Despite odd jobs and unsuccessful pursuits, he said, “I thought of every bad job that I had as a stepping stone to something better.”
After a short stint at the Art Institute of Boston, Earle decided to take a break from school and focus all his energy on working full-time. He saved up money and created a business. “At work, my co-workers would give me random nicknames like Johnny Appleseed and Johnny Cupcakes…I thought it would be funny to put one of these nicknames on a shirt,” he said.
After wearing his shirt to work a few times as a joke, customers and coworkers began asking for their own Johnny Cupcakes t-shirts. He began designing shirts that poked fun at popular culture by replacing recognizable icons with images of cupcakes and sold these t-shirts out of the trunk of his beat up Toyota Camry during his lunch breaks at Newbury Comics.
Eventually, the income he generated from selling his t-shirts surpassed what he was making at his full-time job. He decided to take a risk and quit his job in order to concentrate all of his time and energy into his new business venture.
“Focus. Work now, play later. You have to put 110 percent into your business,” he said. With hard work, frugal management of money and a little creativity, Earle was able to open his first Johnny Cupcakes shop in his hometown of Hull, Massachusetts in 2005. One year later he opened another store in Boston, Massachusetts. Each store is designed to look like a bakery, with ovens, display counters and even vanilla air fresheners placed throughout to pay homage to his name. His company has been growing ever since, and he now has two other “bakeries” located in Los Angeles and London as well as a successful online store.
Despite all of his success, Johnny has remained grounded and generous. He has been able to employ his mother and sister full-time, which he says has been one of his proudest achievements. He also stays in touch with customers through random meet-ups and special events, which he publicizes through the company’s Twitter and Facebook. He also gave a small surprise to the audience by having them reach under their seats to find a bag full of candies, vintage trading cards and Johnny Cupcakes pins. Some audience members even received cash. At the end of the talk, Johnny invited everyone to come meet and talk with him.
“I plan on staying here until I meet each and every one of you,” he said. T-shirts were sold after the event and several people lined up to meet and take pictures with Johnny after his talk.