If you’re a lover of cupcakes (and duh, who isn’t!?) then chances are you’re probably already obsessed with Candace Nelson, the founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes, and the girl that we personally believe put the mini morsels at the top of the food chain. It all started 10 years ago when Candace decided to leave her position at a powerful investment firm (she’s a smarty-pants) and take the leap from banker to baker…and, well, you know the rest. Since then she’s branched out to include other delectables like cookies and ice cream (you have to try the Cap’n Crunch flavor—it will blow your mind!), and more and more Sprinkles locations are opening throughout the United States as well as overseas (there’s even a Sprinkles in Kuwait—yes, Kuwait!). Here, Candace talks to us about her favorite beauty items, her fear of airplane food, and the must-see show she binge-watched on her last flight.
How often do you travel?
I try to stay put as much as possible during the school year, though work trips are unavoidable. I travel with my family on all of the school holidays and typically take one girls’ trip a year.
Favorite destinations to travel to?
Jackson Hole, the Big Island in Hawaii, and almost anywhere in Italy.
Where’s your “happy place” to visit?
Paris! My husband and I were engaged in the Jardin des Tuileries. The food, the city, the memories… all of it makes me very happy. I can’t wait to take my children there.
What brand of luggage do you travel with?
A monogrammed, purple T. Anthony canvas & leather rolling bag. Each member of my family has their own monogrammed bag in a different color. No one is going to mistake our luggage for theirs!
And what about your carry-on bag?
A matching, monogrammed, purple T. Anthony canvas bag.
What type of camera do you bring?
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS40 Digital Camera.
Air France, for the cheese and wine alone!
Do you have any travel rituals or superstitions?
I’m not a superstitious person but I do a small meditation or prayer every time I take off. I grew up internationally and spent a lot of time on airplanes, but I’m still a nervous flyer.
Aisle or window?
I like to curl up in a window seat and get some sleep without getting jostled around by the drink cart!
Preferred in-flight beverage?
Sparking water with a dash of cranberry juice and a lime or, if it’s a long flight, a glass of red wine.
What are your in-flight travel essentials?
Fuzzy socks, a big bottle of water and lots and lots of snacks: my relationship with airplane food has always been tormented. When my sister and I were little we would make tiny sculptures out of the canapés and other mysterious looking foods on our tray. I just don’t trust it… so I pack crackers, sandwiches, cheese, apples, pizza slices, and power bars because I am panicked about my family being hungry.
How do you entertain yourself at 35,000 feet?
This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper, is what I started—and almost finished!—on my last flight. It made me laugh out loud on the plane. A friend also recommended the show Broadchurch, a British crime drama which no one I know has heard of, but which I completely binge-watched on my last trip. (FOX is doing a US remake this year called Gracepoint, but I urge everyone to download the original!)
What music is on your travel playlist?
Daft Punk and Haim.
What’s your go-to uniform for the plane?
I used to avoid jeans at all costs, but my stretchy Genetic boyfriend jeans have become my ultimate travel uniform. I pair them with a Nili Lotan button down and a cashmere Jenni Kayne sweater in case I get cold.
What’s the one item you never leave town without?
I always very optimistically pack my Asics running shoes and multiple Lululemon workout outfits!
How do you deal with jet lag?
I used to just grin and bear it, but now that each vacation day is too precious to lose, I really find that a perfectly timed sleeping pill can work miracles!
What’s your exercise routine when you’re on the road?
I love a walking vacation! When my husband and I are in a European city, like Paris, we don’t even bother with the gym because we are walking so much. On our last trip to Paris, I developed such extreme blisters from all our walking that we had to make an emergency trip to Niketown for some very American and not-so-chic sneakers! On other vacations, I will try to hit the hotel gym.
How do you manage your health & eating routines when you’re away from home?
Well, I didn’t manage much of anything this summer in Italy. It was all about the food and wine…multiple courses at lunch and dinner. Naturally I justified it by reminding myself the Italian food is clean and the wine is sulfite-free! Now, if I’m at Hualalai on the Big Island in Hawaii, for example, it’s easy to get by with beautiful salads and fresh sushi. In general, I try to ease up on myself a bit when I’m traveling. It’s so much easier to be healthy when I’m home and in my routine—and a vacation is not the time to stress about it.
