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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Pineapple of My Eye

Forever Gold Clothing LOVES pineapples. And so do I. They’re sweet and they’re awesome. They’re a bitch to get out of the ground, but it’s all worth it when you cut through the thick outer skin exposing the deep yellow inner fruit and take that first bite. That first bite is always the most juicy bite. I’m salivating just thinking about eating a pineapple. Wait, I live in Hawaii. There are pineapple fields spread throughout the island. And, oh yeah, I actually have one sitting in my kitchen. Right on.

Pineapple of My Eye is the latest shirt from Forever Gold Clothing and is a homage to those Valentines Day greeting cards that used to receive as kids. I loved those! I wasn’t a big fan of those candy hearts in a box though. Bleh!

Pineapple of My Eye is available now from Forever Gold Clothing for $25.

Johnny Cupcakes Coming to Hawaii? I’ll Be There.

I just found out that Johnny Cupcakes will be coming to Hawaii. I’m excited. I’ll be there.

If you live in Hawaii. here are the details:

An Evening with Johnny Cupcakes
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Lecture/Q&A (7pm-10pm) + Pop-Up Shop (10pm-12am)
Fresh Cafe x Loft In Space
831 Queen Street
Honolulu, HI 96913

An Introduction To Owling

Today I decided that I would ascend Koko Head Crater – one of three volcanic craters on the island of Oahu. I’m no stranger to this particular hike, and even though it is quite strenuous (1,048 total vertical steps), I’ve become very accustomed to it and have been using it to train for much more difficult hikes. This morning I decided that I would try and go super early and try to reach the top to see the sunrise over Honolulu. Unfortunately, the sun beat me up. Needlessto say, I did learn one new thing while on the top of Koko Head. While I was expressing angst over the planking movement, a friend of mine told me about the recent owling movement. As I mentioned on Facebook, both owling and planking are seriously retarded – but hey, I think owling > planking.

Of course, there is a T-Shirt for those owling fans which you can pick up from Crazy Dog Tshirts for $14.99.

And here are some photos of me owling on the top of Koko Head Crater. By the way, if you dig the views then I think that you would LOVE my new blog, Exploration: Hawaii. It basically chronicles the adventures that me and my buddies have around Hawaii. It’s good stuff!

Aloha For Japan

FITTED is a very popular streetwear type brand that is based in Hawaii. They recently released a Japan benefit tee, Aloha For Japan, and it has been selling like crazy here in Hawaii. A friend of mine, last week, stopped by a local shop that sells FITTED gear, and he mentioned to me that people were putting their names down just so they could get their hands on this particular shirt. Clearly, a lot of people from Hawaii have ties to Japan, and so it’s no surprise that this shirt is a big hit here.

Aloha in the Hawaiian language means affection, love, peace, compassion and mercy.

Fortunately, if you live away from the islands, you can still pick up Aloha For Japan. The T-Shirt is available now on the FITTED online shop for $20. All profits from each T-Shirt sold will go directly to Japan relief efforts.

Note: Due to extremely high demand for these tees, orders will be shipped in order of invoice as the tees are printed. Please allow 2 – 4 weeks for expected delivery of the tees. They are also have these available in stores, however, due to the same reasons, there is now a waiting list.

Diamond Head Clothing

Diamond Head Clothing is an energetic Hawaii based brand that meshes together tikis, skateboarding, surfing and music. They actually sent me a package a while back, but alas I never had the chance to feature it on Co-Tee TV (it will be featured and reviewed, so keep an eye out). However, I did notice a post about the brand on Emptees and had a chance to checkout some of their offerings.

They currently have a mix of T-Shirts, tanks, beanies and shorts in their store, but their bread and butter is their T-Shirts. For the most part, their designs are quite colorful and very loud. They sort of reminded me of Dream Gold. My favorites from the bunch were the two most subdued shirts that feature the tattoo like Diamond Head Tiki Crest. I actually think the shirt would have looked even better with just the tiki design on the front sans the Diamond Head type treatment. Or maybe they could have placed the Diamond Head type on to the top back of the shirt at a much smaller size.

The Diamond Head Clothing T-Shirts are priced from $12 and the Tiki Crest Raglan can be had for $18. Go grab a piece of the Hawaiian Islands now!

Diamond Head

Diamond Head

Diamond Head

Diamond Head

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


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.