have some experience this time, and we were bootstrapping from
the very beginning. With Sprinkles, we had a little bit
of money that we just knew we had to stretch
as far as possible before we couldn't pay our rent.
And this time we were able to build a team.
But there were still so many, so many learnings. I mean,
the nature of a restaurant is so different than than
what we were doing at Sprinkles. I mean just with

(30:36):
you know, front of how staff and our guest experience is.
Really it can be like an hour and a half
with a guest, right, so there's a lot of opportunity
to infuse that with something special, but there's a lot
of opportunity for stuff to go wrong. Versus Sprinkles. We've
come in and we just had to like infuse that
five minutes someone had in the store with a lot
of joy. So yeah, definitely a lot of learnings. I think,

(31:00):
I don't know. I just think leaning into the fact
that we were able to build a team from the
get go, that was really that was really nice. It's
O Cannice, do you have a new book? So the
book is Sweet Success, and it is about turning your
passion into profit, which is exactly what I did. With Sprinkles.
It's a guide to entrepreneurship. So anyone out there who's

(31:23):
entre pre curious or has just started a business as
a first time founder. It may not be you might
be someone else in your life. This is the perfect
book for them because I share sort of the I
show the inspiration, like I definitely give the mindset piece,
but I also give really tactical tools for how to
approach building a business and building a brand and going

(31:45):
to market. And um, it's told through the lens of
me bootstrapping, building and ultimately selling sprinkles. So I think
it's really digestible for people. I think, you know a
lot of times entrepreneurs are glamorized in the media and
the ones that are building rocket ships and maybe they're
engineers or tech savants, and that seems really intimidating. And

(32:07):
ultimately what I did as I built a business out
of something that anyone could do, like my kids bake cupcakes.
So I really am trying to break down the barriers
to entrepreneurship and bite more people around the table to
use my food analogy there, because historically a lot of
people thought that entrepreneurship can't be for them. And I'd

(32:28):
like to change that because I think that it's the
fastest entrepreneurship can be the fastest way to generational wealth,
and that opportunity needs to be spread around a little
bit more so with Sweet Success, I'm really excited to
finally share my story about how I did it with
Sprinkles and hopefully help a lot of people out there

(32:49):
to do it too. And so I wanted to create
something that could be a larger platform for me to
inspire and help new founders. Should we go to our
speed around now? So, Candice, and what are you reading? So?
I'm reading something that is very unlike my typical reading material.
It's called The Idea of You and it was recommended
by one of my best friends who saw how stressed

(33:11):
out I was in the marketing of my book and
just how relentless it was, and she recommended that I
take my mind off things for a little bit with
this really fun read. Who is your personal Board of Advisors?
I am so lucky. I have the best girlfriends in
the world. A lot of them are entrepreneurs, angel investors,

(33:31):
but some of them aren't. And you know, we're just
we weren't. We've got this text train, We take girls
trips together, we like get together for dinner. We keep
it very real, we keep it very tight, and we
are incredibly supportive of one another. And I just like,
I don't know, I feel so grateful for them. I

(33:52):
just feel like these women are the ones that just
they have my back. They're always thinking about ways to help,
and when I'm not asking for help, They're just always thinking.
And I don't know, I think just having that level
of friendship and support in your life is everything. Who

(34:13):
leaves you star struck. Oprah Winfrey. I love her And
I got to see her backstage when we brought our
cupcakes to the show and we were there early because
we've taken a red eye, which I didn't share, but
that's how we got the cupcakes. That we took a
red eye, got him on the plane, rolled off. I
was still in my clothes from the day before, and

(34:36):
so were there like three or four in the morning,
and she rolled in like pre you know, hair and makeup,
and I just it was like, oh my god, Like
the presence of that woman is something else. It's palpable,
like it that energy. I just was so star struck.
I could barely breathe. I literally, I mean I'm embarrassed
to say that I could like barely breathe. What is

(34:57):
your favorite thing about yourself? I think it's my beginner's mindset.
I'm curious. I'm always trying new things. Some sometimes I'm like, oh,
why can't I just like rest on my laurels a
little bit? What I gotta like, now, try this and
try that and risk failure again and all of that.
And it's like, because I have to practice what I preach, right,

(35:20):
And I also feel like when you're when you stop
learning and you're not curious anymore, you stop growing, you're dying, right,
So I am always trying to I mean, whether it's like,
you know, trying to take on TikTok now and my
kids just can't you know, they're just like mom no cringe,
e cringe, cringe all day long, or trying to learn

