A few weekends ago, I was browsing through treasures at the Randolph Street Market when I discovered Pocket Poppet. Actually, my friend’s mom discovered it and promptly dragged me over to the stand, knowing the fold up cardigan would be perfect for traveling. I instantly fell in love with the Pocket Poppet and its myriad of travel benefits, and last week I sat down with co-founder Helen Tyler to talk her inspiration for creating it, future plans, and of course, travel.
“It happened by accident really,” Helen says, “but then thinking about it kept me awake at night.”
The English transplant was visiting Wisconsin, where she ran into co-founder Karen Hill-Krolow at a coffee shop. Karen had just come from a restaurant and mentioned how chilly it had been inside, and Helen confessed she always carried a sweater just in case.
“I pulled it out of my purse and it had my keys dangling from it and was tangled with my other belongings, and we joked that someone should invent something portable for women who are always cold,” Helen says.
And that’s what they did, putting together a prototype with a shower curtain and safety pins, and hiring a patent attorney soon after. Officially founded in September 2012, Pocket Poppet is based in Chicago, where patterns and production are managed by V. Mora, and fabrics are purchased from Chicago wholesale fabric. Manufacturing is done in both Chicago and Los Angeles.
“Everything is made in the United States,” Helen says.
So what exactly is a Pocket Poppet? It’s a cardigan that folds up into its own waterproof, tear-resistant pouch, keeping it clean and safe inside your bag.(By the way, the word ‘poppet’ is British term of endearment, and as you pop the cardigan into the pocket, it couldn’t be a more perfect name). You can also use the pocket to hold keys, lip gloss, or other belongings once the sweater is folded.
What caught my attention though, is how useful the pocket can be when you’re actually wearing the Poppet. You can slip your cell phone and credit cards inside if you don’t want to carry a purse, and know they’re nestled safely against your body. At first you think it’s dangerous because they’re facing your back, but in order for someone to steal something they would have to reach under the long sweater from behind, and then over the flap of the pocket. It’s virtually impossible–trust me, I tried just to be sure!
I also love that the fabric doesn’t wrinkle, so you can open it up and wear it on the spur of the moment without worrying about how it looks. It’s great for fending off chills on planes or in museums, and perfect if you’re traveling somewhere warm but will be visiting a temple, mosque, or church where you need to be more covered.
The Pocket Poppet can be dressed up or down, and goes with almost everything. There are a few different cardigan styles, and also a reversible tank top, which is great for packing two outfits in one and maximizing luggage space. I also love the Have a Heart Scarf. It’s made from left over fabric and $5 from each sale is donated to organizations benefiting children.
What I’m most excited for though is the soon to be released packable wrap dress. Everyone looks good in a wrap dress, and this one has versatile fabric that can be dressed up or down.
You can buy your own Pocket Poppet cardigan at the Randolph Street Market (Helen and Karen are there most weeks) or online here. If shopping online, use the code Carry20 for $20 off your order through September 30. Shipping is always free if you’re in the US. The classic style is also available on Amazon.
I’m so glad I was at the market that day, as the Pocket Poppet is now a travel staple for me (along with this and this). Are you always cold? What are your travel essentials? Let me know in the comments!
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