Johnny Cupcakes cooks up student inspiration

Kelly Wynne, Features Editor

On April 29,  Johnny Earle, founder and CEO of Johnny Cupcakes, visited College of DuPage to inspire student entrepreneurs.

Earle’s T-shirt business has skyrocketed in popularity using unconventional advertising. COD business students may have discovered the brand from textbook lessons based around his business.

Earle spent nearly two hours taking students through the process of finding a niche. He started by explaining the businesses he created as a child, from unsupervised yard sales to haunted houses. As Earle grew he started selling snacks to his stoner friends and learned how to generate a profit.

Earle claims to have come up with hundreds of business ideas, only one of which took off. He attributes his creativity to his addiction to sales and creating new resources for buyers to love.

“I fail everyday,” said Earle. “I am obsessed with this puzzle of a business.”

Earle proved to be a speaker that actually strived to help students. Unlike some, he did not only speak of his success. He gave ideas and tips for those in the room striving to succeed. Earle pointed out small things to remember, like sales will always be more successful at the end of the week based on common paydays.

Earle proved to be there for student support not to bask in his own glory. At one point, Earle even asked web designers to raise their hands opposite those who could not further their ideas without a designer.

Earle’s message circled around the idea being different.

“Everything in the world has been done before,” said Earle.

His theory is that the only way to succeed is to do something that has been done in a way that stands out. He used one of his limited availability tees as an example. The “breakfast tee” is only sold during breakfast hours, modeled after fast food breakfast hours. Each T-shirt comes with a complimentary breakfast.

His newest design, the “Where’s Johnny” shirt,  graphically implies the classic “Where’s Waldo.” The only way to get this shirt is by finding Earle while he travels around the country.

Earle explained these unique promotional activities give his business an advantage.

“It’s fun to reinvent what you do,” said Earle. “You have to make it fun for customers and yourself. Strange is good…strange is important.”