Back in 2010, the year after Kim Nelson founded her company, Daisy Cakes, in a commercial kitchen near her home in Pauline, South Carolina, she was selling about 2,000 cakes a year.
To her, that was pretty decent business.
But after she made an appearance on the hit ABC show “Shark Tank” in 2011, where she made a deal partnering with investor Barbara Corcoran, she sold 2,000 cakes in just 24 hours.
“That was with the phones blowing up and the website crashing,” she said.
Nearly 10 years later, Daisy Cakes, which delivers specialty, homemade-style cakes nationwide, is on track to sell about 20,000 cakes this year, even with the chaos of COVID-19 causing industry events to be canceled.
The company has also partnered with online marketplace Goldbelly and opened a second location in, of all places, Las Vegas, which allows it to ship with greater ease to the western half of the country.
“When I first went to Las Vegas, I found a kitchen and an area I liked, then thought about it for 18 months, and at last decided I was done pondering,” Nelson said, phoning from an airport terminal while en route back to Nevada. “I basically decided to jump out of the airplane and figure out my parachute on the way down.”
Even though Nelson’s new environment is nothing like the Vegas lifestyle of sparkling lights and casinos — in fact, she describes her new spot as “a normal neighborhood of schools, offices and grocery stores” — it was still a jarring cultural shift for someone who’d spent her entire life living in Spartanburg.
The story of Daisy Cakes began many years earlier, when Nelson sold her first cake at just 10 years old. As with many families, Nelson’s lineage carried with it not only stories and traditions, but also recipes, culinary techniques and an inherited understanding of how care and love can be imbued in something as seemingly basic as a chocolate cake.
To this day, Nelson still uses her mother’s original enamel pot to make lemon curd (and she won’t let anyone else touch it, either).
She keeps her business just as close, too.
“Nobody is going to run your business the way you’re going to run it,” Nelson said. “I’m a firm believe that it’s much better to take the risk than have the regret.”
Daisy Cakes cheesecake recipe, courtesy of Daisy Cakes
- 3 cups of vanilla wafers (12-oz box) or preferred cookie
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- Combine ingredients in a food processor, process until smooth.
- Press crust into bottom of 10-inch springform pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray
- 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
- 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In bowl of electric stand mixer (with paddle fitted if you have it), combine cream cheese and sugar until smooth, then add eggs and blend, scraping sides, until creamy. Add remaining ingredients, blend, scrape the bowl down again, and then mix on high until smooth and fluffy.
Pour filling onto the crust, bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Turn off oven and let the cheesecake rest in the oven for 1 more hour. Do not open the door ever until the hour is up!
Remove the cheesecake, let it cool completely before removing from springform part of the pan and keep chilled before ready to serve.
Serves 10-12 people