biz ladiesLife & Business

Biz Ladies Profile: Angie Myung and Ted Vadakan of Poketo

by Stephanie

Biz Ladies Profile Poketo 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

Biz Ladies Profile Poketo

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.

Biz Ladies Profile Poketo

Biz Ladies Profile Poketo Poketo’s first art show postcard and wallet series

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.

Biz Ladies Profile Poketo What was the most difficult part of starting your business?

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 . . . :)

Biz Ladies Profile Poketo

Biz Ladies Profile Poketo Can you name your greatest success in your business experiences?

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.

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  • Congrats on all of the success Poketo! Keep up the great work and can’t wait to check out your shop next time I’m in LA.

    Speaking from personal experience, accidental businesses are the best!

  • I think your designs evoke happy feelings and loving what you do definitely comes thru in your work. Thanks for sharing the love!

  • Love so much what Ted and Angie do! Walking into their store, you want to buy everything! It is so well curated, so organically inspiring and filled with creative thought and intention. How interesting to read their story here.

  • Thank you very much for this interview! It’s so inspiring for me. My place of work is going to be closed and I think about starting my own business but I need courage to do so. I have some ideas and such examples like yours are great for me as they give me hope.

    Thank you one more time!!!

  • I love the advice that Ted’s Aunt gave them.
    Everything does have a life cycle.
    So important to know how and when your product is going to evolve.
    I also agree that you have to love what you are doing with the exception that your plan has to include making money – can you pay your bills and will it eventually give you a paycheck – how many of these do I need to sell a day? Kind of questions.
    Clearly they have grown with their business ideas. The happy place of regaining their lives is the icing on the cake.
    This was great really inspirational and uplifting!

  • Great business and some very cool advice. The three pieces of advice at the end, very wise and we are living by them as we build our business. Continuously innovating is the way to go. Nothing worse than becoming complacent and building a structure that is too stringent which stops businesses from being flexible and constantly improving.

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