(35:43):
web three. I took a class on web three this
summer and it was so funny because one of my friends,
a younger friend who used to work at Instagram and Facebook,
she was like, kumis, she was kind of surprised to
see me there, and I was like, oh no, no,
this is me, Like I am always just like out
there asking the dumb question like putting ego aside as

(36:04):
much as possible all the time to be able to
learn and grow. What do you want your career to
look like when you're sev I think I realize now
that as much as I love starting companies, it takes
so much focus and so much time you have to
be all in. And as my life, you know, becomes

(36:24):
bigger in the sense that you know, my kids are
getting older, and I have other commitments outside of work now,
and it's just it's rich and it's full. I can't
always just take myself completely off the map to start
a new business. And so I've found the joy and
beauty in angel investing now and and being able to

(36:45):
champion other founders who are the ones in the ring,
and I get to kind of sit back, not sit
back like I amplify in terms of my network obviously
you know, writing a check and also you know, however
I can mentor ship and more, but ultimately the end
of the day, it's not up to me. And so

(37:06):
I like the fact that I can keep my hands
in a lot of things that way. And I also,
speaking of beginner's mindset. I love learning from these founders.
I mean I can bring stuff to the table, they
bring stuff back to me in space. So UM, I
think at seventy I would love to be have like
an incredible portfolio of UM companies and like this wonderful

(37:31):
network of founders that I've supported, and just be sort
of passing along and amplifying that next generation of change
makers as much as possible. Since you and your husband
worked together, I would imagine you also have to be
deliberate about spending non work time, non parenting time together.
What with the last day E went on, it was

(37:53):
for our anniversary. We just celebrated twenty one years and
we went out to We left our neighborhood, which you
know is has become increasingly rare these days, just because
life is busy and there's lots of traffic in l
A and so you tend to kind of like exist
in this little you know whatever ten block radius sometimes.

(38:16):
So we went to the other side of town and
went to this really cool sushi restaurant and it was
just like it was awesome. Well, Candice, thank you so
much for joining us today. Thank you for having me.
You guys, thank you for being models of like just
badass female founders and entrepreneurs out there, and for everything

(38:37):
you do to amplify other entrepreneurs and just women trying
to live out their dreams. I really, I really respect
what you guys are doing. The things that I cannot
get over after the conversation with Canvas is how positive
she remains about entrepreneurship because it is a roller coaster
and she you know, of course she said, there are
roller coaster moments, but like to see somebody who's build

(39:00):
a company to go back and do it again and
to support other entrepreneurs and made me happy. She really
seems to have kind of coasted through it with a
really upbeat, positive take on it. It does sound like
she has a dream partnership with her husband in terms
of their roles and their division of labor, and that's

(39:20):
something we just don't see that often completely. I was
so interested in learning about that partnership in business. I mean,
I don't think I could run a business with my
husband and family. We tried once. It's really hard. It's
really hard, yeah, but it is really interesting and it's
very cool and like what a show of support at

(39:42):
the beginning when Kandice had this idea and he said,
you know what, I'll do it with you. Like, that's
pretty remarkable, I agree, especially coming from the very patriarchal, male,
chauvinistic world of investment banking. He's obviously super confident guy
and you know, believes in her and them, and I
love the story. I also thought it was really interesting
that they to go to Dallas and make sure that

(40:04):
the quality was kept. They had to move to Dallas
for a few months, and I think that those are
the stories that we don't often hear, right we here,
Oh my gosh, it just blew up. Sprinkles was chosen
by Oprah and then it became this national, worldwide brand.
That's not what happened, right. They put in such hard
work and they put in grueling hours to make the overnights.

(40:25):
There is no such thing as overnight success. And you
and I talked about that a lot. We do talk
about it a lot, and there's not and that's why
I think you know, you and I both I found
us both asking questions to her that we're very kind
of the tactical, but wait, what happened here? What was
this like? Because you want to know that piece of it,
because I think it's really unfair to paint entrepreneurship for
anybody something that doesn't happen without just a ton of blood,

(40:47):
sweat and tears. I know you know, you and I
are both still in it with our first versions of
these companies are running now. But it's um it's everything.
It's all day long, it's every day, and it's never easy.
Thanks for listening to What's Her Story with Sam and Amy.
We would appreciate it if you leave her review wherever
you get your podcasts, and of course, connect with us

(41:09):
on social media at What's Her Story podcast. What's Her
Story with Sam and Amy is powered by my company,
The Riveter at The Riveter dot c O and Sam's company,
park Place Payments at park place Payments dot com. Thanks
to our producer Stacy Parra and our male perspective Blue
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