What beauty-essentials do you travel with?
I recently started using Radical Skincare products. I love them and the packaging is so incredibly travel friendly. I use the whole line: Hydrating Cleanser, Multitasking Brightening Serum, Youth Infusion Serum, Anti-Aging Restorative Moisture. My everyday sunscreen is MDSolarSciences Mineral Tinted Crème Broad Spectrum SPF 30. It’s great because it’s mineral based and the tint helps even out skin tone—almost like a light makeup.
I’m obsessed with Nars velvet gloss lip pencils and lip glosses—they are super hydrating and come in the best colors. Their blushes are wonderful too, but the names are so naughty (Orgasm and Deep Throat…yikes!) Beyond that, Shiseido stick concealer and Guerlain bronzing powder are my makeup staples. Also, I just bought the most amazing hard-case makeup kit by Laura Mercier. It keeps everything organized and protected so there is no more broken bronzing powder! It also makes it easy to find and put on makeup! L’Oreal Ideal Clean makeup removing towelettes are perfect for travel to take it all off! Oh, and I love L’Eau de Mer hydrating shampoo and conditioner—they are vegan and sulfate free, incredibly moisturizing and come with a handy pump.
What are your favorite items to travel with?
I love my Celine “Trio” bag—it was perfect for touring Europe this summer because it’s light, hands-free, and has compartments. A Mophie case was also a complete life-saver for extending the battery life of my iPhone.
Are you an over-packer or under-packer?
I definitely like to pack with a color-story in mind to keep packing to a minimum (particularly shoes!), but I do think it helps to include more than what you think you’ll need. This summer in Tuscany there were some colder, rainy days (the norm is sunny and 90 degrees!). I hadn’t packed a raincoat, but I did dig a sweatshirt and jeans out of the bottom of my suitcase. It certainly wasn’t a fashion statement, but at least I was warm!
Do you have a packing strategy?
I am a disorganized person aspiring to be organized, so I absolutely rely on lists—particularly when traveling with the kids. I start the list at least a few days early so I have an opportunity to think of things that I initially forgot. As I pack a suitcase, I cross things off the list. Before I started my “list system” I was famous for forgetting the kids essentials, like underwear or pajamas.
One surprising thing you always pack?
For international trips I always bring a Z-Pak (Azithromycin antibiotics)—just in case. On a recent girls trip to Italy one of my friends needed it and she was so grateful I was prepared! For every flight I bring Neosporin in my purse and rub a little under everyone in my family’s noses right before we get on the plane.
Have you ever had a travel disaster?
I‘m scared to even answer this question…so I guess I AM superstitious!
If your luggage was lost, what are the 5 items you’d buy at the drugstore?
Cetaphil cleanser, Secret deodorant, a toothbrush, Tom’s toothpaste, tinted facial sunscreen.
Favorite items to order from room service?
I love a beautiful and leisurely room service breakfast in the morning. Poached eggs, a cappuccino, a bowl of berries. At home breakfast is always a mad dash with cereal flying. There is something so lovely about sitting down to a proper breakfast on a white linen tablecloth (even if it’s on wheels!).
Favorite item from the hotel mini-bar?
Peanut m&ms, of course!
Favorite find/souvenir from your travels?
A fabulous, utterly unique beach bag from a new store in Capri called Cabana. Owned by a former Vogue editor, Cabana partners with European artisans to create items that are distinct and special.
Favorite childhood memory of traveling?
I grew up in Southeast Asia so my family took some incredible trips way before exotic travel became ubiquitous. One of my most memorable was visiting the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand. At the time it was very untraveled and the closest thing to paradise I still have ever seen. I remember being in awe of the crystal clear water—you could see for miles. Sadly, it is almost unrecognizable to me now.
Travel destinations on your bucket-list?
Berlin, Germany for the contemporary art galleries, and Laucala Island resort in Fiji for a fabulous beach vacation with the family.
Candace Nelson photographed in Capri, Italy