Building a Wholesale Fashion and Lifestyle Brand – Young and Josh Kim of Ellison + Young

INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 58:01)


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Young and Josh Kim of Ellison + Young share the story of successfully transitioning from running a 10 store retail fashion and jewellery chain to an online wholesale Fashion and Lifestyle brand after COVID pandemic closures. They share how they have applied the lessons from their retail experience to create a strong supply chain, utilize multiple sales channels, as well as provide strong customer support to wholesale customers as a way to differentiate and grow.

Episode Summary

Young and Josh Kim, founders of Ellison + Young, to discuss their entrepreneurial journey and strategies for starting and growing their e-commerce fashion and lifestyle brand. Young shares her experience of starting the Ellison Young brand during the Covid-19 pandemic, initially focusing on jewelry and later expanding to various items while staying true to her core business. Carolina Nashville from Greenville, South Carolina, shares her experience of starting a wholesale brand specializing in jewelry and fashion items, and Young discusses starting Alisson to help new entrepreneurs enter the business world more easily. The speakers emphasize the importance of having a strong business foundation, adopting multiple strategies for sourcing products and suppliers, and creating a streamlined process for managing multiple sales channels. They also discuss the evolution of Amazon and the importance of having a brand to differentiate from competitors. The speakers offer marketing strategies, such as focusing on advertising within platforms and finding a niche that suits both the business and the platform. They also share their experiences of running multiple businesses and the importance of focusing on one thing at a time and recharging to maintain motivation and interest. The speakers provide advice, such as making decisions and taking calculated risks, and offer book recommendations for entrepreneurs.

  • 00:00:00 In this section of Treptalks, host Sushant welcomes Young and Josh Kim, founders of the fashion and lifestyle brand Ellison + Young, to discuss their entrepreneurial journey and strategies for starting and growing their e-commerce business. Young shares how she’s been an entrepreneur for over 20 years, starting with a small business selling jewelry and hair accessories at a mall due to her passion for fashion and jewelry. Her husband, Josh, initially helped on the side with accounting and business operations before joining the business full-time 11 years ago. The couple’s background includes overcoming challenges as an immigrant in a new country and starting a business with limited resources. They didn’t initially disclose how they obtained their first products or investments.
  • 00:05:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Sequence,” the speaker shares her experience of starting Alisson +  Young brand during the Covid-19 pandemic. She had previously run a few brick-and-mortar boutique stores but decided to pivot and start Alisson + Young brand from her garage with minimal investment. Her investment was primarily her business experiences and networking. The first investment for her business was a $5,000 credit card limit, which she used for inventory. She advises that having a stable background, such as a job, is essential before starting a business, as it provides a safety net for regular expenses. Alis Young brand aims to become a lifestyle brand, but it started as a jewelry business. The speaker is currently showcasing a wide range of inventory on her website.
  • 00:10:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Sequence,” Carolina Nashville from Greenville, South Carolina, shares her experience of starting a wholesale brand specializing in jewelry and fashion items. Initially, they focused on jewelry due to their strong connection with the industry and their success in retail. They began with just two necklaces and expanded to hair accessories, building a strong network. As they observed changing trends and lifestyles, they added various items to their collection, including pet toys and other accessories. Their goal was to become a lifestyle brand, but they defined their niche by continuously adding new items while staying true to their core business. Despite the oversaturated jewelry market, Carolina emphasizes the importance of identifying a unique selling point and understanding customer needs to succeed. Her retail experience and customer interactions led her to create the brand Ellison and Young, with a mission to support entrepreneurs.
  • 00:15:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Sequence,” the speaker, Young, discusses how they started their brand, Ellison, to help new and Young entrepreneurs enter the business world more easily. They offer affordable fashion and lifestyle products and initially focused on wholesaling to smaller businesses. However, they also have a website for direct-to-consumer sales and have been involved in drop shipping for the past two to three years. Ellison sources their products by designing some themselves, researching trends, and collaborating with vendors. They also modify existing designs to make them unique and create their own packaging. Currently, about 98% of their business comes from wholesale, but they aim to support entrepreneurship by also offering drop shipping services.
  • 00:20:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Sequence,” the speaker discusses their experience in the jewelry business, focusing on the importance of adopting multiple strategies for sourcing products and suppliers, as well as the significance of packaging and presentation. The speaker works with vendors in the US and China, and emphasizes the need to find a balance between cost and sustainability in packaging. They also mention the importance of having sufficient profit margins for success in the highly competitive jewelry industry. The speaker then shifts the conversation to wholesaling and Drop Shipping, sharing their personal experience of transitioning from retail to wholesale as a natural progression. They stress the importance of understanding the reasons for choosing a particular business channel and the need to run the business effectively to achieve success.
  • 00:25:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Sequence,” the speaker discusses the importance of creating a strong business foundation in order to receive good ratings and build a successful online business, specifically in the context of wholesale and drop shipping. The speaker shares their experience of starting an online business with a retail mindset, focusing on serving each customer and addressing their complaints. They then applied this customer-focused approach to wholesale and drop shipping by keeping inventory in stock and shipping orders quickly, minimizing operation size, and offering flexible shipping rates. The speaker emphasizes the importance of creating a smooth operation to keep promises to customers and ensure their satisfaction. They also suggest considering the reasons customers give for leaving five-star reviews as a starting point for building a successful sales channel.
  • 00:30:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Sequence,” the speaker discusses the importance of having a streamlined process for managing multiple sales channels and platforms. With a background in project management, they have implemented a shipping process and use Shopify to manage inventory for their drop shipping business. However, they also have to maintain separate processes for sales channels not connected to Shopify. The speaker emphasizes the need for continuous research and improvement to keep up with the latest apps and technologies. They also recommend choosing a platform that is constantly developing to stay competitive. The speaker sells through various sales channels, including wholesale and drop shipping platforms, as well as consumer platforms like Amazon and eBay.
  • 00:35:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Sequence,” the speaker discusses their experience with online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay while running physical retail stores for the past 20 years. They mention that while the volume was not significant compared to their retail stores at the time, they are now trying to explore emerging channels such as Shein and Timu, which they see as both threats and opportunities. The speaker emphasizes the importance of evaluating one’s business structure and product offerings when faced with competition. They also share that they have chosen not to sell on Amazon to support their wholesale business and provide unique products to their retail customers. The speaker encourages entrepreneurs to adapt and differentiate themselves in the face of challenges.
  • 00:40:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Sequence,” the speaker discusses the evolution of Amazon and the importance of having a brand to differentiate from competitors. Around 15 years ago, Amazon started noticing the rise of brands on the platform and realized the need to have their own products to separate themselves. Brand building is a way to add value to customers and differentiate from commodities, but it comes with challenges, especially for small businesses that face high fees and margins on platforms like Amazon. The speaker, who runs a small business, shares that they have a team to help manage sales channels, product development, and shipping, but they miss some aspects of running retail stores, such as interacting directly with customers and using creativity for window displays. Despite this, they enjoy the simplicity and efficiency of the e-commerce business model for now. The future vision for the business is to continue building and scaling, but the specific goals are not mentioned in the excerpt.
  • 00:45:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Sequence,” the speaker discusses her business ventures and marketing strategies. She currently runs a meat brand called Ellison and Young, which offers good quality products at an affordable price. With her background in branding, product development, and marketing, she plans to launch and create more multibrands to target different markets. She mentions her upcoming fine jewelry brand, Amelia Green, and her experiences with interviewing another successful entrepreneur in the lab-grown diamond industry. When asked about marketing, she explains that they focus on advertising within the platforms they sell on, such as Amazon, to maximize their reach and return on investment (ROI). She shares that one of their biggest challenges in marketing is the ROI and the competition, and the key to success is finding a niche that suits both their business and the platform. The speaker reflects on her entrepreneurial journey and shares that one of her biggest mistakes was not fully capitalizing on Amazon’s growth early on. The lesson she learned is the importance of staying updated on the latest platform developments and adapting quickly to new features.
  • 00:50:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Sequence,” the speaker shares their experience of running multiple retail stores and an e-commerce business simultaneously, leading to burnout. They learned the importance of focusing on one thing at a time and having room for new ideas, rather than being overwhelmed with too many tasks. The speaker also emphasizes the need for entrepreneurs to recharge and delegate tasks to maintain motivation and interest in their business. One book recommendation for entrepreneurs is “Your Best Life Now” by Joel Osteen, and the speaker uses Shopify as a productivity tool for their e-commerce business.
  • 00:55:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Sequence,” the speakers, Young and Josh, discuss their favorite businesses, inspirations, and the best business advice they have received. Young expresses his recent interest in diamonds and jewelry, specifically the brand Ideal, while Josh looks up to entrepreneurs like himself and designers such as Chanel. The best business advice given was to make decisions and take calculated risks. Young emphasizes not being afraid to make decisions, even if they result in failure, and learning from those mistakes. Josh, from a finance background, advises entrepreneurs to calculate their risks and take calculated risks to avoid potential harm. Both pieces of advice complement each other, encouraging entrepreneurs to take action while also considering the potential risks.

