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.

[Read more…]

Say Hello To Aloha Army

It’s a bit ironic that the first post on this blog after I have left for my New York/Toronto vacation is one that has to do with the Hawaiian islands that I left behind. Aloha Army is a local brand that is based out of Honolulu Hawaii. Their flagship store is located on Waikiki beachwalk and “aims to distribute new and different surf brands to Hawaii, the mecca of Surfing.”

What is Aloha?

“The word “Aloha” has several definitions in English. Hello. Goodbye. Love. Beloved. Sweetheard. Loving. Furthermore, “Aloha” can aslo be defined as warm-hearted emotions like, kindness, grace, charity, sympathy and compassion.”

According to Wikipedia, Aloha is:

“Aloha in the Hawaiian language means affection, love, peace, compassion and mercy. Since the middle of the 19th century, it also has come to be used as an English greeting to say goodbye and hello. Currently, it is mostly used in the sense of hello; however, it is used as the above.”

Aloha is a a good thing. Aloha permeates throughout Hawaii and its people.

If you live in Hawaii, you can stop by the Aloha Army shop on Lewers Street in Waikiki and if you live away from the islands then you can also get a taste of Aloha by checking out the Aloha Army website and online shop. T-Shirts are priced from $15 to $30 a piece.

Aloha Army

Aloha Army

Aloha Army

Aloha Army

Oceanic Airlines Safety Information

The product description was too good to pass up pasting here:

“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome aboard Oceanic Airlines Flight Eight-One-Five with non-stop service to Los Angeles International Airport. If Los Angeles is not in your travel plans today, please see a flight attendant. The captain has estimated our flying time at 20 hours and 27 minutes. Please pay attention as we demonstrate the safety features of this Boeing Seven-Seven-Seven aircraft. Federal law requires your compliance with all lighted signs, posted placards, and crew-member instructions. There are eight exits on this aircraft. Please take a moment now to locate the exit nearest you, keeping in mind that the nearest exit may be behind you. All Oceanic Airlines flights are non-smoking. There is no smoking in the aircraft, including the lavatories. The lavatories are equipped with smoke monsters. Tampering with, disabling, or destroying a lavatory smoke monster is strictly prohibited.”

And now you can have a piece of Oceanic Airlines for just $15.99! Oceanic Airlines Safety Information is available now from ThinkGeek.

Oceanic Airlines

SPAMBOTS!

Let me start off by mentioning that SPAM is huge in Hawaii. The residents of Hawaii are the largest per capita consumers of SPAM in the entire world! As someone who grew up in Hawaii, I know this to be the truth. One of my favorites treats, even to this day, is what is affectionately known in the islands as a SPAM Musubi. It’s a simple, fun to eat finger food that consists of a rectangular block of rice, a nori (Japanese seaweed) wrap and a slice of good ol’ SPAM. My favorite place to pick up SPAM musubis in Hawaii is at the Gulick Delicatessen, a small okazuya that has been feeding Hawaii residents ono (delicious in Hawaiian) Japanese inspired food for a very long time.

So why all the talk about SPAM, you ask? Well, fellow T-Shirt blogger, Type Micah, has created some awesome SPAM inspired tees that deserved mention. His brilliant SPAMBOTS tee (top) is infused with nondescript text that only the most keen SPAM connoseurs will notice with a mere glance. Non SPAM fanatics might take a little longer to spot the type, but, rest assured, it’s there.

You can pick up SPAMBOTS and a plethora of other SPAM inspired tees from the Spambot Shop for $19.99. Each shirt is highly customizable and can be printed on a variety of different products.

Spambots

Spambots

Spambots

Hawaii Featured In T-Shirt Magazine #48

Kristine McGlinchey, contributing writer over at T-Shirt Magazine, features Hawaii in her National Scene column in the most recent issue of T-Shirt Magazine. And guess who made the post – yours truly! That’s right, Kristine posted a quick blurb about me and my Hawaii based tee blog. As a side note, I also began writing interviews for T-Shirt Magazine as well so be on the look out for my contributing articles. In this issue I interviewed designer Nick Guenzler. 

In the article, Kristine also mentions a couple of Hawaii based tee brands, two of which I had no idea existed! Super Good For You actually got me pretty excited as I dig their style and so I’ll be sure to check them out sometime soon (they sell their goods in a boutique here on the island). Do The Hula was another featured Hawaii brand – not so excited about these guys, they look like they cater more towards the tourist crowd. 

