Inside the Studio (and Store!): Poketo

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“Packaging is the essence of your brand.” – Angie Myung, Co-Founder of Poketo

Recently, The Dieline relocated our headquarters to the Art District in Downtown Los Angeles, right around the corner from one of our most favorite design stores, Poketo. Inside the Poketo flagship store, they run everything related to the Poketo brand from online order fulfilment, design and development of Poketo branded products and collections, product curation, to development of their new interactive workshops.

I visited with Poketo's founders, Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung, and asked a few questions.

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For those who do not know of Poketo, this is their story:

Born out of a belief in "art for your everyday", Poketo is an online destination and brick-and-mortar shop for design-driven wares that take art off the gallery walls and into people's lives. Founded by husband-and-wife team Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung, Poketo (pronounced poh-KEH-toe) got its name through Angie's Korean grandmother's mispronunciation of "pocket". Since 2003, Poketo has grown from a upstart creative enterprise known for their limited-edition vinyl artist wallets to a leading lifestyle brand that retains its indie vibe.

In June 2012, Poketo opened its first brick-and-mortar shop/gallery at the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles. The shop carries all of Poketo’s online goods and features exclusive products that can only be found at the store. The Poketo store also host art shows with their ever-growing roster of local and international artists, in addition to workshops and other unique public events.

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Over the years, Poketo has been commissioned by Nike, MTV, Weezer, Arcade Fire, SF MoMA and many more to create exclusive lines stamped with Poketo’s signature fun and functional style. Its irresistible aesthetic so captivates the imagination that, in 2010, retail giant Target took notice; Poketo curated a 52-piece collection of messenger bags, laptop cases, water bottles, umbrellas and wallets–all made with an eye for artistic detail. Poketo’s Target collection sold out nationwide, leaving 8-foot racks bare and fans clamoring for more. In 2012, Poketo partnered up with Target again, creating a line of stationery products, again selling out very quickly.

To date, the shop has collaborated with over 200 international artists to produce lifestyle wares that infuse art in daily living. Poketo’s line of wallets, stationery, housewares, accessories, and apparel have appeared in New York Times Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, Real Simple, Dwell, Entertainment Weekly and more.

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Being experts of the retail business, I asked both Ted and Angie a few questions regarding their store and packaging in general.

Here is what they had to say:

Diane: What was your first artist collaboration that made Poketo successful?

Ted: The first collaboration happened in 2003 with six of our artist friends. Since we threw the art show and party together just for fun and accompanied the show with things we thought would be cool to have (wallets made with artists’ artwork) and seeing that they sold out that night, we realized there was something there. We felt the magic and butterflies in our stomachs that night thinking of possibilities.

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Diane: What is your process with your artist collaborations and how do you package them?

Angie: Our process with artists is different from one artist to another. Some artists want complete control from start to finish (without much art direction) and some artists want art direction. Rather than being in their way too much, in the beginning phase, I like pointing out some of the artwork that would work well for different applications. That method seems to work well so there is some guidance and jumping off point from which they can work. Many of our artists have never made products with their artwork so it helps for them to know what works for which applications and why. We recently launched our second sets of tea towels with the artist, Lisa Congdon.

Our packaging for them was very simple, just a simple tag with her handwriting wrapped in natural cotton string.

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Pyramids Tea Towel / Herringbone Tea Towel

We sent them out to some press contacts and the packaging for them used a simple cardboard box with bright yellow filling that matched the tea towels perfectly. Each of the boxes contained a card that Lisa made with a sweet note and the box had handwritten addresses. We got a great response from having a lot of folks Instagram the packaging!

Diane: You have been commissioned by many high profile companies. One of them was Target. How was your packaging different from the commissioned work you did with Target than an artist collaboration you do at Poketo?

Ted: Our first collaboration dates back to 2010, which included over twenty Poketo artists for a 52-piece collection of awesome bags and accessories. The collection was released in over 1700 stores and sold out! The packaging for them was pretty simple, as well. Just a Poketo tag on the products themselves.

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We had another Target collaboration last year just on stationery products.

The packaging included a simple sticker on the product with a simple explanation of what it contained.

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Diane: The Dieline Team loves your shop. We have found so many great packages here at Poketo that have made their way on to The Dieline. We come in your store sometimes for pure inspiration. Who selects the products you display at the store and how do you select them? Do you select products with packaging in mind and what factors do you look for in the packaging?

Angie: Packaging is hugely important in my decision making. If the packaging isn't good looking but if it's a product that I like, we just don't display the packaging in store or online. So packaging isn't everything but it plays a very important role. I look for clean type, nice layout and whether it contains information about the product inside. 

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Painted Wooden Bowling SetSea Salt SoapSea Salt Soap / Seaweed SoapRose WaterLURK Perfume OilFoodie Garden KitsSeed BombsSlingshot + Seed Bomb KitWild Harvested Bar Soap

Diane: What feeling do you want to achieve in the way the items are presented in the store?

Angie: Somewhat airy, so there is enough room for the products to breathe, but not too sparse to the point that the store looks cold and bare. We also show products in an environment so people can see how they would use them and display them in their homes. We have a theme in mind and tie different products from different categories (home, stationery, books, apparel) together.

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Balancing BlocksAlphabet BoxBaxter of California Pomade

Poketo has launched a new collection of dated calendars, planners, and notebooks now available in Target stores nationwide! The new collection of stationery features artwork from longtime collaborator, Betsy Walton, and newcomer to the design world, Elizabeth Beasley. The Poketo at Target collection is available for a limited time only, so pop into your local store and pick them up before they are all gone!

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A special thank you to Ted and Angie for letting us wander around their store and for the lovely interview. You may visit the Poketo store at 820 East Third Street, Los Angeles, California 90013 or shop online at www.poketo.com.

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