Johnny Cupcakes returns for career week lecture


Soleil Barros
Journal Staff

John Earle, CEO of Johnny Cupcakes, returned to Suffolk University last night to hold a private lecture exclusively for Suffolk students. Earl, making his second appearance at the university, presented his own personal story and provided advice for starting a successful business. The event was sponsored by Career Services, Cooperative Education and Student Leadership & Involvement.

“It was awesome, he talked about things I never thought about,” said sophomore Yna Bettran.

Earle gave an insight to his well known T-shirt company while entertaining the audience with jokes and videos from his exclusive store events. The way he began his company with little to no money, and transformed it into a multi-million dollar corporation with no help from private investors, allowed students to have a better understanding of the man behind the operation.

“He has this notion of a passion before fashion. He turned his passion into a profession, which is rare these days,” said graduate student Ashkan Zandieh. “Overall, Johnny Cupcakes is a great person to teach his prospective of organizational development.”

According to Earle, the Johnny Cupcakes company was first a joke. While working at Newbury Comics in Braintree, he was often given nicknames such as Johnny Appleseed, Johnny Pancakes, Johnny Come-lately (when he was late for work), and of course, Johnny Cupcakes. Growing up as a creative kid, Earle thought it would be funny to poke fun at pop culture. Making a joke of the tough guys who walked into Newbury Comics wearing T-shirts with skull and crossbones on them, he created shirts that replaced the skull with a cupcake. The “Johnny Cupcakes” T-shirts grew popular with frequent customers of Newbury Comics, who would then tell their friends.

“I heard of him through a friend,” said mentions freshman Sang Do. “I passed by the Newbury store and I went in because I thought I it was a real cupcake shop. I was really surprised.”

The Johnny Cupcakes name spread locally; it finally reached the point where Earle was making enough money from selling his T-shirts to quit his job at Newbury Comics with the intention of taking a risk and launching his own company.

Johnny Cupcakes is now globally known and slowly taking over and gaining new supporters daily.

“I think the brand has grown just from one person wearing a Johnny Cupcakes T-shirt and then they would tell another person,” said sophomore Gabrielle Gillman.

The company now has a website allowing customers from all around the world to purchase Johnny Cupcakes merchandise. Earle has store locations, or “bakeries,” in Hull, Boston and Los Angeles. He reveled at the lecture the official plan to open the fourth store in London in 2011.

Earle advised students interested in starting their own businesses to take advantage of opportunities, traveling and pursuing internships. Building a positive team, paying attention to details and investing your time and money are points he also stressed during the lecture. Earle mentioned a few times how in placement of partying with his friends, he invested his time, energy and money into his company. He told how significant living a drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle turned out to be.

Earle ended the lecture with the opportunity to win free Johnny Cupcakes merchandise and money by answering trivia questions from Nickelodeon cartoons and having students recite tongue twisters. “I wasn’t expecting him to be so down to earth, but he’s a super sweet guy. I won twenty dollars in a tongue twister and he signed my shoe,” said junior Kasey Armstrong.

Paul Tanklefsky, director of Career Services and Co-op, presented to Earle a Suffolk Rammy T-shirt as a gift. He notably enjoyed the design, commenting, “most schools don’t do that.”

“I think people actually know [Johnny Cupcakes] aren’t actually real cupcakes now,” said freshman Ayla Erdos-Steinberg.