People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode

Book: Your Best Life Now” by Joel Osteen

What You’ll Learn

Interview with Young and Josh Kim of Ellison + Young

[00:00:08] Introduction to TrepTalks with Sushant
[00:00:24] Welcoming Young and Josh Kim of Ellison + Young
[00:01:06] Young Kim’s Entrepreneurial Journey Begins
[00:02:00] From South Korea to Starting a Business in the U.S.
[00:03:17] Josh Kim’s Role in the Business
[00:05:00] Starting Ellison + Young During COVID
[00:07:30] Balancing Risk and Stability in Business
[00:09:23] Defining Ellison + Young’s Business and Future Goals
[00:12:34] Overcoming Market Saturation: Creating a Niche in Jewelry
[00:15:00] Ellison Young’s Mission: Supporting Entrepreneurs
[00:17:00] Business Model: Wholesale vs. Direct to Consumer
[00:18:45] Product Sourcing and Design Strategies
[00:21:09] Importance of Packaging and Presentation
[00:22:36] Profit Margins in the Jewelry Business
[00:23:48] Navigating Wholesaling and Drop Shipping: Lessons Learned
[00:00:00] Transition from Retail to Wholesale
[00:00:36] Adopting a Retail Mindset for Wholesale
[00:01:59] Efficient Operations and Inventory Management
[00:03:03] Competitive Shipping Strategies
[00:04:55] Ensuring Customer Success
[00:08:14] Continuous Improvement and Process Streamlining
[00:13:00] Utilizing Emerging Sales Channels
[00:17:00] Evaluating New Market Opportunities
[00:25:33] Transition to Retail Mindset
[00:26:00] Emphasizing Customer Service
[00:27:05] Importance of Efficient Operations
[00:28:00] Adapting to Shipping Needs
[00:29:00] Prioritizing Customer Satisfaction
[00:30:00] Implementing Streamlined Processes
[00:34:00] Exploring Sales Channels
[00:38:52] Introduction: Young Kim’s Approach
[00:39:37] Evolution of Branding on Amazon
[00:41:01] Importance of Brand Building
[00:42:28] Building a Small but Efficient Team
[00:43:27] Transition from Retail to E-commerce
[00:44:39] Future Vision: Multi-Brand Strategy
[00:47:01] Marketing Strategy: Maximizing Platform Offerings
[00:49:38] Lessons Learned from Business Mistakes
[00:52:50] Discussion on Business Growth and Delegation
[00:53:15] Rapid Fire Segment: Book Recommendation and Innovative Products
[00:54:43] Rapid Fire Segment: Business Tools and Inspirations
[00:56:01] Best Business Advice: Embrace Decision-Making and Calculated Risks

Rapid Fire

In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.

Young and Josh Kim of Ellison + Young

  1. Book recommendation that you would make to entrepreneurs or business professionals (Response: Your Best Life Now” by Joel Osteen)
  2. An innovative product or idea in the current e-commerce retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about (Response: ChatGPT)
  3. A business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend/Productivity Tip. (Response: Shopify)
  4. A startup or business (in ecommerce, retail, or tech) that you think is currently doing great things. (Response: IDYL)
  5. A peer entrepreneur or businessperson whom you look up to or someone who inspires you (Response: Josh Kim her husband and Chanel)
  6. One networking tip or building and sustaining valuable professional relationships.
  7. Best business advice you ever received (Response:  Do not be afraid too much to make a decision)

Interview Transcript

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Hey there entrepreneurs, my name is Sushant and welcome to Treptalks. This is the show where I interview successful e commerce entrepreneurs, business executives, and thought leaders and ask them questions about their business story and also dive deep into some of the strategies and tactics that they have used to start and grow their businesses.

And today I’m really excited to welcome Young and Josh Kim to the show. Young and Josh run a fashion and lifestyle brand e commerce business called Ellison + Young. Uh, and they sell fashion and lifestyle products. And today I’m going to ask Young and Josh a few questions about their entrepreneur journey and some of the strategies and tactics that they have used to start and grow their businesses.

Now, before we dive into this interview, Uh, if you enjoy this content, please make sure to hit the like and subscribe button. And for more content like this, please visit our website, Treptalks.Com and with that, Young and [00:01:00] Kim, uh, welcome. And thank you so much for joining me today at Treptalks. Really, really appreciate your time.

Young Kim: Hi, thank you for having us today. I’m excited. Likewise.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So yeah, really excited to hear about your entrepreneurial story. So I know you were sharing a little bit that you had a boutique brand before, but now you’re focusing mostly on e commerce business. So maybe we can start there. You know, how did you, uh, have you always been entrepreneurs?

Uh, how did you kind of get into the entrepreneur journey and what kind of really led to this? Uh, Okay.

Young Kim: So, um, I’ve been living as an entrepreneur more than 20 years so far. So like, you know, um, so it’s, let’s say it’s just the entire, um, my career, um, as an entrepreneur. So, um, You know, I’m definitely an entrepreneur.

