We had the good fortune of connecting with Hyun Yu and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hyun, we’d love to start by asking you about lessons learned. Is there a lesson you can share with us?
For me the most important lesson in starting and running a business is the realization that I can make my own opportunities. Making my own designs, and the process of building a business have taught me I am capable of creating something that fits me. These have opened me up to taking a chance on things I want, like being able to create my own designs from start to finish on a flexible schedule. Sure, I am much busier than I used to be in my salaried job, but having control over my time makes a world of difference. Through running a business I have learned to open up more with people. In the beginning, I used to feel extremely uncomfortable interacting with customers, being an introvert. But I have learned to relax and get to know customers at the maker shows. Now I actually enjoy the interactions, and that has enhanced my personal life as well. As I am writing this I realize I need to do this more — “taking a chance” I mean. Looking back, this little business of mine has taught me this, to take risks and see what they bring.
What should our readers know about your business?
I had a strong desire to create my own designs after working for other companies for so many years. It was a scary transition, going from a full-time job with benefits to the unknown path of starting a business. Before this, I had never had a business of my own and there was a huge learning curve. Trying something new pushes you to do things you are scared of. I started my business online but didn’t get many sales, then soon discovered a maker’s market that seemed daunting. I felt overwhelmed thinking about designing a booth, making and building an inventory of jewelry, and selling it seemed all so scary, but I knew I had to try. After attending a market called Unique LA, I knew my business could work. You asked what sets me apart from others. My background is in fine arts and graphic design. I studied fine art in college and professionally worked as a graphic designer for many years. When I started making jewelry I realized how much I missed working with my hands. Making jewelry ties graphic design and fine arts together really well. As a graphic designer, I love clean lines, a sense of whimsy and lightness. I was able to translate those qualities into my jewelry designs and add movements. When I was studying fine arts, I loved exploring new materials and finding out how different materials work together. In making jewelry I have a wide range of materials I can explore and bring together to create a piece. Currently, I love working with hand-blown glass, felt, clay, metal, and acrylic. My process involves sourcing materials, designing, and making of the jewelry. I do this from start to finish. Each piece of jewelry is handmade by me with much care. It’s most satisfying to have a finished piece, to wrap it up and ship it to a customer; always a joy to spot a person wearing my jewelry out in the world, or receiving kind feedback.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Since I live in Marina Del Rey, we will visit the marina and rent a kayak to cruise around its fingers, and afterward have a picnic at Burton Chace park overlooking the marina. The best part of living in CA is the beautiful weather; and to take advantage of this, we will go on a bike ride along the beautiful scenic path of Playa Vista, and have a picnic along the way. Being a Korean, I can’t leave out Korea Town for Korean food. I love sampling food. So we will visit the Korea Town Plaza food court to sample food, and finish with a dessert at Oakobing. And of course there’s Downtown for its food and art. I love eating at Grand Central Market for the variety of food, and its vibe. Then we can feast our eyes at The Broad and LACMA.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to give thanks to my family for giving me support, especially my Dad. When I was growing up, he owned a business that sold women’s fashion. At the time I didn’t care to work at the shops he owned but had to help out. Looking back I think having the exposure to my dad starting his own business and being successful helped me to pursue my own.
Photo_Hy photo is by Teri B. Photography Unique LA photo is by Bill Russell Rest of the photos are by Hyun Yu.