Johnny Cupcakes x Hawaii Lecture and Q&A Recap

The Johnny Cupcakes lecture could not have come at a better time. The theme for the lecture was the notion that “Real success is being happy doing what you love.” I took that to heart. So much so that two days later, I decided that I would quit my day job. Nonsense? Truth. But I am getting a a bit ahead of myself.

Here's a photo of me in my Johnny Cupcakes T-Shirt. I'm excited for the lecture!

The Johnny Cupcakes event was set to kick off at 7pm at the latest Honolulu art hub, Loft In Space. I’ve never been there so I was excited not just to see Johnny Cupcakes, but also to see what the vibe was like at the Loft. I lie. I was 99% excited to see Johnny Cupcakes and maybe 1% excited to see what the vibe was like at the Loft. Nonetheless, I showed up at the Loft In Space about 2 hours before the event. My good friend, Joel, tagged along. It was only fitting since he is the one that takes all of those photos that you see of me in T-Shirts on this website [thanks, Joel]. He also digs Johnny Cucpakes.

You could tell that Johnny Cupcakes is a relatively novel brand in Hawaii since there was practically no line when I arrived. In fact, when a line did start to form about 45 minutes before 7pm, I was at the head of the line. Yep, a T-Shirt blogger at the front of the line to listen to a T-Shirt entrepreneur talk about his brand. Fitting, don’t you think?

Johnny Cupcakes ballons outside of Fresh Cafe / Loft In Space.

Waiting to get in. I was the first in line.

Inside the Loft In Space, Johnny prepares his Pop-Up Shop.

Of course, they let all of us sort of marinate outside of the Loft for a bit before letting us in. Thankfully, the line grew. It grew pretty long. I guess that’s an effect of something that we locals here call “Hawaiian Time.” Everything seems to move a tad bit slower here. Which isn’t necessarily always a bad thing. I was just stoked to see so many likeminded Johnny Cupcakes fans in line here in Hawaii. I was stoked and pumped.

Eventually they did let us into the Loft In Space. The old warehouse behind the Fresh Cafe turned art gallery/lounge is not that big. The place was tightly packed with fans hungry for Cupcakes. When Johnny did come up and take the stage, there was a thunderous applause. It was exciting. The suitcase tour that had eluded our tiny state in the past was finally here. Wow.

Johnny Cupcakes being mobbed. Not really.

Real Success is Being Happy Doing What You Love.

The Johnny Cupcakes Stage.

Johnny, whose real last name is Earle, started off his talk by mentioning some of his early business ideas. He did everything from selling lemonade to holding garage sales (when no one was home) to selling itching powder at school. Each of these examples were filled with anecdotes taken from Johnny’s youth – many of which were hilarious. He was definitely born to be an entrepreneur.

Eventually, Johnny talked about how Johnny Cupcakes was born. How he hustled in the beginning by selling his tees out of his old car and even meeting strangers at the mall to save on shipping costs. He talked about how he lived with his parents for the first few years of Johnny Cupcakes and eventually took over their house with boxes of Johnny Cupcakes stock. From there, he talked about how the brand took off and how he was eventually able to take some risks and rent retail space in his hometown, just a few blocks from his childhood home.

The DJ and Johnny Cupcakes Pop-Up Shop

Johnny promised that he would meet each and everyone that attended. And he did.

When things really took off for Johnny Cupcakes, Johnny the man was able to stay grounded. He talked about how he did not succumb to buying fancy cars or lavish gifts. Instead, he would put his money back into his business. Eventually, he did buy his own home and turned the basement into an old school arcade. That was his gift to himself. No jets, no fancy cars, no opulent mansions, but instead a room full of vintage arcades. That’s awesome and respectable.

The rest of the talk was spent on how you can do things to reinvent your brand. He talked about the importance of being original and doing things that no one else is doing. He talked about the importance of not becoming a fad that will fade quickly. He talked about attention to detail. He talked about the importance of packaging and why it’s important to carry around unique business cards. And of course, he talked about how he has been able to leverage the concept of limited edition items to his advantage.

