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Smithtown man leaves corporate world for Cupcake Couture
More than 13 years after John K. Johnson, 50, chose Smithtown to raise his two kids, he decided it would also be the perfect place to open his first business. So he left the corporate candy world and in November 2011 opened up Cupcake Couture, at 91 E. Main St.
What attracted you to Smithtown?
From a residential standpoint, it has a great school system, a good area in which to raise children and friendly people … From a business standpoint, it has good demographics in terms of potential clients. You have to look at average income. Obviously, this is no Huntington or Glen Cove, but it does have a good mix from an income perspective where it could support my business. And it’s a great location, right on Main Street.
Is this the first business you have opened?
Yes. I came from corporate America. I was the national sales director for Mars Chocolate USA. I spent 16 with Mars [and] eight years with Nestle, right out of college into corporate America ... I had a great run, but I decided to take a risk. Nothing good ever happens unless you take a risk, so I’m sticking my toe in the water, trying to be an entrepreneur.
Are your cupcakes all made inside your store?
Everything is baked here daily, fresh. We have 21 different flavors. There’s the Sweet 16, which are items that never change 365 days out of the year and then I rotate five new flavors in every month to keep it fresh and exciting, to give people point of difference.
Do you personally do the baking?
When you’re the owner, you do everything, from sweeping the floors to baking. I’m a hands-on owner, but you also have to empower your people to make decisions. That’s how they learn and grow.
Everyone always has a little passion on the side. I’m originally from Baltimore, Md., most of my family is from Virginia and South Carolina, so we’re home-grown, home-cooking type of people.
What are your best-selling cupcakes?
Chocolate Peanut Butter is No. 1, No. 2 would be Red Velvet, No. 3 would be Chocolate-Covered Raspberry, [and] No. 4 would be Confetti. The reason why that’s No. 4 is that you get kids coming in going “Oh Mom, look at the colors!”
You business has only been open 15 months. How’s it going so far?
It’s going well … My largest order, 500 [cupcakes], is going out this weekend.