In many western nations, there are fairy tales of a spirit that appears in winter named Jack Frost. According to the tale, Jack Frost turns things frosty by his touch. Sookmyung also has its own winter spirit. It’s 'Snowflake', Sookmyung’s mascot, who brings the sparkle of snowflakes and happiness to Sookmyungians' hearts. In this edition, SMT reporters took a look back on Snowflake’s growth over the years.
How ‘Snowflake’ Came to Sookmyung
Snowflake products are items that have the Sookmyung Women’s University’s character ‘Snowfl ake’ on them such as clothes, tumblers, accessories, and dolls. The first time Snowflake appeared was for the 96th anniversary of Sookmyung in 2002 with Sookmyung UI (University Identity). Snowflake soon evolved into a visual representative character that conveys Sookmyung Women’s University ideals at domestic and foreign activities. Also, its beauty represents Sookmyungians who are constantly challenging hardships for their future. The character went through an upgrade process in 2013 by alumni. At that time, students jokingly said, “Snowflake had plastic surgery!” and the character became even more popular among students. Today, it’s easy to come into contact with the character at any time all over the campus. At the 2017 entrance ceremony, all freshmen students received a hand mirror, tumbler, and badge adorned with the ‘Snowfl ake’ character.
Unique university characters have become the trend at women’s universities. For instance, Ewha Womans University has originated from emblem of the figure of pear blossom, Dongduk Womens University uses ‘Somsomi’ character, which was influenced by a cotton flower, and Duksung Women’s University has made a character named ‘Durongi’ using the figuration a rose of charon tulip. Each of these characters adorned a huge number of goods that have been welcomed by campus students and visitors. To make differentiation, at Sookmyung Women’s University, ‘Snowfl ake’ stands apart from other university emblem characters as it is not a school flower. The characters leave a warmimpression with students, college prep students and visitors to the schools. Through the characters, a faster familiarity is established with the school because people quickly link to their cuteness and symbolic meaning.
After renewal of Snowflake in 2013, the character’s popularity soared. As a result, SOOKMYUNG i, the fi rst school company selling products with the school mascot Snowflake on them opened in 2014. Students flocked to purchase the products which included: clothing like hoodies and short-sleeve T-shirts, bags such as eco-bags and backpacks, masking tape, pouches, self-massage tools, and pencil cases. This semester, every Tuesday from September 12 to 26, the shop sold Snowflake goods at Sunheon intersection. Prices of school products range from 3,000 won—the cost of masking tape—to the most expensive item, the zipper hoodie, which sells for 39,000 won. Any Sookmyungian visiting the stationery store on the first floor of the Student Union Building will also notice a number of diverse goods featuring Snowflake as well. Visitors to the stationary shop can purchase dolls, stickers, notebooks, and even socks. Looking around campus it’s easy to see Sookmyungians using or dressed in Snowflake attire.
Goods Glowing with Sookmyung Identity
There is a saying on campus that can sum up this finding: ”There may be someone who has never bought Snowflake items, but there is no one who has bought only one.” Like fanatics infollowing other characters, Snowflake maniacs exist. In order to ascertain Sookmyungians’ awareness of Snowflake goods, The Sookmyung Times surveyed 85 currently enrolled students at Sookmyung Women’s University from October 3 to 14, 2017. When asked “Why are you willing to purchase Snowflake character goods?”, 77.6% of the repondents answered because “the character is cute”. This result clearly shows Sookmyungians’ satisfaction with the appearance of character. The following answer was “sense of belonging” (16.5%). In addition to the survey finding, often on Everytime, a Sookmyung online community, the bulletin board will contain postings such as “At the Starbucks near my house, I saw a laptop adored with Snowflake stickers, and, though I don’t know the owner of the laptop, I felt a sort of kinship with the person.” This sense of pride seems to stem for a sense of belonging or being part of the Sookmyung community. The rest of the answers were “To give a present to others” (2.4%), “many practical products” (1.2%), and “both cute and sense of belonging” (1.2%).
The survey also asked students the type of goods they prefer to purchase. Most respondents (60 respondents) said they buy stationary items such as notebooks, pens, and memo pads. Other sought after items were dolls (47 respondents), accessories such as badges and key rings (31 respondents), pouches (21 respondents), apparel like hoodies and T-shirts (19 respondents), and tumblers (8 respondents). This list seems to suggest Sookmyungians prefer goods that areneeded in daily school life. Still, other items are being purchased likely due to the character. Because Snowflake is a developed character, students proudly boast items with the character on it.
Snowflake: Special Beyond Words
The Snowflake character and its related goods are loved by many Sookmyungians. Surprisingly, the purpose of group purchase is not for profit seeking, anybody can use 'Snowflake' character. Therefore, some Sookmyungians are making group purchases. What could make this popularity separate out from school walls to the public? The Sookmyung Times asked respondents to voice their opinion on the question. According to the survey, 55.3% (47 respondents) when asked about group purchasing of Snowflake goods said they had and explained the reason for the group purchase as desiring “to have a unique Snowflake item” (31.9% or 15 respondents). 27.7% (13 respondents), however, did claim that they were “not interested in purchasing any of the currently available items at Sookmyung UI”. Reasons behind the lack of interest included “not liking the designs of the goods” (23.4%, 11 respondents). Last, 12.8% (6 respondents) said that they preferred buying goods through group purchase “to save money”.
Almost half of respondents said there needs to be more diversity in Snowflake goods. Most official Snowflake goods are apparel or stationery items, but respondents said there is a need for more practical and unique products like toiletries, blankets, cushions, hand fans, and so on. In addition, while Snowflake does adorn a laptop cover and its design is quite pretty, it only comes in one size, so Sookmyugians who don’t possess a laptop of that size have no reason to purchase it. Diversification in kind and size would make Snowflake goods more desirable. In addition to diversity, there were a number of complaints related to the price of Snowflake goods. Respondents referred to the cost of a hoodie at 34,500 won and the cost of some stationary at over 10,000 won as examples for their complaint. A reduction in price could be another key to popularization of Snowflake goods. Some respondents said they found it hard to buy official Snowflake goods offline. SOOKMYUNG i rarely host offline sales events, so visitors to Sookmyung like high school students and parents do not have the opportunity to make any Snowflake goods purchases. To increase accessibility to Snowflake goods, Sookmyung souvenir shop should consider selling more official goods. Also, the opening of an official Snowflake goods could be another solution.
Snowflake has power to settle anyone’s heart. How about presenting someone close to you with a Snowflake goods? Perhaps giving something to a younger peer or to an alma mater mate who would like something that represents Sookmyung? Snowflake goods are also a great way to proudly show school spirit. A Snowflake purchase will increase your sense of school community belonging and pride in Sookmyung. Like the school slogan 'Gentle Power to Change the World', Snowflake goods will gently change you, people close to you, and finally the world.