To sum things up, the Johnny Cupcakes x Hawaii lecture was awesome. It was everything that I expected and more. I didn’t expect him to take the time to meet with everyone that attended, but he did. Seriously, after the lecture another line formed so that people could meet and chat with Johnny. I probably spent 20 minutes or so chatting with Mr. Cupcakes. He’s a cool dude! There was a lot of information shared by Johnny, a lot of which I will be using and taking advantage of. It was great.

Johnny's mom, Lorraine Earle, works the Pop-Up Shop.

But what’s this about me quitting my day job? You see, I used to do two things. I worked as a neuroscience research specialist (this was my post-doc, something that PhD’s usually automatically do after they spend years working on their PhD’s) and also as a University lecturer. I found out quickly that I loved teaching at the University. I love being a professor. The research part, not so much. It might have been the environment that I was in, but whatever the case, I was not happy at my post-doc. I teach Psychology 100: Introduction to Psychology early in the morning, 8:30am to be exact. When I’m done at 9:30am I’m super stoked about my lecture and interacting with my students. After teaching, I would then go to the lab and do the research stuff for my Post-Doc. I found that at the end of the day I hated everything. I went from loving what I did in the morning to hating the world in the evening. Not good. The Johnny Cupcakes lecture helped me to realize that I was not happy doing what I was doing. I figured that I needed to focus on teaching and becoming a better professor. I needed to focus on getting a full load of courses to teach next semester and the one after that. I needed to focus on finding a regular lecture gig. And so I did. I quit my post-doc – the biggest risk that I’ve ever taken in my life, all because of Johnny Cupcakes. Oh, yeah, and quitting gives me more time to make this blog shine. Fuck yes. Let the hustle begin.

Do More of What Makes You Happy.

Johnny Cupcakes on the left and Coty on the right! We both like to make funny faces.

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Emil Kozak Lazy Days T-Shirt Collection + Zine

It has been a long while since we lasted reviewed tees from our buddy Emil Kozak, who designs awesome stuff all the way in Spain. Spain is a far ways from Hawaii, but I do hope that I can make it there sometime in my life. What I can do (and do pretty well) is take advantage of lazy days. Lazy days tend to be a bit more rare nowadays, but on the few occasions when I do have a lazy day, I love to just relax on the beach and enjoy the sun and the waves. That’s my perfect lazy day.

Why all the talk about lazy days? Well, that’s the name of Emil’s latest collection. The collection features a set of three very well designed T-Shirts (I wouldn’t expect anything less from Emil), a zine with 60 pages worth of Emil Kozak goodness, and an Optical Birds poster printed on heavy art paper (70×50 cm).

The collection is very Emil Kozak. The eye-to-detail is always present in his work and his designs. I’d actually love to get my hands on one of the Lazy Days Zines. It must have been one of hell of a task to decided which of those designs (in the zine) would be selected as the designs to be printed on the T-Shirts. Lazy Days is a stellar collection.

The T-Shirts are priced between 35€ and 40€ (~$47 – $52 US), the zine is available for 35€, and the Optical Birds poster is priced at 180E (~$237 US). All of these items are available now at the Emil Kozak online shop.

Kusa’s Grass Flip-Flops

Okay, so these KUSA flip-flops by YASHIN are way too crazy for me to not pass up posting. Plus, as you might have noticed, I’m starting to post a few things not related to T-shirts. The focus will mainly be on apparel. Flip-Flops fall under apparel, right? If not then I don’t care. These are flip-flops with grass. Intense.

In any case, I could totally see myself walking around in a pair of these in Hawaii. It seems like such a logical fit. I love walking barefoot in grass. Now I can walking barefoot in grass wherever I go!

