Poketo for Target: Do you buy it?

poket tote bag

poketo weekend bag

small poketo pouches

In a slap-hand-to-forehead moment yesterday, I learned Poketo now has a line at Target.

And I’ll admit, me likey cool stuff at Target. Big box and all. Red bullseye right on my wallet.

Sometimes, I feel a twinge of guilt. I of all people know where to procure “the real thing.” I know that the goods are not made by my neighbors and that most of the store employees don’t make living wage. I know that the profit margin on these items belies there lack of quality and individuality.

But I buy anyhow.

I’m guilty.

In this case, I’m not going to feel guilty. In capitalism, we have two votes. We vote with our ballots for government representatives that make decisions on our behalf. And we vote with our dollars for the products and services we want to continue buying.

Well, I vote for Target to continue partnering with brands like Poketo, a brand that supports both established and emerging indie artists.

I vote to keep brands like Poketo in front of the eyes of mainstream consumers who haven’t been exposed to this kind of art before.

I vote to help Target bridge the gap between what is cool and what is accessible.

Just how many people will discover a whole new world of art and art goods because they Google “Poketo” when they come home with their super rad bag? No one knows. But I think it’s worth it.

Poketo takes art off of gallery walls and makes them a part of your everyday life … Ted, filmmaker and Angie, graphic designer were always curating shows for artist friends. The shows were a lot of fun and brought tons of people together. But there was one problem. No one could afford to buy the art displayed.

For this reason, Ted and Angie came up with an affordable solution to satisfy everyone’s art lust. They created limited-edition artist wallets that were accessible and well designed so that no one would be without a piece of art of their own. Wallets were the perfect items to make. Not only were they extremely functional, but they were carried around and exposed to the public everyday. Having a Poketo wallet was like having a traveling art show with you at all times, and it still is today.

{images via poketo.com – credit: ye rin mok}

26 thoughts on “Poketo for Target: Do you buy it?

  1. I agree with you!

    I love Target, big box store or not!

    I may be rationalizing, but I do not put them in the same category as Walmart (which I WILL NOT patronize). They give back to the community, and they treat their employees well. But, like I said, I might be rationalizing….

    1. Hey Holly!

      Ha! I think you’re rationalizing just a bit πŸ˜‰ But that’s cool. I dig Target most because someone in their organization somebody cares about design that turns heads. Somebody cares about giving designers & artists a voice outside their traditional boxes.

      I think that’s cool!

  2. Hmm, I don’t know. Luckily we don’t have a Target in Vancouver so I don’t really have to worry too much but I have shopped there when I go to the States. Ultimately I just want to avoid them all together, I feel like this is co-opting more than supporting (not that I am judging poketo for this decision, totally up to them and an amazing opportunity) and turning something that is really good into something that can fit into a narrow capitalist framework that really, benefits Target the most. Also with their recent anti-gay funding, I’m just pretty leary of supporting them anyway.

  3. It’s awesome that Poketo made it to Target. I also a Boy Girl Party owl journal made it to Target earlier this year too. This is a new movement.Walking around Target makes my eyes salivate! So glad they’re reaching out to indie companies to give their work wider exposure.

  4. I’m with you on this Tara, I love the idea of accessibility. I think this idea of bringing art and design to an everyday level really helps spread it to a wider audience.

    As someone with a degree in fine arts, I struggled in the beginning with feeling like the creative work I was doing was somehow not authentic because it wasn’t fine art or gallery/museum quality work. I finally accepted the fact that I enjoy designing and making work for the everyday because it is more accessible and enjoyed by more people than it would be if I were focusing solely on showing in museums and galleries.

    I like making everyday life more aesthetically pleasing and how it ends up passively teaching/influencing everyday folks.

  5. I was just thinking about this morning, looking at the collection! I’m not usually a Target fan, only venturing there maybe once a year (it’s also a pain to get there, so who knows, if it was more convenient?) The big draw of it is the cheapness, but a lot of the things I would purchase there, I don’t really need anyways or would rather pay for a higher quality version. The difference with their designer series, that makes me want to run straight to the train and head down to Target, is that we can see the individuals behind it. Another thing is seeing how excited Poketo and the artists that they work with are about this. This leads me to believe that not only is it an amazing chance for attention, but that they are happy with the relationship. I am excited for them and super-happy that they are spotlighted!

    Also, I really, really love Brandi Strickland and am coveting that laptop case! :)

  6. Here is my response to the subject of Target being anti-gay (from SG’s Facebook page):

    hey guys! i appreciate all your opinions.
    My question to you is how far have you investigated “Target funding anti-gay politics”? Target made a large donation to a state-based business advocacy group in Minnesota where they are located. Tha…t group has nothing to do with the anti-gay agenda. They don’t even have veiled “family values” language on their site – it’s straight up business.

