“He doesn’t have no cupcakes here. Jaylen has no juice.”
Those are the words of Set Free Richardson, a legend in the space of culture and creativity. He created the AND1 Mixtape series, founded The Compound, and most recently, helped set up a collaboration between one of Boston’s most iconic clothing brands and one of the Boston Celtics’ biggest stars - neither of which sells what the name conveys.
Jaylen Brown’s brand 7uice teamed up with Johnny Cupcakes to produce a line of t-shirts that flew off the shelves on Saturday afternoon. Brown was in attendance, signing autographs and taking selfies with fans who waited in line for hours outside of the company’s flagship store on Newbury St. in Boston.
One fan even waited in line from 3 a.m. the morning before just to get the chance to meet Brown and snag some apparel.
“Jaylen has been great,” said Johnny Earle, Johnny Cupcakes himself. “He’s just an average, nice dude who happens to be really good at basketball and has a big heart.”
The “Fakery” is set up to mimic an actual bakery. T-shirts are displayed in fridges, t-shirt orders get pulled out of giant ovens on the back wall, and scent machines exude the aroma to match the vibe. Earle said he takes great pleasure in having to tell people that there are no actual cupcakes for sale.
Richardson and Earle revealed that the collab took around a month and a half to come to fruition. The two are long-time friends, and Richardson’s connection to Brown sparked the idea.
“He [Richardson] was the magic piece to tie it together, and then it was magic from there,” said Shawn Clarke, the co-creative director of 7uice.
They went to lunch, and once Brown got the chance to check out the shop, everything got set in motion.
“When he came into the store, he was like a kid in a candy shop and was like, ‘We got to do something,” said Earle. “And he noticed all the little details. And he’s a busy person, but his phone was away, and he was just in the moment the whole time.”
The event on Saturday was slated to run from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., but Brown stayed at the store for over an hour past its run time so he could meet as many fans as possible.
Everyone who ordered T-shirts got theirs in a mimic cereal box with 7uice X Johnny Cupcakes branding, and Brown signed everything from the merch to Celtics jerseys to a giant cardboard cutout of him that a fan brought in.
Brown’s enthusiasm for the event was matched by his desire to make the most out of his partnership with Johnny Cupcakes, too, as the duo are eager to continue the creative process.
“It’s great. He just texts me randomly and throws around ideas,” said Earle. “We’re all in a group chat, and it’s like I’ve known him forever, but we really just met like a month ago, two months ago.”
When Brown signed his extension with the Celtics over the summer, he made a commitment to improving the city. He vowed to attack the wealth disparity, bring Black Wall Street to Boston, and improve the city as a whole.
Collaborating with a fake cupcake shop may seem under the radar, but John Cupcakes’ ties to the city cannot be understated. Brown is putting down roots in Boston, and this partnership is just the beginning.
“This is just the first step and our efforts in the city to kind of give Boston an updated cultural approach,” said Malcolm Durr, the co-creative director of 7uice. “I think that this city has a lot of great history that we know from being in this region for so long, but a lot that the nation in the world may not know.
“And I think that collabs like this can kind of jump-start, just work [on the] energy within the community to then build on to then spread and spread. I think it’s all piece by piece coming together.”
Earle founded the apparel brand back in 2001, and it’s grown exponentially since, becoming a mainstay in Boston culture. What started as him selling shirts out of the back of his car while working in Braintree quickly turned into a massive hit.
And now, a lifelong Celtics fan got the chance to pair with one of the city’s biggest superstars.
“That was my first Halloween costume as a kid,” Earle said when asked about his Celtics fandom. “My dad would always dress me up. I was just a little green dude. My parents said I looked like ET when I was born. So picture ET with the Celtics jacket on.
“I mean, sports is a religion in Boston. A religion in Boston. It’s really cool to bring a full circle. And this is just the beginning. I’m sure we’re going to have a lot more projects after this.”
What started as an idea to link up two friends ended in Richardson forming a collaboration that proved a massive success on Saturday, and one that is far from over.
“There’s a lot more in the oven baking,” said Richardson.