On this episode of The Millionaire Choice Show, Tony talks with his neighbor and family friend, Gigi Butler. Gigi has faced her share of challenges and she's made some very bold decisions on her way to success. Tony and Gigi talk about her philosophy and mindset of not wanting to live her life full of "what ifs?" Gigi is someone who is full of life and believes in going for it!
Gigi Butler, entrepreneur and founder of Gigi’s Cupcakes, admits her story of success is full of sweet irony. Gigi opened her first Gigi’s Cupcakes location just off Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee in 2008. Gigi’s Cupcakes is now the largest cupcake franchise in the world.
With an entrepreneurial spirit that needed an outlet at the age of 15, Gigi opened her first business, Gigi’s Cleaning Company, which she continued to grow once she moved from California to Nashville in 1994. She cleaned houses during the day and sang at downtown Nashville honky-tonks at night. After a decade of pursuing a career as an entertainer, the heartaches of the music industry hit home.
Gigi decided to step back and focus on her financial future. While building a sweet empire was never part of her plan, Gigi realized that her culinary and business skills could take her places she never dreamed about. She decided to take a chance on her other passion – baking.
Gigi learned her love for baking at an early age as she came from a long line of bakers who taught her unique family recipes. As an adult, Gigi felt that baking had become a lost art that needed to be resurrected. Even though people rarely have time to bake from scratch, they still enjoy eating delicious home baked goods, especially ones that reminded them of their childhood.
After being turned down by various banks and down to her last $33, Gigi went out on a limb and in 2008 leveraged several personal credit cards to fund the first Gigi’s Cupcakes store. She gambled everything she had to open her first location. Fortunately, her sweet treats quickly became Nashville’s delicacy dessert of choice. Shortly thereafter, Gigi’s Franchising, Inc. was born, and Gigi’s Cupcakes locations began popping up throughout North America.
Among her other duties for Gigi’s Cupcakes, Gigi served as Head of Product Development, Through her own creativity coupled with a unique open relationship with and feedback from customers, Gigi was responsible for expanding the initial menu offering from 32 to over 278 cupcake recipes.
Over the course of the next decade and as the number of Gigi’s Cupcakes locations grew, Gigi became a sought-after public speaker. Her motivational, inspirational and entrepreneurial ‘rags-to-riches’ story has become a centerpiece for corporate events, business and social gatherings as well as on college campuses (and especially those with entrepreneurial programs). Always leaving the crowd wanting more, Gigi offers the attendees access to her deepest thoughts, fears, successes and failures, with an emphasis on how to fight fear and look at fear as a motivator rather than an obstacle.
Gigi speaks from the heart and loves interacting with her customers and fans. At every personal appearance engagement, Gigi offers a question and answer period as well as a meet-and-greet session where attendees have the opportunity to say hello, get some words of encouragement, get a photo taken and have Gigi autograph a copy of her autobiography. Gigi receives scores of letters every month from people who have learned about Gigi’s story by attending one of her speaking engagements, seeing her on TV or reading about her. They all appreciate Gigi for providing hope, inspiration and belief that they too can become just as successful as Gigi.
Gigi had the honor of being on the hit CBS TV Series “Undercover Boss”. Gigi’s episode, which was viewed by over 15 million people and continues in reruns to this day, became one of the show’s fan favorites. She wears her heart on her sleeve and in the show, interacts with employees incognito. Gigi claims this was one of the most rewarding experiences in her life. Gigi also entered into a strategic branding relationship with Serenade Cabinetry, where, until the company was sold to an investment group, she served as the face of a line of specialty cabinets.
As usual, Gigi is not ready to slow down and is ready to recreate herself again with her newest venture—opening a new concept called Pies By Gigi. Gigi recently had this to say about what she is up to: “Gigi’s Cupcakes will always be my first baby. It has been an honor and a privilege to be able to come into your homes for your birthdays, celebrations, and to be a part of your lives for the last 12 years at Gigi’s Cupcakes. It is a bittersweet feeling, but it is time to recreate and start something new—from scratch. My love for baking will continue with a new concept called Pies by Gigi—I could not be more excited.”
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