How Does it Feel to Open a Retail Shop in South Korea

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

The majority of foreigners who own a valid business in South Korea are married to the local people. Samuel and I are an outlier couple. Due to the fact that Samuel and I are both foreigners who decide to live in Korea, our business journey is crazily challenging especially when we first started. You people just have no idea how crazy it was and how crazy we were.

The Before Feeling. We felt super excited by the fact that no one would be able to help us. Our parents are in their own countries. Living in a city means we live like most Korean do, to live inside an aquarium, in a square-shaped unit in a building. It means, we barely have contact with the neighbours. And most friends are gone to their own reality, either back to their country or move to another continent. Meanwhile, Samuel and I started our new life here in Daejeon city, South Korea. In short, we had no parents, no neighbours, no friends to help us start. It was just the TWO of us. We didn’t prepare much when we opened our first offline store. We were confident enough to talk to the nearby ‘budongsan’, the realtor agent, to find us a place within our budget. The rest was history.

The During Feeling. After having our first trial selling our craft products online, we were sure to want to have a separate place for only the business purpose. A special place where we store the raw ingredients and enjoy experimenting with the new formulas and display our creations on the front part of the shop. With a HOPE, people would simply come by and buy. And NO. They didn’t at all. Although we rented the shop with a clear thought that it was not only for the ‘shop’ purpose because we were doing an online shop. Yet, it is difficult to experience directly that the sales were never from a ‘hope’ marketing. That ‘failure feeling‘ to sell directly to the customers at the offline shop was affecting our online selling performance. Either it was a distraction to have both stores at the same time OR simply we were not knowing how to synchronize these two different selling-and-marketing responsibilities, just yet. We were overwhelmed.

The After Feeling. Not yet fully adjusted our feet as a business owner, we received quite some invitations to contribute to some charity events, donation, and alike stuff from a few foreigner communities. We felt that people started to see us as a ‘Rich Couple’ who live abroad and opening a business for fun. Our past days, we were busy replying emails regarded to the same-sounded inquiries, instead of focussing on how to run our new business to keep going for its survival. It was mixed with hectic feelings melted in a pot. A pot that we built under the signboard ‘Frida’s Little Soap‘. It was a past-past-past life when we started our business overseas as a foreigner couple. We closed the lid of that pot. Now, we are riding a new journey with FridaSkincare, a minimalist family skincare brand. This second retail shop we opened a year ago under a new signboard of ‘FridaSkincare‘ with the focus of the fact that it is a showroom to display our skincare products line. Also, we still need a place for storage and office room anyway. So, our current retail shop this time is on a slightly different philosophy than the previous one.

For some Korean friends who have been following our journey from the beginning, they came approaching and said “It must be very difficult for you two to start a company here, as a Korean, I couldn’t imagine doing a business in my own country, but you guys are very brave and I am amazed!” To get a Korean said that statement directly to our face, it reminds me of our humble beginning, How This All Started. It made me flash back to what we had been through in the last couple of years as a couple-preneur overseas. Not easy and Never be easy. But definitely we Never Regret this journey and we are looking forward to uncovering many future surprises that awaits in front of us.

Image Credits: Alexandre Godreau

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