So 20 years [00:02:00] ago, um, I came here, I married Josh and then I came here from South Korea. So, um, I tried to get a job at first, but then it was hard. You know, my degree was from Korea. Um, and my English wasn’t as good. Um, so I had a hard time finding a job for myself. So I was like one day sitting and like, okay.

Let me just create a job for myself. So I started a small like a little business. And then that’s how we started. And then there was, um, like, you know, just having little small cart at the mall. And I was selling some jewelry and some hair accessories because, you know, I, I just always loved the fashion. Um, And like jewelry and accessories were always my favorite things since I was a little, like for example, I was like, you know, little girl, five or six years old.

My grandma asked me, where do you want to go? My answer was always like, okay, grandma, I [00:03:00] want to go to that, that accessory store. I want to get a little like, you know, plastic necklace or like some headbands or something. It wasn’t the playground. So, um, there was always natural. You know, thing for myself to, um, just, you know, get into some.

Things that I love, so it was always, you know, passion. Mm hmm.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: That’s awesome. I mean, and I must say you, you said that you came to United States 20 years ago. I mean, obviously now your English is quite fluent and, uh, so, so you got started because you were interested in fashion and jewelry and, and how did your husband, like your husband really just, uh, started helping you or how did he get involved?

Young Kim: Mm hmm. Josh, you want to talk about that?

Josh Kim: I was on the side of people many years, actually, because I. I was working at the corporate America. Mostly I’ve been working for, like, some big companies as a financial analyst and project [00:04:00] manager before I joined here for time, but while she was running the business, I was on, like, helping on the side, such as, like, accounting and other other business side.

So it was mostly her managing the stores and until, like. Until I become like 41 about 11 years ago, uh, and then I finally decided I’m going to quit my job and I’m going to join in her business and we’re going to go together about 11 years ago.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Now that’s, that’s such an interesting story, you know, uh, an immigrant coming to a new country and trying to start a life, you know, have some sort of a, uh, job, not finding the job and then, you know, trying to start a business.

Um, And I think it’s great that you kind of chose something that you’re passionate about. But, uh, initially, like, did you have some sort of, uh, investment? How did you kind of, um, get your first product? Did you, uh, you know, put your own money into the business?

Young Kim: Um, [00:05:00] so for Allison Young brand, um, uh, I would say, um, it was like during the COVID time, as I mentioned earlier, um, I just decided to close down, you know, my, uh, Brigham Mortar boutique stores, most of them, only just a couple, uh, I left, I had just running, um, but During that time, just to start like Allison Young brand, um, I just only had like a couple of small like jewelry collections, like some initial necklaces and jewelry acts and things like that.

And then I just, you know, started the shipping from my garage actually. Um, and then my dining table was my work desk. So. It wasn’t like that much of investment money wise, but I, um, maximized my experiences, my business experiences, and then also, um, my network, um, networking, like, you know, good friends, um, [00:06:00] of like mine, they were like, you know, um, the, uh, really, uh, good, uh, sales reps.

Um, in the regions, so they helped me a little bit. So I would say my investment was pretty much, you know, my experiences and also my networking for Edison young brand.

Josh Kim: Yeah, but for at least new brand, it was the kind of continuation from our brick and mortar stores at the time. We had a 4 store. So it was kind of evolving from that.

But if you are interested, like our 1st, 1st investment for the 1st business. It was a credit card. Okay. 5, 000 credit card limit that we started, uh, because, uh, for the inventory. So, uh, I mean, we were kind of thinking like, of course, the investment is a big issue when you start the business because nobody has the money to start the business.

Uh, so we were kind of doing our risk analysis ourself. It’s like how much we could. Manage because I was working in the company at the time. So I just stable jobs. There was [00:07:00] something that we were trying to manage to to balance our risk of running the business. So, while she was running this business, why she was taking a risk, I was keeping my stable job.

So, 5, 000 was. Was okay to, to take in at the time, take a risk. So $5,000, uh, credit card was our first investment to start the business. And from 5,000, uh, to now in, in about 20, 20 to 23 years later.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Awesome. And that’s, I think that’s a good, good, um, good advice for anybody who’s kind of starting out, right?

If you have a job or, you know, somebody has, if you, I mean, in your case, of course, you know, the spouse, uh, husband had the job. Right. At least having some sort of a stable background. And because some people tend to like, you know, they have an idea and they’re like, okay, I’m going to quit my job now and go to 100%.

Maybe, maybe not such a great idea because then, you know, I think you’re, [00:08:00] you have to. Think about, you know, how you’re going to pay your, you know, grocery and regular bills and so forth. So I think you definitely need to have some sort of a stable background.

Josh Kim: I think it’s also a matter of the age factors too.

As you, if you’re a very young person, just out of college, what are you going to do? But if you want to start a business at 40, that’s a different story. So I think, uh, at each age, I mean, there is a different risk we can take, take. So I think it’s totally up to each individual. But, uh, if you’re young, I mean, as long as you have time to recover, and then if the amount is, uh, is Something that you can take a chance.

I mean, if you’re going to stamp out, if you’re going to go to like the last person spent 5, 000, that’s the amount that you can take a risk anytime for any business. So I think you can kind of look at it that way.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: For sure. For sure. I think the best time is like when you’re young and you know, then, then [00:09:00] at least you have, you probably have your parents to fall back on.

Um, but I do see I’m on your website right now. I see you now you have a lot of inventory, a lot of different products,

Young Kim: right?

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So can you show, can you share a little bit about, you know, um, what exactly, how do you see your business? Um, is it really your, um, you know, how do you define the value proposition of your business?

Um, Yeah.

Young Kim: I

Josh Kim: mean, can you elaborate the question just one more time?

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Like, how do you, like, when you tell somebody about, you know, your business, how do you describe it? Like, is this a jewelry business? Is this a lifestyle business? Like, what exactly are you selling?

Josh Kim: We are trying to become a lifestyle brand, but we started from jewelry side.

Because jewelry was, uh, you know, when you are running the business, Ladies boutiques. We, we had as many as like up to 10 stores one time in not only in Atlanta, Georgia. I used to drive to like Jacksonville, [00:10:00] Florida, Charlotte, North Carolina, Nashville, Tennessee, Greenville, South Carolina, all the times when we had like running their main stores.

So we had like the opportunity of picking the items that we would like to source ourselves. So we wanted to go from just retailers, not only retails, but when you start a wholesale brand or import business, so we had to pick the items and the jewelry was our favorite because of many different regions.

So we were at 1st, you know. You got to start small, right? So you gotta, you gotta be selected. So when you’re evaluating ourself, we, we thought that Julie was our strengths at the time.

Young Kim: So

Josh Kim: we, uh, we started from the Julie side and of course, and when you start from jury side, you’ve got, you know, of course we started.

