How President Obama Inspired This L.A.-Born Live Shopping App That's Like a Cooler QVC

Leanna Lin's Wonderland, 3DRetro, and more are just a few local shops who've livestreamed.

Leanna Lin's Wonderland Popshop Live

Social distancing has certainly inspired stores and shopping centers to think outside of the brick-and-mortar box. From drive-through shopping to our favorite flea markets going digital, retailers and local vendors continue to bring us quarantine-friendly retail therapy options — and now, you can add L.A.-born platform Popshop Live to that list.

The shopping startup is essentially a mashup of QVC and Instagram. Currently in invite-only mode and available for iOS (an Android version is coming later this year), the app allows store owners to broadcast live and showcase their coolest wares, including clothing, jewelry, accessories, decor, collectibles, and more. That means that buyers can get to know the entertaining shopkeeps behind some of the best indie boutiques in L.A. and beyond while shopping in one virtual place.

Popshop Live has a regular schedule of livestream shopping with different boutiques. This week's lineup includes Little Tokyo's Popkiller (Aug. 18 at 6 p.m.), kawaii shop Japan LA (Aug. 19 at 2:05 p.m.), and L.A. artist Claudia Ramos (Aug. 21 at 5 p.m.); other regular participants have included Glendale's pop culture collectibles boutique 3DRetro and charming Eagle Rock gift shop Leanna Lin's Wonderland, to name a few.

Founded in 2018 by sustainability and tech entrepreneur Danielle Li, Popshop raised $3 million in early July, bringing in a total of $4.5 million in funding. The Popshop Live founder/CEO previously worked at the United Nations on sustainability projects, and her work inspired her to create an early version of the platform that was focused on buying and selling secondhand apparel.

We recently sat down with the Li to learn more about how Popshop Live was born (hint: President Barack Obama was sort of involved), some of the heartwarming comments that she's received from store owners, and a few of her favorite recent purchases. Read on below, then download the app here.

What was the "a-ha" moment that sparked the idea to create a QVC-style show for local boutiques?

I worked on a few different projects and spoke with hundreds of sellers before getting the idea for Popshop Live, but the spark for the company came after I attended SXSW in 2016 and saw President Barack Obama speak. During his speech, I noticed that everyone in the venue was holding up their phone to share the moment first-hand in live videos. After that, I was inspired to connect people in a completely new way. From there, I built an incredible team to create the Popshop Live platform, helping sellers engage with their audiences and generate amazing real-time revenue.

Can you share specific feedback that you've heard from local boutiques/store owners since Popshop Live began?

Many of our sellers also have brick-and-mortar locations and started their businesses because they love making personal connections with their customers, which can often get lost in traditional e-commerce. Our sellers love that they can still have face to face interactions and connect with hundreds of customers at once on Popshop Live. Many have also shared that Popshop Live has helped them continue to grow their businesses even though their physical stores closed due to COVID. For example, Japan LA has been able to make more sales in a single show than in-person and online sales combined on an average Saturday before the pandemic.  

What have been a few of your own favorite Popshop Live purchases?

Popshop Live has introduced me to a lot of interesting products I was never aware of before, like healing crystals and squishies. One really cool purchase I made was from a show with 3D Retro and their special guest artist, Gary Baseman. Gary decided to drop exclusive products on the show, which had never been done before, so I bought one of his Ahwroo toys for our team that we keep in our office. 

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