Hey hey!

This is a very unique community. I send a lot of creatives and entrepreneurs here. Although I peek at Mintees often, I realized I haven't posted in a while.

All is well in Johnny Cupcakes land! This is our 16th year being in business. Last year-ish I got married and also became an uncle. I've made a conscious effort to have a work-life balance. Through doing so, we've had our most productive year yet. I've been making time for teaching, reading, writing a monthly Johnny Cupcakes printed zine, taking pasta making classes, playing ping-pong, working on a book, continuing to do pop up shops around the globe, while releasing new tees every Friday at noon. I still make time to perform magic to strangers in the streets, too.

Feel free to post up any questions and I'll do my best to answer. Hoping to help a few hungry or tired Mintees people!

xxx
Johnny Cupcakes
"World's 1st T-shirt Bakery"
http://www.johnnycupcakes.com
http://www.youtube.com/johnnycupcakes
http://www.facebook.com/johnnycupcakes
http://www.instagram.com/johnnycupcakes
  • Rockhart

    Hey Johnny!

    Congrats on 16 years of awesomeness! You've inspired so many people (myself included) and it's been great to see how your brand has evolved over the years.

    Ok, to kick off this thread I have both a question and a favor to ask.

    1. What was your reasoning for doing away with the JC blog? Your long form posts and event recaps were always very insightful but I can see how they'd eat up a lot of time. (I've been considering dropping my blog as well, partially due to lack of posts... oops)

    2. If you have 10 mins I'd love to get your snapshot opinion of my brand RockhartClothing.com and what I could improve on. It's come a long way since I did that JC ink splatter shirt for you almost 4 years ago! You can post it here or email me, totally up to you :)

    And thank you for offering to take questions! That is super cool of you.
  • Endgame Clothing

    Hey Johnny,

    Thanks for posting again!

    What's your take on social media after this many years? I know that you are very interactive with your followers and respond/thank each commenter on many posts. Do you feel this translates into hard sales or is it something that is just part of every business model to promote general awareness? Do you feel that you get a return on your time investment?

    Thanks!

    John.
  • Johnny Cupcakes

    Rockhart said:Hey Johnny!

    Congrats on 16 years of awesomeness! You've inspired so many people (myself included) and it's been great to see how your brand has evolved over the years.

    Ok, to kick off this thread I have both a question and a favor to ask.

    1. What was your reasoning for doing away with the JC blog? Your long form posts and event recaps were always very insightful but I can see how they'd eat up a lot of time. (I've been considering dropping my blog as well, partially due to lack of posts... oops)

    2. If you have 10 mins I'd love to get your snapshot opinion of my brand RockhartClothing.com and what I could improve on. It's come a long way since I did that JC ink splatter shirt for you almost 4 years ago! You can post it here or email me at andrew@rockhartclothing.com,">href="mailto:andrew@rockhartclothing.com,">andrew@rockhartclothing.com, totally up to you :)

    And thank you for offering to take questions! That is super cool of you.

    Thank you for the kind words! It means a ton knowing that I helped inspire you to start your brand. Don't fail me now! haha..

    1.) Why did I get rid of my blog? Great question! I had a love/hate relationship with blogging. As my time became more limiting and valuable, it was difficult both to make time to write, and something inside of me felt sick and wasteful to watch yet another blog post get buried in the depths of my website. As the use Instagram arose, especially with the ease and instant dialog with the people reading, replying, and discovering my Instagram posts, it made my desire to blog on my website almost obsolete. I did have a comments section on my blog at one point, but that didn't have as much of an impact as Instagram (even thought my website got many hits). For many people, it's nice to digest all of your information on brands, bloggers, and people all in one place--through social media. I believe it is these reasons that many blogs, and even some message boards, have taken a halt.

    In placement of blogging, not only have I been more active on social media, but I have fallen in love with writing again. Each month I release a 56-page zine where I share my failures, discoveries, successful experiments, feature customers, sneak peek projects, and write other articles. There are many distractions on the internet. Everyone's attention span has shrunk a bit. Although print was dead, I haven't let go of that notion. Even if someone if going to walk to the trash barrel to throw away my zine, they are spending more time looking at it than flipping through their tabs online. I have been printing 10,000 new zines each month. I include them in all t-shirt and hoody orders, I bring them to events, there are a grip of stores that carry them, and I also sell them online. It's like a handheld blog :)

    2.) What do I think of your website and brand? Everything looks very cohesive, original, and well designed. From the packaging to the shippers and logos. You have something that could be marketed easily to a wide variety of people, which will help the longevity of your brand. I don't know what you do outside of your webstore, but I think every brand could work on spending more time interacting with people in real life. You can set up a pop up shop, table, or booth at any show, concert, PAX, or Comic-Con, and you'll do great. I'd suggest finding some metal bands and gamers to gift your products to. It might even be worth it to send some free stickers to every Gamestop, as their employees are likely to be future customers or ambassadors of your brand. I did this with cupcake shops and bakeries, and I've received many repeat customers.

    Lastly, I think it would be a sin if you didn't set up your own monthly, seasonal, or even yearly event. Rent out an event space, have video game tournaments, put on shows, have fun. You will build a community, you'll be able to acquire new e-mails for your e-mail list which is important, and you'll have a beautiful way to showcase what your brand is all about without having to sign a long lease for a store and have much overhead. To top it all off, you can make a good profit from selling tickets, selling booths / tables to other creatives (i.e. sell 50 tables at $100 = $5,000 which pays for the event space and way more). Just from table sales, you could potentially make a $4,000 profit. You have room for sponsors (free food, drinks, giveaways, and money--research what similar capacity creative events charge their sponsors. You'd be surprised, sometimes you could get a few grand just to put their logo on your flyer or link on your event site). Plus you'll have an enormous pop up shop! You just have to do a damn good job promoting this event online and in person, at local high schools, and at other shows. If it's unique enough, and you spend time contacting writers, you will have a bundle of free press! If you transition into doing this monthly after getting the hang of it, and you play your cards right, you have the potential of making more than $100,000. per year

    Go get 'em tiger. I'll send you my address so you can send 20% my way ;)
  • Johnny Cupcakes

    Endgame Clothing said:Hey Johnny,

    Thanks for posting again!

