We can hardly believe that we've just turned 18 years old. As a celebration of our adulthood, we want to take you on a memory lane of Poketo's history from 2003 to now.
Poketo’s first artist wallet series launched in San Francisco along with the first art show where the wallets sold out. We had late nights at Angie’s art school to print the first series of wallets. That first series and art show was such a success, it inspired us to start Poketo. The name Poketo comes from Angie’s Korean grandmother's mispronunciation of “pocket”. Poh-Keh-Toe.
We moved down to LA to focus on Poketo and moved into Ted’s parents’ house. This helped us grow the business and keep our overhead low. More and more of our favorite shops started to reach out and carry Poketo products as our online presence grew.
We eventually moved out of the parents’ house to Echo Park, Los Angeles. We ventured into tees, bags, and housewares, expanding what “art every day” could be. It was still just the two of us, working day and night, doing everything from design, pick, pack, and ship.
Our first big press hit was in NYT Sunday Magazine as a full spread. “Look, mom, we are in THE New York Times!”
Poketo was invited to collaborate with artists in Australia, Spain, Scotland, and Japan. In each of these countries, we created Poketo artist series collections. We outgrew our home office and moved into a 1100 square foot loft in Downtown LA and hired our first full-time staff. Our new HQ became the space for Poketo art shows and events.
Poketo has collaborated on band merch with some of our favorite bands: Postal Service, Arcade Fire, Weezer, The Shins, Coachella, and more. For our pop up in Scotland, Stevie Jackson of Belle and Sebastian plays an intimate set with friends.
We were on the cover page of the LA TImes business section. Same year, we threw a large art show and our friends, Portugal The Man, played a free concert for hundreds of fans. This year was the beginning of a dream collaboration with Target, we created a 52 piece accessory collection for the retail giant that was sold in over 1700 stores in the USA and Canada.
Growing out of our first loft office, we found a 4000 sqf space in back then very quiet LA’s Arts District and turned it into Poketo’s HQ, a place for retail, workshops, events, and a gallery space. More national and international press like Wall Paper, Monocle, and NYT as well as companies like American Express and Toyota featured Poketo in their national advertising campaigns.
Poketo launched a creative workshops program and since then, hundreds of workshops were held teaching thousands of attendees on everything from Kimchi making ( Taught by Angie’s mom) to calligraphy, to lighting design. The Poketo workshops were all taught by our community of designers and entrepreneurs, including Lotta Jansdotter, Hrishikesh Hirway, Adi Goodrich, Emily Katz, Brendan Ravenhill, Lorien Stern, Chiaozza, Sonoko Sakai, Éva Goicochea of Maude, Monica Khemsurov of Sight Unseen, and more.
Poketo opened its second shop in The Line Hotel in Koreatown, a shop for the discerning travelers where we also took over the gallery installation of the lobby and hosted conversations with different artists. We also popped up at Nordstrom, duplicating the Poketo retail experience inside 8 national flagships across the country. This was also the first year we started holding company retreats. The retreats were a time to celebrate our accomplishments and set our paths years to come.
We continued pop-ups with MOCA, Casetify, Everlane, Baggu, Hem, Dims, Join, Korea Institute of Design Promotion, and Urban Outfitters. Not only brands but independent artists Ellen Van Dusen, Lisa Congdon, Ladies & Gentleman, Eric Trine, Will Bryant, Chiaozza, and Sean Knibb had shows and collaborations. We grew to 4 Poketo locations to bring the Poketo community together across sprawling Los Angeles. Poketo created a licensing program and over the years have collaborated with Beyond Yoga, Takenaka, Corkcicle, Chronicle, Thousand, and more. Poketo was awarded the Edge Award by the Los Angeles Design Festival for positive community impact.
Our first book, Creative Spaces, with Chronicle Books, was published about the homes, studios, and lives of artists, designers, and entrepreneurs. We held a national book tour, hosting discussions with designers in LA, SF, Seattle, Vancouver, Boston, New York, Austin, Denver, and Seoul. We were also invited to speak with corporate teams at Starbucks, Microsoft, and Google. The LA Times featured Ted & Angie’s home, our own creative living space in Los Angeles.
The global pandemic hits. Angie, Ted, and the small but mighty Poketo team roll up their sleeves and fulfill, pack, and ship all your online orders. Without your outpouring of support, we wouldn’t have survived last year. It was a year of change and reset for Poketo, luckily we were able to pivot quickly, allowing us to forge a sustainable path forward. We were thrilled to finally reopen our shops in Little Tokyo & Row DTLA in July welcoming our customers back in real life.
Poketo designed and produced a big project with the Academy Museum, Los Angeles on stationery, caps, socks, bamboo and glass tabletop, textiles, and more. What’s next? Be assured that we will continue our aim to inspire, to bring joy and art to everyday life, and to uplift our community. Creativity, fun and community has been everything to us this past 18 years, we march on.