Super Good For You

The last Hawaii brand mentioned was Local Motion, which is pretty huge here in the islands. They sell Local Motion branded T-Shirts as well as surf and beach accessories. Local Motion is actually one of the three big surf shops in Hawaii, the other two being Town & Country Surf Designs, better known as T&C, and Hawaiian Island Creations, known by the locals as HIC. You’ll find most of the kids here sporting one of these three brands whenever you head to the beaches down here. 

Local Motion

Linty Fresh Sticker Sneak Peak

Our buddy Eric Terry of Linty Fresh hinted at some upcoming new products for his Linty Fresh line and previewed some crispy new stickers! I can’t wait to see what Linty Fresh has in store for 2009 – should be good!

“Not sure if you’ll be able to figure it out from that, but anyhow… I’m excited. The cool thing was that I actually had an old friend of mine produce this. We grew up together in Hawaii, and recently got to talking about some of the cool technology he’s invested in, and about the possibilities of him doing some work for me. He sent samples and they were incredible, so I’m stoked about these coming out.” -Eric Terry

Linty Fresh

Plastics Bags: Should They Be Banned?

So there’s been some talk in Hawaii about the possible ban of plastic bags in Maui, followed most likely by the rest of the Hawaiian Islands. Do I think plastic bags should be banned? Yes, I definitely think that plastic bags should be banned. Plastic bags are carcinogens to Mother Earth. They clog waterways and pose a threat to marine life. Plastic bags are no good. 

Some retailers argue that a plastic bag ban would be impractical and would cause retailers to use paper bags, which costs more to produce, thereby leading the added cost to be passed on to the consumer. This, however, does not need to be the case. If the plastic bag ban did take place then retailers should suggest that consumers purchase reusable bags (these are already available at many markets for a buck or less), a practical solution that consumers can use for infinite trips to the supermarket. If, for some reason, a consumer chooses not to use a reusable bag then they should be given the option to purchase a paper bag. Forcing consumers to purchase paper bags will increase the likelihood that they will use a reusable bag in the future and in doing so they will be doing their part in helping out Mother Earth. 

This paper bag ban is really a non-issue. Make it happen, Hawaii. Be an example. Kokua. 

PS: For the doggie lovers wondering what they’ll use for poop bags, many pet stores offer biodegradable alternatives. Or if you want to be 100% green, leave the poop. It might not be good for your shoe but it does make for a natural fertilizer. I’m kidding, we all need to be responsible pet owners so get those biodegradable poop bags or teach your dog to use the toilet. 

Tasty Crust

We didn’t plan on going to the Tasty Crust but because of some changes in the itinerary we found ourselves on Mill St. in Wailuku at this little old diner of yesteryear. And what a pleasant surprise this unexpected visit was. The first thing you think of when seeing the Tasty Crust is old school diner. And old school it is. From the tattered building to the worn out interior this place screams vintage.

 

I had a short stack of banana pancakes to supplement a traditional breakfast (2 large eggs and 5 pieces of linguesa) and a side order of hash. You get to choose form six different meat items (linguesa, bacon pork sausage, Spam, luncheon meat, Vienna sausage, or corned beef) when ordering the traditional breakfast. Having no idea what linguesa was, I decided to go for that as my meat. My curiosity got the best of me and I asked the waitress what linguesa was and she said that it is just Portuguese sausage. I didn’t feel too bad once she sad that most people ask what about the mysterious linguesa dish. The over-easy eggs were cooked to perfection, the hash was ono’ and according to Ryan was “buttery but so good!”

Mark had the veggie omelet stuffed with mushrooms, onions, bell peppers and potatoes. He also had a side order of corned beef hash and a short stack of banana pancakes. Mark, being the pancake connoisseur of the group, proclaimed the banana pancakes at the Tasty Crust as the “best banana pancakes” he ever had. I’d have to agree with Mark, the pancakes were out of this world good. These aren’t just the basic pancakes topped with bananas, instead, they incorporate the bananas into the batter at the Tasty Crust leaving your with an ordinary looking pancake that packs a banana punch with each bite. 

The prices at the Tasty Crust were very reasonable, in other words, cheap! The traditional breakfast only cost $4.25 and the banana pancakes were $2.25 for a short stack. The omelets range from $5.35 to $6.75 and you can even make your own omelet starting from $4.85. If I ever go back I’m ordering a regular order of banana pancakes, no short stack for me!

