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Gigi’s Cupcakes shares recipe for growth, success

While 2008 was a year of company closures and bank failures, it was the first taste of success for cupcake entrepreneur Gigi Butler.

Still, it took 14 years for Butler to find the right business recipe. In 1994, she moved from a small desert town located between Los Angeles and Bakersfield, California, to lend her voice as a country singer in Nashville. Only 15 at the time, sang at night and cleaned houses during the day to support herself.

A year and a half before the Recession, Butler decided to hang up her honky-tonk hat and focus on her cleaning business, which she had operated for nearly 20 years. When she decided to try her hand at a bakery, she thought her business experience and good credit would land her the right financing.

As Butler puts it, however, she was laughed out of four banks. With only a little in savings, she took a $100,000 advance from her credit cards and opened the first Gigi’s Cupcakes on Feb. 21, 2008. The shop was located on Music Row, close to the clubs where she used to sing.

Since then, Butler has climbed out of credit card debt and to roughly $40 million in sales in 2016. The cupcake business has also expanded to 96 locations in 24 states, 82 of which are franchised by 62 franchisees.

And this year, the company will tack on another 20 units, hoping to grow by another 35 annually.

“Our goal form a corporate standpoint is to own 20 percent of Gigi’s, with 80 percent franchised,” said Jack Sibley, Gigi’s vice president of franchise development.

Behind the cupcake company’s growth is a partnership with private equity fund KeyCorp. The firm bought Gigi’s in June last year. Its affiliate, Sovrano LLC, owns Mr. Gatti’s Pizza.

It also moved the company’s operations to Fort Worth from Gigi’s original Nashville home.

“They’re a family business, and I’m a family business, so it was a perfect fit for me,” Butler said of KeyCorp’s acquisition. “I wanted (the business) to go into another family business that really cared and would grow it.”

She and Sibley told us more about Gigi’s expansion, including plans for a new restaurant prototype, and how the business stands out among other sweet treats.

What’s behind Gigi’s growth?

Butler: The cupcake craze was what it was a few years ago, but people see Gigi’s as more than cupcakes. It’s also about birthdays and weddings and events. It’s occasions and catering. We do a lot of business-to- business with logos for Mercedes Benz and Dell and UberEATS. People are realizing the cupcake trend has worn a little bit, but it’s still part of people’s lives.

How has KeyCorp helped your growth?

Butler: We have the manpower now, and some money behind us to do more advertising, including live TV shows. When your footprint grows, you have to grow your awareness, so it was necessary (to partner with KeyCorp).

How do you differentiate from other cupcake concepts?

Butler: I went from cleaning toilets to being one of the biggest franchisees of cupcakes in the country in eight years. So there’s the story of the brand.
And there’s also my grandparents’ and family’s recipes that I’ve taken as pies and turned into cupcake form. If you can have a cupcake that’s from a 100-year-old recipe, that’s special.

What does your new store prototype entail?

Sibley: Some of the things we’re incorporating are a new type of casing so there’s a display for customers to see the products. We’re also incorporating an expanded line of baked goods so it’ll be more of a destination, rather than a pick-up.

All new stores will be part of the new prototype. We’re working on (retrofitting) our corporate stores. When lease renewals come up, part of the lease negotiation is remodeling the stores. We’re working on a rolling basis.

What else will be new at Gigi’s this year?

Sibley: We’re rolling out an online ordering capability. We also have the Sweet Lane, which is a pick up lane. There’s a lot of new technology that allows us to go to the customer rather than relying on the customer to come to us.

Article originally written by Korri Kezar, Staff writer for the Dallas Business Journal

The creator of Gigi's Cupcakes franchises

Gigi’s Cupcakes Bakery Franchise Is Poised for Nationwide Expansion

Mason, Ohio, franchise’s grand opening is a successful celebration

The creator of Gigi's Cupcakes franchisesAs Gigi’s Cupcakes continues its franchise growth this year, new bakeries are popping up all across the Midwest. This spring, Gigi’s Cupcakes opened new stores in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Mason, Ohio.

In Mason, our founder, Gigi Butler, was on hand for the Grand Opening. She made an appearance on local television and in the store in early May. The day’s events were a magnet for the community, as families gathered for free cupcakes, prizes, giveaways, live music, face painting, and to meet Gigi.

Mason is like many of our country’s communities: its residents are clamoring for cupcakes. When a Gigi’s opens in any neighborhood, it’s big news because there’s always demand for the high-quality, delicious and beautiful products that Gigi’s Cupcakes offers.

“We will continue to provide our support to our single-unit and multi-unit entrepreneurs, and grow a healthy, profitable system throughout the country,” says Jack Sibley, Vice President for Franchise Development. “In five years we hope to be pushing 300 locations, and we feel we could be well beyond that by 2022.”

Prime markets for Gigi’s Cupcakes franchises are available throughout the United States

Gigi’s Cupcakes is the largest and fastest-growing bakery franchise opportunity in the United States. With more than 100 locations in 23 states, Gigi’s offers significant room for growth domestically, particularly in the Southeast, Midwest and Southwest.

