On South Korean Clothing in Texas: Eunhwa Jung of Jowa
this spring, our theme is: synergy.
It’s time to invest in relationships, projects and people that will help us grow. It’s time to create a little synergy.
synergy (n.): the benefit that results when two or more agents work together to achieve something either one couldn't have achieved on its own.
It's the concept of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. In life, at work and in our communities, synergy is that space where the magic happens—where things fall into place, values align and our ideas find a home.
So, what does professional and personal synergy look like? How do we reject cultures of comparison and approach collaboration? How do we protect our own energy as we navigate opportunities, success and failures? This Spring, our programs will serve as a moment to hear from and amplify women and nonbinary leaders in our community who create synergy through their work.
As we prepare for craftHER Market Spring ‘19, we’re interviewing some of this market’s featured makers to learn more about their businesses and the ways in which they create synergy through their work. Read on for a peek into their process.
about today’s featured maker:
Jowa originated from a mixture of emotions from disappointment to frustration to determination. Jowa started in June of 2018 by Eunhwa Jung. She left her home country of South Korea to move to San Antonio, Texas in May of 2016.
As a world traveller from a young age Eunhwa was exposed to style and fashion from European countries, South Korea, Southeast Asian countries, and as far south as New Zealand. She admires and respects the influence and role that fashion plays in society.
After moving to San Antonio, she was disappointed in not being able to find the clothes she was used to wearing in Korea. Finding good quality clothes at a reasonable price became frustrating. She became determined to share her passion with her friends and the people around them. Click here to learn more.
Tell us the background of your business: How did you get started?
I was born and raised in South Korea. After graduating from university, I began working full-time at an office job. Knowing this was not what I really wanted to do, I started an online boutique shop and managed it after work and on weekends. Starting this little business gave me an idea of how the industry worked. As time went by, I took on more responsibility at my full-time job and that coupled with complex circumstances surrounding me I had to put my business on hold and focus on my main job. But, I always kept my boutique store in mind and never let go of that dream. So, how did I end up starting a business in Texas? As a university student I would work throughout the summer and save up money to travel. I continued to travel after I got an office job, as well. I travelled to several Southeast Asian countries, seized an opportunity to study in New Zealand for half a year, and went backpacking through European countries. Through these journeys I was able to experience different cultures and see, first-hand, a different sense of fashion. This life of travel led me to develop my own style. The style you see in Jowa.
I ended up moving to San Antonio, Texas in May of 2016. After living here for over a year, I realized that other than commercial brands there are not many boutique stores similar to what I am into or had access to in Korea. This sparked the idea of Jowa and it became reality in June of 2018. Good quality, modern, stylish clothing that you can wear on a daily basis within reasonable prices. So, I wanted to bring clothes from Korea to introduce to people here in Texas. I started as an online store and would join markets like CraftHer, Babes Fest etc. in Austin. On March 1st, 2019, I signed a lease for a little studio for my showroom in San Antonio. And I am still traveling to Austin for the markets so I can meet my customers in person.
How do you balance the creative side and the business side of your work?
I’m thinking about my business every moment of every day. I’m constantly attached to a screen. I’m either researching, taking photos, updating my IG or my website. Luckily my husband helps me with the accounting and all the legal aspects to make sure we’re operating within the law.
What resources have helped you grow your business? What resources do you need more of? As a WOB what would you like to see more of?
When I first started as an online store, I knew that it was not going to be easy. Online is like an unlimited space and you have access to pretty much everything. But, because of so much being out there it is hard to stand out. My first bussiness goal was to introduce JOWA to people in Texas, so I planned on becoming a vendor at markets to meet people. There are quite a lot of markets and communities in Austin, so I try to be a part of all these community meet-ups, markets, and conferences to interact with people. So I would say the pop-up opportunities and the communities in Austin have been the greatest resources that helped my business grow. I need more of that kind of stuff in San Antonio. As a WOB I would like to see more San Antonio WOB helping each other to thrive.
How do you handle perceived failures within your work?
Whenever I feel like I am not going anywhere, I take a day off and try not to think about my business. Just completely away from work. Hanging out with a friend, watching Korean TV shows all day and then I start to see people around me who work so hard to achieve their goals. I am lucky to have all these people around me showing their hard work. So, after a day or two I get into a ‘I need to be out there showing my work’ mode. Also, my parents have been a big influence on me. I watched them run their own businesses and work hard at it. They taught me you don’t fail until you give up. I’ve seen them go through many tough times, but they never gave up they just worked harder. So I just see tough times as a learning experience and I know what not to do in the future.
Tell us about the production process required to make a single product.
I do not make any of my clothes. I am a curator who selects clothing from South Korea. I had to make a trip out to Korea to meet with all the wholesale designers and their products. I try to curate clothing not only designed in Korea, but also Made in Korea. It is a matter of quality of the clothing. The most important thing to me is quality. I have certain standards that I will not compromise. Sometimes it is difficult because the better quality products have a heavier cost and I want to keep my prices low, so I try to find the best out of that. I personally select every single piece. The two main things I care about the most are the color and the texture of the fabric. I also try to focus on finding things that have something unique about it. Pieces that are modern and classic that you can build or blend into your own style.
Then, I have a person who collects all my selections from all the designers and they send it off to the packaging office and then I have it flown in to Texas.
What is a good leader to you?
A good leader is someone who leads by example. It is very frustrating to me when I see someone who says one thing, but acts the opposite. A good leader can think critically and deliberates before making a decision. A good leader puts forth their best and knows when help is needed and isn’t afraid to ask for it. A good leader is someone who people want to follow and encourages and teaches their followers.
What do you wish you knew before starting your own business?
I wish I knew how physically and mentally demanding it would be to run my own business. Also, I wish I knew more about e-commerce.
Would you like to meet Eunhwa in-person? Come out to craftHER Market on April 14, 2019 at Fair Market and stop by her booth. Click here to learn more.