Office Supply Start-Up Poppin Brings Fun to the Workplace

With a design vision based on individuality, Poppin brings fun to the workplace.

If Poppin’s vice president of Design Jeff Miller has his way, office workers will one day look back in head-shaking disbelief at the era when file cabinets came in only three colors—putty, black, and gray. Why limit oneself to neutrals, when everything from staplers to conference tables is available in a coordinated range of stylish color options including pool blue, orange, aqua, pink, and lime green?

It’s an idea whose time has come. “The way people work, it’s not just about going to an office,” Miller says. “More people are working from home now, and the boundaries between work and life are more permeable. Work has become more personal, and with that comes the desire for objects that are more expressive, and not boring.”

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Poppin’s minimal, functional products come in 13 colors (with metallic colors to be added to the collection soon) 1. Red Habit lamp; 2. Assorted Thin Highlighters; 3. Orange medium Sophie pouch.

Courtesy Poppin

Poppin’s strategy is on trend, with fashion-forward colors and utilitarian basics reinterpreted for maximum visual impact. As many newly established brands do, the designers cut costs by manufacturing overseas, and focused on wholesale and online sales at first. J. Christopher Burch, Poppin’s founder, employed a similar strategy of color-intense, Chinese-made basics for his C. Wonder brand.

On the upbeat Poppin website, buzzwords like “worklife” and “workstyle” abound, and users are encouraged to post Poppin office makeovers on Instagram. But functionality is still the key for online sales, Miller says. “From the beginning, we had this option that you could shop by color. The site allows you to pull up every product available in your chosen color palette.” There’s also a Design-a-Desk feature that lets you preview office accessories in different color combinations, and the Pop Starter, a kit of six office basics that includes trays, scissors, ruler, and calculator.

4. Midtown phone case for Samsung Galaxy S4; 5. Aqua Starter Set; and 6. Silicone This and That Trays

Courtesy Poppin

“The products themselves are basic,” Miller says, and that’s intentional: “Everything is very sincere, very elemental, very distilled—and so the products can take color and pattern.”  Some styles can even be personalized: “The initialled notebooks have been popular, and we’re coming out with some initialled mugs.”

Now that the brand is off the ground, the next step is more of what works for Poppin: “We’re going to be developing a lot more colors, a lot more patterns,” Miller says. He’s meeting with manufacturers—including ones in China—to expand on the furniture collection, which will include desks, chairs, filing cabinets, and a conference table. Will the new furniture line have a shop- by-color option? Of course, Miller says. “The whole idea of the collection, from the beginning, was to have a product family that worked together.”

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