|▲ Alliche / CEO Yeonsook Kim|
A reason luxury goods are expensive is that they are melted with craftsmanship as well as philosophy and history. If the well-to-do class in their 40s and 50s willingly opened their purse for a luxury bag in the past, as young as 20s with not necessarily rich can also willingly open their purse for one today. In fact, who wouldn’t want to have a bag of Hermes, Chanel and Prada?
However, if you think you are a hipster who constantly looks for something new and trendy, you might want to turn your eyes from the western classics to a Korean luxury bag brand Alliche. Launched in June 2014 with 100% Korean craftsmanship, Alliche, meaning ‘a bag carried by the noble’, boldly challenged the western luxury brands. CEO Yeonsook Kim explains:
“Alliche is themed on Korean decorative colors called ‘dancheong’. It enlivens the beauty of the building but at the same time protects it from weather. So the idea of Alliche is to support the beauty of the carrier and protect their belongings. Every single product is made with souls of Korean master craftsmen.”
The first ever 5 color themed product of Alliche unveiled its uniqueness at the lunching show in 2015 and it led to a number of collaborations with renowned Korean designers and masters resulted in a bag with a painting by actor writer Songa Min at the collaboration fashion show held at the National Assembly building in 2017.
At the follow-up show held at AK department store Sinchon, Seoul, last July, the products drew explosive response from the audience; and the company quite recently introduced new lines for bags and smartphone cases themed on artist Hyejin Kim. Though they are different in applications and kinds, all of them lay their emphasis on the same motive: traditional Korean beauty.
“Hard work has always been my top priority. I’m a kind of person who has to put what I learned into practice to see the result of it. Looking back, this made me escalade to CEO from a mere accounting clerk. I believe those who work hard in consistency will almost certainly grab a chance that passes by otherwise.”
Kim was born to a not well to do family and had to endure harsh life from her early age. Finishing the elementary school and at the age of 14, she started working at a small sewing factory in Hannam-dong, Seoul. Not discouraged, she carried on her study at night after work and successfully passed qualification exams for middle and high schools. When things turned a little better, she packed and went to Japan and earned a bachelor’s degree in international business at Tokyo Foreign Language College. She then made a further study in the UK and Canada for 2 years.
Back in Korea, she took a chance at I&Y as an accounting clerk and soon became charge in English and Japanese translation and interpretation for trade and mold technology. The company, specialized in mold manufacturing, now has grown to yield yearly 10 billion won ($8.5 million) sales mostly made overseas. In recognition of its contribution, I&Y is designated by the government as a hidden champion and the chairman Jaeyul Lee listed his name in the Excellent Korean Exporter Award.
And as much credit as Lee went to Kim who played a crucial role to have improved production efficiency and team work as well as on-time deliberation of orders. Started from a mere accounting clerk with hard-up family background, Kim’s challenge spirit turned her from an invisible in the field to an influential and she proved herself by receiving a ministerial prize from the Ministry of SMEs and Startups and also from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, and a chairman’s prize of the KBIZ Korea Federation of SMEs. Earning her position as CEO of I&Y today and launching of Alliche would not have been possible without her challenge spirit, passion and consistency.
Alliche also is a result of her MBA course at Sungkyunkwan University during which she built extensive and in-depth knowledge of distribution industry. And her assignment was about startup of a Korean luxury bag brand for which she and her team collected materials for one and half years. On finishing the MBA in September 2015, she challenged for doctor of engineering at Waseda University.
“It is my goal to develop a risk management system that is needed for mold manufacturing SMEs which is nonexistent in South Korea.”
Kim has published 4 papers on international academic journals and is currently working on another paper.
What makes Alliche different?
It is made of leather of crocodile, phyton and ostrich imported from Italy. The design is simple, quality top yet price competitive and it boasts excellence in durability, convenience, storage and light weight. Above all, it covers most age groups from teens to 50s.
Alliche launched its spinoff accessory brand Alliche Young in 2017 and secured a corner at Duty Free of Incheon International Airport the next year. Currently, Alliche bags and accessories are also sold at Happy department store in Mok-dong, Seoul and at the showroom of the head office in Bucheon City. When asked about future plan, Kim said:
“I want to establish a venture in Silicon Valley US specialized in mold manufacturing and system control.”
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