Americans eat 770 million cupcakes a year, and Gigi’s is ready to dominate that market. Competitors simply do not offer the high-quality, award-winning gourmet cupcakes and indulgent desserts that Gigi’s offers. We also proudly own the rights to more than 300 proprietary recipes, many of which come from founder Gigi Butler’s beloved collection of family favorites. Our attractive, unit-level economics provide franchisees with several revenue streams beyond the bakery’s four walls — from kiosks in busy retail areas, to cupcake trucks and onsite delivery through our revamped website and app.

Gigi's Cupcakes Franchise

The ideal Gigi’s territory has a minimum of 60,000 people within the trade area. An optimum territory offers a general population with discretionary income that can be spent on an indulgent treat, a good mix of residential nighttime population, a median home value of $200,000, and average income level of $60,000+.

“We want Gigi’s Cupcakes to be a household name nationwide,” Jack says. “We know our business model works, and we boast a best-in-class product in both quality and taste. We are laser-focused on growing quickly and sustainably. We are selling single-unit, multi-unit and area developments in both existing and new markets because the demand for new stores continues to increase.”

Now is the time to bring Gigi’s Cupcakes to your community

There’s never been a better time to join Gigi’s Cupcakes as a franchise owner. This year, we aim to open at least 30 new locations, and we are looking for passionate entrepreneurs to join us in that goal.

Learn more by exploring our research pages or download a copy of our free Franchise Information Report.

Gigi's Cupcakes Founder Gigi Butler

Gigi’s Cupcakes Founder to Make Special Appearance at Oak Creek Location’s Grand Opening Event on Saturday, May 20

Oak Creek, Wisconsin (May 12, 2017) – A special guest appearance by Gigi Butler, Gigi’s Cupcakes founder who was featured on the hit television show Undercover Boss, will highlight the grand opening celebration for the new Gigi’s Cupcakes in Oak Creek, Saturday, May 20 from 12:00 noon – 6:00 p.m. The event will feature special giveaways including a KitchenAid mixer, free samples of Gigi’s mini cupcakes and raffle prizes from other local businesses. Gigi’s is also donating 20% of sales from grand opening day to Royal Family Kids, an organization that provides volunteer support through camps, clubs and mentors for pre-teen children who have experienced abuse and neglect.

Ms. Butler will make a special appearance in-store from 1- 3 p.m., giving Oak Creek residents a chance to meet the culinary creator behind the popular brand.

The store is owned and operated by Wisconsin natives, Tina and Larry Haase, marking the third Gigi’s Cupcakes location to open in Wisconsin. The grand opening will take place at the store, located in Drexel Town Square at 330 West Town Square Way.

“I’m so excited to introduce Gigi’s Cupcakes to Oak Creek and cannot wait to share how wonderful our cupcakes are at our grand opening celebration,” Tina said. “From the first moment I walked into a Gigi’s Cupcakes location over 4 years ago, I fell in love! Larry and I are truly honored to now be part of the Gigi’s family and have our founder attend the grand opening to share her passion for the Gigi’s brand with our guests.”

Best known for its signature “Gigi’s swirl” and an incredible variety of gourmet, over-the-top cupcakes with icing piled high and exquisite decorations, the bakery offers a variety of gourmet desserts that guests will have the opportunity to try, including 300 rotating cupcake flavors with gluten friendly options, mini cupcakes, custom cakes, cheesecakes and stuffed cookies.

Ms. Butler’s story is the American Dream come true. Moving to Nashville in 1994 from California to pursue a career in music at 15 years old, Gigi supported her dream by cleaning houses during the day and singing late nights at the honky tonks. While she loved music, she also had a
passion for the culinary arts and baking. As years went by, she decided to take a chance on baking. She took a huge risk by opening a cupcake boutique in a high rent area just off of Music Row on Broadway in Nashville on February 21, 2008 – not far from the bars where she sang. 
 
Soon after opening, Gigi’s Cupcakes became Nashville’s delicacy dessert of choice and now nine years later, it has expanded to locations across 24 states – making Gigi’s the largest cupcake franchise in the country.

More information on Gigi’s Cupcakes is available at gigiscupcakesusa.com.

About Gigi’s Cupcakes

Founded in 2008 by Gina “Gigi” Butler as a local boutique bakery in downtown Nashville, Tenn., Gigi’s Cupcakes has grown into America’s largest cupcake franchise with over 100 locations nationwide. In 2016, Gigi’s Cupcakes was acquired by an affiliate of Fort Worth-based FundCorp. Gigi’s Cupcakes offers a wide variety of high-quality, freshly baked goods, including cupcakes, cakes, pies, cookies and more all made from recipes created by Gigi, whose American Dream story has inspired people across the country.
More information on Gigi’s Cupcakes is available at gigiscupcakesusa.com. Gigi’s franchise information is available at gigiscupcakesfranchise.com.

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