During a lengthy visit to the Bay Area, San Francisco Splash Magazine journalist, Kristy Christensen and I were able to visit the San Francisco Gift Fair at Moscone Center. Wandering around we found the booths listed below interesting. However, it was the Poketti Booth that really caught our attention. Here Sydney Loew was selling her product. Sydney is fourteen and her story in her own words follows.
At 14-years old, this Young Entrepreneur asks “Why Not Now?”
By Sydney Loew
Last year, in my 7th grade entrepreneurial class, I learned the basics of launching a business. We worked in teams to form a company, design and manufacture a product, sell it, and ultimately “pitch” our company to a panel of real VC investors. The experience taught me that anything is possible, even starting my own business. When the class was over, I thought, “Why not now?”
My parents are both designers and they loved my design: simple and modern animal pillows with a useful pocket on the back to hold a phone, glasses, or a notebook. They also liked that my product solved a problem. I love stuffed animals (still!) and I thought adding the pocket on the back would make it both cute and functional. For example, I use my cell phone as my alarm to wake up in the morning, and when it goes off, I can never find it in my bed. My product would give people a special place to put their phone, or anything else they need to find quickly. After a little convincing, we decided as a family to turn my idea into a real company: Poketti™ Plushies with a Pocket.
I set right to work designing our first series of animals: a penguin, bunny, puppy, and kitty. I drew patterns for production, and we selected fabrics and colors for each animal. Over the summer, we launched our new business on Kickstarter to raise money for manufacturing. I made a stop-motion animation video starring Poketti prototypes and my little sister Toni’s adorable voice-overs. I was so excited when we reached our goal and raised over $20,000!
Just days before Christmas, our Poketti Plushies finally arrived— an entire shipping container’s worth. Seeing thousands of my very own stuffed toys, professionally manufactured, was one of the best days of my life so far.
We started shipping and finding retail partners to carry our products right away. Every day when I came home from school, I would help my mom pack boxes and print shipping labels. It has been so much fun working on this together.
We signed up to exhibit at the San Francisco International Gift Show at the Moscone Center to meet even more buyers. Since we are just starting out, we ordered the tiniest space possible, only 5x10 feet. We felt a little small in the massive room, but when we painted the walls of our booth bright Poketti blue, you couldn’t miss it!
I felt so proud, standing in our very first trade show booth, alongside my sister and my parents, happily greeting potential customers and introducing them to my products. Even if people didn’t have the right kind of store to carry our plush pillows, many still stopped to hear my story or just to tell me that they are “so cute!” After four long days, Poketti will now be sold in fifteen new stores across the country! It’s a small step, but I could not be happier. I already asked my mom to sign us up for the summer gift show!
We met lots of really great and supportive people at the SF Gift Show, and my experience proved that I really can be a successful, young entrepreneur. Of course, right now I’m busy juggling my new company and a full homework load, but I am having fun every step of the way.
For more information or to place orders:
Photos by Kris Loew unless otherwise indicated
Keena - Distributing a wide range of children's toys and craft items:
2499 Fulton St.
San Francisco, CA 94118
keenaco.com Keena Website
Including FunnyBone Toys
Bozeman & Associates All kinds of children's items
Lorraine T. Bozeman
9815 Gloucester Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
310-271-0320 FAX 310-275-0815
Go Living - Kids stuff, party stuff, cute small things for storage, to eat on etc.
Anette Grostad website
Ann Maurice - Scarves, pashminas, jewelry, jackets, good looking
P.O. Box 484
Occidental, CA 95465
707-874-3855 FAX 707-874-2493
Westland Giftware ceramics, pottery
30180 Ahern Avenue
Union City, CA 94587-1165