Ivan Arnold is a good friend of ours often reporting in from a helicopter somewhere exotic. He’s also the CEO of a very successful design driven company tokidoki, often feverishly hunting talent in our Creative Database, so we knew he’d have a valuable perspective on the design world.
Us old timers remember tokidoki as the personal portfolio website of the Italian based Illustrator Simone Lengno. tokidoki would constantly bloom with new brightly colored characters ranging from simple shapes to highly intricate illustrations with refreshingly no immediately apparent objective other than to co-exist in an imaginary world.
Sensing it’s potential, in 2003 Ivan Arnold and his wife Pooneh Mohajer brought Simone out to Los Angeles to launch a brand based on his artwork.
Today, tokidoki has grown to be an incredibly successful global brand which both by itself and through countless collaborations produces apparel, bags, shoes, toys, jewelry skateboards, gadgets, and even a cosmetic line!
There’s a lot of artists out there with day jobs who’d love their personal work to pay the bills. You seem to have a knack at making that happen. Certainly there’s no easy answer, but what advice do you have for someone trying to start their own brand?
I know its cliche but NEVER stop trying! Pooneh and I LOVED Simone’s work and we had a real passion for it. From the first time we met him, we dedicated ourselves totally to seeing his creative vision come to life in a real commercial sense. HOWEVER, when we launched tokidoki waaay back in February of 2005, there were some really really low times for us because people just didn’t get it at first, so we kept at it until the market responded a year later and finally GOT IT. And I think that’s what really separates …