Actually, we started with just like two necklaces in the beginning. There was our first two products. We’re still selling well, even after like three years to still still the best sellers. So starting from small items, but from [00:11:00] there we were trying to expand it. So we kept adding the more jewelry, uh, to there.

And then later we added the hair accessories because, uh, our first cart business was hair accessories as well. So we had a good network and then we knew pretty much well about those products. So from there to the hair accessories and we just keep adding. The new items and we were once a while, you know, we got since being running the business in retail for like 20 years.

We were very sensitive about the trend. So we were trying to pick up some items, which was trend at the time, which is also lifestyle. So, uh, during the COVID time, one thing we learned was people were. Uh, having different lifestyles since then, I think people have adapted to like different lifestyles of remote working, uh, having more pets.

So one time we try and like, uh, pet, uh, toy products and many different items here and there. So eventually Julie is part of fashion, but fashion is also life. When you’re looking at his test. So we want to [00:12:00] have some kind of like, uh, philosophy over there. So eventually we want to get to the lifestyle brand.

But when you talk about lifestyle brand, what is it? Right? So, so we have to define ourselves from here to there. So we are continuously adding more items and then we are continuously building. Uh, items, but we are on core business truly and other fashion items like hair accessories and bags and others.

We are continuously. Uh, moving, uh, forward, uh, with more life and then, uh, other options as well.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Awesome. And, uh, I mean, one, one challenge of having like a, starting a jewelry business, like if I, for example, you know, today I’d say, okay, I want to start a jewelry business, right? I would like, if I go to do a market research, I’ll see like there’s no shortage of.

Jewelry out there, right? All kinds of jewelry, jewelry that is like gold plated, jewelry, real, real gold, you know, all different kinds of, uh, designs and shapes and [00:13:00] price points. How does, you know, when, so I would be dissuaded to even start a jewelry business. Like, how does one compete in kind of. I mean, would you call this like an oversaturated market?

Like there’s jewelry left and right. Like I can go to my local mall and there will be like vendors selling, uh, jewelry in the middle of the mall. Um, how do you like kind of compete in this market? How do you separate your business from like everybody else?

Young Kim: Because I have to say this again, you know, since I was running multiple, like, almost chain boutique stores for many years, because if you when you see just, you know, from the surface, it’s like, oversaturated and then it’s just like, too much.

And there is no place for my business. But when you just go a little bit, like, you know, deeper inside. You can just make your own territory literally. Um, and I just, you know, always knew what’s missing in the market because I was buying from the [00:14:00] wholesalers and then different brands to sell in my store and to my, you know, retail customers.

So, um, I always knew I wish, you know, if that price point comes with like, you know, nice packaging and, um, um, like, you know, straight to the point kind of on trend. Um, Um, at the designs and quality, uh, there’ll be great. That’s always, you know, what I was thinking. So, uh, from many years of like retail experience, retail experience means like, you know, dealing with, uh, individual customers.

every day, right? So I always saw what they were, you know, wishing to have, wishing to buy, and willing to buy those products. So, um, that’s my know how, and then this is how I came up with the brand Ellison Young. And, you know, Alison Young’s mission statement is supporting entrepreneurs because I saw [00:15:00] big business trend became like, you know, since Shopify and a lot of like, you know, technical tools that makes, you know, all this online business easier.

Um, for young people, you know, they can start their own business, um, you know, a little bit easier than before. So then, you know, when they start a lot of a big brands, um, they require high opening minimums and all that kind of stuff. So we just. Just, you know, break all those rules in wholesale, um, part. So we didn’t set any minimum opening, you know, uh, amount per order.

Um, so they can, you know, buy just a small quantities from us and then test out because we just really wanted to help them to provide and develop, um, the designs and then products they can sell. Um, even though it’s so pretty and nice, whatever, you know, Selling [00:16:00] products are selling, but some products never sell.

So I know that like there are little details, you know, what sales one not sell. So I, um, just, you know, decided to help all this young and or new entrepreneurs to just step in the business world a little bit easier for them. So I just created this brand. Um, Just, you know, using all my know how and my just, uh, knowledges and just, you know, my experience into this business.

And, um, this, um, mission statement for Elian is supporting all those like, you know, uh, new and young, uh, people or small, like, you know, anybody who wants to just, you know, try, um, the trendy, just affordable, um, um, vision like lifestyle products.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So your, I mean, your business, your business model, is it mostly wholesaling, you’re wholesaling to other smaller businesses, like, is that [00:17:00] kind of the major source of your revenue or are you direct to consumer, like you get a lot of B2C.

Uh, direct sales as well,

Young Kim: and this union is for both the market. Um, so, but, you know, when I started, um, it was, um, I was focusing a little bit more on, like, forces side as a brand, but, you know, brand, um, I can I just do like, you know, wholesale to support the retailers. But at the same time online, I have my website, you know, to do direct to the customers

Josh Kim: as a right now about 98 percent of business hour is a wholesale.

So we are hosting a company. But however, one thing we are trying to do, as she mentioned, we are trying to help out the entrepreneurs. So one thing was we are one of the, uh, um, First to jump into the dropshipping business as well, because he made our mission statement and because we believe like, uh, the things that has been changing so [00:18:00] much.

So, uh, we are, we are, uh, we have running the dropshipping business for the last 2 to 3 years. And that’s the area that we are seeing the growth at this moment. How

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: do you dropship for other people? Yes, online

Josh Kim: business or info clusters. Uh, yeah, like them. So,

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: okay. Well, very, very interesting. Um, So I, I’ll ask you more about dropshipping in a second, but I’m very curious, like your product range, um, I believe you said that you are buying this, uh, from other wholesalers or you’re sourcing it, or are you actually getting this manufactured, like, because with jewelry, it’s like, as you said, you know, you have to stay up with the trend.

And so do you like create your own designs? Do you work with designers? How, how do you? Get your products.

Young Kim: So I always call like, you know, my, um, manufacturing the products on like my portfolio [00:19:00] of products. So my, I come up with my portfolio, um, just, you know, from different. Like a few different ways. So sometimes I pick things that like, you know, my some vendors made already made the products, but a lot of products I start, like, you know, analyzing and researching some trends before the season start.

Actually, way before, but, um, and then I just, you know, design a lot of items myself and then I just share that with my vendors and then they, I just source them just, you know, from like, a little maybe elements or something. And then I. Design all of my packaging, like little, you know, necklace cars and earring cars and, you know, all that kind of stuff.

And then, um, sometimes I just change some, um, different design. I mean, the designs from what my vendors already created. [00:20:00] So it can be my own designs. So it’s a few different ways, but, um, just major parties done by me.

Josh Kim: I think it’s really depending upon the, uh, like stay a stage of the gross, uh, when you first start, like a few items, you know, it’s easy to manage, but when you get to like 1000 skews, 1000 product, you cannot just rely on just one.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah,

Josh Kim: because, uh, because, uh, gross environment, uh, development of the more products and fast development. So we kind of adopted, uh, the multiple strategy of using probably, uh, all of what you’re saying.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Okay. And, uh, do you work mostly within, like, um, suppliers, um, manufacturers within the U. S.? Are you going to, um, Asia for that?