Kusa’s Grass Flip-Flops are available now for $29.95 (AUD; Australian Dollars).

Movember Might Be Over But You Can Still Ask Me About My Moustache

During my semi-blogging sabbatical of 2011, I failed to mention the awesome Movember T-Shirts from Fuzzy Ink. Movember is long over but that doesn’t mean that you should stop paying homage to the mighty moustache. Grow that moustache out. Flaunt that moustache. If you don’t have a moustache that you’re proud of then pick up Ask Me ABout My Moustache from Fuzzy Ink for a friend with a worthy moustache. Whatever you do, never forget the moustache!

Ask Me About My Moustache is available now from Fuzzy Ink for $22.

Johnny Cupcakes x New England Patriots Crossbones Mashup

Superbowl XLVI is fast approaching and I’m not sure who you’ll be cheering for, but for me it’ll be all about the New England Patriots. And of course, Mr. Johnny Cupcakes will be cheering for his home team too. To celebrate, he has even released a super limited edition Patriot Crossbones T-Shirt. It’s the classic Johnny Cucpakes crossbones design mashed up with New England Patriots colors. I like!

Patriot Crossbones is available now for both guys and girls at the Johnny Cupcakes online shop for $24.99. Snag one now. Tom Brady is getting old. This design might not be back for a very, long time.

Slow Hands or Creepy Hands?

While I was checking out the latest RANDR Tees design, Gargoyle, another T-Shirt caught my eyeballs. The shirt is called Slow Hands, but it might as well be called Creepy Hands because that’s what it is…slightly creepy! The shirt is eye-catching, that’s for sure and would be a definite conversation piece. If you take a close look, you’ll see that the right hand is reaching for the heart, while the left hand is reaching for the junk. God, I love this T-Shirt.

Slow Hands is available now from RANDR Tees for $25.

Periodic BaCoN

If you’re human then you must love bacon. Unless of course you’re one of those vegan or vegetarian folk. If that’s the case then that’s too bad because bacon RULEEESSS! Bacon is the nom nom food to rule all nom nom foods. NOM NOM NOM.

Buy this T-Shirt for the bacon enthusiast who believes in science.

Periodic BaCoN is available now from ThinkGeek for $16.99.

Ocean’s Outcasts

Of rubber boots and old car tires. I wonder how many of these man-made items lurk under the deep blue sea. Our buddy Glenn Jones of Glennz Tees imagines what would happen if those man-made goods turned ocean trash could actually nibble on bait. If they could then maybe we’d have cleaner oceans? Wishful thinking.

Ocean’s Outcasts is available now from Glennz Tees for $19.95.

Edward Teabelly: A Jolly Good Brew

These T-Shirt from Edward Teabelly are just fabulous. If you’re going to do a T-Shirt brand with a theme centered around drinking and consuming beverages, like tea, then this is the way to go. The shirts are fun, spunky, and well designed. I’m a fan. Now where’s Mason Javabelly?

My favorite of the bunch featured here is the black and orange A Jolly Good Brew design. Each of the designs are printed on American Apparel tees and feature a woven neck tag and woven top hat sleeve tag. All three T-Shirts are available now from Edward Teabelly for £16.00.

Ai WeiWei: The Most Dangerous Man In China

Before today, I never knew who Ai WeiWei was. Apparently, he is a threat to the Chinese government. He’s a threat because he is an artist and activist. Ai WeiWei has been very outspoken about the Chinese government. He “declared that China’s government has no humanity — and that the Communist Party is trying to silence anyone who disagrees with it.” He is an interesting character, check out the video below featuring an interview from CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. It’s an eye opener.

Of course, with controversy come interesting T-Shirts. Here are a few Ai WeiWei T-Shirts that I found interesting.

For more information on Ai WeiWei, please visit Free Ai WeiWei. For more politically inspired T-Shirts, please visit BanT-Shirts.

And here’s naked Ai WeiWei just because.