I work as the owner of a needlework studio

Women in Their 20s Speak Out about Work: Owner of a Handmade Accessory Shop

Yoon Seul-gi | 기사입력 2022/09/19 [13:14]

I work as the owner of a needlework studio

Women in Their 20s Speak Out about Work: Owner of a Handmade Accessory Shop

Yoon Seul-gi | 입력 : 2022/09/19 [13:14]

Editor’s note: In 2014, Ilda is publishing the stories that women in their twenties have written about their work experiences. The series receives funding from the Korea Foundation for Women’s Funding for Gender-Equal Society.


Twenty-four, Living a Life Doing What I Want


At age twenty-four, it has already been 4 years since I’ve started this shop. I began this shop when I was 21 years old and studying in college, and it has become a full-time job since I graduated college.


▲ I work as the owner of a needlework studio. https://facebook.com/banulsonyeo ©Yoon Seul-gi


I work as the owner of a needlework studio that is also a handmade accessory shop. When I first started the shop, I had the excuse of ‘still being a student,’ but now, living on my own and taking charge of the living expenses of my younger sibling, who is still a college student, I’m running the shop under some pressure. Luckily, the shop is still going well without going out of business. Our household is as well.


Customer attitudes towards a young female shop owner


When I first started the shop, I was under some pressure, although not as much as now. I would say, as a joke, “Life is decided all at once, so I just started it,” but it was not on a whim that I started the shop at a young age.


Upon seeing me, a young woman in her early 20s, open a needlework studio at the Jeonju Hanok Village, people who did not know me assumed amongst themselves that I was doing it because my family was rich. Some even threw these questions at me, asking me right out even when we were meeting for the first time.


“It seems like your family is rich-?”

“How much do you earn a month by doing stuff like this? You’re just doing it as a hobby, right?”


The people were very rude. At that time, I thought they were like that because they looked down on me, a young woman. So I treated them in a way that still hits me as impudent. So that I wouldn’t be looked down on.


Once, there was this incident. Occasionally customers who come in and look around address me in casual terms without notice. But on that particular day, a lady come in, literally pointed to a bracelet as soon as she entered, and said, “Did you make this? How much is it?” in casual terms. Being on the verge of running out of patience due to the  stress accumulated by casual terms and rude questions, I answered using the same casual terms, “No. Those were made by my aunt.”


▲ "No Casual Terms at First Encounters, Use Them and Earn a Slap." ©Yoon Seoul-gi


When I think about it, there were many similar incidents when I worked part-time after starting college. I think there was a prevalent attitude of looking down at young women working in the service industry. When I was working part-time, I endured it because I was afraid of damages to the store if I got angry, but now in a situation where I was the one who was criticized or I was the one who had to suffer the damages, I think I was able to speak out without repressing it.


Of course, talking back to the customer in the same casual terms was an extreme choice and not a very good way of dealing with the situation. I decided never to do it again, but I think it is necessary to express one’s displeasure even if it is through a different way. The customers are not “always right” and are people just as I am.


Even after that talk-back incident, customers who provoked me by using casual terms continued to visit, and filled with anger, I made a frame and placed it in the shop. It said, “No Casual Terms at First Encounters, Use Them and Earn a Slap.” It may look like a joke, but it was made to point out certain things that should be abided by, with a smiling face and without getting angry at each other. Sometimes, one should be able to say what is wrong is wrong. Only then can you avoid hwa-byeong (getting sick by repressing anger).


Building not only commercial transactions but emotional exchanges


It’s not only rude people that I meet while working in commerce. In fact, these days, there are almost no people that look down on me and treat me bad. When I think about it, I don’t think it’s because I became a year or two older that they look down on me less. I think it’s because after sticking to this work for several years, more and more people respect the effort and time accumulated in the work I do.


I started selling dolls I made in the flea market when I was in high-school, so if I count those years, I have 9 years of experience working as a businessperson. There have been many changes in the way people treat me, but more changes have occurred in the ways I treat people.


In high-school, I only did this work as a hobby, and so I treated customers with an attitude that said, “Buy if you want to, don’t buy if you don’t want to.” After opening the shop, I was arrogant in the way I treated people, thinking, “I’m the owner so I’ll do whatever I want.”


But after running the shop for several years, I realized that I did not get respect by elevating myself but could earn respect together with the other person when I sincerely respected that other person. Bringing down the nose I had held high up in the air, at a certain point I started to feel grateful to the customers who came to the shop. Why was it that so many people came to me and enjoyed the things that I made, when I was nothing? It occurred to me that I was able to do what I liked to do because of such people.


From then on, I started to treat more and more customers more sincerely. As a result, more customers also treated me sincerely, and precious relationships that were not only commercial transactions involving buying and selling products but ones that could provide emotional exchanges increased. In addition, when the people who genuinely respected me increased, I was able to have more confidence in the work I did and could talk about it with pleasure.


Making what one likes to do into a job


But even now, I don’t enjoy customers who try to lower the price. Even though I don’t have any desire to earn big money, shouldn’t one receive rightful wages for the hard work one does? It’s ridiculous to expect others to value the labor one does while devaluing the labor of others.


▲ "No Discounts. Cash Welcome, Cards Acceptable. ©Yoon Seoul-gi


So, since I must say what I think should be said, I wrote out the words and put it into a frame. I never give discounts to people who go too far in bargaining. The saying “You give more to the one you favor less” is only applicable in the past. I give more only to those I favor.


For several years, I was cheated and lost a large amount of money, and at times regretted opening a shop from such a young age after being hurt by many words, but I think I would have regretted it more if I hadn’t opened the shop. You only live once. Only by doing your best at every moment can you avoid having regrets when you die. As long as my shop does not go to ruins, I intend to continue with doing what I like to do.


Ever since I was a child, there is a phrase I heard from my mom over and over again: “What is more important than how much you earn is how you use what you earn.” If you are ready to accept those words, I think it is worth jumping into a life that makes a living out of doing what you want. Of course, you should remember that you also need enough preparation and effort besides the passion for it.


Published: July 20, 2014

Translated by Rose

*Original article: http://ildaro.com/6754


◆ To see more English-language articles from Ilda, visit our English blog(https://ildaro.blogspot.com).

이 기사 좋아요
  • 도배방지 이미지