POP Projects: The amazing benefits of setting up a pop up shop.

Learn the secrets to a successful pop-up shop


Today we’re exploring the power of the pop up shop!

What was originally considered a trend or fad in the early 2000’s has now become a very handy tool in the retail industry for huge and small brands alike. Think about it: Pop up shops give small brands retail opportunities in high traffic urban areas that just a few years ago were out of reach for the average small brand. Commercial trends also show that pop ups will continue to play a role in the ever morphing relationship between e-commerce and brick and mortar retail, so there’s little reason not to test the power of a pop up shop for your brand.

Today we have the special pleasure of getting an inside look at the workings of a pop up shop from Pop Projects! Pop Projects is based in Puerto Rico and have multiple locations where they work on their mission to foster creative entrepreneurs/ start-ups of Puerto Rico. Their main location, Santurce POP, is a local design market located in the downtown Arts District of San Juan that has 7,000+ square feet known as a gastronomic and creative hub in the area.


But before we hear from Carla, first things first:

What is as pop up shop?

A pop up shop is a temporary retail space operated by an online merchant within another retail space. They can vary in size but are typically smaller than a traditional retail space yet larger than a craft show display with extra attention paid to branding and product presentation. Pop up shops can last from a few weeks to a few months but rarely longer than a year. The most common pop up shops operate within high traffic urban areas.


The essence of a pop up shop:

  • it’s temporary
  • it’s small
  • in high traffic urban spaces


Pop Projects based in San Juan, Puerto Rico supports local artists and designers to test their products in pop up shop retail spaces.

Benefits of pop up shops for makers and small brands:


For many small brands, a pop up shop provides a rare opportunity to test the product in a real time brick and mortar retail space. This kind of experience provides invaluable data to brands about where their weaknesses and strengths lie, and how to improve these areas accordingly.



A pop up shop allows a small brand to build brand awareness. Brand awareness is the extent to which consumers are familiar with the distinctive qualities or image of a particular brand of goods or services. In other words, you have the opportunity to introduce your brand to new people and leave a lasting impression! You can gain new fans and exposure that will translate into long term benefits for your brand like sales and new marketing opportunities. I’ve even known of makers who were able to land lucrative wholesale contracts thanks to their pop up shop.



Imagine having the opportunity to meet potential customers face to face and get direct, real time feedback on your comments and brand? Pop up shops are perfect for this! You’ll gain direct customer insight that you won’t find through your online relationships.  In fact, Consumer Think has a great article about pop-ups and customer insight you can read here.



Most brands don’t have the budget to pay $5000+ in rent in a high traffic area, but what if you could access these same retail areas for much less? Pop up shops give small brands with small budgets a rare opportunity to play in the same spaces as big brands.


But don’t take it from me! Recently I had the opportunity to speak with Carla López de Azúa Co-Founder & Director of Pop Projects. An Emmy nominated Associate Producer from her work in Sesame Street and HR Coordinator & Talent Recruiter at renown creative agency B-REEL, Carla is the head of operations at Santurce POP. Here’s what she had to say about her relationship with local brands:


What do you expect from a brand that applies for a retail space at one of your POP locations? Can you give us a general walk through of your requirements?

We look for unique, creative brands that are excited about the possibility of starting their own retail space. Most of the time we work with designers and micro-entrepreneurs, but we also work with artists and musicians to launch in an alternative space.  For the technical side: To set up shop at one of our POP Projects we need you to register your company with Hacienda. For the spirit: we love working with talent and their unique creations, we also love working with passionate people that want to start and grow and work collaboratively.


Once a brand is accepted, what advice would you give them to prepare for their first time displaying?

As far a display, we try not to micromanage, since this is an exercise in having your own location. At the end of the day it’s their unique vision that made them stand out in the first place. Buuuuut if you want my opinion…. I would say, clients are very visual, so a clean space where they can see your products is essential, if they do have a lot of merch then blow up some amazing images and display them in the space.


✨new #popup #sanpatriciopop @vibracollections #fashion #localbrands

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What are some of the benefits for a brand to participate at your retail spaces? What makes POP special?

Setting up shop at our POPs is economical with high traffic and visual presence on social media. When we start with a brand they might have 300 followers and by the end of their time with us they have at least three times the amount. We are a cost efficient way to start to work on your brand and get to know your market. What is working, what is not….We market the location we are at, if you are doing great in Santurce we urge you to open here, since this is where your client base looks for you. We have some participants that have opened their independent location and we still get their clients. It’s also a great exercise in learning your strengths. Maybe you are an amazing designer, but working with clients isn’t really your strength or maybe doing inventory isn’t your strength. Collaborations happen and we encourage them, we think that’s the biggest benefit. Meeting new talented people working on the same goal.


What do you wish more makers/artisans knew about your project?

We’re really excited to work with you and get to know what your dream is. We are flexible with space and locations as long as you have the desire to make your brand something great. We work with dreamers and people who don’t stand with the status quo, which can be challenging, but makes for an amazing stew of opportunity and creativity.

If you’re a maker in Puerto Rico it’s seriously time for you to consider a pop-up shop. Contact Carla at Pop Projects. Click here to visit their website, follow them on Instagram.

Thank you so much to Carla for taking time out of her day to talk to us!