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Community Highlights: Meet Ricky Takizawa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ricky Takizawa.

Hi Ricky, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I came to Los Angeles in 1996 and in 1997, I started working at a Japanese rental video shop in Little Tokyo. A couple of years after I started, the owner went back to Japan and asked me to run his business. However, the VHS rental business was dying, and I had to do something else to stay afloat. On the side, I started selling vintage clothing and custom printed t-shirts with my friends. At that time, there was a huge vintage clothing movement in Japan that I wanted to tap into, but I didn’t know anything about the business — where to buy merchandise, how to market goods, and how to manage people. I learned everything by trial and error.

In 2003, I was finally able to open the first POPKILLER in West Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard while I was still managing the video rental store. The West Hollywood location was really successful, so I thought, “Why don’t I open a second store in Little Tokyo?” I took over the rental video store in 2006, and it became POPKILLER Second. The third and fourth stores were opened in Los Feliz and Costa Mesa. In 2013, Popkiller went through a rebrand and refocused its business operations on Little Tokyo, closing the stores on Sunset, Los Feliz, and Costa Mesa, then opening a second shop a few doors down from POPKILLER Second, called Pop Little Tokyo – Popkiller Flagship. Since then, we’ve honed in on our creative network and launched the Popkiller Artist Program, which is a big part of the brand today. Looking to the future, we hope to continue to expand our creative network and work with artists from around the world to incorporate Japanese various pop cultural content into original products and brand them with a Los Angeles twist.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
It’s been bumpy at times! As a creative person at my core, the business aspects of running a business were a challenge! The most difficult thing for me was that when I started Popkiller, I didn’t have the business background or expertise that I do now. As I expanded my business and the Popkiller brand, I had a very difficult time dealing with various problems caused by my own ignorance. Once I was able to establish my network to help me manage the business aspects of Popkiller, I was able to refocus my time on the creative aspects of the brand and am much more comfortable and knowledgeable with the business aspect of running Popkiller as well.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
As a brand, we print and produce original apparel and accessories in collaboration with independent working artists from all over the world. At the moment, our roster includes over 30 different artists. Artists and their designs are closely curated, and many of the artists we work with are producing products for the first time ever with us. We’re pleased to work with artists fairly and on equal ground to create products and get their art out there in a way that they are proud of. In our two brick-and-mortar retail locations in Little Tokyo, we’ve curated two fun worlds bursting with creative, kawaii and fun products; the aforementioned artist-designed apparel and accessories, hand-picked vintage, and unique items from Japan.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
I am thankful for my support network of friends and family, mentors, business partners, customers, and employees from whom I have learned so much over the years.

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