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Local mother-daughter bakery finds that the best cupcakes contain a little 'mojo'

Posted by Alex Pearlman  April 9, 2012 08:42 AM

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cupcake mojo nalband fitzgerald.jpgBy Samantha Curtin

There are plenty of great cupcake shops in the area, but one Weymouth bakery’s treats contain a special ingredient that separates them from the rest: a tablespoon of mojo.

Maureen Fitzgerald and Christina Nalband, the mother-daughter duo behind Cupcake Mojo, have been successfully running their cupcake company out of their home since 2010. They began baking for family parties, but it wasn’t until they took their delectable treats to local farmers’ markets that they realized that they “100 percent wanted to make this into a business,” Nalband, 21, said.

The pair will open the doors to their first shop, located in Weymouth Landing, within the next few weeks.

“Business is excellent, and growing every day,” Nalband said. “We have such loyal fans that followed us from the beginning, and we couldn’t be more thankful.”

While some might balk at the idea of working side-by-side with a parent every day, Nalband said it’s a learning experience.

“Of course we have our moments, being together all the time, but I learn something from her every day,” she said. “[My mom] is an amazing person.”

Cupcake Mojo has been the subject of many local news stories, but Fitzgerald and Nalband took the publicity to the next level when they battled it out on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars last month. The duo submitted a video application to the show last season, but they were just shy of the deadline. They decided to hold off on applying again, choosing instead to focus their time and energy on the new shop, but when Food Network called and asked them to be on the show, they decided to take advantage of the opportunity to show off their cupcakes to a wider audience.

“The overall experience of the show was amazing,” Nalband said. “It was exactly what you see on TV -- a war!”

cupcake mojo cupcakes.jpgThe episode, which aired on March 8, celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts by asking the contestants to create cupcakes inspired by the organization. Cupcake Mojo made it to the second round but were eliminated after a mishap with a batch of apple cupcakes.

“The biggest conflict between us on the show was when my mom took the apple cupcakes out too soon,” Nalband said. “I knew right away we were not going to get through that round.”

Her mother had never been on camera before, Nalband said, which made it difficult for her to keep her cool in the high-pressure situation.

“I had a complete meltdown,” Fitzgerald told the The Patriot Ledger following the show’s airing. “What you don’t see is my daughter saying, ‘Mom, pull it together.’”

Leaving Cupcake Wars without a win left the Cupcake Mojo team ready to return to the show and eager for redemption. Nalband said the duo has learned from their mistakes, including how to act under pressure.

Despite their early exit, Cupcake Mojo has seen a boost in business since the episode aired. They even received a personal phone call from the U.S. Army with a request to design, bake, and ship their cupcakes to Fort Hood, Texas, for a homecoming celebration for soldiers in a unit stationed at the fort.

“We gained hundreds of Facebook fans, and our loyal fans still stuck by us, saying what an amazing job we did,” Nalband said. “We are so flattered.”

Even with the success Cupcake Mojo has seen, Nalband, who is currently enrolled at UMass Boston, said that balancing school and the business is a priority.

“In order to have the business grow the way I would like it to, my education needs to be up to par,” she said. “The two go hand in hand.”

Photos by Cloutier Photography

About Samantha -- I'm a South Shore native pursuing a career in the advertising industry, a lover of travel, snow, sand, and anything creative, and a Boston sports enthusiast with a secret desire to become the next Cake Boss. I want to do what I love and love what I do while continuing to travel the world. Twitter: @samanthancurtin

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