    While I am not a supporter of the big business agenda, it is a legitimate political ideology. It is a shame that the business platform tolerates hate to further its agenda but they remain two separate issues.

    Target has apologized after realizing that their money is funding a candidate with anti-human political views. How far down the money trail will you hold them accountable? How far down the money trail do you hold yourself accountable?

  7. I love Target. I understand its faults, but I still love it. I too pat myself on the back for not shopping at Wal-Mart. I am not sure how much better Target is, but it feels better.

    I don’t usually think buying the absolute cheapest of something is the best way to go. Both Wal-Mart and Target advertise low prices and that fills a need that many people have. At least Target is willing to work with smaller designers and bring a fresh perspective to inexpensive goods and design.

  8. Fascinating.

    1. It worked. I never knew about Poketo until this article. Well, I recognized the crayon rings from somewhere…. I want to buy half their site.

    2. As with so many things, I think the best solution is a multi-pronged approach. It doesn’t have to be either/or. Of course small stores are charming, but there’s nothing wrong per se with a big box. If they are supporting indies and locals, and we can eventually transport things without ruining the planet, I’m all for it.

    3. Tara, I’m currently on a tight budget and you are ruining me with lust and I hold you personally responsible. πŸ˜‰

  9. I’m really torn about this but have to chime in. As an owner of a small retail store that carries Poketo, I can’t help but feel that it hurts us and starts to undervalue the products a little bit. Of course I expect designers to do what’s best for their business and get more exposure, but it’s already a challenge for us to attract customers to shop here instead of Target. We do a great job of offering unique and colorful products from independent designers that you can’t find at big box stores…but now that you can (and often at a lower price), I can’t help but wonder what that means for our future if it continues. I understand that a lot of people live in more rural areas where Target may be one of the few options, but having worked with so many other small businesses I truly believe that they have so much more to offer and are getting more and more scarce. We are passionate people running a unique and local business and are extremely active in supporting and sustaining our local community, which is so important these days.

    1. Wendy, I REALLY appreciate your perspective on this. I’m so used to buying direct from artists & makers that I truly didn’t even consider the position of an independent retailer – even though I have a friend in town who also sells Poketo items.

      That being said – do you think this might be an opportunity for you to “ride the wave?”

      Technically speaking, there are tons of Google searches for “Poketo for Target” right now. Write a blog post, PR release, or email blast and you’ll reap the benefits of this partnership.

      Organically, you are in a unique position to market YOUR Poketo wares as the NEXT STEP for those who loved the very, very limited Target line.

      Like I said, I totally respect your position on this – but I think there are opportunities too!

  10. Thanks Tara for the candid and honest discussion on this. For me I decided I would not be purchasing anything from this collection however much I covet these items. It brings to mind a larger issue for me – where do we draw the line with how we spend our money. I haven’t set up any hard and fast rules for myself but I have grave concerns about the working conditions in the countries where Targets products are produced as well as the environmental conditions. Is this all a gray issue or are there some areas of black and white? For those of us who can afford it should we be taking a stand? Is it a more complicated issue then even we’d like to admit? If it became unfashionable to purchase items made in unethical conditions what would the world look like right now? Can we be truly revolutionary if we compromise at every turn to satisfy our lust for product/$$/whatever, just b/c everyone else is doing it? Would our economy be better off if we refused goods made in poor conditions and all stuck by this? What’s stopping us from taking a firm stand and should we? As you can see I have concerns and opinions and many many questions, and most of all what I’m looking for is leadership I think.

    1. Hi Liz! Well, this is one of the big areas Scoutie Girl does take a leadership role in. You can click the “Mindful Spending” link above to find out my position on exactly what you’re talking about. We’ve had a lot of really great discussion here in the past.

      I don’t find my position too compromised regarding this Target collection and here’s why:

      No, these goods are not produced the way I would like for them to be produced. However – they do provide a huge opportunity for exposing people to art & goods that they’ve never imagined existed before. It’s easy to think that everyone knows about “indie craft” and “indie art” and ethically produced goods. But the truth is – they don’t. My husband’s entire family, for one, has no idea what it is I spend all my time working on/with.

      One this I find SO COOL about the line is that the sewn in tags on the items say “Target POKETO poketo.com” That means there are people going to be going to Poketo’s website, checking out the artists. Then they’re going to see those artists have work on Etsy & Big Cartel & Supermarket. And they’re going to see all the other cool stuff that’s there. I think that’s rad. And that’s a damn good way to change people’s minds about art & craft, too. And that’s a big win.

