Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung are a real-life dynamic duo. The husband and wife's mission: to bring art into people's lives every day through their accessories and homewares company Poketo. They do so with superheroic strength and energy, and it has earned them a devoted following worldwide. I feel lucky to call them my friends.
I first discovered Poketo through Rama, who designed a couple of wallets for them. Ted and Angie invited us to meet them at one of their favorite pubs in Koreatown, and they masterfully ordered a spread of delicious food for us. I knew instantly that we'd get along. I have since had the privilege of designing a couple of Poketo wallets of my own for their 826 LA project and attending many of their perfectly planned art events. Over the past several years, we have enjoyed many more meals together, including, of course, brunch. The duo has been busy promoting their accessory collection that hits Target stores today, but Angie was able to steal a moment to answer some questions for my Friends & Neighbors series. She also shared a recipe that she hopes to try out soon.
Thank you so much for joining me, Angie. I am thrilled that you're my first interview, especially since I remember sharing the idea for this blog with you and Ted when we had you over for waffles not so long ago. And now here we are!
You know, one of the things I really admire about you and Ted is there is always something exciting brewing. I love asking you two, "What are you up to?" because you always have a juicy answer, like "Karaoke party! Flea market inspired art show! Project with Dave Eggers!" You're always surprising me. And now, you're launching your Target capsule shop today. High five! What was that experience like?
It was amazing! For one, they were completely open to all our ideas, and we were given complete creative freedom. We didn't want this to look like a big box store collection. We wanted to give each and every product a unique feel, hence the 52-piece collection featuring over 40 [works of art] by 21 international artists. There are very few items where the same artwork appears. Also, many of the silhouettes were designed by myself inspired by old school Japanese bag silhouettes, like the bowling bag, origami laptop case, and so on. This is a major undertaking even for a huge manufacturer due to all the logistics that's involved, but they loved the unique and boutique feel of everything. So we're incredibly proud of this collection.
It's what we usually do but 1000 times bigger and it will reach a 1000 times wider audience. It's "Art for your everyday" on everyday things, like weekender bags, totes, pouches, umbrellas, laptop cases, water bottles, keychains, and more, Target Style!
I am always intrigued by creative duos, probably because I am in one myself. What is it like working together? Who does what over there at Poketo HQ?
Well, I do most of the art directing, selecting, and designing of the products. Ted does most of the business-related things, like the numbers and managing the day to day. But we do look at all the artwork and designs together. Unless [the design] gets both of our votes, we don't make it.
You two have been married for almost two years now. If at all, how has marriage changed your working dynamic? How does work affect your relationship?
Working and living together began from the very start. We met in 2002 and started Poketo in 2003. Even before starting Poketo, we were always organizing art shows, so that's all we know. It's not all fun and games. Things can be difficult at times. But once we go home, we try not to work or talk about work. And having employees around, we need to keep our cool so that helps! The marriage is awesome. It's only helped us to get closer, and even Poketo isn't as important as our marriage!
Like I mentioned before, you are always up to something really good. Where do you come up with such unique product and event ideas?
In the showers, walking Nori...I don't know. Ideas are plenty. It's the action and time that's hard. If we only had a bigger Poketo crew and more time... someday!
I'm sure this is like asking a parent who their favorite kid is, but do any products or events stand out as the best in your memory?
Wallets. Because that's what started Poketo. It's our signature product and what people know us by. And even now when I take out my wallet, people go, "Wow, what's that?" Though more often than not, people say, "I have a Poketo, too!" and take it out of their pocket, and we say, "We make that" and they go "No way!" So fun!
You two sure know how to throw a kickass party. From your rooftop wedding to your studio sales, all the Poketo events I've attend were a rockin' good time. What are the keys to throwing a good party?
The parties wouldn't be same without you guys. Thanks so much for being part of our events! Good food, good drinks, good music and most importantly, good people!
It seems like parties were always a vital part of your business, from day one. And I feel like you really value community almost as much as art itself. Is that true? How do you grow and inspire a community that is all over the world?
It's true. Our first wallet collection, which we never dreamt would get us this far was introduced at an art show/party that we threw back in 2003 while we were living in San Francisco. The launch events have taken us anywhere from Australia, Scotland, Barcelona, Houston, San Francisco, and spaces around LA including the Space 1520, Urban Outfitters' space, Royal-T, and our studio space.
Because Poketo started as a way to expose our community of artist friends to the world, we always kept that as our mission. And without the community support, we wouldn't be here now. So having the community is a top priority for us. We try to inspire our community of friends and supporters by sharing a bit of our lives. We try to share the stories of our lives via our blog, Twitter, and Facebook in hopes that our community will be inspired to create, travel, and make things happen! Hopefully with this Target collection, the community will grow a little bit larger. All the art lovers of the world unite!
I find it incredibly charming that you cook for your employees. Usually, it's the interns fetching coffee for the boss, but you're the one often making them lunch. How did you start cooking for them? What kinds of things do you make for lunch? Do they ever cook for you?
The tradition began when we only had one intern working with us. We used to work from home, so we would naturally just eat together at our dining table. After we moved to the studio, we still kept it going with more people working here. I would bring food from home, and we would feed up to six people everyday for about 2 years! It got to be too much so I try to cook something for them once in a while, probably a meal a week or two now. My specialty is the tacos! No, they never cook for me. :( haha!
OK, so, you know I have to ask: What's next for Poketo, besides world domination?
Hmm, we shall see. No, really, we're just going to continue doing what we've always done: Collaborating with more artists, making cool products, throwing shows, and living our lives, and eating around the world!