You may have seen Pop & Suki’s cool-girl Camera bag on Instagram influencers, bloggers, and celebrities like Lady Gaga and Emma Stone with their names in bold letters on the bottom of the bag.
Actress and model and entrepreneur Poppy Jamie started Pop & Suki in 2016, designing affordable direct-to-consumer handbags and accessories with personalized options like monogramming, charms, tassels, and a selection of different straps. Pop & Suki emphasizes sustainability, both in materials and production; the accessories are manufactured in Los Angeles. When you’re ready to customize your accessory, simply enter up to nine characters, select your font and text color.
Not only that, but Pop & Suki represents a born-on-Instagram brand that’s cashing in on the visually-driven social media platform to drive millions of dollars of revenue. They aim to create real fashion accessories and minimal, functional accessories that work for everyone.
Pop & Suki’s customizable leather accessories range from $150-300, which includes a cheeky Takeout bag, circle bags, makeup bags, and their best-selling camera bag. They also sell small accessories like card cases, notebook covers, and luggage tags.
In a recent Forbes article about Pop & Suki’s Instagram strategy, CEO Leo Seigal boasts about spending little on digital advertising, and “has never paid a cent to the dozens of influencers who eagerly promote their personalized bags… after two rounds of influencer gifting (the brand sent out 150 bags each time).” Great for business, not so great for bloggers who make their career out of creating content.
Their millennial pink and pastel Instagram strategy is rigorously planned. Like many brands, they treat their Instagram account as a virtual shop window: all content has to be extremely cohesive in order to show people what the brand is all about within seconds, like they’re walking by on the street.
And it seems to be working. After reporting revenues of $2.5 million in 2017 and projecting significant growth for 2018, they have reach profitability already (a difficult feat for any accessories brand). Pop & Suki will also take on a few major wholesale accounts, including Moda Operandi and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Besides the affordable prices and design, I appreciate that this company was made by two fierce young women who saw a need in the market for bags like this, and did the damn thing. They employ mostly women in their Los Angeles-based headquarters. It’s no surprise Poppy and Suki made the Forbes 30 under 30 for 2018.
The bags of Pop & Suki are minimal and modern, from their best-selling camera case to their new ultra-cool Takeout Bag, designed by new creative director, Alex Cronan.
I have my eye on their Camera Bag in Noir Croc, which is on pre-order for $235. I’ve been obsessing over croc-embossed leather for the last few weeks/months/years, but I can’t decide if I want the regular Camera bag or the Bigger Camera bag.
Like with all of my handbag purchases, I’m doing my research. On Instagram, about 3,000 images come up with the #popandsuki tag, mostly editorial-style blogger still life shots. There are only few reviews on YouTube talking about Pop and Suki. After seeing three videos with the regular Camera bag size, I definitely would be happier with the Bigger Camera bag in Noir Croc.
Aside from size, I’m curious about quality. $200+ puts these bags in a mid-range price point that I’d expect a certain caliber of leather: not luxe but not sticky, airline seat leather. Based on videos, the quality of their bags seems pretty nice, but it’s hard to tell without touching them IRL..
I’m reminded here that digital media is great for window shopping, but this is the issue with ecommerce. I don’t feel confident in purchasing a Pop and Suki bag just based off their website alone. How are customers supposed to feel confident spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars online, when they aren’t sure of the product yet? Do companies expect consumers to do their own research on other platforms? Should we, as consumers, expect the place we’re buying from to convince us, wholeheartedly, based on their product listings alone?
Of course, this is a large issue for luxury retailers and resellers, who have likely spent tons of money on advertising and website features (including but not limited to: studio photography, product research, styling, copywriting), to instill trust in their potential customers.
Pop and Suki has chosen the aesthetic-driven, photography appreciating platform Instagram as their bread and butter for marketing to their target audience: the millennial generation. This makes me wonder: will Pop and Suki live and die with Instagram? Or does Pop and Suki have a long life ahead of them?