The Pocket: Interview with Jo Akehurst
Today, many customers want more information about the brands they consider supporting. With this issue in mind, Jo Akehurst created The Pocket, a marketplace for customers so they can easily buy from minority-owned, women-owned, and sustainable brands.
To learn more about The Pocket and its role in helping conscientious customers, we asked Jo a few questions. Here’s what she had to say:
Jo, tell us a bit more about your background and your projects so far.
I am originally Australian! Moved to NYC from Sydney in 2019 pre-COVID.
It was a huge move and a lot of culture shock but I love the US and NYC now has a special place in my heart. I moved here with an opportunity with work, at J.P. Morgan. Moving to the US definitely shaped my vision and values that flowed into The Pocket. Seeing the way minorities are treated in this country was eye opening and made me realize there was a gap or opportunity to tap into to create change.
The Pocket is my first start up that I’ve founded! My professional background is in finance and I have a business degree. I have loved my career in finance and having The Pocket is a great way to feel like you are making a direct impact on both the planet and people.
What is the story behind The Pocket and its mission?
The Pocket is pioneering the way to a more inclusive shopping experience by connecting sustainable, women-owned and minority-owned labels with those looking to consume consciously.
Focusing on bringing awareness and accessibility to woman owned, black-owned, minority-owned, indigenous-owned, and sustainable brands, The Pocket serves as an easy place to shop whilst sharing the unique stories behind the brands allowing consumers and designers to connect on a deeper level.
At the center of The Pocket, we are working to promote and encourage equality, opportunity, and change through how people shop and how money flows from consumers to create economic stability in communities and groups that are often overlooked or hard to find.
The name comes from a number of places. ‘The Pocket’ is actually an area in Australia near Byron Bay where my parents own a few acres and is a very special place! It’s also where I am getting married. It ties in so well to create an idea of bringing people together and a physical place where you can shop & discover brands.
What’s the best thing about working at The Pocket?
It’s so exciting! It’s so great knowing that we are trying to help consumers connect with brands like Irvetta. It’s a win-win for both the businesses we work with and the customers that use our marketplace. The pace of setting up your own business is also exhilarating! Definitely has been a learning experience and new skills I’ve picked up along the way.
How do you see The Pocket evolving?
My vision is for The Pocket to become THE place conscious consumers come to shop.
I want the marketplace to grow in size and see sales grow exponentially.
In time, I think it would be interesting to develop a business that helps fashion brands work towards becoming more sustainable or including minority-owned, women-owned businesses in their supply chains. For example, if there is a sustainable packaging company that helps that brand move towards greater sustainability or a factory for production that is minority owned and operated.
Why is sustainability important to you? What does the future of sustainable fashion look like?
Sustainability is a requirement! We only have one planet so making small changes to your lifestyle can make a difference and encourage others to do the same. If you want to support the environment and people, re-distributing money in that direction is the easiest way to create change. It creates growth and re-investment. With fashion, try to feel good about what you buy and wear by knowing where it comes from. I would love to see this type of mentality and pressure move towards fast fashion houses so they change some of their wasteful and polluting practices.
Has the pandemic impacted The Pocket? If so, how?
Not directly, because we are a marketplace it is more the secondary impact we feel. For example, brands who have had real disruptions to their supply chains or teams, then have less stock or are behind and not ready to partner with us. Luckily, we are mostly digital which has been easier for us to navigate. The 2020 COVID situation we missed entirely as we were still in planning mode!
Who are some inspiration women you admire?
Corny but my mum! She started her own business in her 20s which she still runs over 30+ years later. Watching her have the success as a professional and the flexibility to be an amazing mum is a huge benefit of having your own business.
She instilled a lot of the values I have around equality and doing things for others. She dedicated a lot of her time to various not for profit (NFP) organisations. Mum is definitely who I want to be when I grow up.
Lastly, what advice would you give to any up-and-coming social or environmental entrepreneurs out there?
The hardest part is starting!! Honestly, leave all ego and pride at the door.
The amount of learning you gain from starting your own venture is just enormous and so valuable regardless of if that idea works or not. You will take those experiences and lessons into developing the success of your start up or pivot into something completely different. You don’t want to be the person that thought ‘what if’ I had done that or ‘that was my idea’, but 10 years earlier. The worst that can happen is it doesn’t work and your ego gets a small bruise.
Shop consciously with Irvetta here now: Odyssey Collection