Young people these days are more interested in free startups than jobs. This is because many job seekers are suffering from unemployment. Currently, the government supports start-ups in many ways, and private programs and universities are creating a favorable environment for young people to start. However, there are many students who are interested in starting a business but do not know how to start or what to prepare. Those students should listen to Park Sung-ah's, a CEO story of starting a business.
1. I don't think hair accessories have become a mainstream business item in the business market. How did you decide to select them as a business item?
In the early 2000s, I thought that because the online market was not active and was slow in fashion, it would not be a business item at first. However, because SNS is so active these days, fashion that is popular in the U.S. or Europe is also popular in Korea. But in those days, fashions that were popular in the United States and Europe were popular in Korea the next season. Just then, a friend in New York told me that almost everyone in New York liked to wear hair accessories. In that season, hair bands were also worn a lot during fashion week of the famous brands, so I expected hair accessories to be a trend in Korea. In addition, as there are no hair accessory brands in Korea, I started to introduce hair accessory brands with the target of a niche market.
2. Was the process smooth or difficult when you first started? If so, how did you get over it?
There was not much difficulty. Fortunately, it was timed well. The timing was good. At that time, the hair accessory brand did not exist, so it was suitable for targeting niche markets and with help from friends who worked in fashion magazines or in the advertising industry, I ran my business smoothly. Also, many celebrities wear hair accessories so I have had star marketing effect.
3. What can university students do to prepare for a new business?
Under the present circumstances, I think what students can do to prepare for a new business is to get a variety of experiences. The most important thing is to find out the list of jobs that a student can experience with the help of the college Career Center during the vacation. It is important to broaden your horizons by looking at various fields, even if they are not in your own field.
4. What do you usually do?
As the head of the company, I’m in charge of design and overall company affairs. I’m also in charge of designing products and marketing and in charge of product planning and sales. Recently, I have been working with other companies to promote gift businesses.
5. Students often don't have enough capital to start a business, so how can we resolve this capital problem?
These days, it is a good idea to look carefully at such support programs that the government provides. They offer plenty of support for young people. Otherwise, students can receive investments from banks, and investors. There is also a way to receive a family fund.
6. Is there anything special about Frances B that is different from other brands? Please introduce some typical products.
Our brand has a delicate finish line and details compared to other products because artisans produce products by hand. We are also trying to differentiate our products from other products in design. Especially, we devote ourselves to selecting materials. We use a variety of leather materials such as crocodile skin, snake skin, and cow skin to give a luxurious atmosphere. In addition, we didn’t make product names short and simple, but make them fun with stories. For example, 'Did you get my letter?' or 'Going to the party'. We design using elements that people generally like, but we also design so we can reveal our concept of brand. For example, we consider Korean women's favorite ribbons or hearts as design elements, but we design them like Frances B instead of a common ribbon or heart.
7. I've heard a lot about the importance of marketing. How is your marketing going? Do you have your own know-how?
We tend to appeal to someone who can appreciate the product. It seems important to maximize one's strengths and appeal to others and let people know their values just like the current era of self-professionals. And I'm looking for fashion journalists, editors, or entertainers to promote my products. I think it's also important to try to have your own personality or differentiated skills and promote them confidently.
8. Finally, please advise students who dream of starting their own brands.
I was relatively lucky, so I didn't have much difficulty in starting my business. Everything was well-timed and with so much help from the people around me, I was able to carry on the business smoothly. However, most first-time businesses seem to be hard to do well. So, it is important to work on various things and get to know the business system gradually without having too much expectation when you start. I also think it would be very helpful to get a lot of advice from people who are involved in the work you want to do.
Starting a business may be a big gamble. It may seem like a long way from starting a business for students. However, as she said, if students are interested in various fields and broaden their knowledge, it will be an important foundation for starting a business. If you step closer to starting a business, you will finally be able to achieve your desired results.
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