Gigi’s Cupcakes Franchise Owner Helps Spread Joy One Cupcake at a Time in North Carolina

Gourmet cupcakes and fundraising partnerships with local nonprofits and schools boost sales, bring smiles

Our biggest cheerleaders are our franchisees, known for their excitement and love for the Gigi’s brand, as well as their strong bonds with the local community.

North Carolina multi-unit Gigi’s gourmet cupcake and bakery franchise owner, Marina Lee, and her husband, Maury Cole, demonstrate daily the Gigi’s culture of closely connecting with the local community. Whether they are donating cupcakes to area first responders or participating in the annual Mix 101.5 FM radiothon for Duke Children’s Hospital & Health Center, the franchise couple believes in creating close ties with the community.

“Connecting with the community is such a big part of what we do, and it’s so wonderful to be a part of making special memories for our customers,” Marina says.

Marina and Maury’s dedication to being good business partners and good community members has garnered them a lot of local, as well as national, press. Marina was featured by Entrepreneur magazine online recently in its Franchise Players Q&A interview column titled, “This Franchisee Takes the (Cup)Cake for Making Customers’ Celebrations Sweet.”


North Carolina Gigi’s franchise owners Maury Cole and Marina Lee actively participate in numerous community fundraising initiatives.

Here is an excerpt:

Marina Lee had the envy-inducing job of leading teams for Cisco on international assignments in Asia and Europe. Then she and husband, Maury, decided to settle down and go into business together. They chose Raleigh, North Carolina, and Gigi’s Cupcakes, because, as Marina puts it, “Cupcakes are such a happy product. They elicit a smile every time.” She also likes the memories and celebrations her business helps make. As the frosting on that cake, Marina contributes daily leftovers to local first responders and is active in various charities.

Marina and her husband now own three Gigi’s gourmet cupcake and bakery franchises in North Carolina. Their Brier Creek location near Raleigh opened in December 2011 and was a success from the start, skyrocketing to third in sales for the company after just the first year of operation and first in sales after their third year. They opened a kiosk at The Streets of Southpoint Mall in Durham in fall 2015, and their new Wilmington location opened in February 2016.

“This has been a tremendously fun journey,” Marina says. “And we’re thrilled to be open now in Wilmington.”

Marina says she had many requests to deliver cupcakes to weddings all along the southern North Carolina coast from her Brier Creek location. The Wilmington Gigi’s bakery will allow the couple to serve many more coastal destinations.

Marina recently shared her thoughts on how being a Gigi’s multi-unit operator has been a fruitful and fulfilling business investment.

How did you get started with Gigi’s Cupcakes?

I was on a call with a colleague one day who was stopping in the Gigi’s in Auburn, Alabama. At their recommendation, I checked out Gigi’s national website — these gorgeous cupcakes just popped out at me! I told my husband and daughter: “Look we’ve got to go check this place out. I’m drooling over these cupcakes!”

We went to the Raleigh store to check them out, and Gigi’s founder, Gigi Butler, just happened to be there. We fell in love with her and the vision she has for the company. My husband was a stay-at-home dad, and he was looking for a new opportunity. We told Gigi that we could really use a Gigi’s in our local area. The closest bakery to us at that time was 10 miles each way — or I could get grocery store cupcakes. We knew Gigi’s would be a great fit in our community.

What is your business philosophy?

From the very beginning, we said that as long we can keep the lights on and the doors open and make enough profit, we want to give back to the community as much as we possibly can. That’s something that we’ve been able to do. We have a very strong reputation of giving back, and that has brought us a ton of business. It’s really a win/win situation — it builds the brand and gets the word out about Gigi’s.

What attributes does a Gigi’s gourmet cupcake and bakery franchise owner need to succeed?

As long as you’re financially savvy, your Gigi’s Cupcakes business will make a profit. People love cupcakes, and they bring joy to everyone! I have yet to show up anywhere with cupcakes and see people frown. Every time we crack open a Gigi’s Cupcakes box, people’s eyes widen and everybody is delighted. Our cupcakes are over the top and delicious. I believe in our product and love sharing it with everybody.

