Business talks with fashion label, Pokety

Agata Sieramska
Agata Sieramska
Business talks with fashion label, Pokety

How and when did Pokety start? Where did the idea of animals showing cheeky gestures hidden beneath a pocket come from? A t-shirt with a cat peeking out of a pocket from an American brand called Rip’n’Dip was the inspiration that sparked the idea of our brand. I decided to create some friends for the little fellow. This is how Veronica the Llama, Richard the Rabbit, Christopher the Fox and Stephen the Unicorn came about. Each of the characters has an individual personality, so you can easily find your favourite partner in crime. You won’t find a cat in our store, that’s unique to the one and only Rip’n’Dip. Why did you decide to start your own brand? I have many passions and dreams, so it’s only natural to follow them. Ever since I was a child I knew I wanted to open my own shop, but I’ve dabbled in many things before getting to where I am now. When I was 19 I started my own line of hair accessories, then I managed a film studio. After that, I started a second-hand store, until I finally designed my first line of t-shirts for a band I was a part of at the time. After that, I created another line of t-shirts, until one day I started making these pocket lurking creatures. I think that was around 2015. Success for me is a collective of small things that give you the power to wake up in the morning and continue working hard.

Success for me is a collective of small things that give you the power to wake up in the morning and continue working hard.

Please tell us more about the beginning of your brand. Do you remember your first sale, what it was and how you felt in that moment? I sold my first t-shirt before I even made it. I drew up the design of the animal and posted it on my Facebook page. It caught on very quickly. It’s a great feeling when you don’t have to beg your friends for likes, but they actually write to you to tell you that they like what you do. For me, that was a sign that it’s going to be alright. In the first month, I prepared the first batch of t-shirts and went with Lucas (my boyfriend) to a fashion fair (Grand Bazar, Dom Braci Jabłkowskich in Warsaw). I didn’t know how to set up the stand, so I took my dad’s painting easel (it was covered in paint) and we used that to put up signs saying ‘Look in the pocket’. I also took an old Ikea clothes rack that rocked a little so we had to hold it still. We dragged in a few boxes with the t-shirts and can you believe we sold half of those? I couldn’t believe it. It was one of those moments where you feel like Kate Winslet and your Leonardo DiCaprio is standing just behind you and you are sailing together towards the horizon. It was honestly magical.

You run both online and retail shops in Warsaw, Cracow and Wroclaw. Your T-shirts can be found in many fashion fairs. Which of these mediums works best for you?I’ve tried a lot of things. Retail shops, pop-up shops, setting up stands in fashion fairs and markets etc. This year I officially got out of retail. The t-shirts are quite a low-cost item and it wasn’t very profitable. I decided that it’s time to cut out the middleman. Pop-up shops are definitely the best solution. We can get the right product in front of the right person at the right place and time. Fairs and markets are alright, but you need to try them out and see which ones have your target audience. I believe that you need to try a lot of different things in order to build a reliable offline calendar. I show up at fashion fairs at least once a month and definitely recommend this medium. By having direct contact with the customers I can get a lot of feedback and a little inspiration. The channel that definitely provides the most income is the internet. Here you also need a good grasp of where and how to show yourself. We also regularly invest in paid promotions. I gain the most satisfaction from my online shop and my DaWanda store.

The Pokety online store is built with the classic 2.0 template. See more templates and create your online store here.

Would you rather have complete control and create the design of your online store from scratch? You can do all that and more - see what else is possible with anonline store with Shoplo (see now).When did you realise that the brand actually has potential? I have no business education at all, so I didn’t make any calculations, forecasts or budgets - which I now regret, as that would have been useful. I just followed my intuition. At our first fashion fair, our customers asked ‘Will we see you next month?’ and without even thinking about it I said ‘Yes!’ I knew that if people wanted my product, I had to give it to them. I also had this feeling in my bones that it was worth it. After 3 years, no, I don’t regret anything, however, I know that as a business I’m only just beginning. I keep learning from the creature that is Pokety and I feel my knowledge and experience guiding me. It’s a great feeling of satisfaction.How many people does Pokety employ at the moment? How many in the beginning and how many now?

