Today’s Biz Ladies Profile comes from the founders of LA-based shop/gallery and online shop, Poketo. Husband-and-wife team Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung firmly believe that you can “take art off the gallery walls and into people’s lives,” and they are doing just that with their vibrant and funky collection of products. Today they tell us a bit about their journey from idea to online shop to successful brick-and-mortar store. Thanks, Ted and Angie, for sharing your story with us! — Stephanie
Read the full profile after the jump . . .
Why did you decide to start your own business?
We really didn’t mean to start a business when we started Poketo in 2003. It was a total accident. We didn’t come from a business background. Ted was a filmmaker, and I was going to school for graphic design. We were throwing a lot of art shows with friends who were artists in San Francisco. They were always a lot of fun, but none of the art sold, as we just couldn’t afford them. So one day we decided to make something that was affordable, and that’s when the Poketo Artist Wallets were born.
We had another art show, and along with the original art on the wall, we sold wallets with the same artwork. The wallets were an instant hit, and we totally sold out that night! We walked home that night with butterflies in our stomachs and couldn’t wait to release another series. Gradually, Poketo took up more time. In the beginning, we worked different jobs, and it wasn’t until two years later that we were working on Poketo full-time.
When you first decided to start your own business, how did you define what your business would be?
The business didn’t need to be defined, as we decided to work with artists to make everyday goods. So we slowly ventured into clothing, housewares, stationery and accessories.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting?
We were given so much great advice by the people around us, everything from practical things to words of wisdom that I still remember. One of Ted’s aunts told us that everything has a life cycle. A product can be really popular now, but it may not be later on. This reminded us to keep innovating and to expand our product offerings.
I think we were so lucky in that we didn’t see it as a struggle at all. Because we didn’t really set out to have a business, we were just surprised and went with it. We tell people that we didn’t start the business. It started us.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
Having your own business is not easy. You really don’t have a day off, as you are always thinking about it. It’s not a 9-to-5 job at all. You can’t do it for money; you have to do it for love! That’s why making a clear distinction between business and life is so important. We worked at home for the first two years, and it was really tough. We were surrounded by work. After we finally moved our business out of our home, we were able to regain our lives back.
Can you name a moment of failure in your business experiences?
I wouldn’t say that there were any failures but many minor mistakes and lessons that we keep learning from every day . . . :)
In 2010, we collaborated with Target to launch a 52-piece accessories collection that was sold out nationwide. We collaborated on another stationery line, this time in 2012. Both collections gave us great exposure, and we are truly grateful for these incredible opportunities. Our friends and fans sent photos of the mostly emptied out and bare racks at their local Target stores!
Another milestone was in June 2012 when we opened our first brick-and-mortar shop/gallery at the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles. The shop carries all of Poketo’s goods and features exclusive products that can only be found at the store. We’ll continue to have art shows with local and international artists, in addition to workshops and other unique public events. We were recently named one of LA’s top stores by Elle.com, Refinery 29 and Daily Candy! That’s a notable achievement for us, considering how new our brick-and-mortar store is.
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
1. Do I love it?
2. Are my ideas somewhat original? Don’t jump on the bandwagon with the latest trends; chances are, many people are already doing it.
3. Start small and grow it.