Part Five: I Quit – Poketo

They quit their jobs as a designer and film post producer to become product designers and shop owners.

Husband-and-wife team Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung were already in creative professions when they sprouted the idea for Poketo, a lifestyle brand known for its design-driven wares. In the past 13 years, Poketo has developed from an upstart creative enterprise to a design driven company that collaborates with major brands including Nike, Target, SFMoma, Disney and Nordstrom.

Poketo started as a side project in 2003 to support the creative community around them in Los Angeles. “Friends of ours were artists making incredible work, but they were having a difficult time selling original work,” Vadakan says. “We decided to throw an art show with these artists, but put focus on a product we made for the show. Our first product was an artist wallet, and the night of the opening, they sold out.” They knew they were on to something, so they developed collections with different artists and added more products to Poketo’s lineup, including apparel, housewares and stationery. With a focus of “art for your everyday,” Vadakan and Myung started their online shop in 2003, opened their first retail location in 2012 and a second retail location in 2014.

The couple worked out of their home for the first few years. “It wasn’t until our house resembled more of a warehouse than a home that we knew we needed to change the environment,” Vadakan says. “We would pretty much work 24/7 and you can only sustain for so long at that pace.” Myung had just graduated with her second degree, and Vadakan was still working freelance in film as they were keeping their heads down trying to make Poketo work. It took a few years before the business got its momentum and it was finally the right time for both of them to devote 100 percent of their energy to Poketo.

“I think the choices and experiences you make inform the future. All of our ups and downs have shaped who we are and the business, and we’ve had plenty of ups and downs,” Vadakan says. “My advice would be: Do what you love, hang in there, stick with your gut, don’t look back. The brand is ever-evolving, as we are.”

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This article was written by Grace Dobush and originally published in Issue 09 of the Mohawk Maker Quarterly. The Mohawk Maker Quarterly is a vehicle to support a community of like-minded makers. Content focuses on stories of small manufacturers, artisans, printers, designers, and artists who are making their way in the midst of the digital revolution. Learn more about the quarterly here and sign up to receive future printed issues.

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