Your store designs are genius. Can you tell us a little more about the L.A. store build-out, including the wall of ovens? In building your stores, what were some of the most important things you learned about the process?
Thank you. I’ve spent sleepless nights imagining them, drafting them and even more sleepless nights trying to figure out how I can make them a reality. Every Johnny Cupcakes shop is set up like a vintage bakery, displaying t-shirts in refrigerators, ovens, and baking racks; hidden vanilla scented car fresheners covet themselves in my shops to give off the aroma of frosting and cupcakes; JC shirts are packaged in bakery take-out food boxes instead of bags. All of this definitely tricks a lot of hungry people. Some become angry, while others become intrigued with the brand.
All JC shops are set up differently with their own respective attractions. My ultimate goal has always been to create an experience—even if I have to go broke doing so.
The design and feel of my shop in L.A. (7959 Melrose Avenue) is inspired by Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It really feels like Johnny Cupcakes and the T-shirt Factory. Almost everything in there was built from scratch.
I was originally going to line the walls with vintage, rusty oven doors from various junkyards. I decided to skip the tetanus shots and get some custom ones crafted from scratch. While working with the same company that worked on parts of Universal Studios, [we] built many of Jeff Koons' oversized balloon animal sculptures amongst many other masterpieces. I was introduced to a galaxy of possibilities.
There are a hundred bells and whistles that you’ll have to see in person, or through the build-out webisodes on YouTube.
My biggest learning experience from opening that shop is that you have to spend an arm and a leg to make more arms and legs. And boy was I dealing body parts.
How did you make the decision to go back on the road with On Broken Wings? Any future tour plans?
They sort of got back together to do a tour for the fun of it. They asked me if I wanted to hit the road with them, so I thought it could be cool to escape for a bit. It was fun! I got to work on a lot of magic tricks, which was refreshing. They plan on writing more music, but unfortunately I’ve got too much on my plate to take part in it. As far as music goes, I will be working on a small-scale project with a close friend of mine. I just have to make sure the Johnny Cupcakes brand has my full attention first, as it is what puts a roof over my head (and 40+ other people’s heads).
I do plan on putting together another Johnny Cupcakes Suitcase Tour or book tour when I wrap up this business book I’ve been writing, which is almost done.
We hear you’re a fan of magic. What is your best trick/illusion? Any magic secrets you can share with us, so we can impress our friends?
I am indeed. From when I was 8-12 years old, I performed magic at neighborhood birthday parties. It was one of my very first entrepreneurial adventures. One of the rules to magic is that you cannot share the secrets or powers. I will tell you that my most impressive power is having the ability to guess strangers’ birthdays. Sometimes I enjoy making objects disappear and reappear inside of random places.
No, not like that… Get your mind out of the gutter. alt