You might already be familiar with the whimsical cake and cupcake creations offered at Nadia Cakes. But in case you've never indulged in one of their sweet treats, have no fear: The Palmdale, California-based bakery launched a new Woodbury location in February. Though Maple Grove already boasts its own Nadia Cakes, the Woodbury shop is the company's most ambitious undertaking yet, says founder Abby Jimenez.
Jimenez, a self-taught baker and cake decorator extraordinaire, launched Nadia Cakes in Palmdale in 2009 after filling custom cake orders out of her home since 2007. “I had just had my third baby in three years and was also working a full-time job,” Jimenez says. She ended up having to quit her job as a retail manager in order to care for her children, but began baking cakes out of her home. After two years of success baking and decorating custom cakes, Jimenez and her husband decided to open a retail location. It turned out to be a good move. “The store was extremely successful right out of the gate,” Jimenez says. “My husband actually ended up quitting his full-time job just two weeks after we opened, because we were so busy.”
The success of Nadia Cakes was bolstered by Jimenez's participation (and win) on the fourth season of the popular Food Network show, Cupcake Wars. “Winning Cupcake Wars was a big deal for Nadia Cakes, especially since we were from a small town like Palmdale,” Jimenez says of her TV victory.
When it came time to think about expanding the business, Jimenez says she and her husband discussed opening a store somewhere other than California. “We just honestly didn't want to live there anymore,” she says. The family took a cross-country trip in 2011, driving through 23 states, including Minnesota.
“We really liked Minnesota,” Jimenez says. “It had everything we were looking for.” She cites good school systems, nice people, and changing seasons among the state's appeal. Another key factor in choosing the land of 10,000 lakes? There was room for a business like Nadia Cakes in the local market. “There were relatively few cupcake shops here,” Jimenez says. “We thought that was a good thing to take advantage of.”
The family moved to Minnesota in 2012 and opened Nadia Cakes store number two in Maple Grove in July of the same year. Consideration for a Woodbury store had actually been on the table early on, though Jimenez ultimately chose to open the first Minnesota location in Maple Grove. However, Woodbury stayed in the back of Jimenez's mind. “We never forgot about Woodbury,” she says. “We really liked that area, and we really liked that market, so when we started thinking about opening a second location in Minnesota, we jumped right to Woodbury.”
According to Jimenez, the philosophy behind opening stores in suburban locations is a carefully considered one. “People often ask why we [Nadia Cakes] aren't in densely populated, urban areas like downtown Minneapolis,” she says. Her answer? Nadia Cakes simply isn't trying to attract urban customers. “Our customers are the young suburban couples getting married, the soccer moms who need birthday cakes for their little kids,” she says. “That's our bread and butter, so that's where we open our stores.” Woodbury, with its comparable size and similar demographic to Maple Grove, was the obvious choice, she notes.
Minneapolis-based firm Shea is responsible for the design of the Woodbury shop, which is a whole 500 square feet larger than the Maple Grove location. In addition to cakes and cupcakes, the Woodbury shop also offers Sebastian Joe's ice cream plus a fuller line of desserts than at its other locations, not to mention expansive patio seating for those glorious summer months. “Our Woodbury location is a real upswing from the Maple Grove store, with a lot more offerings,” Jimenez says. “Plus, it's a gorgeous, gorgeous space.”
Erin Campbell, the store manager at Nadia Cakes Palmdale, California location, has relocated to head up the team at the Woodbury location as general manager. Campbell says baking has always been something she's been interested in, and so was an obvious career choice. “I was always that kid who was in her play kitchen,” she says. Campbell comes from a family where cooking was important; her father went to culinary school and worked in catering, and she would help him with the dessert side of things. “Baking has always calmed me down,” she says. “It's always been my center.”
Erin Campbell and Abby Jimenez
Campbell grew up in California's Antelope Valley, near Palmdale; she attended culinary school at the Art Institute of Orange County, and later managed a bakery in Huntington Beach. In 2009, she moved back to the Antelope Valley after the bakery she was working in closed. “Not two days after I moved home, my sister told me Nadia Cakes was hiring an assistant general manager,” Campbell says. “It was like a sign from above.” Campbell was later promoted to general manager of the Palmdale store before relocating to Minnesota to manage the Woodbury store. “I was so excited to visit Minnesota when I came here to train [in 2012],” she says. “I swear Abby had to shove me back on the plane. I didn't want to come home.”
Jimenez is not the only member of the Nadia Cakes family to have a moment in the limelight. Campbell was a competitor in and winner of the Food Network's 2014 Holiday Baking Championship, where she competed against seven other home bakers for a $50,000 prize. “Winning that competition was the most amazing feeling,” Campbell says. “I got to bake against the best of the best, and they truly put me to the test. It was wonderful.”
Between Campbell and Jimenez, Nadia Cakes' new location has stardom and dessert savvy in equal measure. Whether you're hosting a big event or just want to swing by for a sweet treat, this addition to the Woodbury community is sure to impress.
A peek at some of Nadia Cake's most popular cupcake offerings
- Lemon Drop (top left in photo): A tart and tangy cupcake that will still satisfy your sweet tooth. Lemon cake with lemon curd filling and cream cheese frosting.
- Salted Caramel (top right): Salted caramel is all the rage these days, and this cupcake is a perfect example of why that is. Caramel cake with dulce de leche filling, topped with caramel frosting, vanilla bean sea salt and caramel drizzle.
- Cupcake Wars Winning Cheesecake (bottom left): A decadent, six-layered cupcake creation that took home the prize on the Food Network's Cupcake Wars. Graham cracker crust, vanilla bean cheesecake, sour cream glaze, whipped cream and triple berry compote, finished off with graham cracker crumble.