Reinventing Your Ideas: How the Little Things Yield Big Results

(NOTE: The following article is based upon a presentation at the 2013 HOW Design Conference by Johnny Cupcakes, a.k.a. Johnny Earle)

On a cool and rainy Monday evening in San Francisco this past Summer, I had the pleasure to listen to a dynamic presenter and entrepreneur… Johnny Cupcakes.

For those of you who might not know anything about Johnny Cupcakes, it is a clothing brand founded in 2001 by Johnny Earle. The clothing line uses cupcakes as the prominent design motif of its merchandise, often replacing iconic symbols with cupcakes. The brand’s logo is a skull and crossbones, with a cupcake silhouette replacing the skull. The Johnny Cupcakes line includes t-shirts, shorts, sweaters, jewelry, undergarments, and pins. Its flagship stores are located in Boston, Massachusetts, Los Angeles, California, London’s Carnaby Street, Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts and Hull, Massachusetts, along with his online store, which ships worldwide. All Johnny Cupcakes retail shops are furnished extensively according to a bakery theme.

During the presentation that included a powerpoint projected on two large screens, Johnny delivered an exhilarating and captivating speech complete with some unorthodox stunts, like throwing rubber roaches out into the audience. The guy was a true class clown… but a successful one.

His topic was centered around entrepreneurship and loving what you do. About being passionate and having fun can be the key ingredient to your success. Here are some of the points he made:

1) What are you passionate about? What are you good at?
Try connecting the dots between your passion and your “super-powers.” The most important things you need to be truly successful are unique ideas, motivation, and a positive mental attitude.

2) Come up with original, clever idea… 
And make sure you’re doing at least 12 things differently than anyone else in your business category to realize the success of the idea. If you don’t give people something to talk about, then nobody is going to talk about you.

3) If you have little-to-no start up money…
A good way to test things out is to develop some pre-orders of your product. If you get enough pre-orders for your products, services, event, or idea — you’ll be able to take a more calculated risk. And you’ll be paying with other people’s money (OPM). Just make sure you give people a good enough reason to place a pre-order.

4) Make time for your ideas
This is even more important during the early stages as it takes a lot of sacrifice to build your foundation. Cut back on excessive time such as television, Facebook, video games, etc. Remember, the more you put in… the more you’ll get back out!

5) Starting a business will be difficult
Yes, there will be pain-in-the-butt obstacles to deal with. However, if starting a business was easy, then everyone would be doing it and it wouldn’t be so special.

Remember, if you’re not failing, you’re not learning! Now go and get your hands dirty! – Keep creating

“Do more of what makes you happy.” – Johnny Cupcakes

This presentation was very inspirational for me personally. Johnny Cupcakes is a 30 year old entrepreneur who has created his own brand of T-shirts with his cupcakes and crossbones logo. His stores look like bakeries and the shirts are displayed inside refrigerators and pastry displays. He has a wild following across the globe. And his business is thriving today and recognized as one of _INC. Magazine’s_ top 500 fastest growing companies.

His focus was on the details. He would often spend time actually writing thank you notes to his customers. Or personally include a gift or some surprise inside the shipping box. The box itself are customized to look like cake boxes and other food containers.

The message is rather simple, have a clear vision of what you want, relentlessly pursue it, sweat the details and have fun all the while creating it. What more could a creative mind want than that?

P.S. A personal note: Johnny Cupcakes reminds me of my former employee and graphic designer, Russ Dietrich.

By | 2017-06-15T11:30:16+00:00 January 5th, 2014|Rod's Rants|