In a long rectangular pop-up store, sellers with various items were gathered including clothes, postcards, and smartphone cases. Photo by Choi Kyu-min.
|Interested in the unique and passionate works of students, people line up in front of the store, waiting for their turn to enter. Malow’s products are hung in the left window, encouraging people to never let go of their dreams. Photo by Choi Kyu-min.|
A pop-up store for start-ups founded by Ewha students and graduates of Ewha start-up academy was opened for the first time on April 23 on 52nd Street near the main gate. Run by the Business Incubator of Ewha, the pop-up store has become the stage for the various talents of Ewha students and alumni and will run until May 4.
Six student sellers were selected after an application process for which they had applied by April 20. Both students and alumni were eligible to apply for the pop-up store project. Two companies that started with the support of Ewha and have now become brands, Marlow and Mr. Butty also participated. The pop-up store carried various items, from handmade or daily supplies such as postcards, accessories, and smartphone cases to even clothes and independent publications.
With no participation fee required, only 20 percent of the revenue will be collected by the Business Incubator from each seller, and part of the revenue will be donated.
“This pop-up store was opened to provide opportunities for students who are interested in start-ups,” said Cho Yoon-kyung a graduate of Ewha, current administrator of the pop-up store, and co-representative of Malow, a startup that grew under the Business Incubator.
Opening the store for the first time, Cho had to take charge of managing all of the sellers, organizing space for each startup and even taking care of her own brand.
“When I was an undergraduate in Ewha, I used to visit this street because it was much more crowded then,” Cho said. “I am happy to see that many people are once again visiting 52nd Street and also taking a look at the pop-up store since there are many famous restaurants near the store. Many people are dropping by as if the store is a flea market, and sales are continuously increasing.”
With the support of Business Incubator, Cho established Malow, a fitness platform service for women, in 2016 with Park So-young who is also an Ewha alumnus. For the past two years, Malow has provided opportunities for women to learn various sport classes such as cruiser broad class. The classes are not restricted to students but are also open to women leaders who have to work and take care of their children. Malow also creates sporting goods and clothes.
As a brand that is operated online, Malow is grateful for the offline marketing opportunity through the pop-up market and the chance to participate in the pop-up store event held by Business Incubator.
“Among several items, the massage balls have become so popular that one day they were all sold out,” she continued. “On all the clothes we sell, our business’ slogan, ‘Never let go of your dreams’ is written. This is to encourage women to keep pursuing their dreams.”
Although she had difficulty running the market alone and organizing the pop-up store, she hopes to participate again.
Another side of the store is filled with merchandise bearing the image of Mr. Butty, a character that resembles Charlie Chaplin with a big bottom. Stephen Yang, the designer of Mr. Butty was a member of the third Ewha Start-up Academy. He was asked to take part in the market and to introduce his studio since Mr. Butty was also well known to Ewha students.
As a character symbolizing coziness and comfort, Mr. Butty was designed to cheer up and encourage people in bad moods. Several items including eco-bags, hand mirrors and smartphone cases were displayed at the table. Attachment dolls were especially popular among customers as were candles with Mr. Butty drawn on top.
“Although it can be difficult for one person to continuously stay at the store to handle sales, many customers who are fans of Mr. Butty have been visiting the pop-up store as the popularity of Mr. Butty is soaring,” Yang said. “Also, it is good to meet customers face to face. This is a great opportunity to deepen my understanding of my customers.”
In the center of the store, between Mr. Butty and Malow, six student teams’ products take up the floor. Diverse in their design, color, and product, each have their own unique message and purpose. “Deciding what to wear in the morning especially on days when there is a test or an assignment due was very stressful,” said Hong Hyun-jin, the creator of FROM U, a uniform customizing brand. “And one day, a thought struck me: ‘how nice would it be, if university students had uniforms?’ I wanted to develop this idea into an actual product and conducted a survey. Turns out, many were sharing my sentiment.”
Hanging from the window inside, right next to the door, FROM U’s tracksuit displayed comfort and simplicity. The navy jersey, with a white embroidered Ewha logo was fashionable yet simple enough to match with tracksuit bottoms or jeans. Based on the basic design, customers can add in their own customizations, creating a unique yet go-to outfit.
“I was in the production process for the tracksuit,” commented Hong. “Coincidentally, I saw the notice from the Business Incubator and saw it as a chance to conduct market research and promote the product.”
Like Hong, the student sellers of the pop-up store all wish to contribute to the improvement of one’s everyday life, whether it be seeking solace from a postcard, learning lessons from a writing, or the ease of mind by providing a simpler yet fail-proof alternative.
“This was a great opportunity for new start-up companies as they usually don’t have the chance to operate offline,” said Hong. “Especially for Ewha students, this is a great platform to get hands-on experience of creating a company, and I wish there will be more events like this in the future.”
Pak Gee-na, Shin Hyo-jae firstname.lastname@example.org