Today we’d like to introduce you to Whitney Pollett.
So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up a bit isolated in the sleepy town of Santa Rosa in Northern California and was happy to have art as an outlet. I had this insane energy and not a ton of supervision (lol) so having the tools to channel it was a godsend. I’m grateful to my mom and grandpa for always steering me towards creativity becaaaause, I don’t really know where I’d be without it! My grandpa was an inventor and artist too so everyone in the family would say “she gets it from him” which was a huge motivator since Gramps was the coolest.
As I got older, I enrolled in art programs and eventually moved to LA for Otis College of Art + Design graduating with a BFA in Digital Media focusing on concept art for games and animation, but surprisingly, I fell into doll design! I grew up in the 90’s so MTV and Sailor Moon fueled my imagination and I carried that with me, well, honestly to this day! But it was definitely present at my Otis Senior Show and that’s what caught the attention of Disney Consumer Products, which is where my character art and doll design career began.
After Disney, I moved to NYC to work with Nickelodeon and also, just for fun, interned with The Blonds NY since fashion always inspired me and their designs were jaw droppingly fantastic. All of this took place around Times Square so being a Californian, that fish out of water feeling was no joke. Looking back, it all feels like a dream. Let me just derail this convo for a sec and paint a visual if you’ve never been. Squeeeeeeze, literally press your body into a sliver of a crowded opening on the Brooklyn L train. Then plop out and hop onto another train to Times Square where you’re greeted by deafening noise, flyers for comedy clubs, CD’s from musicians and dusty furries offering headless hugs (because in the summer, Hello Kitty just can’t with the heat and that giant head). Then I’d enter the air-conditioned Viacom building where we’d make some Sponge Bob magic and at night, I’d head over to the Blonds studio to sew crystals and soak in the glamour of it all. I loved summers in NY. It’s surreal to imagine NYC completely vacant right now because of this pandemic. It really forces you to reflect.
Back to this “how I got started” story… from being the Creative Director of Girls’ Toys at Nickelodeon, I joined the Just Play team as the VP of New Content + Design where we created the very successful Hairdorables brand. Since then, I’ve gone off to start my own studio with my amazing business partner, Natalie Makous! Our company is called Peekalo (pronounced like PEEK 🙈 ALLO 👋)! We’re a kids’ toy and entertainment studio focusing on concepts highlighting curiosity, confidence and creativity for kids and adults alike.
️It’s been a whirlwind of a decade and that’s okay with me!
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Maybe the biggest struggle is enduring adversity and not letting it grind you down. Persevere. Always persevere.
Please tell us about Peekalo and what you’re most proud of?
Peekalo is located in Hollywood and has been around for a little over a year now. What makes us unique is that Natalie and I both care so much about the environment and the cognitive, social and emotional well-being of kids today. With all the stuff: content, toys, packaging and waste that’s being pumped out, we really take the time to thoughtfully create things that we feel are important, not just popular. What we’re most proud of? Well, we’re currently developing an animated series with a partner who we love, so that’s super exciting and hopefully we can share more about that soon!
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Ah, so many amazing people, and probably pets too, haha! My mom and grandpa were always such hard workers. They never stopped so I think that’s where I got my OCD work ethic. And my grandma of course! She and my cousin are my best friends. Shout out to Helene and Mila. Love you, girls. Mwah! My talking cat, Lumen keeps me company most days when I’m working from home which is every day now so a special thanks to him. Oh and follow him on Instagram if you like talking cats @specialboydelivery and of course, last but not least, my amazing husband Juan Carlos! He’s just the best! I feel like I’m giving an Oscar speech or being interviewed on Wheel of Fortune by Pat Sajak. I’d be equally pleased with either one of those scenarios.
Thanks so much for the interview, Voyage LA! This was so much fun!
- Instagram: @whitneypollett
- Peekalo Insta: Instagram.com/peekalo.studios
- Website: www.peekalo.com
- Email: whitneypollett@gmail.
Photo Credit: Juan Carlos Cuadra, Artwork Credit: Whitney Pollett