Usually, if someone promises me cupcakes and then doesn’t actually make good on that promise, I feel sad (wouldn’t you?). The only exception is the amazing Johnny Cupcakes.
Started in 2001 by Johnny Earle (aka Johnny Cupcakes himself), the clothing brand is a tasty misdirection. Rather than selling actual cupcakes as his name would suggest, Johnny makes t-shirts (and hoodies and socks and accessories, including earrings that I wear constantly because they’re so cute and go with pretty much everything!). His marketing is baked to perfection: his stores are modeled after bakeries, with glass-fronted displays and pastry box packaging. More than once, people have gone into his stores or looked at his website expecting cupcakes and getting clothes.
The designs are deliciously clever: whether it features the now-iconic cupcakes-and-crossbones or somehow integrates a cupcake into a classic pop culture reference, you’re guaranteed a sweet product. Collaborating with everyone and everything from The Simpsons to a recently baked Back to the Future inspired line, the shirts and accessories are unique and exciting and adorable. Most of the limited edition lines sell out within days and since not all designs are re-printed, you have to be quick!
One of the most impressive things about Johnny Cupcakes is the do-it-yourself attitude which has led to the brand’s success. Johnny started by selling shirts out of his van or a suitcase and has now expanded to five permanent locations across the US (there was also one on Carnaby Street in London which, unfortunately, is now closed), and he frequently sets up mini pop-up shops that I’m positive get a crazy amount of business in a short time. Johnny himself also tours as an “entrepreneur”, talking about building his business up at professional events or schools, inspiring countless others to follow their passions and, as he says, “do more of what makes you happy”.
Johnny Cupcakes is a fine example of a young, sharp business, using genius marketing, positive vibes, and a smart understanding of people to become a successful brand worn by people – including bands and celebrities – the world over.