Meeting the one and only Johnny Cupcakes in Boston

15. May 2018 – Oliver Stoldt

Meeting Johnny Cupcakes in Boston.

WOW – what a nice meeting with this great guy in Boston: Johnny Cupcakes.

Johnny: “I had sixteen different businesses before I was sixteen.”

His story is awesome: As a little boy, I would see my parents spend so much time in traffic commuting to and from work. This inspired me to be an entrepreneur with the hope that someday I could work and still be able to spend time with the people I love. Despite having learning difficulties combined with the inability to sit still and concentrate, when I did discover something I realized I had a passion over, I obsessed over it. That particular passion was being an entrepreneur. From lemonade stands to performing magic, I had sixteen different businesses before I was sixteen. I knew I had that entrepreneurial spirit, especially when my friends hung out with cute girls at parties, I hung out with cute old ladies at Jo-Ann Fabrics, where I started a fleece scarf business.

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After I graduated from high school and took a short break from college, my friends and I started a hardcore metal band. I also scored a job at Newbury Comics, a local record store where my co-workers awarded me with random nicknames. Anything goes well after Johnny, including ‘Come-Lately’ if I was late to work. The nickname that stuck was ‘Johnny Cupcakes.’ While I was making a t-shirt order for my band, I thought it would be hilarious to get a few with my new moniker. I wore one to work, and the word spread like wildfire. Everyone wanted one! A food themed clothing brand was weird to many people, but weird is good! It gets people talking. I started making more Johnny Cupcakes t-shirts that poked fun of pop culture, replacing known references with cupcakes. One particular logo, the one most identifiable with Johnny Cupcakes today is a cupcake with crossbones. Guys thought it was funny and girls thought it was cute. The design caused curiosity and conversation amongst strangers. More than anything, it made people smile.

“Keep positive and do more of what makes you happy!”

I started selling t-shirts out of the trunk of my beat up ’89 Toyota Camry. Then out of my crusty suitcase while on tour with my band On Broken Wings. People all around the country began to purchase them. Before I knew it, my Johnny Cupcakes t-shirts caught the attention of so many people, and making them quickly became my passion.I took a risk by quitting my day job and my band, as I knew launching this brand would require 100% of my energy. Instead of playing loads of video games or partying like most or my peers, I chose to spend my time and money building the foundation of my new independent clothing line, Johnny Cupcakes. As I spent more time on the clothing line, it grew so much I had decided to re-launch my online store. Slowly but steadily a cult following was brewing so much that my entire house became filled with orders to be shipped internationally. My whole family became involved, my mom and sister helped fulfill orders while my dad created a storage space in the attic. After hiring friends to help out, the only logical thing to do next was to open a retail store.

“I enjoy bringing out the kid in everyone. Not in the sense of getting loads of people pregnant, but you know, making other people feel happy!”

When it came time to open a store, I really wanted it to be an unforgettable experience. My dad and I transformed my first store location into an old fashioned bakery where I displayed t-shirts in vintage, industrial refrigerators and on baking racks. I even made it smell like frosting! This is and always has been the model for all of my stores. Even when you purchase a t-shirt, we package them in our signature pastry boxes. Our bakery aesthetic is so convincing, that customers are usually convinced they are walking into a bakery expecting to get a cupcake. My inner-jokester still gets a kick out of fooling hungry shoppers. Cupcake or not, customers usually leave with a t-shirt or a great story. However, one April Fool’s Day we sold real cupcakes and hid all of our t-shirts!

With Johnny Cupcakes being a case study in several branding and business books, I’ve been invited to give keynote presentations at professional events, large businesses, and schools— helping other people create blueprints for building brand loyalty, creating memorable experiences, and inspiring innovation.

Johnny Earle AKA. Johnny Cupcakes

America’s #1 young entrepreneur, founder of Johnny Cupcakes