We also work hands-on in the business. Because of our passion about the company and the products, our excitement shows in every interaction with every customer. We’re constantly talking about and sharing Gigi’s Cupcakes in our community.

What does a typical day for you look like?

As soon as the day starts, the phone starts ringing and I need to see a client. I try to plan for the day, but sometimes, in a good way, the day blows up — so I have to be flexible. We are open seven days a week. My husband is in the store most days, and I take care of the media/marketing.

What does Gigi’s Cupcakes do to help you succeed in the business?

The company is with franchisees every step along the way. There are great people in the home office and when we have experienced issues, such as growing pains, we all put our heads together to figure out a resolution.

The home office team at Gigi’s is great to work with. It’s a growing, young company; having been in the corporate world I know Gigi’s is growing in the right direction at the right pace. Gigi’s offers a great support system to work with, and they also know how to let us tailor our business to our market.

What would you tell others who were interested in buying a Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise?

We talk about it all the time. We live and breathe our business, and we are passionate about it. So many opportunities open up — all through cupcakes! If you put in the passion, it will show with growth and a great bottom line.

What are the greatest challenges in being a Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise owner?

Staffing issues. I use what I learned during my 20 years at an IT company to celebrate our employees. We try to have a dinner every month at a nice restaurant with our employees, we celebrate milestones and we show appreciation for our staff. That helps with retention.

What are the greatest rewards in being a Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise owner?

The greatest reward of owning this business is being able to participate in people’s celebrations and help make their events even more special. Just seeing everybody being so happy is rewarding.

What makes Gigi’s Cupcakes better than your competitors?

The quality of the cupcakes. I tried different competitors’ products, but our cupcakes flat-out taste better. I also love how much giving back we do with local community organizations and schools.

How do you see your future with Gigi’s Cupcakes?

We definitely hope to grow with Gigi’s. It’s a great company with great products fueled by entrepreneurs. I can’t wait to keep growing!

Learn more about Gigi’s

Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise offers a low-cost, low-risk and scalable bakery franchise that features gourmet cupcakes and bakery treats. Topped with our signature swirl and backed by more than 300 proprietary recipes and flavors, Gigi’s cupcakes are works of art.

With low startup costs averaging around $300,000 (including our $35,000 franchise fee), Gigi’s typical food and labor costs are much lower than those at traditional food franchises. We reported double-digit system sales growth in 2015, and we are poised for expansion nationwide with attractive territories available for single and multi-unit operators.

For in-depth details about the Gigi’s franchise opportunity, download our free franchise report. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.

Gigi’s Cupcakes Bakery Franchise Unveils Dynamic Development Website

Gourmet cupcake bakery franchise launches informational website for prospective owners as it plans U.S. expansion

Gigi’s Cupcakes bakery, one of the largest and fastest-growing gourmet cupcake and bakery franchises in the United States, has announced the launch of our franchise recruitment website, The new site features franchisee interviews, as well as information about our training and franchise support, signature customer service (and signature icing swirl), startup costs and details about what makes a Gigi’s a brand that has experienced double-digit sales growth.

“Communities flock to our grand openings and line up out the door whenever we open a new Gigi’s Cupcakes bakery, but the opportunity for unlimited growth as a Gigi’s franchise owner actually exists outside the four walls of the bakery through special events and B2B sales,” says Gigi’s President and CEO Alan Thompson. “Our typical trade area has 60,000 people, and every one of those people has a birthday to celebrate. Add to that all the weddings, baby showers, office parties and other celebrations, and the opportunity for franchisees to grow a prosperous business is staggering. We’re just beginning to tap into this amazing market of helping people celebrate with Gigi’s gourmet cupcakes and other bakery treats.”

It is a great time to invest in a Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise. Same-store sales are increasing year over year, Gigi’s strong national buying power lowers operating costs and the new Gigi’s consumer website and app will help franchisees tap into the lucrative celebration business. For anyone with a passion for making people smile and a love of cupcakes, Gigi’s Cupcakes is an amazing, affordable and rewarding franchise opportunity with a high potential ROI.