Um, or do you have multiple, like, uh, suppliers from multiple places?

Young Kim: Um, I work with a few in U. S. and I also, um, work a lot with the [00:21:00] China vendors, some factories, and then also just a little bit in Korea, since I’m, you know, originally from South Korea. So,

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: yeah, for sure. For sure. Makes makes a lot of sense.

Um, one thing that you did mention was around packaging and presentation, right? You said that you have to make it look beautiful or, you know. Yeah. Um, how do you, how do you do that? Uh, how important do you think is, uh, it’s presentation like in your business?

Young Kim: Because, um, you know, um, I’ve been a retailer for long, many years, so I know how important it is like, you know, to show at the store.

Um, but also these days, Packaging trend is more sustainable. So I try to be very practical because, you know, I can just add like boxes, bags, whatever, like to the jewelry or the items that I sell. But I try to just, you know, Uh, stay in reasonable amount of a [00:22:00] packaging. Um, like a cost wise and also like, you know, the sustainable point of view.

Um, so just, you know, it looks nice, but I don’t go over too much. So I think my customers like, um, just the right amount of our presentation, which looks. you know, just good. And also, um, is, is also very, uh, the price point is really good, uh, for the, for the presentation.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Now, in every business I’ve heard, you know, in order for a business to be successful, you have to have at least 30 percent profit margins.

Um, given that, You know, jewelry is a very highly competitive industry. Like, do you, do you feel like you have, um, the profit margins that, you know, uh, that would make it a good business or is it always like, you know, you’re kind of squeezing in, uh, For profit.

Young Kim: Mm

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: hmm.

Young Kim: Um, I, I think we definitely have enough profit margin for [00:23:00] this, um, like jewelry business and all other accessories that I carry, uh, because, um, you know, um, I just work with a really good, um, vendors, first of all, and then my designs are pretty, you know, um, It can be come on, but I always pay attention to details that I can catch.

Um, and I think that that brings the value, um, higher, um, you know, in the market. So, um, I don’t sacrifice, um, the profit margin that much.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Awesome. Now let’s switch gears to wholesaling and drop shipping a little bit because it’s very interesting that your strategy is mostly towards, you know, wholesaling drop shipping.

Um, if a business is, you know, if a business has like some of this commodity kind of a product, how, you know, with your experience, how would you [00:24:00] suggest them to navigate getting into wholesaling or drop shipping to become successful? Like having that channel as their main main, main channel of business.

What lessons have you learned in terms of becoming a successful wholesaler or dropshipper?

Josh Kim: I mean, um, since we’ve been evolved from the retailers to wholesale, it was the kind of like natural environment. So I think we may have a little different story from others who just want to start to wholesale. Uh, however, I think we enjoy the wholesale very much at this moment.

Um, with many, many different benefits from there. Uh, But the thing is, I think it’s like, it’s just not just a sales channel. It’s like how you want to run the business. I think that’s one of the bigger questions than like, which channel are you going to do? Of course, we have to understand each channel, but you got to know the reason to be successful.

I think there’s something that people just forget. It’s like, uh, as you, you got to think about like, [00:25:00] If you’re going to get into wholesale, what’s your strengths? Why they need to purchase our product? It can be the product, as you said, but it can be just more than products. So, so just like, uh, in, you know, we are running online business as well, as well.

So in any online business, people are asking for the rating, right? So in rating, You gotta think like, why they have to give you good rating, , what are you good at? Hmm. They have to have something to write down for the, uh, comments. Right. To, to give you five star rating.

Young Kim: Hmm.

Josh Kim: So these kind of things are more, I believe is more important.

So, you know, horses Bridge or Josh Bridges, uh, in horses, bridges. I think one thing we were, uh, pretty good at in the beginning was we, uh, were trying to run this as just like retail business. Not like normal, traditional horse and mindset. So we came from the retail, we, uh, you took advantage of that mindset of retail because, you know, we have to serve each customer

Young Kim: and, [00:26:00]

Josh Kim: and especially from the brick and mortar, we had to face the customers.

We had to hear the complaints and like that. So in, uh, so when you bring that kind of mindset to like, uh, uh, wholesale business, we were building the business different ways. I mean, no matter who is a business is that, you know, you take the preorder first and then you get the product, you ship out one day to like, but folders, but we trying to keep the inventory first and we are shipping the next day.

So that’s so we had we give them a reason that, uh, they were expecting this to be delivered. One month later, you get that in two days. So, uh, people were more impressed about it. And then we’ve been, uh, uh, in operation wise, we’ve been trying to minimize. You make it as efficient as possible with the less people, uh, and of course, training and all these things like that.

And then we also, we are, uh, I’m, I’m running operations, so I’ve been checked. I’m [00:27:00] checking like three different, uh, shipping rates to give the customer the best rate.

Young Kim: Who

Josh Kim: doesn’t like the lower shipping rate, right? Who doesn’t like free shipping? So, so these kinds of things that to find out you’re, you not just find them, you create your strengths.

I think that’s true. The key point here to be successful. So same, same thing goes with the drop shipping. I mean, we’ve got to give them a reason to be successful. So I’ve been, uh, it’s just not coming from just like sales side. It comes from your operation size as well. Because you, to run your business pretty well, you got, you got to give, to give them a reason to be successful and to give them a reason that they like us, you have, you have to make sure that your operation is running smoothly because you promise something and if they don’t get it, Is is worse situation.

So, um, yeah, so, like the case of like drop shipping, we we also ship as fast as possible. I’ve been [00:28:00] tweaking several times to make sure that our shipping rate can be adjustable to meet their. Needs because, you know, uh, they have a lot of our online retailers. You know, they can charge much shipping either.

And I have to make sure they can be returned because returns be probably online business. So I have, so sometimes I just take in those return costs myself. Uh, sometimes, you know, um. I mean, I’m just trying to make sure they can try our product easily. Uh, that’s why we have like a low, no minimum requirement so that they can just simply buy sample it at the wholesale price or the dropshipping price.

So these kind of little things just keep adding up to give your business. But I think one advice I can give you is like, think about the rating. And if someone give you a rating, give the reason why They give you five stars. I think you can start from that question and start building your business from [00:29:00] there.

I think any sales channel, if you understand how the sales channel works, I think that should be your key point question.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I agree. I mean, it’s like, you know, you are trying to make your customer’s life easier, right? By giving them better rate, by making, creating simpler processes, by making it easy for them to do business with you, right?

And then you give them all those reasons, of course, they will have, uh, a lot of reasons to write a great review for you. And I think that that creates a great business as well. So, um, I’m, I’m assuming like, you know, to, in order for you to run a, um, a good wholesaling dropshipping kind of a business, you, you must have to create a lot of processes within your business as well.

Um, can you share, uh, you know, Maybe one or two examples of, you know, what kind of process do you create [00:30:00] just to make your life as business people easier? I mean, I want to ask you about your team as well. Um, you know, I, you know, is it only, you know, you two or are there other people helping you out? But, you know, from a process perspective, what, what can others learn from you?

