#Power of Businesses l 2019-06-03
The company we’re going to introduce today is Seediglobal, a jewelry supplier that is expanding Korean jewelry’s presence in the global market. Let’s hear from company CEO Kim Woo-jin.
The company name “Seediglobal” represents our hope to become a global leader in the industry, like a small seed that grows into a big tree. We started as an original equipment manufacturer of luxury jewelry brands, and our high-quality products with price competitiveness have earned more recognition in the international market than in the domestic market. Now we export goods to eight countries, including the U.S., Canada and Japan. The products under our own brand “YENO” target those in their 30s and 40s with their charming and distinctive designs, which have been well received by customers.
Starting with OEM business, the company accumulated its expertise over time to establish an integrated system combining design creation, production and sales as one. It conducts research on possible fashion trends in the next two to three years, in the belief that jewelry and fashion go hand in hand. Seediglobal grabbed the attention of foreign customers first before it was recognized in the domestic market—a rare case for a local jewelry supplier. As the company name indicates, it planted a seed of growth in Korea and cultivated so it could flower outside the country. Mr. Kim explains why he turned his eyes to overseas markets.
I studied at an engineering college and worked at LG Electronics. Whilst there, I often went on business trips to foreign countries, where I witnessed the strong winds of hallyu. I wondered what would appeal to consumers in Southeast Asia, in particular, and I came up with jewelry.
Like jewelry, clothes are also a fashion item. But clothes are rather difficult because the body types of Southeast Asian people are different from those of Koreans and the climates in the two regions are different as well. I thought it would be difficult to deal with the backlog of unsold inventory if I sell clothes in the region.
Actually, my family ran a jewelry business. When I was a student, I worked part-time at a jewelry factory. The experience aroused my interest in jewels.
As Kim explained, he discovered the power of the Korean pop culture boom overseas known as the Korean Wave or hallyu, as an employee of LG Electronics, one of Korea’s leading tech firms. He learned that global preferences for Korean pop culture spread to various other industries, including food, fashion and beauty, contributing to enhancing the value of Korean companies and leading to more purchases of Korean products overseas. He began to explore a business item that would grow in line with the expansion of hallyu.
He set his eyes on jewelry, which was drawing special attention from foreign fans of hallyu after their favorite Korean stars wore it. Many foreigners seemed to believe that accessories worn by Koreans were stylish and chic, and Kim was convinced that jewels would be another hallyu item to promote the beauty of the country abroad. Also, he was exposed to the world of jewelry from his childhood, as it was his family business. Kim founded Seediglobal in 2011 and launched its own jewelry brand “YENO.”
The brand name “YENO” was inspired by the two words “Yes” and “No.” It implies a confident person who can boldly say “no” when other people all say “yes.” Like the audacious person, the brand makes products with unique designs that are certainly different from their alternatives. Those who wear YENO jewelry can distinguish themselves from others and show their beauty in an unconventional way.
It is worth mentioning that our products use genuine crystals of Swarovski, the premium brand known for the finest crystals. Our luxurious jewels made from Swarovski crystals definitely stand out. Another strongpoint of YENO is its layered jewelry selection. Wearers can mix and match different jewels to look more trendy and stylish.
The name YENO itself represents the company’s confidence and strong individuality. Indeed, the company has chosen a path that other jewelry makers haven’t walked. Its distinctive, multi-layered items are drawing an enthusiastic response from wearers. The company has also unveiled designs tailored specifically to spring, summer, fall or winter so customers can wear different jewels in each season, just as people wear different clothes during different seasons.
In 2013, the company signed a license contract with Swarovski, a famous brand that specializes in precision cut crystal. Swarovski highly evaluated Seediglobal’s aesthetic creativity and decided to provide its crystals to the Korean jewelry maker. Thanks to its solid jewelry manufacturing technology and excellent designs, Seediglobal was able to meet the very strict standards to use the label “Made with Swarovski Elements.” Since then, the company has processed Swarovski crystals into finished goods. Encouraged by the positive development, it began to tap into overseas markets.
China is a huge market, of course. But I see great potential in Vietnam. Vietnam and Korea have many things in common and people in the Southeast Asian country, due to the warm weather, tend to wear revealing outfits that make jewelry items look more attractive. I paid attention to this.
My company faced many difficulties when it first entered the Vietnamese market. Parts of bonded jewels were detached at times and plated jewels became discolored over time. But in the process of remedying the problems, we were able to further sharpen our price and quality competitiveness. A lot of positive comments about our products are found in social media networks such as Facebook and Instagram.
First, Seediglobal focused on Vietnam, where hallyu was booming. Moreover, the country has a population of 100 million and nearly half of them are under the age of 30.
But it turned out that the method of bonding, which uses adhesives for jewelry manufacturing, deteriorated the product quality. To resolve the problem, the company introduced a so-called “prong setting,” where three to six little metal claws, or prongs, grip the jewel tightly, holding it in place. The use of this difficult technology produced positive results. Jewels produced in this way can withstand heat and shine from every angle. In addition, the company used titanium to prevent discoloration and minimize allergic reactions, and developed eco-friendly jewelry plating with its own technology.
The improved product quality led to more exports. On the back of the growing popularity overseas, the company has been selling its products on a local home shopping channel, online markets and the Daegu Department Store. Its products were selected for the Seoul Excellent Product Brand Award sponsored by the Seoul Business Agency.
As a new, leading provider of K-jewelry products, Seediglobal is ready to take on even more challenges.
We’re greatly interested in the so-called “health” jewelry, and we’ll make an attempt to add some healthy elements to our gemstones. We’ll also incorporate information technology into our jewelry products. For example, we might analyze a person’s date of birth, constellation or Oriental zodiac signs to create jewels that go well with that person. We could make jewels featuring a particular color that is believed to be ideal for the person. I’m sure interesting jewelry items like these will attract customers.
Seediglobal is making some interesting changes in the jewelry market, which is generally considered to be rather conservative. The company will surely contribute to upgrading the level of K-jewelry, which will introduce a new world of jewels to the global community.