Ani Acopian's Postdates Adventure
By Alixandra Rutnik on Dec 09, 2021
A scientific breakthrough in the art of giving your ex their sh#t back.
How many times have you had to retrieve an item from an ex or a one-night stand? Or give someone something they left behind? Like that time you were kicking a bag of your ex’s powertools through the Amtrak station in NYC (or maybe that was just me?). These scenarios are totally incovenient, annoying, heavy, and probably awkward. In other words, we would rather not.
Postdates was a delivery service for sending and receiving unwanted and wanted items created by LA-based director, conceptual artist and Young Guns 18 winner Ani Acopian. Maybe you forgot your watch? Or someone left their shoe? We’ve all been there, and for a short time we had a solution — at least until the real Postmates caught wind.
We caught up with Ani and her two Postdates partners in crime, Suzy Shinn and Brian Wagner, to hear them tell us the tale.
Postdates solves a problem that is too real. Why'd you guys take this idea and run with it?
Ani: I was heading across town to drop things off at an ex's place when I wondered how many other people did the same thing after breakups. I tweeted about it and my friend Sam McAllister replied with “Postdates” — that name immediately stuck with me and for the next few years the concept was in the back of my mind as something I wanted to bring to life. In early 2021, my creative partner Suzy Shinn and I set out to actually build it. We met Brian Wagner through a referral; he became the lead developer on the project and our third partner. We also worked closely with designer Bailey James to bring the concept to life. In total, it took about five months to lock in delivery partners and build the product; we launched in late June.
Suzy: Speaking to the reasoning behind Postdates: we’re a non-confrontational generation. People will actively go out of their way to not communicate directly with someone – so with that, how far is someone willing to go to avoid their ex? What price is someone willing to pay to get their favorite hoodie that they so intimately let someone once borrow, you know?
“Speaking to the reasoning behind Postdates: we’re a non-confrontational generation. People will actively go out of their way to not communicate directly with someone – so with that, how far is someone willing to go to avoid their ex?”
We thought we’d sell a decent amount of merch. Like, we really put a lot of thought into the design and what we were offering (way too much thought). We literally didn’t have one order. We built this whole world – thought of everything from delivery services to bags to how the bags are sealed to merch and even to NFTs. But it was such a foreign concept to the public that it was a lot to comprehend. And the fast action by Postmates with the Cease & Desist made short work of our Shopify store.
The heart sticker on the delivery bag says, “Tear me apart.” What other elements went into creating Postdates?
Ani: We wanted the experience to work on both coasts, so we partnered with two local courier companies, one in New York (Airpals) and one in Los Angeles (Gourmet Runner).
Brian: This definitely made the technical aspects more interesting. We had to build a website and server that could manage deliveries in real time in different cities, while also making sure that someone in LA couldn’t request their hoodie back from their NYC ex - we were excited by the challenge but couldn’t exactly start shipping things cross-country on day one.
“We had to build a website and server that could manage deliveries in real time in different cities, while also making sure that someone in LA couldn’t request their hoodie back from their NYC ex.”
Ani: We stamped thousands of brown bags with custom Postdates stamps and sealed them with branded heart stickers. We also shot a campaign launch video with our friends, designed custom merch (now discontinued) with creative goos1e, and made NFTs (that we never launched) in collaboration with artists Carlos Estrada and Joel Williams.
How long were you guys up and running before the cease and desist arrived from Postmates? Any hope for the future?
Ani: We were up and running for about two weeks. I think the top category was Hooked Up. I don’t think we will be up and running again considering the cease and desist we got.
Amazon Dating, Scrubhub, Postdates – what stunt is next? How do you and Suzy come up with these elaborate plans?
Ani: Personally, I keep a running list of ideas that I want to make and I’ll come back to it periodically to see if the ideas are still interesting to me. If they’re not, I remove them from the list, and if they are, they stay and simmer until I see an opportunity to bring it to life. They’re definitely not all parodies of businesses! Suzy is exceptional at getting to the route of an idea and crafting it into its strongest form.
“I keep a running list of ideas that I want to make and I’ll come back to it periodically to see if the ideas are still interesting to me. If they’re not, I remove them from the list, and if they are, they stay and simmer until I see an opportunity to bring it to life.”
Suzy: Ani keeps a giant list of ideas she has or wants to make and sometimes when she shares them we’ll riff on them or expand or be like… “wait, what if…” and then I’ll message Ani at like 3am with random ideas or a dumb phrase. We try to make each other laugh. And with that, usually one of the ideas starts forming a real path for itself. We are both very type A so once we get the idea in our head that it could be a reality then we don’t really let it out of our heads until we finish it, HA. Anyway, we do have a list… and we do have a lawyer.
Any funny Postdates in-the-making or behind-the-scenes stories to share?
Brian: One of our favorite parts was working with the delivery services for testing - we had to literally Postdate things to and from each other’s apartments to ensure that the system worked. The couriers we partnered with usually deliver food and packaged goods, so there was definitely an element of surprise when we asked them to start putting t-shirts into paper bags and sealing them with heart stickers, but they told us they really enjoyed how funny and different it was.
Suzy: When I hear this question I think of agreeing to stamp the Postdates logo on each side of 2,500 bags, then 24 hours later looking down at my entire living room and kitchen floors covered in brown paper Postdates bags – and that I had not even stamped half of them. I think I started to cry then asked Ani for help.
Postmates or Seamless? Go-to-order?
Ani: Caviar. Probably a Sweetgreen crispy rice bowl with chicken and extra green goddess ranch dressing.
Suzy: CAVIAR WITH THAT CHASE SAPPHIRE RESERVE BABY FREE DELIVERY ALL DAY
Ani, you are class of Young Guns 18. How has this community benefited you in the last year?
Ani: It’s definitely been a remarkable stamp of approval and has put me in contact with industry leaders. It’s also just such an incredibly talented bunch of people and I’m honored everyday to be a part of this community.
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