Have you ever imagined making products using your drawings? What do you imagine yourself creating? Perhaps it would be something very meaningful to you and bring joy to your daily life. One person has started her own similar business. She turns children’s drawings into products that bring happiness to the children and their parents. The Sookmyung Times met Ko Bonghwa (Claire Ko), Representative of Fais Bo, to learn about the company’s innovative product creation and her vision to create such a business.
Q. What brought about ‘Fais bo’?
Arranging my daughter’s room one day, I was suddenly attracted to the purity and honesty of her drawings. I wanted to use those drawings to create something special, and that is the beginning of my road to founding ‘Fais bo’. Through the eyes of adults, the drawings of a child are often seen as unskilled work or ordinary. However, upon deeper deliberation of questions such as ‘why did she express this person’s hair this way?’ and ‘why did she choose this color for the picture?’, I realized she was reproducing her personal experiences and emotions. I knew then that those pictures and drawings were works of marvel just like those of well-known popular artists.
Q. Still, what drove you to establish a business based on your awareness rather than join an reputable company and work with it to realize your idea?
After graduating university, I worked in advertising and marketing with a number of highly regarded luxury brands like Givenchy and Estee Lauder. Throughout my time with those companies, I always had a hobby. On my own, I crafted various items and took pleasure in them upon completion. This hobby naturally led me to the founding of my own business later in life.
Q. Why did you name your business ‘Fais bo’?
‘Fais bo’ is French for ‘To make beautiful’. In other words, it encapsulates the company philosophy of ‘To make daily life beautiful using children’s drawings.’ I majored in French Language and Culture at university, so I wanted to take advantage of my French language skill to create my company name.
Q. Could you tell us more about how you came up with the idea of turning children’s drawings into products?
Alike other young children, my daughter of 7 also enjoys drawing pictures. Even before they can write, children can express their ideas and thoughts through pictures. All parents view their child’s work as spectacular even if the drawing is not of high quality or even if it is ‘messy’. I think young people who don’t have children of their own also see the work of young kids as being lovely. It’s like looking at the works of Picasso, it’s free. During childhood, kids draw, paint, color, and so on freely without stereotyping anyone or anything. The drawings of children might seem ordinary but if you look deeper, they are absolutely beautiful. They are so wonderful, I didn’t want them to stay locked in a sketchbook. I wanted to bring them to life, so I use them to create products that can be used in daily life.
Q. Have you encountered any difficulties operating your business? How were you able to overcome them?
Operating a business can be compared to working as an employee. The only difference I found is that when I was employed by someone else, I was free after my required working hours, but now I am on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I am also a full-time mom, so I care for my kids myself. I find it hard at times to balance work with my personal life. I am doing my best to find a balance among work, child rearing, and my own personal affairs. I head to works right after my daughter leaves for kindergarten, and I leave for home when my daughter’s school day has ended. Trying to be a supermom is not easy. Six hour is not nearly enough to do all I want for the day. My husband and I divide the housework, which helps, but the fact remains I still do lots of housework. I think the most difficult thing that a working mom encounters in her life is harmony between family and work. I am constantly seeking that harmony by managing my time well.
Q. Nowadays, there is a trend for students to establish their own businesses due to today’s poor job market situation. What do you consider the most important factor one should bear in mind before establishing a business?
First and foremost, determine what it is you truly love and can do well on your own. Do not be influenced by others’ opinions. That advice actually applies not only to establishing a business but job hunting as well. Do not decide to start a business merely because you cannot get a job. That would be like “I want to eat fish, but I don’t have any money. I’ll just go fishing”. Well, in order to go fishing, you will need lots of equipment, good fishing skills, and patience. Know this, finding a job is tough, but so is self-employment. If you have confidence in your ability to maintain your business and the passion to see it over all hurdles, then you should look into starting your own company. However, if you don’t have either of these qualities, you will certainly see financial ruin. Also, starting out by working for a company in the same field you are interested in can lead to learnt skills that could help you overcome difficulties and obstacles you are sure to encounter while operating a business. Having experienced a similar challenge or situation while working for a company will gain you the know-how to work through tough times at your own company.
Q. Thinking back to your twenties, what from those days do you think help you most today?
I would have to say my experience at The Sookmyung Times, applying for overseas university admissions, and the multitude of activities I participated helped me become the person I am today. I am enthusiastic and maintain a positive drive towards life. After retiring from The Sookmyung Times as editor-in-chief, I went to study at Quebec University in Montreal, Canada, and I know that experience changed me a lot. It may not sound as though the experience is related to my business; however, with Canadians and other international students, I had numerous opportunities for cultural exchange, which helped me break stereotypes I had of other nation peoples. The breaking of stereotypes made me confident to start my own business. I am certain that if I had just gotten a high GPA, a high TOEIC score, and numerous certifications for my CV as Korean society demands, I would not be where I am today.
Q. Where do you see yourself in the future?
I would like to work where I am interested in for as long as I can in life. I want to make my family and friends happy and share great memories. I also want to design my life using joy, not work as the purpose for living. Assuming I will still be able to work until I am about 80 years old, I still have 40 great years ahead of me. I am just entering the starting point of my life and this makes my heart race in anticipation.
Q. Lastly, would you like to leave a few final words for Sookmyungians who plan to start up their own business?
Working for a company or working for yourself is not a matter of weighing the good with bad since they both have merits and demerits. To start a business, you need ‘determination’. Rather than basing your decision to head out on your own on ‘selection’, despite having a unique product idea, you need to be determined. You need to be passionate, courageous, and be creative. Without these traits, I recommend working for a company. Getting a job is like a three-legged race. You will have all sorts of troubles along the way to the finish line. Owing a business can be thought of as running a marathon. You need to meet plenty of partners before you can say you have met your future life partner. You will never meet the perfect person for you right away. You have to experience lots of situations in life to surely know whether working for a company or working for yourself fits you. I hope Sookmyungians to experience and challenge lots of activities to find the key to their life.
KO BONGHWA (CLAIRE KO)
- Graduate of Department of French Culture and Literature’ 98
- Founder of ‘Fais bo’ in 2016