Pam Nelson

New York, New York, United States

Bakery Owner, Baker

Butter Lane Bakery

Before becoming the owner of Butter Lane Bakery, I worked in finance. I was laid off in the 2008 crisis. I took my severance to start Butter Lane, and it has been the best thing that ever happened to me. I thought I would go back to Wall St., but now I can't imagine it. I love the independence and control of running my own place.

Butter Lane’s flagship store is in NYC’s East Village, and we opened a second location in Brooklyn’s Park Slope in 2011. We're also famous for our "Cupcake Classroom” which now teaches more than 10,000 cupcake fans a year to make the perfect cupcake. We have a total of 25 employees and sales of about $1MM/year. We also do a ton of deliveries in the city - a giant part of our business. Butter Lane is truly considered the maker of the “better cupcake”. Foodies know us as the real thing, with lots of original flavors and always fresh-baked.

Here’s just a bit of what we can cover in our PivotPlanet session(s):
• How to set up a bakery. The start-up check list - staffing, site search, payroll, insurance, credit cards, POS. (This could also apply to an at-home catering business.)
• How to 'amp up' an existing bakery. Adding delivery, for example, or website sales.
• How to build a bakery brand on social media - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. (It's all about pictures.) I can help create the platforms, AND brainstorm the branding and image that should go on them.
• How to leverage "Smart Partner" platforms: Yelp, Seamless (in NY; for ex), FourSquare, and Google. There are so many tools available to small business; it just takes a little know-how to set up.
• How to add classes to your bakery model. This is more than just another revenue stream. It's teaching people to become ambassadors for your business. Customers want an experience now...not just a cupcake.

There is nothing as fulfilling as being a small business owner. It is creative on every level; from marketing to staffing to social media. I also just love the nuts and bolts of a small business. We just switched our POS to an Ipad-based system, and I could talk about it for days. Better technology is helping small businesses in huge ways.


I have an MBA and have always said I never fully used it until I started a small business. Finance smarts are important (I like everything in a spreadsheet!), but I also use what I learned from classes in marketing, operations management and presentations.

I am especially passionate about the value of eCommerce. Roughly 40% of our sales come through our website (class bookings and deliveries). I firmly believe no business can really survive without this “extra” source of revenue. I've spoken on the topic a lot and have advised other local businesses on how to generate web sales.

We also utilize social media. We do it all: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (critical!) and have found it to be the smartest marketing for a small business. We're known as early adopters of eCommerce ideas and have great relationships with the “tech world" in NYC - 4Square, Seamless, Google and Yelp. In fact, I'm on the Small Biz Council for Yelp. We figured out how to embrace our Yelp profile, not hate it, and now it's an important source of website traffic.

We have made as many mistakes as any business. But my biggest lesson has been to own your mistakes and recover quickly. "The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled" is my favorite quote. When we mess up a delivery, for example, we call the customer, apologize and ask to redeliver for free. We've turned angry people into our best customers that way.