Life is sweetly delicious for Kim Nelson. Baking cakes with her momma in her kitchen in South Carolina, Kim now has created an empire with her decadent company, Daisy Cakes. We spoke with Kim about being on ABC’s hit show, Shark Tank, growing her business, and what sweet success really tastes like.
What was life like prior to going on Shark Tank?
I was baking cakes with my mother and selling them on the Internet. We would make about 2000 in a year, which was easy enough for my mother and me to do. I got a call from a friend one day who told me to apply for Shark Tank. I applied, and the casting coordinator called me the next day. It has been a wild and crazy ride since then.
What was it like to actually be on the show?
I had the most fabulous producers. They worked with me as if it were their business. Right before I went on the air, I was waiting for the doors to open and I could hear the sharks laughing, which put me at ease. But then you have to stand on a duct-taped X on the floor for like 2 minutes without anyone talking to you. It seemed like an eternity; they’re staring at you and you’re not supposed to talk to them. Then the director tells you to go, and I just exploded! [laughs] I handed out slices of cake and I was answering questions that were not even part of my pitch. Unfortunately, they all said no, but then Barbara [Corcoran] saw something that the men didn’t see, and she said yes. I think she saw that I was a hard worker, and that I’ll do what needs to get done.
I’ve interviewed other people on Shark Tank, and interestingly enough, Barbara accepted both. I’ve only heard phenomenal things about her.
She’s involved and cares. She makes me feel like I’m her favorite and I’m her only one. Being from a large family, she said that her father made each child feel as if they were the only child. I’m sure she makes her other people she mentors feel the same way, too. In the end, she wants us to be successful.
What has that success looked like since you were on the show?
We had immediate orders. My kitchen is 16 x 32 and we were running 3 shifts with 4 Sears Kenmore ovens, and a 20-quart mixer. It was insanity. One shift would bake, one would frost the cakes and one would package them. My son and his friends would help ship out of the carport. The company grew so large so quickly that we now have a bakery in Nashville that helps us with large-scale production. Even though a lot of it is automated, making the cakes is still mostly a hands-on process.
We’ll do close to $2 million in sales this year! That’s a lot of money! [laughs] We’ve added a Cake of the Month, to offer variety and to keep customers coming back. We’ve even been featured as a space on the Wheel of Fortune and also on The Price is Right. That is amazing.
Do you and your mom still bake anymore?
We do still bake together. Every now and then, if we are behind and need to have cakes made, we’ll do it together and I love it. It’s such a special time. My great Aunt Daisy’s picture is in the kitchen, and my grandmother’s too. They are the ones who taught me this. And my parents are so proud of me. They literally mortgaged the farm for this to happen.
With such fast success, is it ever hard to balance it all?
My kids are older (18, 19, 21), but they would look forward to me being home, and supper on the stove by 6:00. It’s a hard adjustment for them. My son Adam thinks this is all so cool though, and would like to work in the business when he’s older. But you have to pursue your passion. I love doing this, and it makes me very happy. And it’s good for my kids to see their mom doing something she loves; it’s an important lesson for a parent to give to their child. It makes the success even sweeter.