These Black men went from NFL players to “cupcake guys” thanks to their group business endeavor.
Long-time friends and former athletes Michael Griffin and Brian Orakpo joined their friend Bryan Hynson to own a Gigi’s Cupcakes store, per a 2019 Bake Magazine report.
Griffin and Orakpo would go on to establish themselves as professional athletes, playing together on the Tennessee Titans. It was during this season that they were first introduced to Gigi’s Cupcakes, a franchise started in Nashville, TN.
In 2017, Griffin wanted to be an example of what players could do after they leave the league. While brainstorming business ideas over dinner with Orakpo and Hynson, Gigi’s Cupcakes was introduced as a venture. And the rest is history as they are now, “The Cupcake Guys.”
At the time, they were all in different phases of their careers. Hynson worked in banking, Orakpo was still played in the league, and Griffin had already retired.
Despite their respective journeys, franchising Gigi’s Cupcakes seemed to be the next best step. So, the founders later opened the bakery in Bee Cave, TX.
“We always wanted to get into some kind of business when we came up from college and in our professions, we always talked about an investment together,” said Orakpo, according to Bake Magazine. “It’s the perfect opportunity, especially after playing in the National Football League [when both were with the Titans]. Gigi’s originated in Tennessee, so we made the call. It’s something we can learn along the process, but at the same time we know about this brand and what it can bring to the Austin market.”
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While getting the business up and running was rewarding, it still presented challenges. To understand how to operate the bakery, they completed two-a-day trainings over three weeks from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. They also were tasked with learning how to manage the bakery’s finances.
“It was harder than playing football,” said Griffin, according to the company’s website. “This was like a completely foreign language. Being professional athletes, we’re kind of spoiled. These are things we never worried about because there were large amounts of money coming in every year. It was definitely an awakening.”
Orakpo added, “It was a grueling process. We made some mistakes, but we got the hang of it now.”
Ultimately the founders leaned on their strengths. Orakpo is the decorator, Griffin is the baker, and Hynson works the cash register.
Team work certainly makes the dream work.
“Having three partners is essential. We always have one deciding vote, so regardless of any disagreements we ever have we always come together at some point,” explained Hynson on their website. “It’s been fun, building together and learning together. We’re learning on the fly and we’re coming up with creative ideas to ensure that this bakery is going to be here for years and years to come.”
To support, visit 3944 Ranch Rd 620 S Bldg 2, Suite 130, Bee Cave, TX, 78738.
You can also order online.
The bakery offers cupcakes in flavors such as apple cream crumb, carrot cake, chocolate chip cookie dough, german chocolate, and more.
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