When we interviewed Ted and Angie of Poketo for our Featured Interview series, the two mentioned a lot of new projects and happenings in their future. One that they mentioned was wanting to open up a retail space, a physical space for them to share their goods. We imagined that this pursuit was in the not-too-distant future; however, watching their Instagram, it became apparent that their opening a store was something right around the corner. We reached out to Ted and Angie and–sure enough–they are opening a store, which they are aiming to be all set for June. We spoke with them and got some photos of the space, which undoubtedly will be the talk of the town all Summer.
When we spoke with you guys last year, you guys alluded to hoping to open a store in the future, which was very exciting to hear. When did gears officially go into motion to opening? As in, when did the hunt for a space, talking to realtors, getting initial permits, and all the other necessary things to opening a space start?
Opening the Poketo brick and mortar store has been a dream since day one actually. When we first moved to LA in 2004, we were actively looking for a space to operate in. We were so close to signing a lease on a space, but, luckily, it fell through. We were just starting out at the time and in hind sight, not being tied to a retail space allowed us to focus on growing Poketo the way we have with our products, online store, events, etc.
So, instead of finding a retail space, we ended up working out of our home for 3 years before finding a more official office in the Arts District of Los Angeles in 2007. It is a humble 1,100 square foot loft, but, it beat working out of the house. It was here we were able to have art shows, music shows, and different events that invited the community to come together, but, we were never able to open up as a retail store because it wasn’t set up for that. Even though it was more of an office and studio, it was a great space to do the things we love to do and have a more efficient place to work and design. Now being here for about 5 years, the company has expanded and we have totally outgrown this space–boxes of products are everywhere, our staff is cramped in tight quarters, and having events out of here is next to impossible because it is just too small.
Towards the end of 2011, we knew it was time to find a bigger space, a space where we could have our original dream of an actual brick and mortar retail store, combined with an event/gallery and office space. We ended up meeting Tyler Stonebreaker and Evan Raabe, the great folks at Creative Space, they specialize in working with creative business’ and brands to find and build their dream spaces. It must have been good luck and timing because when we told them what we wanted, they took us to the space we eventually landed and that’s when the wheels began to turn.
Searching for a space in town certainly has to be a challenge: what were the challenges you guys encountered aside from technicalities? What went into picking a neighborhood and the exact space itself? Were there any requirements or specific things you guys wanted from the surrounding area and/or the space?
There are certainly challenges in building a store. Choosing a neighborhood was probably the easiest for us. The Arts District of Los Angeles is an area of LA that is exploding right now with new residents, galleries, coffee roasters/cafes like Handsome Coffee and Urth, bars like Wurstkuche and Villains, boutiques like Apolis Activism, and now Poketo. The architecture here is industrial with old beaut truss warehouses and cement block buildings, but, it’s got a neighborhood vibe, people here know each other, they are walking their dogs, popping in to get coffee, going to art shows, meeting friends for lunch and coffee. It’s also an area that Hollywood loves. Tons of filming here, usually fake backdrops for NYC, car commercials over the 4th street bridge, even Zooey Deschanel’s TV show, New Girl, is shot in a building not far from us. We’ve had our office in the Arts District for years now: we love it the vibe and the community support. We’ve seen it grow, have been part of that growth, and knew we wanted to stay in this community.
When we spoke, you guys mentioned a store would be a hybrid area, part art space, part café, part retail–a little bit of everything! Is that still the case? Also, from getting a space, what does that mean for Poketo merchandise? Will there be things carried only in store or will it perhaps change the breadth of what you carry?
The new Poketo store will definitely be hybrid of retail-gallery-event-office space. You’ll find the breadth of what we carry including apparel, bags, accessories, housewares, stationery, books and more. We are taking a holistic approach to planning and designing the space, keeping it very open and all the areas flow into each other. We are custom building all of the fixtures, the look is minimal, honest, modern, a sort of neutral canvas to let our product shine. There will also be a semi-opaque wall area where you’ll be able to “see” the inner workings of “back of house” at Poketo. The front of house, retail, and gallery area will be fully stocked with all of the same products you see on Poketo.com, but, this space will help us expand all of those things as well as help us realize products that really only work in a retail environment. For example, we’ve been talking with our mutual friend and design/builder Eric Trine to feature some of his furntiure and design objects for Poketo. We already carry some of his smaller products, but, this will be an opportunity to showcase pieces that we could not until now. And of course, the new space will allow us to have more art and design driven products that will be shop exclusives, products you can only find if you visit the retail store. Our dreams of the cafe is on hold… but, with so many great options in the neighborhood, it’s all good.
The area you guys are in–the Arts District–is so perfect. With Apolis, Würstkuche, Pie Hole, and other great spots nearby, what are you guys hoping to add from being there? What opportunities do you guys hope or already see coming from the area?
Poketo is about art for your everyday–bringing design and contemporary art into your daily life, promoting a fun life, building community, and living a creative, inspired life. That’s what we stand for and we know Poketo will be a great addition Arts District. We love our neighbors in the Arts District and have already been talking with some of them about collaborating, joining forces to make sure this area continues to thrive, not just though our products and what we’ll have in the store but through events and art shows. So much of what we want our space to be is a venue for LA–do you have a new zine coming out or an idea for a music show or something creative you want to share? We want to hear about it: we want to be part of those ideas. This part of LA is going to grow through ground level ideas, creativity, and hardwork. It’s here more than any other place in LA right now that independence, entrepreneurship, and ground level building is happening… and it’s mostly happening through individuals–not through corporate muscle. Our neighbors have brought an excitement to LA, they are part of a revitilization of this once sleepy community and we are excited to be part of this.
The future is going to bring a lot for Poketo and retail in Los Angeles: what are you guys hoping to bring to the city? Is there any niche you are hoping to fill? Would the next Poketo outpost also be in town or elsewhere?
We are just super stoked to be finally realizing this dream and new store. We’ve been posting little sneak peeks through our Instagram and Twitter, it’s been great to see our fans getting excited about what’s to come. We want the Poketo store to be the space you can find it all… the coolest, latest art and design for your life… Poketo.com was step one, now the store will be the next level. Satellite locations… that’s next, next level.
How exciting is all this? We’re super pumped about it and know that Poketo’s first brick and mortar store will be one of the highlights of the year. We’ll definitely be sharing more news from them and will certainly be at the Summer opening (which they said will include a big party–but the dates and information are still to be determined). The store will be on 820 East Third Street, at the corner of Traction in the Art’s District Downtown. And, of course, if you can’t wait for the store to open, check out some goodies of theirs on Poketo.com!