Why the Sprinkles Founder is Trading in Cupcakes for Pizza

For Candace Nelson, the weekends are for baking with her boys, invigorating workouts, and working on her latest (delicious) project.

 candace nelson sprinkles

photography by AMY NEUNSINGER


What started in 2005 in Beverly Hills has spawned a million cupcakes. Sprinkles, founded by former investment banker Candace Nelson, now boasts 22 bakery locations nationwide (featuring the brand’s signature “Cupcake ATM”). Nelson is also a cookbook author—her The Sprinkles Baking Book came out last October. But never one to rest on her laurels, Nelson is hard at work on the opening of a “Neo-Neapolitan” pizza restaurant concept, Pizzana, featuring pies from Naples-born master pizzaiolo Daniele Uditi, coming to Brentwood this spring. Don’t worry, Nelson’s desserts are on the menu.

We checked in with the LA-based entrepreneur, who turned the pastry industry on its head, to see how she winds down on the weekends and what she does in order to reset for the week ahead.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
I know it’s a bad habit, but I check my emails. The same reason that you aren’t supposed to check them late at night—because the blue light keeps you from sleeping—is exactly the reason I reach for it in the morning: to help wake me up! In spite of making my livelihood as a baker, I am not a morning person. My husband and I always joke we should have opened a bar and not a bakery because we both tend to stay up late. I will be more in sync when we open our new pizzeria, Pizzana this spring.

What are your favorite things to do for yourself on the weekends?
I love a long leisurely workout. Not one where I have to be in and out in 45 minutes flat, but one where I can properly stretch and roll out and not be watching the second hand on the clock. I also like to check on the progress of whatever project I’m in the midst of. I like to bring my boys along so they can better understand what I do, and they can see the progress firsthand. I hope it will spark in them an interest in starting their own businesses someday.

 candace nelson sprinkles

photography by AMY NEUNSINGER


How do you unwind?
Well, a big glass of red wine in a pinch. But when I have more time, I love to go for a hike at Runyon Canyon, get a great Thai massage, or go to the beach with my family. A tennis lesson or a casual dinner with my girlfriends is always restorative, too.

How do you deal when you're away for the weekend?
While growing Sprinkles, I realized I could only be as successful as the quality of the team around me. And really, the key to being away from my business or my babies is the same: Hire and train great people who have my back. I try to minimize my travel during the school year, but when I must be away, I have a wonderful management team and a great nanny. And, of course, an amazing husband!

What are the activities or errands on your "must-accomplish list" every weekend?
I love to bake with my boys. A current favorite recipe is Sprinkles cinnamon sugar cupcakes from my recent cookbook, The Sprinkles Baking Book. Though we tend to treat them more like muffins, baking them on Sunday and eating them for breakfast over the next few days.

What do you do on Sundays to prepare for the week ahead?
I have a tendency to work in spurts, making great progress but frequently leaving a trail behind me. So Sunday is when I allow myself the time to clean off and organize my desk (as well as emails and purse) and look at my calendar to prepare for the week ahead. I consolidate all my lists and make one grand master list. Looking at a clean desk helps me start the week off right—it makes me feel like anything is possible! Also, I try to go to bed early—although it can be tough given the Sunday night temptations of Big Little Lies and Homeland. A good night’s sleep is the best way to start my week off right.

Published on March 17, 2017 - 5:00am EDT

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