The story behind Johnny Cupcakes is a good one. Such a good one, that the creator/owner Johnny Earle lectures all over the world on how he turned a simple joke into a multi-million dollar business using nontraditional methods.
With only four stores open, the company has chosen Martha’s Vineyard to be location of its fifth.
Most of the “Story” can be found on the Johnny Cupcakes website:
“Customers like and appreciate the story and work ethic behind my brand. I started this as a joke from the trunk of my beat up '89 Toyota Camry. A college drop out with a drug and alcohol-free lifestyle, I never wasted my time going out and partying but instead focused only on brainstorming and sketching up my wacky ideas. I turned down investors and took countless risks like keeping my shirts out of chain stores.”
And even though the Johnny Cupcakes brand is international, Johnny Earle has made it a point to focus on the quality of his product and has turned down many investors who wanted to make the company a huge commercial enterprise.
Still, we can hear you groaning out there…”how does this international chain get to open a store in Oak Bluffs? Next thing you know, there will be a McDonalds!”
Not to worry. As it turns out, even though there are Johnny Cupcakes stores in Los Angeles, Boston and London, this is a family business and Johnny’s mom is an Island girl.
According to Linsay Earle, Johnny’s sister who picks up the phone on the first ring when you call the customer service number, Lorraine Bergeron grew up on the Island. In fact, her family still lives here and the Earle family has visited at least once a month their whole lives. Lorraine even met her husband here.
“My dad was a taxi driver on the Island and my mom worked at the Harborview where he used to pick up guests in his cab.”
The amount of family involvement in the Johnny Cupcakes business would make any Island family proud. In addition to the work his sister does with customer service, HR and promotion, Johnny’s mother is the CFO of the company and his father does the build-out for all the stores.
For the past two years they have set up a successful pop-up shop in the Dock Street Diner for a few weeks in the summer.
“This year we saw a perfect place on Circuit Ave and decided to go ahead and open a shop on the Island. We signed a three-year lease and so we’re here for a while,” said Earle.
Just in case you don’t know, Johnny Cupcakes doesn’t actually sell cupcakes. They sell Johnny Cupcake t-shirts, sweatshirts and accessories like wallets, key chains, etc. The stores themselves are set up to look like bakeries, with the clothing and other items in bakery cases. There is even a faint smell of cupcakes as you walk through the door.
The traditional Johnny Cupcake logo is a cupcake skull and crossbones, but there are many different Johnny Cupcake designs. Some of these are limited edition releases that fans line up for on the day of their release (where they are often rewarded with real cupcakes).
Johnny Cupcake collectors on the Island can look forward to a few limited editions as well.
“We are definitely going to have some awesome designs for the Vineyard store,” said Earle.
Johnny Cupcakes will be in the old location at 45 Circuit Ave in Oak Bluffs. They will open their doors on Saturday, June 16.