Josh Kim: I mean, um, of course, we’ve got to have, uh, we’ve got to start having like a shipping process, obviously, because dealing with the multiple channels and also we are on multiple platforms in each channel. So, for example, for dropshipping, I’m on like eight or nine platforms, different platforms. So all those come from different places.

One thing that, uh, I’m trying to better is like, um, Cause I have a project manager backgrounds processes kind of like it was my life. So I’ve been trying to stream streamline the business as much as possible because that’s create the efficiency. Uh, so even though like those eight or nine, uh, eight or nine [00:31:00] different platforms for one sales channel.

Uh, I’ve been trying to have like Shopify as our, uh, key points to managing inventory because managing inventory is, is very, very important for us because that’s the promise that we got to keep up with the customers. Especially for the Josh Josh versus someone place ordering. If I don’t have it, I’m in trouble.

But even when I’m having like, a different sales platforms taking my inventory for their orders, there is a good chance that I’ve been trouble. So I have to be like, safety, uh, Stop for some sales channel that don’t that’s not connected with the Shopify because there’s some big tenors that’s not connected to Shopify.

So I have to have a separate process for them, so I have to have, like, a drop shipping, uh, shipping process. And, uh, but the main thing is, like, when you create this process, when you try to streamline, it is a backbone right now. You got to research it [00:32:00] more and more like, uh, these days are great because I mean, there are so many apps, like so many keep up on like Shopify.

They’re using the app system. So keep building, uh, based on your need, you, you just got to continuously improve yourself. Uh, so you got it like, uh, like save some time for your research and investment for, for those kinds of things. So, even though sometimes I, I had the experience, like, sometimes, uh, like while ago, like I had the 1 problem that I wanted to fix, I was looking for the Shopify app.

I couldn’t find any app at the time, so, well, I couldn’t do it.

Young Kim: 6

Josh Kim: months later, I went back there, I found a solution. So a lot of times, like when, when you like try there one time, if I couldn’t find a solution, people give up because, and it’s using that as an excuse not to go further from there. But one thing great about these days, like [00:33:00] technology is, uh, is going, getting developed fast enough.

So even though it’s not there, I’m sure somebody else will need it too.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah, so

Josh Kim: another key point was, uh, that, uh, when you’re using this kind of system, go with the system that always develops.

Young Kim: That’s

Josh Kim: one thing I learned from like, uh, running business for the last 20 years. Uh, we try many different ways, but like, when you’re running the business, POS was our key, uh, system.

And we, sometimes we try it now. Sometimes we use some other products and, uh, eventually we ended up with the Shopify. Um, but, uh, so when you’re using. When you are using this, uh, make sure that’s always developing. ’cause right now you may be on top of everything in one year. If the platform’s not developed, you are behind.

So what, that’s the one key point that I’m looking at when I’m trying to, uh, look at the process, uh, and the platform. ’cause I’m, my process is based on the, [00:34:00] uh, the it and the, those, those, uh, platforms that I’m using.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah. And I think, uh, you know, Shopify is definitely. providing so much value to e commerce entrepreneurs just because of, you know, the fact that they have so many integrations and, and, uh, simple ways of creating processes without having to develop your own things.

So I think Shopify actually does make a, uh, entrepreneur’s job, uh, uh, very easy. Um, so no, that’s, that’s great advice. Um, So you are selling through, uh, you know, different, um, wholesale platforms and dropshipping platforms. Are you also on other sales channels like, just for consumers like Amazon or, you know, uh, any of those like eBay, Etsy kind of, uh, uh, platforms as well to sell directly to consumers?

Josh Kim: Yes, you can [00:35:00] take on another session if you want to talk about Amazon and eBay and all that. Yeah, we were like, uh, while we are running the, uh, the retail stores, brick and mortar stores. Yeah, I’ve been on, uh, I’ve been an Amazon seller for like 20 years, actually. But, uh, cause we were even had like, uh, Amazon, Etsy, uh, what else is like eBay.

I, we all had accounts there one time, uh, still have some, uh, actually at this moment. Uh, the, it was metal focus at the time. Cause when you’re running 10 retail stores, if you just focus, uh, and then compared to the volume that we are running at the time, uh, in from the stores. It was, it was, it was, it was not that much at the time, and then you took quite the time to develop there too.

And then, uh, another thing about technology is good that you keep developing while, uh, watching Amazon for the last 20

Young Kim: years,

Josh Kim: when those kinds of channels get [00:36:00] developed, you got to catch as well. You got to develop yourself as well. I think it is. That’s 1 thing that we got cut out there. And then right now we are trying to get back to their little bit more, but I, I don’t think we are getting back to Amazon, but we want to test out some new rising channels, emerging channels than just all the channels.

That’s our strategy at this moment for the future.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Definitely. I mean, now it’s like the two new ones are Sheen and Timu, right? The, the, the Chinese ones. Um, and, uh, it’s, it’s almost, it seems like, you know, for the first time, Amazon has a challenge. Right. Um, what do you think about Sheen and Tim Timo? Uh, have you, I mean, do you see that as competition?

Do you see that something, something, uh, an opportunity to take advantage of, or, um, do you have any thoughts on that?

Josh Kim: Yeah, uh, I [00:37:00] mean, it’s, it’s just hard to say at this moment, uh, to shoes, but I mean, it can be both. I believe it can be threat, it can be opportunities. It really depends upon how you are structured.

So, so I’m, you’re always thinking like, uh, just when you’re looking at something, we just try to evaluate, but situation that you have, like business, the structure, how you’re running or how your product is depending upon that it can be thread or it can be opportunities. So I think it really up to us how we want to, uh, proceed with that.

Also, Chris, like, you know, um, they have to. I mean, to be an opportunity. Yeah, it’s not just from our side. It’s from their side as well. But, uh, I mean, uh, to to U. S. economic country as well. Obviously, it may help out the inflation problem because it’s slowing down the price. However, is is definitely the, uh, the [00:38:00] threat to the small business, but I think we have to understand that.

I mean, uh, or the small business or like, uh, any, any, uh. Companies or any entrepreneurs is metal challenges is, I mean, there is always some kind of challenges. So, it may be Tim or it may be seen this time. It was Amazon before to tortures. I mean, still, as a wholesale business, I mean, uh, we don’t, we don’t do Amazon.

One of the reason we don’t do Amazon right now is because we try to try to support our wholesale business. Because we want to, we need to provide product, which is not an Amazon to our, um, our, um, retail customers. So, so just look at, just evaluate yourself, structure yourself,

Young Kim: uh,

Josh Kim: your business.

Young Kim: And, um, also like product wise and brand wise, I think, you know, I can definitely just do my best to, to make a [00:39:00] difference is, um, you know, just, uh, products is, That customers can buy from Tim or, um, machine.