Cupcakes are here to stay. Americans eat more than 770 million of them a year, and they are perfect for celebrating everything from weddings to work milestones. Gigi’s Cupcakes changes its menu monthly, and it has been refined through the years to meet changing consumer needs. In addition to the appeal of Gigi’s traditional gourmet cupcakes, which are inspired by more than 300 proprietary recipes and flavors from Gigi’s personal recipe collection, Gigi’s now offers sugar-free and gluten-free cupcakes.

Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise offers outstanding training and support to franchise owners

Beginning with pre-store sessions in Nashville for owners, managers and bakers, Gigi’s Cupcakes provides stellar ongoing training for every team member responsible for operating a Gigi’s location. The Gigi’s Cupcakes owner website provides updated training resources useful in the day-to-day operation of a storefront. Gigi’s hosts a manager training conference in Nashville, and the annual Owners’ Conference brings franchisees together to share their vision, ideas and best practices. In addition, Gigi’s corporate trainers visit stores throughout the year to assist with all facets of store operations.


The revamped, easy-to-navigate Gigi’s Cupcakes consumer website and online ordering capabilities will reach new fans and boost sales.

Gigi’s Cupcakes provides all the marketing support owners need to hit the ground running. Gigi’s Home Office provides step-by-step guidance on how to execute a successful grand opening, as well as expertise on launching and growing a bakery’s social media presence. Gigi’s Cupcakes also has a talented in-house graphic team that provides Gigi’s-branded promotional graphics that help drive sales and build brand recognition.

A Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise has much lower costs than average food businesses of similar size. Space build-out costs are usually lower because more expensive features (such as stove hoods and large grease traps) are not generally required. Food costs are often about 5% lower than the local competition because Gigi’s national buying power lowers costs — increasing margins for franchisees. The store footprint and breakeven sales are lower than the industry average.

A Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise is easily scalable — it can be expanded into a satellite store, mall kiosk or food truck setup, all of which are explained on the website, Once a franchisee owns a single prototype bakery, they can add less-expensive satellite operations within their home market. Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise offers attractive unit-level economics with significant growth opportunities. The Gigi’s management team has decades of restaurant experience, having served with major corporations such as O’Charley’s, Captain D’s and Cracker Barrel.

Gigi’s is a great opportunity for an experienced operator to get into the bakery business with a simple franchise model that is easy to launch and execute. One of the key Gigi’s bakery employees will be the store baker, but for franchisees baking experience is not required. A passion for baking and for making people smile is a must.

“Gigi’s Cupcakes has a strong, positive brand culture that helps drive our growth. Gigi’s Cupcakes blows any competition away,” says Ron Freeman, a Gigi’s Cupcakes multi-unit franchisee in Ohio. “A lot of smaller bakeries can’t stand up to Gigi’s because they don’t have the same resources that a franchise brand does. This allows Gigi’s to enter into this niche marketplace and become the go-to business for cupcake-goers.”

Cost and fees of owning a Gigi’s Cupcakes bakery franchise


Now is an ideal time to join the Gigi’s Cupcakes bakery franchise family. The potential exists for additional revenue streams through B2B and catering sales.

With an initial average investment of $300,000, including the $35,000 franchise fee, for a Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise, the nation’s fastest-growing bakery offers a low-cost investment opportunity with a high potential return. Potential franchise owners typically need $100,000 in liquid capital and a net worth of approximately $250,000. Locations featuring our new store design with refrigerated enclosed cabinets, digital monitors and updated POS systems are experiencing explosive success right out of the gate — with the potential of a million dollars in revenues in the first year of operation — making now the time to bring the Gigi’s signature swirl to your community. We are looking for business owners, particularly multi-unit operators, who are passionate about Gigi’s.

Learn more about Gigi’s

For in-depth details about the Gigi’s franchise opportunity, download our free franchise report. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.