The Tasty Crust is definitely a must visit if you’re searching for cheap eats in the Valley Isle. It makes for a great early morning stop if heading to Iao Needle (we were the first customers at 6:00 am). The food is cheap, the pancakes and linguesa are tasty and the service is very friendly. The Tasty Crust is definitely worth checking out!

Tasty Crust
1770 Mill St.
Wailuku, Maui
808-244-0845

Hawaii Superferry

And so the Maui journey begins by catching the Hawaii Superferry. We’re about 20 minutes into the 3 hour journey and so far no “Aloha Spills”, apparently Aloha Spill is Superferry talk for barf. OK scratch that, a kid a few feet ahead of me is being led to the barf zone with a barf bag. Might this be the Aloha Spill I have been waiting for!

Boarding the ferry was quick and simple. No line and all we needed were our boarding passes and ID’s. They should just skip having us print out the boarding pass and just cross check our ID’s with their computers. It would be much greener that way.

We chose not to bring our car which ment that we paid just 49 bucks each way. Not bad considering a flight would have cost about 20 dollars more.

One mistake we did make though was assuming that coolers were not allowed. They are allowed. And so now were are stuck with a warm 12 pack. Our bad.

The fascilities are clean and the staff is quite nice and friendly. And they have an abundance of flat screen tv’s throughout the cabins playing Sportscenter. Awesome!

Update:
OK, we are two hours into the Superferry ride. I fell asleep for about an hour. I’m gonna head to the outer deck to see what the view is like.

The outer deck on the Alakai is quite nice. The sides of the ships are a bit windy and the rear of the ship will you get you wet. If you do ride the Superferry I would suggest stepping outside once a while. First of all, it’s not as cold as the ferry interior and secondly it is a calming experience, at least for me it was. If you step out just after the ferry departs Honolulu you’ll get to see a nice view of Honolulu Harbor and Diamond Head.

The restrooms are small with just one toilet and one urinal. I could imagine lines during peak peeing periods like just after departure.

The concession stand was stocked with lots of goodies like sandwiches, musubi’s and saimin. You also get a good selection of pastries to choose from. Beware though, prices on the Superferry are at a premium. $2.50 for a musubi. Ouch!

For those who fear getting sea sick, the Superferry offers free Ginger pills and Dramamine for purchase. I didn’t have an issue with the too and fro motion but others did. If unsure as to whether or not you’ll get sick, take the pills.

All in all the journey aboard the Superferry was a pleasant one. The downside for me was the speed of the journey, or should I say the lack of. Other than that, I’d definitely recommend it as a means traveling to and from the islands.

photo

photo

Manoa Falls

I’ve done the Manoa Falls trail twice now and it never disappoints. The trail leading up to the falls is relatively short, only about 1.5 miles, but as you make your way towards the falls you are greeted at each twist and turn with spectacular jungle like fauna. Imagine Jurassic Park like scenery but on a less grand but more manageable scale. You’ll make your way past bamboo trees as you pass through rainforest as well as some nasty mosquitos so be sure to bring bug repellant.

Like Kaneohe, Manoa is it an often wet location so remember to dress appropriately. Shoes will definitely help when walking through the well worn-out paths. As I made my way through the trail I crossed ways with two angry tourists, both of whom were complaining about the “slippy-ness” of the trail, and of course, they were wearing slippers (flip-flops for you mainland folks). The trail is easy enough for both young and old to do as it consists mainly of straight-a-ways with minimal difficulty and absolutely no areas that involve crawling or climbing.

At the end of the Manoa Falls trail you be treated to a stunning 60-foot high waterfall that flows year round. Although not suggested, many people (not me) tend to gather in the pool directly below the falls. It’s not deep but just enough to allow you to waddle in the water. The main issue with relaxing in the pool under the picturesque waterfall is the danger of Leptospirosis, so be forewarned.

To get to Manoa Falls, head towards Manoa onto West Manoa Road. You’ll drive through residential area and then reach the driveway of the old Paradise Park. The Manoa Falls parking is just below the Lyon Arboretum. The parking area is considered a high theft area even though it costs an expensive 5 dollars to park your car in the lot with an attendant present. It might be more feasible and safe to park in the residential areas and then walk up to the trailhead.