|▲ Kelly Choi, CEO of Kellydeli|
Choi was born to a family of six children in Jeongeup, North Jeolla Province. She went up to Seoul at the age of 17 and got a job at a dress shirtfactory. She woke up at 5am, hurried off to her lodging on finishing the work, washed and ate briefly, and took a bus to an evening high school.
After graduation, she quit the dress shirt factory and worked at a name card printing factory where she came to know a foreign designer by chance. She started to brood her dream of being a fashion designer ever since and went to Japan in 1988 to fulfill it. What she realized in Japan was that most Japanese designs came from France. So, she took a flight to Paris.
She enrolled in a course at a design school in Paris. When working for a company as a designer after graduation,she was offered a partnership from an advertisement company based in France but served for big Korean companies. She accepted the offer with confidence believing her capability in 3 languages. But the business went bankrupt after 10 years leaving her a debt of 1 billion won (US$ 889,679).
"Looking back, the I-know-everything-attitude alongside negligence was the cause of the bankrupt. One day, I met my long time no see friend at a cafe in Paris and this thought came up "Who pays that coffee?" I wanted to go to the Seine straight and fly my body into it to end my miserable life. Then my mother's face came up. She always said to me "How dear my third daughter." She always said no matter what hardship I faced. So I straightened up myself one more time" remembers Choi.
She pushed herself to the limit for the next 2 years reading extensively on books about business and distribution. Three promising trades came up: sex, funeral and food industries which normally are uninfluenced by the economic fluctuation. She picked the last option with an idea of sushi lunch box.
Her persistency in researching and gathering materials and information on sushi business eventually led to Yamamoto, the then sushi master whose sushi were served at the presidential events in France.
She learned sushi making from Yamamoto, management from Kim Seung-ho (chairman of Snow Fox famous for gimbab lunch box), and global operation system from Denis Hannequin (CEO of MacDonald's Europe).
"I encourage you to throw away this prejudice "The renownedpeople don't give a damn about me". Like there is saying that the heaven helps who help themselves, just try hard, work hard and deliver your message of help to the person you need."
August 2010, she opened her fist store at Carrefour in Lyon, France. The sushi and the sushi boxes were made instantly at the show kitchen by the chefs. The result of the sushi making show created doubled the promised sales of 30,000 Euro at the first month.
Kellydeli has grown much and contributed to creating 5,500 jobs with 800 stores in Europe today and is the No.1 in the field by taking 50% market share.The business is still expanding by opening approximately a store a day. In fact, it is growing fast than MacDonald's in terms of its speed of expansion in the initial stage of the business.
Choi points out the five core values as the reason for this massive success: 1) Totally Together 2) Constantly Curious 3) Expertly Excellent 4) Humbly Honest 5) Positively Passionate."This five core values are made by all employees of Kellydeli" says Choi.
So the business had been sailing nicely, so had her yacht for 13 months sailing through 17 countries with her husband and a daughter onboard. It was a reward she gave herself and her family for hard work and massive success.
Not complacent, Choi has become more ambitious to grow the business lasting for 100 years under the new business paradigm 'Asian Life Style'. "Long lasting business doesn't need to take something big but it mostly takes cooperation and harmony between staff and partners."
When asked a word for those who failed, Choi said "You will surely fail if you haven't failed yet. No matter who you are, what you are doing, how much money you have now, failing will make you stronger and better. Because, a miracle happens to those who act but not dream!"
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