We’re not a massive factory, but a small project workshop. Therefore everything goes slower and everyone gives a lot. In the first month, I was by myself with some help from my boyfriend Lucas. I made the designs, took the t-shirts to the tailor, I ironed the prints onto the t-shirts (I didn’t have any professional equipment at the time), I ironed the t-shirts and packed them. I took the orders, talked to customers and postage purchases the post office.Lucas and I spent sleepless nights before fashion fairs, making as many t-shirts as possible. He also patiently handled the iron. Weekend mornings, he would pack all the heavy containers, bring them to the fairs, keep me company and help me pack up. His help is invaluable! When I went back to my old routine, working in my room on the ground floor, I’d move the t-shirts from my bed to the piano, onto the ironing board and back to the bed throughout the day. When there was no more space in my room, my mom ‘threw me out’ to my grandparent's place, where they had a spare room. That was a beautiful time in the history of Pokety, my grandparents welcomed me open-heartedly and thanks to that I was able to spend more time with them. Now I have my own, slightly bigger workshop. I have a few trusted companies involved in the project, they support us with their services and products. Everybody knows what they are doing. My mom plays a massive role, she has always supported Pokety and helped as much as it was physically possible. So is it safe to say that this is a family business? Where do you get the ideas for new products, what inspires you? The brand was created to bring people joy. Each of the characters is original. The projects are not perfect, however, as I don’t think perfection is what our customers expect. They have fun walking around with Vojtek the Bulldog and Veronica the Llama if someone's getting on their nerves they can always show them what’s inside the pocket and have a laugh. I get a lot of messages that the shirt makes their day, or that a kid really wants one or a group of teenagers need to have the shirts in matching colours with a different pocket creature. It’s times like these that I really feel that what I’m doing has a purpose. These messages really keep me going! The inspiration for new characters comes to me randomly, I will be going down the escalator and it will just pop into your head ‘I’ll draw a panda called Margaret’. Sometimes my fans will help me come up with a name, they love being part of the creation process. They also inspire me to design something new. Just quietly, I’m thinking about creating a snake. How’s it going to look with hands? No idea. But it will definitely be barefoot.

Where are the biggest costs of having your clothing brand? I think the biggest cost is promoting the brand, ads, AdWord campaigns, working with influencers and other paid promotions. Each time we go to a fashion fair it costs us. The stand costs a pretty penny and the t-shirts and relatively cheap. We have to sell a lot of them to make up for the cost and so that we earn something. How did you start selling your products abroad? When and why did you make this decision? Which countries generate the most sales? I’m only just starting to sell abroad. I thought long and hard about this and how to sell abroad. Every now and again I would have customers from all over Europe, placing orders via email. Some people export the t-shirts to their countries and promoted them among the younger audience in that region. I decided to start with Germany and DaWanda really helped me with that. I got my first orders and a dose of motivation. I also got through to some German influencers, who showed Pokety to their fans. This also got me into exploring that market. What differences can you see between managing your business on the Polish market and on the German market? The ads are definitely more expensive in Germany. More competitions means the prices keep going up. I see a lot of potential in selling in Germany, the people take kindly to the idea and give the brand the benefit of the doubt. I still treat Poland as my main sales point and want to keep the brand local, so I’m not planning on taking selling abroad any further. Who is the target audience of Pokety?After 3 years I’ve gotten to know them pretty well. They are mainly girls in the ages between 13-19. A bit crazy, positive and in-tune with current trends. The t-shirts I have are unisex, so they are a bit oversized. They go with many different looks, especially urban, comfortable and cool. I’m lucky that my target audience uses the internet so much. Because of this, they are more likely to leave likes and comments that don’t spare emotion. It’s possible that this is the main reason for the large number of fans on Facebook. They are great customers, very positive, we always talk very informally. I do that on purpose, I want them to feel like they are our friend. I do everything I can so that every one of our customers gets as much care and attention as possible, so I respond to all our emails myself.

Almost 57k fans on Facebook, 20k followers on Instagram. Tell us, please, how did you manage to get so many fans on social media? Do you have some sort of a special way of handling your social media? That is quite a big number and I’m very happy about that. For the first two years, I mainly focused on our Facebook page. I created Facebook campaigns to reach more potential customers. Right now though, I’m more focused on creating well-fitted ads rather than gaining new fans. Regular post do not create nearly as much traffic as a promoted post. Facebook’s limitations are something I’m well aware of. When it comes to my approach, I know that social media is key to gaining and maintaining customer relations, too.