Um, I just, you know, really try to step up on my own game to, um, have, you know, just not like two common designs, just my own, like, you know, some special designs as well. It maybe looks kind of like, you know, Um, not too much different, but like all the details and then the quality packaging and also, you know, the shipping everything, um, that we just, just, you know, to our best to step up on our own games.

Josh Kim: One thing funny was, is like, uh, when you just first started thinking about having one brand, uh, while we are running the retail stores, that’s because of Amazon.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Because

Josh Kim: while we are running the, uh, the, uh, the, I mean, I’m not just stores at the time. We, I kind of noticed that, like, even in Amazon, they need to have a [00:40:00] brand because, uh, about 20, about 15 years ago, when we, uh, started Amazon, we were doing pretty well in the beginning because we were, at the time, brand was not important in Amazon.

We were selling somebody else’s product who did some of the brand’s product that we were carrying in the store. So like, yeah, at the time, we were even, uh, we did pretty good in the beginning. And then I started noticing, like. Uh, there was, uh, uh, more brands actually coming into Amazon. Uh, so eventually, uh, we felt like to succeed in any, uh, sales channel, it didn’t matter that we need to have our own, our own brand.

So that was the idea, uh, in the beginning that we need to have a brand name and we need to start having our own product that can separate ourselves. So, uh, it’s just, uh, like I said, it was evolving process, not just happening. One time. So I get, uh, so, uh, just keep looking the next step [00:41:00] simply.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah. I mean, brand building is definitely a, a way to differentiate yourself, right?

Because, you know, brand is really, you know, what, what is, what is the extra value that you’re providing to the customer? And, um, and that, that, that is really a differentiator because, you know, somebody could really like doing business with you because you’re easy to do business with. Yeah. And, and then you, you know, then you are a little bit safer from, you know, just like a commodity perspective.

But I think like for, for small businesses, all these platforms, I feel like, you know, when I talk to all the different business people is small businesses are the ones that are, that kind of suffer the most because, you know, if they go to Amazon or one of these platforms to sell, like they take away so much.

Of the margin and fees and so forth that, you know, even if they’re selling it, of course they get some distribution, but, you know, at the end of the day, they’re not making a lot of money from there. So it’s, it’s kind of a cash 22. [00:42:00] It’s, it’s a necessary evil, at least in the beginning to get people to see your products.

But, uh, you know, of course, Amazon and other players, you know, they’re setting the rules and they’re taking away so much fees away from you. So it’s a tricky, tricky situation. Absolutely. Um, I want to ask you about your team. Um, are you, uh, you know, do you have a team of people? Um, and or is it mostly, you know, uh, both of you kind of managing the business?

Young Kim: We definitely have a team. It’s a small team, but I’m very efficient and productive. Um, so I have, um, um, one just admin assistant. Um, so she helps, you know, some different sales channels, um, like, uh, Things like that, and some trend research, uh, when I do, you know, just develop some new products and stuff. Um, and then Josh has, uh, his, like, picking and packing, shipping team.

Um, you have three team members other [00:43:00] than Sydney?

Josh Kim: Yeah, we have four, uh, shipping people right now. We have a warehouse in, uh, Florida, Georgia. So we are fully running the warehouse operations. So we, we have some people working in the warehouse as well.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Very nice. I’m very curious. Um, do you, I mean, given that you had 10 retail stores, do you enjoy the e commerce business model more?

Or are you, you know, do you miss having those retail stores?

Young Kim: Um, I, I just, you know, uh, love my life now. Uh, but I also just really enjoyed and then loved like running different locations. Um, and I was a lot younger. By that time. And then, you know, I was so energetic, so I was driving different locations and then meeting up with my, um, you know, managers and customers and employees and, you know, doing all this window displays, like, you know, beautifully, like using my creativity, um, and everything, and also the buying, you know, just, [00:44:00] um, process, like going to different trade shows and stuff.

Um, so I love both, but, um, I think for now, I just love this simple, uh, Uh, operation, um, you know, just type of business, uh, right now, because we just have one, you know, just some space, uh, office and warehouse. That’s it. And then just a small team is like less communication and then it’s just, um, I think it’s a really enjoyable just, you know, working environment wise.

And then, um, just, you know, everything is online and it’s definitely more efficient and productive.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: For sure. For sure. Um, probably miss some of your interactions, you know, directly with customers and so forth. But, uh, what is your,

Young Kim: what

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: is the future vision for your business? Like, do you want to continue, uh, building and scaling?

Um, where do you see [00:45:00] yourself? Let’s let’s say five years down the road.

Young Kim: Yeah, for now I would say multi brands. Um, so now I run, um, uh, kind of like a meat. Ish, um, you know, the brand Allison Young more affordable, but like with good quality, but it’s not too low, you know, either. Um, but, um, since, you know, I’m a business woman, and then I have my know hows about, you know, how to brand it.

I mean, the, you know, branding. Um, and also like, you know, how to, um, develop the products, um, and just, you know, productions and all this, like also marketing and everything, the know how that I already, um, built. So I just want to utilize all these, my experiences again for the future. So I think a multi brands, this definitely, I want to like, you know, Challenge myself to do so.

Currently I’m just, you know, about to [00:46:00] launch, um, lab grown diamond and solid gold brand. I mean, fine jewelry brand called Amelia green. So there’s some is about to launch. And then, um, just, you know, in just in the future, I just want to just create, uh, more multi brands to target different, you know, markets.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Very interesting. I actually recently interviewed another entrepreneur who is doing really well. I think he’s doing really, really well in lab grown diamond, diamonds, jewelry. Uh, so yeah, it seems like it’s, uh, uh, there’s a lot of opportunity in the like new, and I think the trends are, trends are moving.

I’m curious to know how, um, If you can share a little bit about your marketing, because to me it seems like given that you’re mostly wholesale and drop shipping, you know, those, you probably get views, um, directly through those platforms because they have a lot of people, uh, customers coming on those platforms.

Do you do any marketing activities yourself to get your name out there? [00:47:00]

Josh Kim: Yeah, I mean, uh, you know, since we are mostly in the platform, uh, we are doing advertisement in the platform if they offer and it really depending upon what platform platform offers. 1 thing that we are trying to make sure is that we get to get the right return for our marketing is to do that.

Uh, I figured out that we got to know what platforms trying to. That’s one thing I learned, uh, while we were in the Amazon business. That’s one thing that we didn’t do a good job. So I was trying to learn from, uh, our failure there. So when you first tried in like new wholesale platforms, when they first popping up, you’re jumping in there.

And then we’re, you know, like I said, we want to be in the platform that’s continuously developed. Developing, but the mean is they’re going to have something new, they’re going to have new ideas. So we are trying to, uh, target their new, uh, ideas and new pushes that they want to, [00:48:00] uh, new directions they want to get to.

So, uh, when each time, uh, that that’s one thing that we are trying to do our best. Uh, so if they develop like an email system in the platform, you know, we’re going to jump right in. So, uh, so we are, uh, and then, uh, if they’re trying to, Add like a new, new, I mean, uh, so, uh, for example, like email, uh, when they were trying to do, uh, just add the, um, emails, uh, marketing in their platform, we, we, we, we did our research and added 8, 000, uh, customers there.

