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 Founder of Carolina Cupcakery

Dawn Eskins

Hampton Roads Original Cupcake Bakery

Getting started at home

In 2007, Dawn Eskins and her two daughters founded one of the country’s first cupcake bakeries in their North Carolina log home kitchen. Upon discovering that local schools were mandating store-bought party food, this lifetime baker began creating safe, all natural alternatives. Their neighbors were only too happy to help with taste testing. They were also ecstatic to discover they could send safe, scratch baked cupcakes to class with their children. The Eskins outgrew their home-based operation within six months.

Dawn Eskins continues to open new retail locations and to create new desserts, at the bakery and on stage. Appearances include local and national baking shows, women's shows and culinary events from MD to SC.

The store

The hunt began for a storefront, but everyone discouraged Dawn from taking a chance on "something so silly." Finally she found a small shopping strip in Elizabeth City NC, and prepared to sign as Carolina Cupcakery.

That same week, representatives from Edinburgh Commons were visiting New York and witnessed the cupcake sensation at Magnolia Bakery. They rushed home to contact Dawn about joining them in Chesapeake Va., her family's home town.

With help of family and friends, their first bakery was opened in June 2008. Almost immediately, a dedicated wheat and nut free kitchen, Food Allergy Bakery, was established to meet the needs of children with special diets.


Six months after the first bakery opened, the stock market crashed and (surprise!) the

bakery survived. In fact, the tiny new cupcake industry exploded. Turns out that cupcakes were just the cure people needed to feel better about everything that was going wrong.

From left; Kyndall Eskins Yelverton and Lindsey Eskins Duggan

The media discovers cupcakes

With an industry so new, and so few cupcake bakeries open (yet), opportunity came knocking.


Carolina Cupcakery was featured in; Modern Bride magazine, VH-1’s Wedding Wars and ABC's Extreme Home Makeover. They competed twice on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, and auditioned for Shark Tank.

More recently the bakery has been a featured location on House Hunters. They've even baked for visiting celebrities such as Toby Keith, Buddy Velastro and Gabriel Iglesias.


Dawn frequently appears as a guest baker on The Hampton Roads Show on NBC.


Carolina Cupcakery, in Virginia?

When Dawn and the girls began baking in earnest, the name Carolina was chosen, to acknowledge where it all began. Problem was, the largest local market was in Virginia. Once a lease was signed to open their first bakery at Edinburgh Commons in Virginia, the question was posed to the family. How can we be Carolina Cupcakery - in Virginia? Youngest child Lindsey, responded, "Well, they've got a Kentucky Fried Chicken in every state, don't they?" Everyone agreed.

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The first five years... 


• The first Carolina Cupcakery opens at Edinburgh Commons.


• Spiked cupcakes were featured in Modern Bride magazine.

• The menu hit 100 flavors with “Jaina’s Razzberry”

• Producers contacted the bakery about auditioning for a new cupcake tv show which eventually became “DC Cupcakes

• Served volunteer workers in Extreme Home Makeover, Jamesville NC, donating over 3000 cupcakes


• Pop up shops opened at MacArthur Mall in Norfolk Va

• Pop up shop opened at Five Points Farm Market in Norfolk Va

• The second location opens in Ghent, on Colley Ave

• The menu reaches 150 flavors with ODU’s “Big Blue”

• Lowe’s Home Improvement website features the bakery using power drills in the kitchen


• Menu hits 200 flavors, “The Happy Heart”, a healthy cupcake.

• Participated in Extreme Home Makeover, Virginia Beach VA

• Appeared on Season 3 of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars

• Location no. 3 opens at Manteo, Outer Banks NC

• Cupcakes provided for Buddy Velastro “The Cake Boss” to use in his Chrysler Hall performance, Norfolk.

• Location no. 4 opens on campus at ODU's Webb Center


• Winner of Retail Alliance's “Overall Retailer of the Year” 

• Appeared on Season 6 Food Network’s Cupcake Wars

• Main bakery location moved to Greenbrier West

• Opened a pop up location at Waterside for OpSail

• Kiosk opened in The Bank of America building in Norfolk

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Powell's Roadside Markets

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The Cupcakery now.

Featuring more than 365 flavors, this eclectic bakery continues to create and rise to challenges.  Still featuring jumbo sized gourmet cupcakes that are big on taste and originality, their signature flavor “French Toast” has won multiple taste awards. Their Kahlua and Cream cupcake launched the “spiked cupcake” craze as predicted in Modern Bride magazine.  

The main bakery is located in the Greenbrier West area of Chesapeake Va. with a Cupcakery location at Waterside District in downtown Norfolk.

Retail spots for cupcakes include; Five locations of The Skinny Dip Frozen Yogurt Bar, Maggie McFlys at Lynnhaven Mall, The Great Pizza Company in Great Bridge and The Hickory Trading Company in Great Bridge.



The bakery donates nearly 20,000 cupcakes every year to charity.


Their Food Allergy Bakery is the area’s only dedicated wheat and nut free facility which caters to families with food allergies.

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Carolina Cupcakery


In 2015 Dawn changed the business model for better control over operations. Now, all cupcakes are made in their central bakery in Greenbrier West, Chesapeake and distributed to nearly a dozen retail shops. The other location they manage is at Waterside District, Norfolk.


The current menu has reached 365 flavors (one for every day of the year) as the bakery continues to generate buzz. 


Their signature flavor French Toast has won multiple taste awards. The Kahlua and Cream cupcake is credited for starting the “spiked cupcake” craze. The Lemon Drop became famous when doctors "prescribed it" to help overdue mothers go in labor. (We don't guarantee that!)

In 2016 their first viral product hit the internet with bacon roses, which they continue to feature every Valentines Day.

Retail locations include; Five locations of The Skinny Dip Frozen Yogurt Bar, Maggie McFlys at Lynnhaven Mall, The Great Pizza Company and The Hickory Trading Company both in Great Bridge.

The bakery donates nearly 20,000 cupcakes every year to charity.


Their Food Allergy Bakery is the area’s only dedicated wheat and nut free facility which caters to families with food allergies.

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Introducing the New Owner of 

Carolina Cupcakery Bakery

Marie Flora Maldonado

In May 2023,  Marie  became the new owner of Carolina Cupcakery Bakery.   She is from the Hampton Roads area. She attended Elem, Jr High, High School and college in Hampton Roads. Marie comes from a military family and has had the opportunity to live in Florida, Illinois (twice) and Spain. In 2019 they decided to move back home to Chesapeake. 

As a military spouse Marie found that moving every 3-5 yrs made it difficult to find a job in her field,  counseling. She did volunteer and filled every seat on the Family Readiness Group  (FRG) with her husband's 1st command. She also volunteered as an Art Enrichment Teacher  at  her  children's  school in Florida and was an Arts & Crafts Instructor on base in Rota, Spain. Marie also  started her own Handcrafted Art Designs  business.                    

After a few months of being back home, during COVID, she was able to work as  a Cake Decorator at an  ice cream shop, Then was hired as a cake decorator at  Carolina Cupcakery.  She found that she loved decorating cakes and working at Carolina Cupcakery.  So 2 years later when Dawn, the previous owner, asked her if she wanted to purchase the bakery, she said "Yes!".  The picture to the right is of Marie and Dawn toasting to the new ownership. 


Dawn Eskins is not only the Founder of Carolina Cupcakery she is

Marie's extended family and  is forever tied to Carolina Cupcakery!

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