When it comes to my approach, I know that social media is key to gaining and maintaining customer relations

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Do you think that a well-run Social Media page can have an impact on sales?It does have an impact, just not always on sales. Every good post creates positive energy and what goes around comes around. As I mentioned previously, paid promotions are key to success on social media, so it’s worth educating yourself on the subject.Online courses about Facebook Marketing were very helpful and there are plenty of them, so everyone can find the one that suits them best. Education helps you avoid making common mistakes and wasting your money on unsuccessful promotions. It also helps you lower the cost and increase the ROI. I highly recommend educating yourself about PPC advertising.

Education helps you avoid making common mistakes and wasting your money on unsuccessful promotions.

Do ask influencers for help?

Not so much anymore, but in the beginning, they helped me a lot. Many of them are very warm and engaged people who do their job very professionally and with a lot of passion. Stylizacje, Olciiak, The Oleskaa, LittleMooonster96 and Banshee are a part of our history and in many ways, they believed in me. I’m sure that with such an attitude they will achieve a lot for themselves and others. All of their achievements they worked on themselves, I admire that.How does Shoplo help you in daily business management? I can only say great things about Shoplo. From the moment I first came across your ecommerce platform, I was amazed at the simple collaboration and possibilities to grow. In the beginning, I needed a lot of help and received plenty. The mail support was fantastic and anyone with the support you offer can accomplish even the most challenging tasks. The clear panel makes life so much easier and the order processing time much quicker. The add-ons to generate courier labels and invoices proved very handy. I also use an app to create my newsletter. When I want to cheer myself up, I use an app to see where my customers are from on a map. I see very few blank spots and that really makes me feel better. Being able to manage more than one language version on the panel is also very useful. I use both a Polish and an English version of my shop and they both work flawlessly for me. There are so many add-ons, I’m sure anyone one will find something for themselves. Shoplo is constantly growing and improving and that’s important to me. If something isn’t available, I know that you are working on it and it will be available shortly. I find Multichannelto be a very interesting idea, I know that synchronisation with Allegro and DaWanda will really make my life easier. Shoplo is with me every day and I await the day I have the time to manage my shop on my phone. A few of my friends also have Shoplo store that came from my recommendation. I like feeling that you care as much as I do, this is why I’m with Shoplo.

I like feeling that you care as much as I do, this is why I’m with Shoplo.

What do you think is the biggest success of your brand?I guess everyone defines success differently. For me, success is a collection of the positive, but minor things, the things that motivate you to get up in the morning and do something. The lead up to Christmas is so stressful but it shows how many people want my t-shirts and that they want them now!There is always someone who waits for their delivery, and when it finally arrives, they take a pic of the t-shirt and share it on the internet. They proudly show it to their friend, then wear it for as long as it can be worn. A few times I’ve seen someone wearing my t-shirt on the street. I feel so happy when my friends send me pictures; ‘Look! A backpack with your unicorn in Warsaw!’ I get a lot of pictures of happy people in their t-shirts. The other day a girl bought my t-shirt for her grandparents. I was very moved by that picture because I saw the happiness that the unusual gift from their granddaughter put on their faces. My fans and customers give me so much love. Sometimes when the power goes out, I connect to the backup supply and we keep going. I think it’s the passion and the family atmosphere we create that makes people like us. We are just a large clique of friends and that’s our ultimate success. Can you tell us anything about your plans for the future? Pokety is a project built with passion, which has been kept quite local. I want to build more brand awareness and make sure the products are of the highest quality. It’s no secret that I have a lot of ideas in my head, so maybe one day I will start a new project alongside of Pokety. Fingers crossed!

Thank you for the chat and a massive amount of motivation! We will keep our fingers crossed for Pokety to keep doing what it’s doing!

For Gosia, an online store at Shoplo is one of her 2 main sales channels. Are you thinking about starting your own online store? Try it out today with no payments and no commitments. Open your shop completely for free! Try an online store at Shoplo (start now).

Any questions to ask us or Gosia, the owner of Let us know in the comments! We'll get back to you ASAP!

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