After taking cake-decorating classes to spend quality mother-daughter time together, Tracey Noonan (mother) and Danielle Vilagie (daughter) decided to launch a bakery business in Cohasset, Massachusetts. As their business grew, they realized that they needed a more efficient way to ship their cupcakes across the nation. Through trial and error, Tracey and Danielle discovered a solution to this problem by filling mason jars with freshly baked cake and frosting. Their products could now stay fresh for up to 10 days without refrigeration and would not fall apart in transit. Since they came up with this innovation, they have made a deal with Kevin O’Leary on Shark Tank and are now a nationwide brand.
What are one or two books that have most greatly influenced your life?
Out of all the books I’ve read, I think I loved Wind in the Willows as a child. That book
made me want to be an author. The descriptions of the characters and the woods
were so vivid for me. I loved that I could be swept away by written imagery. As an
entrepreneur, I loved Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh.
What are some skills you wish you learned when you were younger that you would
have benefited from?
I wish I would have been wiser with my money. I really think every young person
needs to learn about the importance of saving money and about having and keeping
What was your first business idea and what did you do with it?
When I was little, I wanted to make teddy bears and other stuffed animals because
they made me so happy. I slept with 2 stuffed bears and a stuffed horse. I would put
them in a specific order on my bed and would fall asleep feeling safe and secure. I
wanted other children to go to bed feeling like I did. Unfortunately I couldn’t sew…so that ended quickly.
How did you know when you had the right idea with Wicked Good Cupcakes?
It all came down to sales and then repeat customers. When you first introduce a
product to market, you never really know until you see data. Data is everything when
you’re in business because it doesn’t lie. Then combined with your data, you read all
your feedback. Your customers will always help guide your business. Listen to what
they’re saying. Look for common themes and make adjustments as necessary.
What do you wish you knew before you started Wicked Good Cupcakes?
That’s a tough one. I’ll share what I’m glad I didn’t know…And that’s just how hard I
was going to have to work - I think it may have scared me. After all, I was no
spring chicken when we started. But once I was in the middle of it, I loved the
challenge of trying to get to the next level. And I still do.
How has failure helped you later in life? Can you share any specific lessons you have
There are too many failures to name…But the common theme for me was to
stop and think before I spent any of the company’s money. Even to this day, we’re
debt free and that really helps you sleep at night. This is the time where some
businesses get into trouble because they develop a fake sense of security. We’re all
one pandemic away from losing everything. Cash truly is king. Having a safety net in
the bank is critical to your businesses’ health and welfare. I spent too much without
keeping track in the beginning…If I continued that way, everything could have turned
out drastically different for us. Watch your pennies. They all add up!
At what point did you know entrepreneurship was for you? How did you decide this is
what you were going to do with your life regardless of the risk?
I fell into entrepreneurship out of necessity. I didn’t go to college. My dad didn’t think girls
needed to go…So, having zero education forced me to always rely on myself and my
skills. I’m very, very good at learning on the fly. The risk for me was more in not taking
action. I had 3 small children depending on me to provide for them. I kind of had no
In your opinion, what traits make a good entrepreneur? Can one develop these traits?
Some of the traits that are important are curiosity, good time management, resilience,
sales, branding…I feel like you can always improve these things but I don’t believe
you can learn them. My personal feeling is you’re either cut out to be an entrepreneur
or you’re not.
What is some of the best advice you ever received? Some of the worst?
Best- Stop talking and listen. You don’t know everything and you can’t possibly be the
best at everything. Learn and recognize what your weaknesses and strengths are and
then surround yourself with those who know more than you.
Worst- This is a dumb idea. Give it up.
What is some final advice you can give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
You’re not going to be a millionaire overnight, so understand that. You may never be a
millionaire but if you love what you do and you can’t imagine doing anything else and
you’re okay with that, you’re already a success.