What started out as a joke among friends has turned into a million-dollar business for Johnny Earle, or “Johnny Cupcakes,” now a household name in Massachusetts. Earle began his T-shirt clothing line as a complete joke among friends at a Newbury Comics warehouse in Boston. Co-workers gave him a number of nicknames, one being Johnny Cupcakes. He decided to make light of it by mimicking pop culture items and replacing them with cupcakes on shirts he printed at his other job at a silk screen shop.
Earle wore them to shows his former band would perform and the shirts slowly became a hit. As popularity grew, Johnny printed more shirts with different designs poking fun at pop culture. One satirical design imitates the famous Air Jordan logo, with a slam-dunking chef and cupcake. Another popular print depicts a cupcake and crossbones.
Earle’s shop is located on Boston’s swanky shopping district, Newbury Street. In keeping with the bakery motif, the shirts are encased in bakery cases and fridges and employees wear aprons.
Cupcakes are sprouting up everywhere from music videos such as the Gym Class Heroes, to spots on You Need to Know me on MTV news.
Johnny Cupcakes intends to expand to new locations such as California, London possibly even Japan. Earle said he wants to expand from shirts to purses, sneakers, ties and jewelry.
One fan describes his clothing as “the kind of shirt strangers will talk to you about.” Another draw is originality. For each design, Earl prints only a few shirts, which immediately become “limited edition.”