Accessory designer Ann Marie Popko grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, the hometown of Dr. Seuss, whose work she often finds her own colorful creations being compared to. Ann Marie creates amazing cocktail hats and hair accessories that are perfect for adding a little fun and sass to a spring outfit. We recently chatted with her to find out more about her work.
How did you get started as a designer? Accessory design was a bit of an accident. I started out as a pastry chef. A bad haircut forced me to start wearing hats, and I met a Boston hat designer who inspired me to make my own. I made some hats for myself to wear and people noticed them and wanted to buy them off my head, so I made a few to sell, rented a space at the French Market [in New Orleans] and people bought them! I sold out there every weekend for about a year. It was a great way to meet and sell to people from all over the country, and as a result of being out there I met shopkeepers to carry my work in California and New York. My business grew from there.
Who are your favorite designers? Local New Orleans designers: Miranda Lake, louviere+vanessa, and Flavor Paper. Mainstream: John Galliano, Tony Duquette, and Alfons Mucha.
What are your top fashion & beauty must-haves? Good , fun bags and jewelry made by my sisters. [Monique of gurlygirl.etsy.com and Crystal at popko.etsy.com]
Do you have any advice for aspiring designers? Stay positive and open. Sometimes you might get rejected at first by a store, but the buyer knows what their customer wants ... you just need to find the stores where your product will find its best audience. Listen to what all buyers say ... they might give you clues about your product that will help you with your next sale -- for example, you might need to work on your quality, or you might need to fill out your line with items at different price-points, or maybe your work would be better suited to an art gallery instead of a boutique.
What are your plans for the future of your company? I want to do more commissioned pieces for bridal, special occasion and Mardi Gras. It is really fun when I get the opportunity to make custom, one-of-a-kind pieces. I love making wedding headpieces for clients; I consider it an honor to be a part of their special day and want them to feel absolutely beautiful.
Where can people find your work? In New Orleans, at Fifi Mahony's (934 Royal St. in the French Quarter.) Online, I have a shop, www.superduper.etsy.com; my work is also carried on www.b-native.com, which is a great marketplace for Big Easy artists. You can also find my sweet & spicy pecans online, www.cocktailparty.etsy.com.
We love all of the amazing independent designers out there and we wanted to find out more about what makes these creative types tick. If you do too, check out more of our Indie Designer Interviews.