On October 22, 2019, the Hanyang Start-up Academy (HSA), which helps students start and grow their own business within school, revealed that Acluster Corp., a rapidly growing fashion start-up, has successfully entered Amazon Japan. Kim Sang-yoon, the CEO of the company, plans on taking this opportunity as a chance to venture into the global market.
Q. Please briefly introduce yourself and Acluster Corp.
A. I am Kim Sang-yoon, a Mechanical Engineering major. Acluster Corp. is a fashion start-up that focuses on spreading Korean fashion trend by working with internationally popular Korean celebrities and influencers as a marketing strategy.
Q. What motivated you to start your business?
A. I first started to run a business during my third year at college, when I was 26 unsuited with my major. As a part- time job, I gave lectures to students. At the same time, I was learning to DJ as a hobby, so I decided to start business in both teaching and party planning. The relationships I built during the party planning business with celebrities and influencers motivated me to start this new business.
Q. How do you feel about the new launching at Amazon Japan?
A. The global manager at HSA first suggested the idea to us. To be quite honest, we are not expecting much profit from launching at Amazon alone. Recently, we have entered a Japanese store called LHP, which has nine locations around Japan, and have done similarly in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Paris. Being that our long-term goal is to venture into the global market, the new launching at Amazon is truly meaningful.
Q. How do you plan on expanding into the global market?
A. Similar to many other fashion brands, we launch a new collection every season, which means around four to six launchings annually. Every season, we send our lookbooks, fashion films, and other sources to foreign buyers, some of whom have reached out to us. Like I said before, K-culture is receiving a lot of attention worldwide, which makes our company stand out. Our largest export comes from wholesaling to foreign buyers, which is just one way to expand. The second method we are considering is international online marketing.
Q. Please explain your marketing strategy using celebrities and influencers.
A. The relationships I built during the party planning business as well as personal connections definitely helped a lot. ‘Brother-ship’ is when you do not have to pay for modeling if the model is your friend. Whereas advertising using celebrities can be costly, being free of cost put us at an advantage. My coworkers are experts in the design and fashion industry, which also let us connect with celebrities and influencers.
Q. What kind of help did you receive from HSA?
A. HSA was the most helpful in providing information. I received various types of information regarding government help, funding, loan, and more. The global manager at HSA also helped me connect with foreign buyers.
Q. Do you have any advice for those planning to start business?
A. There is a slightly negative outlook upon starting a business in Korea. I also received many discouraging comments at first. Nonetheless, you never know whether you will succeed or fail until you try. Instead of dwelling on other people’s judgment, you should stay confident and push through.