• Germany's news in English

Making it in Germany: a purveyor of delightful Yankee desserts

Jessica Mann · 23 Nov 2009, 16:40

Published: 23 Nov 2009 16:40 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Behold the cupcake: tiny, sweet, and impeccably decorated. This adorably yummy dessert classic has recently become a full-fledged foodie craze in the United States, presenting Dawn Nelson with the perfect opportunity to get Berliners hooked on them too. The Local spoke to her about opening up the German capital’s first cupcake shop.


Dawn Nelson



Where do you live?


Where are you from originally?

I was born in Florida and lived there most of my life. I moved to Philly when I was in my mid-twenties and lived there for five years before moving to Berlin.

What did you do before coming to Germany?

I was a makeup artist with MAC Cosmetics and also a bartender for a variety of different concert venues.

What brought you to Germany and when did you come?

I originally backpacked through Berlin back in 2004 for the first time. I always said that one day I wanted to move here! In April of 2006 I finally made the move to Berlin following a divorce. I really needed a change in scenery and lifestyle, so I figured what better time to go.

What was your first job in Germany?

My first job in Berlin was opening the Cupcake shop! I took a year off of work to research and plan out the steps on what I needed to do to make the idea a reality.

How did you go about setting up your shop?

The idea for the concept of Cupcake started out when my best friend and I were vacationing in Prague. We were having lunch at a café and I was pondering what I wanted to do for work in Berlin, since good-paying jobs were hard to come by. She said “You love to bake and cook for other people, so why don’t you open a cupcake shop!” Then the light bulb went off. When we got back to Berlin I started researching the idea and realised that there wasn’t a cupcake shop in Berlin (or even Germany at the time!). Finally, a year later, we officially opened Berlin’s first cupcake shop!

Could you describe your current job?

Oh, where to start? I basically do everything and anything I need to do to make my business run smoothly… baking the cupcakes, doing dishes, taking out the trash, cleaning the shop, organizing menus, advertising, creating merchandise, shopping, ordering supplies, taxes, paperwork, and just about any other little thing that pops up in between!

What were the biggest challenges you faced? How did you deal with them?

Every day we experience new and difficult challenges. I think the hardest thing about opening and running a business in Germany are all the offices that you need to deal with. We take each problem step-by-step and figure it out.

What’s your best advice for ‘making it’ here?

I think that Berlin is one of those cities where you can really invent yourself. It’s important to be original and not follow others. Do what you love and find something you’re good at, then pursue it!

What’s the biggest difference about working in Germany?

Story continues below…

For me, I guess it’s the bureaucracy here and all the offices, rules and regulations that go along with it.

What’s the best thing about your line of work?

Meeting new and interesting people from all over the world. Our shop is a magnet for tourists and travelers from abroad. It’s really cool that we get people from Spain or Brazil who have heard about our cupcakes and searched us out specifically!

What’s the hardest part about living in Germany?

I can’t complain really about Germany specifically. I think for me the worst thing is that I work too much. There isn’t much that I miss except certain foods, which I try to make myself.

How’s your German? Do you speak it at work?

I definitely need to learn more! I am so busy in the kitchen that I don’t have a lot of free time to learn now. I do speak German at work to the customers, but mainly I find myself speaking English at home with my boyfriend, who is also my business partner.

Do you have a 'making it' story? Let us know: news@thelocal.de

Related links:

Jessica Mann (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

09:45 November 26, 2009 by Portnoy
I confess to a slight cupcake addiction that was on the mend until you came here. YUM.

HOWEVER, I think this is one of the most informative of this series -- there's some real tips in this one, it's not just all frosting.
11:07 November 26, 2009 by So36
Oh swell. This is not gonna help my expanding waistline.
18:52 November 29, 2009 by Timsen
Congrats Dawn,

I'm an expat from New York. I've lived in Denmark since 1998 and I actually had the same thought about bringing cupcakes here. I've never seen them offered anywhere in Denmark and I know Danes would love them too. If you ever think of expanding north I think there is a huge untapped market up here too!

Best of luck to you,

18:01 November 30, 2009 by Mr Goodmorning
Wonderful! I've always thought it would be a great idea to set up an authentic German pretzel bakery in my home city (Boston). It is impossible to get really good authentic pretzels here (I would sell German Fanta and broetchen as well, among other things that are impossible to get here). I have to go up to a German bakery in central New Hampshire for my fix..
13:30 December 2, 2009 by moistvelvet
A nice story, refreshing and informative, best of luck.
08:15 December 6, 2009 by WatsonRodriguez
You have done a great work as there are very

less people who can start everything by there

own. bali villa accommodation
Today's headlines
Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Four Ku Klux Klan groups active in Germany, says govt
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.

The German government estimates that there are four Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups currently active in the country, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Tuesday.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd