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Gigi’s Cupcakes CEO empowers women at leadership luncheon

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Gina "Gigi" Butler attended a Women's Leadership Luncheon March | Photo courtesy of Gena Alfonso
Gina “Gigi” Butler attended a Women’s Leadership Luncheon on campus March 31. | Photo courtesy of Gena Alfonso

The Women’s Leadership Luncheon, an event that seeks to empower women to be effective leaders in the community, took place in the Occhiato University Center on March 31.

The event brought in some of the strongest women leaders in the Pueblo community and featured keynote speaker Gina “Gigi” Butler, who provided a lecture that highlighted the power of perseverance.

Butler is the founder and CEO of Gigi’s Cupcakes, a bakery Nashville, Tennessee that started in 2008. It is now the nation’s largest cupcake franchise, with 105 stores across the United States accumulating more than $40 million in revenue. According to Butler, the amount of cupcakes sold by the company would be enough to stretch from New York City to California.

However, Butler’s story proved that the road to success is not always sweet, as she endured numerous obstacles.

Butler dropped out of college at 18 and traveled to Nashville, with aspirations of becoming a country star. However, after nearly ten years of playing in nightclubs and managing a cleaning business during the day, Butler realized the chances of reaching her goal were bleak.

“I was a broken-down country singer,” Butler said to the attendants of the luncheon.

Though she struggled with the pain of knowing that she would have to find another dream, Butler refused to give up. She gleaned knowledge from series of business and self-help books and used her Christian faith to raise her spirits.

Butler stated it was her brother that gave her the idea to open a cupcake store. Because Butler knew she loved to baked and also realized she had an entrepreneurial gift, she decided to pursue the opportunity.

Her quest for success was meant with another series of issues. Upon the opening of the first cupcake store, Butler had only $33 left to her name, and still had thousands of a dollars in expenses to pay. Still, Butler said she had the tenacity to continue with her goal, and soon customers were lined up at the door, eager to purchase baked goods from Gigi’s Cupcakes. Butler was able to pay off her bills, and even managed to have a small amount remaining.

Today, business is booming, and Butler said the company is looking to expand its reach internationally to South Korea, the United Kingdom, and even countries in the Middle East.

“It’s been an amazing eight years,” Butler said.

Butler offered some words of advice to in attendance at the luncheon. She stressed the importance of not being afraid of failure.

“Failure creates a better you,” she said emphatically.

She also encouraged the audience, particularly the Millennials, to respect the power of hard work, be thankful and to always give.