      So no – I don’t by these goods out of a misguided sense that these bags are somehow different. I buy them to give my VOTE for marketing indie art in a different way, one that’s going to reach a lot of people.

  11. Tara
    SO INTERESTING to find this post in my inbox JUST as I received a message from Angie (of Poketo) about organizing an opening party at OUR Target. As an independent retailer of Poketo, I received word of this launch about a week or so ago, and I met it with a big sigh–at first. I have had mixed feelings (I do any time this sort of thing crops up–it is an issue of pride really, like “hey! I found it first!”, but, when I expressed them very meekly to a Poketo contact of mine, he was so excited and enthusiastic, that it was hard to hold it against them. Having read this post, it is easier for me to support their success. I plan to embrace this opening event with the hope that I will also be able to promote the alternate source of Poketo in our town: my shop. The good news is that they do not plan to carry any of the same items in Target as those that are available to independent shops.

    1. Hey Alex!!
      I hope you saw my reply to Wendy 2 comments above yours! Truly, I didn’t think about this from your perspective until she brought it up – but then I immediately thought of you & Hello Bluebird and how I’m going to be such a Poketo collector now.

      When you first got it in the shop, I didn’t really know anything about them. And you have so many fantastic things that I didn’t take time to learn about that line specifically. But this launch was huge & eye opening and now you can bet I’ll be in to gobble up more of it. Sometimes it just takes a different perspective, right?

      I think this could be great for you! I bet the Reading Eagle would eat this up (well, any other paper would!) – local business offers the “next level” of Target’s new line. Fantastic!

      Sorry… I’m excited – LOL.

  12. Wow thanks for responding – it means a lot that you took the time to do so. I guess as an outsider to the indie movement I just find myself a bit confused. The movement lacks purity from my point of view and I wonder if that is crippling it or hurting its momentum. Maybe purity is too harsh a word and maybe that’s just impossible. But I guess I see not shopping at stores like Target something to possibly be proud of I also see it as a sacrifice. And I think most successful movements have an element of sacrifice, that starts with the leader of the movement. I just don’t see a strong stance in the indie community and it seems that people are buying indie b/c its ‘cool’ or they like it not out of a real sense of purpose, conviction or organization as a movement, And right now with everything that’s going on in the world it feels like its important and that there ought to be some solidarity.

    I hope what you say is right, but really I don’t know what kind of an introduction to the indie community that is or how much it really promotes indie values. I just feel like any kind of message just continues to get watered down.

  13. I would not buy Poketo at Target, and I don’t shop there in general. There are little boutiques here in my town, Bellingham, WA that need my support and they support the indie craft business completely without offsetting their overhead by selling light bulbs or things made in China. The fact is, above all else that Target may or may not do, money spent at Target is money that will leave your community. Target isn’t going to come down to your local farmers market and support business there. To have a healthy local economy you have to support local business and that doesn’t include Target. Quality vs quantity? I also believe that with things like Etsy now independent design is becoming more and more accessible.

    1. Hey Erin – I’m totally behind you 100%. And I agree that Etsy makes indie craft & art way more accessible. But the fact remains that even with sales north of $20 million per month, it’s but a tiny speck of the money that is spent on goods in America.

      What I’ve discovered in writing this blog and advocating for quality over quantity, mindful spending, and supporting indie business, is just how many smart, stylish, independent women don’t know about Etsy or the indie craft/art movement. It’s insane! I think that Poketo (whose goods are not handmade even if you buy them in a boutique) took this deal to bring this movement to a whole new audience.

      I hope you check out Alex’s comment above as a boutique owner who carries Poketo. There’s every chance people will come into her shop looking specifically for the *special* Poketo items and will be exposed a whole array of handmade goods.

      Finally, for what it’s worth, I was wrong when I stated in a comment above that the goods list Target on the label. Once the price tag is removed, it says “POKETO poketo.com” – so people wanting to investigate more have only one place to go – a portal to the indie art world.

      I’m not here to change your mind on this, just provide a place for discussion. But I think there’s a tendency to say “hell no! not at Target!” and forget the range of possible outcomes.

  14. Hi Tara,
    I just wanted to thank you for your response, and you do have a good point that this could be an opportunity for us as well. I actually really appreciate you even starting a dialogue about this, because it’s the only place that I’ve seen it being brought up for discussion and it’s been on my mind ever since I found out about it.

