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The Cupcake Collection founder and CEO Mignon Francois shares how she built a successful business with her last $5 and explains why it’s so important for Black Americans to see people in their community succeed.
Today Mignon Francois is an acclaimed entrepreneur and founder of the only business to win a popular poll for “best cake” in more than one state. But when she first started The Cupcake Collection, she was just trying to find a way to get her family out of debt.
“I was tired of being sick and tired,” Francois recalled. “I heard God say that He feeds birds, and He would feed me, too.”
In this episode of Tell the Story with R.H. Boyd, Emmanuel LeGrair, community engagement and development coordinator at R.H. Boyd, sits down with Mignon to learn more about her incredible story. In their discussion, Mignon speaks openly about her passion for sharing her success with the Black community so others can believe they’re capable of more than they imagine.
Mignon Francois didn’t even know how to bake, but when she learned that having a bake sale could help her get out of debt, she wanted to try it. Francois started with a recipe from her grandmother, and quickly realized that her previous life experiences had actually been preparing her for this moment.
“I had been studying science 17 years earlier,” she explained. “I wanted to be a doctor, but I couldn’t apply the science to the human body. But in my Nashville kitchen, it all came together into a recipe for success.”
Francois started selling cupcakes to her neighbors in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood, all while believing that God had given her the plan she needed to turn her baking venture into a full-fledged business.
“The way you hear God is this: He doesn’t come into your ear. It’s not going to be this rumbling loud voice. There’s this knowing that comes into your gut. And I just felt it in my heart,” she explained. “I promised Him that if He would make me successful, I would tell anybody who would listen about what they could do if they believed.”
For Francois, The Cupcake Collection has never been solely about money; it’s been an opportunity to create something meaningful that points people to God.
“When we put our hands to work, I believe that God honors the work of our hands. Because when we set our hands to do anything, we put His stamp on it, because we leave our fingerprints behind,” she shared.
Francois also doesn’t take for granted the opportunity to build her business in Nashville at a time when the city is so full of other entrepreneurs and creative people.
“I believe that Nashville is not a place; it’s a time. Never again will this subset of people be here together, creating what we’re creating in collaboration with the Lord—ever again,” she explained.
Francois is now working on a new project: a book that will provide an in-depth look at how she built her business.
“I really wanted to write it for people who wanted the steps,” she shared. “I had no savings, no money—literally we’re talking about my only $5 and the faith to follow God into this thing that He makes wildly successful.”
After learning about R.H. Boyd and its history of printing books before it was commonplace for African Americans to know how to read, she knew she wanted to work with them. Francois is writing not just for future readers, but also for the generations before her who never had the same opportunities.
“We are the first generation of African Americans who have full access to opportunities that the generation before us didn’t have. I can do things in this decade that my parents couldn’t do when I was born,” she offered. “My children are the first generation of African Americans who have access to wealth transference outside of an insurance policy. We’ve never had businesses and wealth transferred to us as a collective until right now.”