    What's your take on social media after this many years? I know that you are very interactive with your followers and respond/thank each commenter on many posts. Do you feel this translates into hard sales or is it something that is just part of every business model to promote general awareness? Do you feel that you get a return on your time investment?

    Thanks!

    John.

    Hey hey! Not a problem!

    Social media can be very helpful if you have good content, a great response rate, and if you're doing something unique. Humor always wins, too. Videos tell a better story. People love contests. All of these things can help grow your community. If you don't have much of a community now, it's important to network and have a presence at other events. You can find local event listings online and through eventbrite.com

    Today I took a minute to check out your website. You have a good brand, nice photos, and the ability to host events within the chess community. It looks like you already have a few big shots in the chess world, and in the music scene, which is good. I don't know much about that world, so you'll have to ask yourself if it is scalable. If not, and you want to grow your brand, I'd suggest being open to the idea of branching out into other games if you don't see much growth or happiness over time. You could even create an umbrella company with multiple game companies underneath. As I stated in another comment for Rockhart, perhaps you too, could set up a monthly or seasonal event(s).

    My recommendations would be a complete website and webshop redesign. Something simple, that doesn't take away from your photos and graphics. Different fonts, bigger photos, something more current. I'd hate to see your website design hinder sales. The best investment anyone can make in their brand, is their website. It's the first place people go when they hear about you or learn about you. You have one chance to impress them. Rockhart is a great example. You should hit him up about who did his website and what costs were associated. At the rate things are progressing, it's important to have somewhat of a new website and facelift once per year. You've got this!

    If you haven't already, I think it would be unique for you to sell special chess pieces, boards, carrying bags, timers, etc -- if you haven't thought about it already. Alibaba.com could help you if you don't already have contacts. Just make sure the place you choose has good feedback, ratings, and that you receive rounds of samples.
  • Rockhart

    Wow! Thanks for the great responses!

    1. Totally makes sense! Social media is definitely a great way to interact with people and it's been something I've been trying to focus on more lately as well. The zines are a fantastic idea, I've bought a couple of them and they are very, very well done. Giving stickers to video game and music stores / employees is super smart too.

    2. Thank you very much! It's mostly just a one man show right now so it's great to hear everything's connecting. I do a couple of shows every year but I definitely need to do more; especially PAX.

    Starting an event is a really great idea! I'm lucky enough to be based out of Portland and there's a lot of interest in retro gaming events here. THANK YOU! You've given me a lot of great ideas to work on.
  • RyanScully

    Hey Johnny!

    This year I am FINALLY going to start releasing shirts/clothing under my brand, "Paradox.". Right now I have a (temporary) website, and a small following in my area (Northern Maine) due to work i've done with local bands and businesses. I have big dreams for this company and A LOT of ideas. Here is my temporary portfolio website (http://dropr.com/paradox) Any feedback would be appreciated!

    QUESTIONS!!

    1: What is your favorite food spot in New England?!

    2: Have you ever got into any trouble with your parodied logos/characters?

    Please don't judge my mintees page, and please don't take too much time on this! I know you're a busy man!
    THANK YOU FOR YOUR INSPIRATION
  • notjaymarbacus

    Hey Johnny!

    First of all, thank you for being such an inspiration over the years.
    Your brand really made an impact to people all over the world :)
    How I wish I can collaborate with you someday, just throwing this in who knows! :D

    Now for the questions.

    1. As a brand owner what is your take on people saying that starting up a clothing brand right now is stupid considering that the market is really saturated?

    2. Any tips on how can a start up clothing brand build hype even if the owner doesn't have tons of friends and family members to ask for support.

    3. You mention on your talks, about asking your professors at school for business advises.I study entrepreneurship in a university and I can say 95% of the prof. are close minded people, when I pitch something innovative and out of the box (they always think about the cashflow and little to nothing about the brand) Any advice on how can I change their perspective.
  • Endgame Clothing

    Thanks so much for the feedback, Johnny. Appreciate it!
  • Johnny Cupcakes

    Rockhart said:Wow! Thanks for the great responses!

    1. Totally makes sense! Social media is definitely a great way to interact with people and it's been something I've been trying to focus on more lately as well. The zines are a fantastic idea, I've bought a couple of them and they are very, very well done. Giving stickers to video game and music stores / employees is super smart too.

    2. Thank you very much! It's mostly just a one man show right now so it's great to hear everything's connecting. I do a couple of shows every year but I definitely need to do more; especially PAX.

    Starting an event is a really great idea! I'm lucky enough to be based out of Portland and there's a lot of interest in retro gaming events here. THANK YOU! You've given me a lot of great ideas to work on.

    Looking forward to seeing where you take everything!
  • Random

    Good to see you back on Mintees! I have a question for you Johnny.
    We have been hard at work since 2008 and are ready to go to the next level.
    However, the wholesale market is not the best route for us because we are not a traditional streetwear brand.
    I was literally told that in our booth at Magic in Vegas. The buyer was literally scratching his head lol!
    Your brand has accomplished other-worldly success without needing to go the wholesale route.
    I would really appreciate any advice you could share to help us.
    We have spoken to a few "established" people in our industry, but they often give generic advise.
    Mentorship from someone who is well established is so essential - and exceptionally hard to get.
    Here is the link to our site: http://randomobjects.net
    - Anthony

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