  15. I’m with you. Personally I like buying a mix of handmade goods, original art, AND mass produced items. Most of us just don’t have the money to outfit our houses in the top end of everything. We mix unique with familiar and I think that’s okay, darn it! :)

  16. Poketo is one of the few small companies that has contributed so much time and money to charities (McSweeney’s in particular). If anyone deserves a line at a major company, it’s them. They work really hard, keep their handmade spirit alive with everything they do. Target may have a smeared name with mass production, but Poketo brings an idea all of us handmake crafters dream of- selling to the masses who are not familiar with this community, and I think it’s a perfect marriage.
    I personally love the idea!

  17. The only thing I might buy at any big box store is underwear.I don’t like the corporate-ness.I don’t really care how cute something is I feel I need to take a stand and that means putting money where my mouth is.I don’t see how something that isn’t handmade can benefit the so called handmade/indie movement.At the point that it shows up in target and everyone and their sister has it then it isn’t really indie to me but mainstream and in myyears experience it is just a race to the bottom.

    As to the anti-gay thing.Call me cynical but if they apologized it was only because they were worried about their bottom line and this was going viral.This candidate’s views were well know.In my opinion–Target=Walmart.

  18. I might be chiming in a little late! I live in the Twin Cities, I’ve worked for them as a freelancer, worked for a company that sells to them, and know that most design firms here end up working with Target on something or other. So I thought I’d join in! Target is, by and large, a much better company than Walmart. Tara – thanks for sussing out the anti-gay issue and getting to the facts. They give tons of support to local arts and community programming, and in general behave like a nice, friendly, rather liberal company. I knew the political funding thing was out of whack!
    The thing that bugs me about Target is, because they are so very very good at spotting good trends (the ones we LOVE) and bringing them to a larger public, they can affect the trend curve pretty heavily. An item/brand/theme that’s just gaining momentum can hit Target and hit the point of over-saturation in a snap. That bothers me. I’m someone who loves to be ahead of the curve, so once I see things at Target, sometimes that’s the end of it for me!
    Also, they do a great job of giving a big boost to a smaller business but they also drop them quickly. So the added revenue, workforce, labor, and expenses of selling to Target in the end will no longer be needed. That gets hairy for the businesses that work with them. (I think the true design collaborations like Poketo are a little different process though)
    They hire great designers straight out of the local art colleges a lot. They’ve got a workforce that’s really good at keeping things fresh and working looooong hours to give us the sweet trends we love. I hear it’s a bit like high school to work there πŸ˜‰

  19. I’m chiming in late too, Mari. πŸ˜‰

    I have to say, I’m one of those people who hadn’t heard of Poketo until I read this post. So the fact that Target is carrying their products is, in fact, accomplishing the goal of introducing people to that brand.

    Regarding the recent political donation scandal… from what I understand, Target has always had a reputation for being very gay-friendly, particularly in terms of HR policies (extending benefits to employees’ partners, for example), so while I am not particularly happy about what they did, I’m inclined to believe that their intent was not malicious.

    Given a choice, whenever possible I opt for a local retailer, a thrift store, a seller on Etsy… those sources are great for getting unique gifts, home decor, accessories, etc. And I buy as much of my produce directly from local farmers as I can. But sometimes I just need a box of envelopes or some pens, and a big box store is the logical place to get it. If I’m going to patronize one of them, I pick Target (and avoid Walmart like the plague).

    Also, if I’m going to be perfectly honest, I do have a hard time resisting the siren song of the clearance shoe section in Target. I have a few pairs, I won’t lie. But now that I’m making a conscious effort to downsize my wardrobe, the days of buying 3 pairs of shoes for $20 are gone. πŸ˜‰

  20. I love Target too…it’s hard to resist. Normally I only shop there for a select few things, like the person above me wrote – pens, envelopes, etc. Yeah, there are plenty of local & independent shops around but I’m not sure what the alternatives are when I just need the basics, you know? But every time I’m there buying something I actually *need* I end up being totally drawn to the stuff I don’t need – I hate to admit it, but their clothes are really cute.

    I was kind of upset about the recent political thing, but I investigated a little bit and I really don’t think it was done as an anti-gay motion of any kind. The organization they donated money to was actually a bipartisan organization, who has apparently sent out flyers in support of both Democratic and Republican candidates.

    I don’t shop at Wal-Mart at all, but I feel a little bit hypocritical because I’m not sure how different Target actually is! Other than the fact that they seem to be geared more toward indie types, maybe younger people. The basic concept is still the same: a big-box store selling as much stuff as they can, as cheaply as possible, regardless of consequences.

    Anyway. Thanks for an interesting read.

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