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Johnny Cupcakes’ secret to success: Work now, play later

February 26th, 2012 Posted in Arts and Life

By Tmera Bradley

LOGAN — Standing in front of an audience in his mismatched shoes and a black t-shirt, he may not look like a typical businessman. But Johnny “Cupcakes” Earle wasn’t voted America’s No. 1 entrepreneur of 2008 by Bloomberg Businessweek magazine by accident.

“My lecture isn’t a short one so if you have any plans, try and cancel them,” Earle said Wednesday at Utah State University.

“You have to put 110 percent into your business,” Earle said. “This is something that has worked for me, so feel free to take or leave what you will from this lecture.”

In 2001, Earle printed one of his nicknames – Johnny Cupcakes – on a T-shirt. When he wore it, Earle said random people began asking what it meant and wanted one of their own. “Guys thought it was funny, girls thought it was cute,” Earle said.

He kept making more, and when the T-shirts would sell out, he’d reprint. Through word of mouth and wearing his T-shirts, business began to grow.

“I was pretty much my own billboard,” Earle said.

Earle demonstrated his business skills at a young age with lemonade stands and his own snow-shoveling business. In high school, he would buy pranks and novelties wholesale that he’d sell to his classmates.

“While they sold drugs I chose to sell candy,” Earle said.

Earle worked many different jobs over the years, from peeling potatoes to washing dishes. “Sometimes working a crappy job is good because you know what you don’t want to do,” Earle said.

From starting out with no business plan and working from his parent’s attic, Earle now has Johnny Cupcake stores in London, Los Angeles and Boston. He has lectured at universities, colleges and high schools all over the world.

Throughout the evening, Earle talked about the importance of networking, creativity and reinventing yourself. Earle said he tries to create an experience with his brand, from the secret messages on the inside of the shirts to the packaging and box. He said online orders often include a random object in the box like a bag of sand, a $20 bill or even a doll’s head.

“Mostly we’ll put vintage trading cards in someone’s order,” Earle said. “It’s OK to spend that extra money to create that experience.

“If you don’t know that special feeling, reach under your seat,” Earle said. Attached to the bottom of each chair in the ballroom was a little plastic baggie filled with novelties. Guests left the lecture with stickers, trading cards and Johnny Cupcakes pins.

“You’re welcome, by the way,” Earle said.

In addition, audience members got discounts on merchandise sold at the lecture as well as a special code for online orders. Entering the word “Blue” during checkout at the Johnny Cupcakes online store will score shoppers a 20 percent discount during the next few days.

Earle said that in order to be successful, one must work now and play later.

“It’s just managing your time and money,” Earle said, “doing something that makes you happy.”


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  1. One Response to “Johnny Cupcakes’ secret to success: Work now, play later”

  2. By Diana on Feb 26, 2012

    interesting conversation 🙂 keep
    the spirit of friends,, good
    business smoothly and

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