Why now is the time to own a Gigis Cupcake franchise

Three Reasons to Open a Gigi’s Cupcakes Bakery Franchise

Ease of scalability, investment in technology and strong training and support are just a few benefits of owning a Gigi’s Cupcakes

There has never been a better time to launch a Gigi’s Cupcakes bakery franchise. Americans love cupcakes. Each time we launch a new Gigi’s Cupcakes bakery, the local community shows up in droves for the grand opening. We have Gigi’s Cupcakes locations throughout the United States and Korea, and we have plans for as many as 30 more stores in the coming year.

We aren’t just in the bakery business; we also are in the celebration business. Our one-of-a-kind cupcakes with the signature swirl bring happiness and joy to customers at types of special events — from baby showers to bar mitzvahs.


Now is an ideal time to join the Gigi’s Cupcakes bakery franchise family. The potential for B2B and catering sales beyond our bakeries provides additional revenue streams.

“The real potential for growth as an owner of a Gigi’s bakery extends well beyond the four walls of the retail space — through B2B and catering sales,” says Gigi’s Franchise Sales Director, Mickey Skelton. “A typical trade area for a Gigi’s Cupcakes bakery has 60,000 people, and every one of those potential customers has a birthday to celebrate. Add to that all the weddings, baby showers and office parties being planned, and we’re just beginning to tap into this market. We expect to continue to attract and retain even more Gigi’s fans through our new store design, revamped consumer website and new app.”

Gigi’s Cupcakes customers want delicious, indulgent treats they can’t get anywhere else — and that they definitely can’t make at home. With our proprietary recipes for more than 300 flavors, we offer unique desserts to satisfy any customer. A Gigi’s gourmet cupcake is a work of art, and it is always a popular choice for any event.

“Gigi’s offers over-the-top flavor and over-the-top frosting with over-the-top service,” says Director of Marketing Emily Tucker. “We do everything we can to make the consumer who eats our product feel special.”

Below are three reasons why now is a great time to open a Gigi’s Cupcakes bakery franchise:

Gigi’s is a strong and easily scalable business model

Gigi’s Cupcakes’ franchise business has experienced double-digit sales growth, and that number is growing every year. Several factors contribute to our environment of potential growth and success for franchise owners:

  • Our national buying power and simple buildout design mean lower costs than those of average food businesses of a similar size.
  • Our business models — satellite stores, mall kiosks and food trucks — make it easy to scale and expand your business.
  • Our highly experienced management team has decades of combined restaurant experience.
  • Our locations built with our new store design — featuring refrigerated cabinets, digital monitors and updated point-of-sale systems — can generate huge revenues in the first year of operation.

Digital sales extend profits beyond a bakery’s four walls

Gigi’s Cupcakes has recently announced the rollout of a new and improved consumer app and online ordering system. They are designed to enhance the digital customer experience and make it even easier for customers to order Gigi’s products, from cupcakes to cookies, from the convenience of their home or office. Our revamped consumer website is also part of our commitment to investing in our technology infrastructure.


The revamped, easy-to-navigate Gigi’s consumer website and online ordering capabilities will reach new fans and boost sales.

“We have more than a million members in our loyalty club, and our new online ordering and delivery system will provide a whole new level of convenience for Gigi’s loyal customers, as well as new fans,” says Gigi’s Cupcakes President and CFO, Chad Fitzhugh.

Strong training and support from Gigi’s headquarters

Beginning with pre-store opening training in our hometown of Nashville for owners, managers and bakers, Gigi’s Cupcakes provides stellar ongoing training for every team member responsible for operating a Gigi’s bakery. We hold a manager training conference in Nashville, and our annual Owners’ Conference brings all our franchisees together to share ideas and best practices. In addition, our corporate trainers visit stores throughout the year to assist with all facets of store operations.

“Gigi’s Cupcakes has been a great franchise to have in my portfolio because of its simplicity and ease of operation,” says Jeff Kaufman, a Gigi’s Cupcakes multi-unit franchisee in Alabama.

Learn more about Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise

For in-depth details about the Gigi’s franchise opportunity, download our free franchise report. You can also learn more by visiting our research pages.