Pop and Suki show us how besties get down to business
TV presenter Poppy Jamie and actress Suki Waterhouse are a force to be reckoned with. The multi-talented duo founded millennial accessories brand Pop and Suki just over a year ago, but sales are already in the millions so it’s no surprise they made the Forbes 30 under 30 for 2018.
They have built a cult Instagram following of girls who can’t get enough of their minimal pastel aesthetic and customized products, and have collaborated with brands including Kodak on a short film “Girls on Film,” Away luggage and Ouai haircare.
This year will see collabs with Juicy Couture and a major global cosmetics brand, and with a new Vogue-bred creative director joining their ranks, they are releasing their first “grown up” collection this summer.
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How did Pop & Suki come about?
Poppy: Suki and I were living together and we are both workaholics and love being creative and I suppose it was our love letter to each other, being able to do this company and create products that we could take everywhere with us.
Suki: Also in this whole wave of girls doing it for themselves we felt a lot of encouragement from our environment and so it was very timely, super serendipitous.
What’s it like working with your best friend?
Suki: It’s amazing because every single day you can gossip and catch up and do what you would usually do with your friend. There’s no better feeling than sharing the excitement of the startup journey with your best friend.
Poppy: Being entrepreneurs and setting up a business was new to us so it has been incredible being on this journey together, to learn new things together every day. Both of us came from the entertainment world. I was TV presenting and Suki modelling and acting – so entering the business world was daunting but facing the challenge with Suki made it infinitely less terrifying.
Suki: We are both so disorganized, we leave a trail wherever we go and we are both constantly losing stuff so bags of any variety are essential in trying to keep ourselves somewhat together. We love our bags to be simple and minimal and we felt there wasn’t a bag in the marketplace that was our price point that was also our style, that could be versatile and work both day and night with a variety of outfits. So I guess we wanted to create something we couldn’t find already.
Who is the Pop & Suki girl?
Poppy: Any girl who loves an adventure. We both say yes to everything which can obviously land us in trouble a lot of times, we’ve been in a LOT of sticky situations because we say yes too much. But really the Pop & Suki girl is one who loves fun, loves her friends and works hard.
How is social media integral to your story?
Suki: Instagram has been massive for us in terms of being able to build a brand identity online. Our Instagram strategy was rigorously planned out. We wanted to treat our Instagram account as our shop window, meaning all our content has to be extremely cohesive in order to show people what P&S is all about within seconds of them visiting our page.
Poppy: Our Instagram is very pink and pastel, but with a very minimal and utilitarian almost industrial vibe to it. It’s sort of reflects us as cofounders… we are girly girls but still powerful and strong.
There are so many brands that have a high profile face fronting them. How involved are you in the running of Pop & Suki?
Suki: Really, really involved. Often we are working off our laptops on the go (on set or traveling). Thank God for technology because we can make a decision on a product or strategy or partnership within five minutes at an airport with wet hair. I understand why it’s easier for some actors or musicians or models to just be the face of a brand when they are flying all over the world 24/7 and don’t necessarily have the time or experience to be making business decisions, but for Pops and I we love to be extremely busy while we’re on the go, we wanted something that was really our own and a piece of us, and we also realized we could contribute a lot more to our business if we got properly stuck in then just being a face.
How did you meet?
Poppy: We met at Teddy’s in Hollywood. I saw this girl across the dance floor — she was the best dancer in there — and I thought, I have to be friends with you. She was so fun and great at body pops and was wearing an amazing pastel pink Emilia Wickstead dress and within 24 hours we were soulmates and we haven’t been separated since. That was 5 years ago but I feel like we’ve known each other forever.
Suki: It’s kind of nice to have met after all those weird years, you know when you’re a teenager and working out who you are – I like that we met each other when we knew who we were inside.
Have you encountered sexism as women in the business world?
Poppy: We have a majority female team at Pop & Suki, so internally there are no problems with sexism as women are the dominant force but definitely more so in everyday life. Now that Pop & Suki is growing and we are working with lots of new people, I am struck that we sometimes get taken less seriously than men in the same situation.
Suki: Sexism is often hidden, you don’t realize it’s happening until maybe a guy says the exact same thing you did and they are listened to and people act much quicker on what they’ve said even though you said the same thing the day before.
What do we do to combat that in this day and age?
Poppy: I’m not sure there’s a definitive answer but I know that the tides are turning. Keep persevering, persist and don’t take no for an answer. I know it’s cliched but one thing I’m really learning is to care less about what people think of me. I’m so preoccupied with not wanting to be a diva or be difficult that often I’ll shy away from saying what I think because I want to be “easy” to work with, but when something’s not right, it’s not right and men often have less of a problem being forthright with those issues.
Suki: It’s a confidence thing too. We are still building confidence in the workplace. We are founders of a startup – we didn’t have tons of experience and you are forever trying to assert yourself as a woman. It can be tough but we are really grateful to be in a position where we can navigate this landscape side by side.
On Suki — Top, Skirts: MSGM | Bracelet, Earring (Right): House of Emmanuele | Ring, Earring (Left): Runa Jewelry | Glasses: Karen Walker | Bag: Pop & Suki | Shoes: Sophia Webster | On Poppy — Top, Skirt: MSGM | Bra: For Love & Lemons | Earrings, Ring: Stefere Jewelry | Glasses: Karen Walker | Bag: Pop & Suki | Shoes: Sophia Webster
On Suki — Top: Dyspnea | Pants: Gabriel Vielma | Glasses: Material Memorie | Bag: Pop & Suki | On Poppy — Dress, Bra: Dyspnea | Earrings: Stefere Jewelry
Photography: Chuck Grant
Styling: Alexandra Mandelkorn
Hair: Ryan Taniguchi
Makeup: Amy Strozzi