So we’re trying to maximize what they offer instead of like just relying on our ideas and relying on our money. So these spaces, I think one of the biggest problem about marketing is the ROI and you know, it’s just too competitive.

Young Kim: Yeah.

Josh Kim: So, uh, just try to find our niche. But our niche is not based on, not only based on us, of course, there has to be something about us, [00:49:00] but, uh, also about the platform.

I think that’s one important thing about the platform business.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: For sure. Um, in every entrepreneur’s journey, there’s always mistakes made, lessons learned, uh, failures. I mean, you’ve been running business for a long, long time, but, um, thinking about your e commerce business itself, uh, Does any big mistake come to mind, or, or, or failure, you know, you were like, I could have done without it, but What did you, what is the lesson that you learned and what can other entrepreneurs learn from your mistakes?

Josh Kim: I mean, to tell the truth, learning business for 20 years, there are too many mistakes. That’s the, that’s a bigger problem. Uh, one thing was like, we didn’t catch on time, like, uh, on, on Amazon when Amazon, cause we were one of the earlier ones that, uh, like, cause we started like 15 years ago. So if he had had a focus on Amazon business and trying [00:50:00] to do what we are doing right now at the time.

I’m sure we probably still running like pretty big in Amazon at the time. So, so that’s the, that’s the one thing that we learned that we fixed ourselves when you’re trying to do wholesale platform business here. So that’s a lesson learned that I was there. So we were actually focusing on there. One of the biggest issue when you have like too many things going on, so when you’re running 10 stores, you can focus on one thing.

And then another, the mistakes that we did was we are focusing on the retail business too much that we didn’t have any room to develop any new, because this wholesale ideas, like we had this idea many, many years ago, even while we are running the retail business, but we are always occupied, we are always like too many things going on.

There’s always some, something going on that I have to fix right away. Fixing right away is great because we’ve got to fix no matter what. But sometimes they can be a problem for the [00:51:00] future. So, uh, strongly suggest that you got, you got, you got to have some room in yourself, especially when you’re running your own, you’re going to be knocked out pretty fast.

You’re going to be hired pretty fast. More importantly, you may lose your interest. Yeah, and motivate and the motivation. So managing that is not easy. And then I think we didn’t do a good job sometimes because when you’re growing too fast, because it started overwhelming us and we’re just. To be managing to be driving around, um, to, to just different places, uh, just like that.

Uh, that was one of the reasons that we actually gave our retail e commerce business because we are doing pretty well. Well, because while we are running, uh, the, uh, the retail stores, we started our Instagram accounts. We started, uh, our, uh, web, uh, website business. It was, we are, we’re getting to the level of about, uh, one Christmas we made about 50K.[00:52:00]

Just from this channel, which is not bad for an online channel. And then we had as many as 50, 000 followers in Instagram accounts. Cause we, uh, we were adding them for 10 years because from, from our stores, those are organic followers. Not, we didn’t pay any of them except for the, like, you know, those kinds of like events in the stores and like that.

Events for promotion. So the main reason that we gave up, even though it was okay, it was, it was, we were tired. So I think that’s one thing very important for yourself, like if you’re running the business for a long time, make sure you’re refreshed, recharge it so that you don’t lose your interest. Cause if you lose that, it’s no more fun.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah, that is, that is so important, and, you know, business is like, you know, you are growing yourself as the business is growing, and I think, [00:53:00] um, you know, maybe, maybe the, maybe it’s, it’s really delegation, right? So, it’s like, You can only do so much. And as you’re growing, I guess you have to find other people who can like take over social media or, you know, those kinds of things, I guess.

Um, now I’m going to move on to our rapid fire segment. In this segment, I’m going to ask you a few quick questions. You have to answer them in like a word or a sentence or so. So the first one is one book recommendation for entrepreneurs. Um,

Young Kim: it’s a really old book, but it’s called your best life now by Joel Austin.

Um, I read it like more than 20 times. It just, I think the business is all about lifestyle. You know, it cannot be like just your work, you know, to be an entrepreneur, you just have to change the attitude towards to your life. So that’s why.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: For sure, yeah. I mean, Joel Osteen definitely has some great insights.

I [00:54:00] mean, he’s, he’s an entrepreneur in his own right. Um, an innovative product or idea in the current e commerce, retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about?

Young Kim: I ought to say chat GPT.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Okay, of course. Um, a business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend or a productivity tip?

Young Kim: I use Shopify as my just really like for my productivity. I have my own like ways to organize, you know, multiple skews and what to reorder and what’s new and things like that. So I would say Shopify.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Okay. Um, another startup or business in e commerce, retail or tech that you think is currently doing great things.


Young Kim: another startup or business?[00:55:00]

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Any business that you like? Any products that you enjoy? Like any brands that you, uh, think is doing like good I like to buy. Yeah.

Young Kim: Mm-Hmm. , uh, there are like, you know, few different ones, but, uh, recently, you know, I’m so into like diamonds and buying jewelry, so I would say like ideal. Uh, I founded that brand recently and I think they are really good.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Ideal. Mm-Hmm? .

Young Kim: IDYL.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Ideal. Okay. Very interesting. I’m going to check them out. A peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you?

Young Kim: Um, for me, Josh inspires me every day. And of course, our great designers like Chanel, I love her like, you know, just her passion and philosophy towards to fashion.

So, you know, [00:56:00] yeah.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Awesome. And final question, and I’ll, I’ll, I’ll have you both answer this one. Uh, the best business advice that you ever received or you would give to other entrepreneurs?

Young Kim: Okay, um, my definition of the business, um, is, uh, continuous like a phenomenon of success and failure. So, um, just, you know, I just wanted to say like, do not be afraid too much to make a decision.

So I just, you know, always see. better decisions are better than no decisions. Um, and then, you know, if you fail because of that decision, just, you know, just, um, take lessons and keep going.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Great advice. Great advice. And for, and for, from you, Josh.

Josh Kim: Yeah. From a finance background, do your calculated risk. I mean, there are certain risks that you can take that’s not going to screw you up.

So do your, your, [00:57:00] I mean, just take your calculated risk. Cause if you think like two or three times, you’re going to know how much risk you are taking already. If you can take, why not?

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah, I think that’s, that’s great advice. And I think both of your advice kind of goes hand in hand. Like you have to take action.

But you also have to calculate the risk like you don’t want to kill yourself There’s always going to be some risk, but you know, uh move forward with calculated risk. So That’s great. Well, um young and josh. Thank you so much for joining me today. Those were all the questions that I had If somebody wants to purchase your products or get in touch with the business, what’s the best way to do that?

Josh Kim:

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Well, thank you so much again, uh, Young and Kim for joining me today at Treptalks for sharing your story and, uh, um, for, for helping a new generation of entrepreneurs. So thanks again and wish you all the very best.


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