Our Pocket Poppet Story
In July 2012, Helen was visiting a friend in Williams Bay, WI who owned an adorable coffee and vintage shop called Tickled Pink. There , she ran into a mutual friend, Karen Hill-Krolow. Karen was relaying a story about dining out at a very nice restaurant that week and how she couldn’t relax and enjoy dinner as it was so cold from the air-conditioning blasting. Helen shared that she carried a crumpled up cardigan in her purse, that she pulled out when she would run into the grocery store or the movie theatre. Says Helen “It wasn’t pretty but it was better than being cold.” That was the ‘”aha” moment! Helen said to Karen, someone should invent a cardigan that you can keep in your purse and it doesn’t get dirty.
After I left, I kept thinking about the idea and the next weekend went back up to Wisconsin and visited my favorite Goodwill store in Delavan, WI. I gathered together three different cardigans, a shower curtain, and safety pins and brought them back to Chicago. When I got home, I laid everything out on my kitchen floor and got to work. I cut the shower curtain, which was made from a soft water-repellent fabric and assembled different sized “pockets,” . I attached them to the cardigans, until I found a few different ways to make it fold into itself. This became the prototype for what is now the Pocket Poppet. I took it to work with me and showed it to colleagues, who thought it had the potential to be a great idea. “I knew I was going to make it happen” said Helen.
I went back up to the lake again the next weekend, armed with the prototype and had coffee again at Tickled Pink. Serendipity strikes again! Karen stopped in for coffee. I told her that I had not stopped thinking about the “pocket sweater” idea and had made a prototype. We met again the next morning and bared our hearts and souls to each other.
After a few hours of conversation, we shook hands and both agreed that we wanted to start this business and create something for ourselves, something that was ours, that we could build, something that we could be proud of, be passionate about, and that would fulfill us. That day , H & K The Poppet Company was born.
After many hours of research , we realized that we would need to make our packable cardigans in several different colors and sizes, in order to meet many requests that we had from the friends and family, that we had shared our idea with. We took our two initial designs to a local Chicago pattern maker , Julie Luther, who works for a consulting company called V.Mora, based in Humboldt Park, Chicago, to get the details worked out and patterns graded. From there we researched a large amount of textiles, in an effort to find the perfect fabrics that would offer the quality, comfort , colors and functionality we needed to make the Poppet work.
As we moved forward, we realized that we would need help in terms of manufacturing, to meet the quantities that we knew we were going to need, based on interest from friends, families and local retailers in Lake Geneva, WI area. We visited several Chicago manufacturers and decided on the one that we felt not only understood our garments, but also offered great working conditions, availability to stop in to communicate at any time, attention to detail and best of all great quality.
It took hundreds of hours of work and research to create our product, build a brand and website, manage and build social media. A lot of thought went into choosing models , organizing a photo shoot and video that would show the function and innovation of our garments.
After learning everything from the ground up about our business, we launched 9 months to the date from the inception of the idea. We had an amazing turnout with great sales and wonderful local support.
We are absolutely passionate about creating more innovative American Made packable garments , and love the camaraderie of all the local makers that we connect with, to keep expanding and moving forward with our small but mighty Poppet business.
We want to help women to be conveniently and stylishly prepared for changes in temperature, offering them our ‘Style On The Go’ collection of packable clothing.
“It’s a fashion first-aid kit for frosty airplanes, icy cubicles or frozen-food aisles.” - Chicago Tribune