Those who challenge themselves to think outside the store, stand out from the norm and create hyper-creative spaces for people to experience brands are often referred to as mobsters.
Meet Ana Pelucarte and Mari Lopez, the Venezuelan founders of Pop Up Mob, a full service pop up agency and incubator that launched in September 2014 in New York City (Yeah, it’s only been over a year, and they’re killing it).
Millennials value the experience and story of a brand and will often pay more for it. Understanding that trend and noticing a need in the New York market, Ana and Mari founded Pop Up Mob. Today they provide creative consulting and short-term space rentals, and help brands provide an interactive experience to their customers in a unique way.
The concept behind Pop Up Mob first came to Ana when she was completing her master’s degree in Milan during 2012. Back then, she lived over an Italian bar that sold different products each day ranging from scarves to bags to shoes. Then suddenly a sign appeared saying, “Temporary space available.” That day was Ana’s “aha-moment” when she realized the multiple (and cute) possibilities one small space could have.
“You have to treat business like a piece of play-doh and let it shape the way it should”
The original concept of the mob revolved around the idea of selling underground names and bringing unknown European brands to America by temporarily leasing a space. Now, the mob also helps bring national brands like Howard Hughes and Univision to life by creating kick-ass cool experiences.
Blast from the past
Ana and Mari met in an advertising class at Boston University. As partners on a class project for Oreo, they first realized their potential to work well together. Years later, after Ana moved to New York from Milan, she bumped into Mari again at a party. Even though she was still working in furniture design, Ana called Mari up the next day asking to be her mobster-in-crime. Mari was working at a consulting company at the time, and she had been looking to start a venture of her own. Perfect timing! Even so, launching Pop Up Mob meant both mobsters needed to work two jobs for a while—from six months for Ana, to almost a year for Mari. Mobster morale: sometimes you can't work normal hours if you want to do something outside the norm.
“You should choose someone who will add something to you rather than be another version of yourself”
Ana has a background in engineering design, while Mari studied business. Ana could be described as loud, energetic and impulsive—while Mari is rational, composed and likes to think everything through thoroughly. Their business partner advice: Don't look for someone exactly like you, but find a person who has the skill set that you don't. This is when the creative juices start flowing...and new, interesting combinations happen. Our two cents: When you're looking for a business partner, find an open, honest person who understands you. Communication is key, as all partners have their ups and downs. A business partnership is a marriage of sorts, but on the other hand, it’s still a business. Be careful to take everything with a grain of salt, and a lot less personally than you would, say, a friend ghosting on you for brunch.
How they got to where they are? Friends and family. Main source of inspiration? Their parents.
In their line of business, inspiration comes from everywhere. Pinterest, Instagram, social events, traveling—heck, even dating. Having a gregarious partner like Ana helps Mari come up with new ideas and sometimes set business deals in motion—like the time Ana’s drinks meet-up turned into one of their first clients. Note to self: Say yes to drinks next time. And definitely stay for a second one, even if you’re bored.
Social ties aren’t just important in generating ideas, but also with seeing them through. The support of family and friends has been crucial to the success of Pop Up Mob. Most of their marketing successes and clients have come from word of mouth and referrals. Interestingly enough, many clients wanted to collaborate with other designers and create a community to promote other brands. (Hey! New York isn't as cutthroat as you would have thought.)
Back to childhood and finding your passion
When we asked Mari and Ana to close their eyes and think back to childhood activities they loved, the answers were amazing.
Ana remembers loving to hang out on a trampoline in her backyard, always bringing in random things from her room into this space, trying to be creative with her findings. Mari would take huge pieces of crepe paper and design dresses with her little cousins, thriving off being able to style them herself. Translate these memories into their current passion for Pop Up Mob, and you will find a near-perfect correlation of their young love for fashion and the ability to manipulate spaces into fresh experiences.
Photo credits: https://www.behance.net/gallery/29824489/Seaport-Studios