“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t!”
Yes, immigrating to USA is hard – the decision, the process, and the (un)welcoming attitudes, all are a tad bit too heavy to handle. What do you do then, especially when you can’t speak English – and you are broke? Succumb to pressures and accept it as a reality, or, maybe, battle it every day to succeed, eventually..
This is what Do Won Chang (founder of ‘Forever 21’) did –
Do Won Chang and his wife, Jin Sook, moved to America from Korea in 1981 – penniless, speaking broken English, and without college degrees. When they first arrived, Do Won was forced to work three jobs at the same time to support them, as a janitor, a gas station attendant, and in a coffee shop. He did this for over 3 years, to make ends meet. Do Won decided on a retail career while pumping gas, one of several jobs he juggled at as a new immigrant.
Eventually, they were able to open their first clothing store in 1984.
That one store grew into Forever 21, which pioneered fast fashion and is now a multi-national, 480 store empire that generates a massive around USD 3 billion in sales a year. It’s a family business, with the couple’s daughters Linda and Esther helping to run the company. This is how they’ve always worked as a team, capitalizing on each other’s strengths – Mrs. Chang approves the designs of the company’s merchandise, while Mr. Chang focuses on turning Forever 21 into the fastest fast-fashion chain in the business, and in the process, he has made the company widely successful. The elder, Linda, manages marketing, while Esther oversees the brand’s visual elements.
This is his vision –
“Forever 21 gives hope to people who come here with almost nothing,” says Don. “And that is a reward that humbles me: The fact that immigrants coming to America, much like I did, can come into a Forever 21 and know that all of this was started by a simple Korean immigrant with a dream.”
NOTE: We are running a series on ‘success stories’ to inspire people to believe in their idea and make it big. If you have an inspiring story, or know one, we request you to share it with us at [email protected] so that we can bring it to the world..