With a change of season, how about purchasing new accessories to transform your image? Ofor is an accessory brand that allows customers to customize their own accessories. The brand was established by Kim Su-yeon and Heo Yu-jin, Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) alumni that graduated in 2015. Therefore, the Sungkyun Times (SKT) would like to introduce Ofor’s chief executive officers (CEOs), Kim Su-yeon and Heo Yu-jin.
The Journey to Becoming Ofor
Q1. Please introduce yourself.
K: Hello, I am Kim Su-yeon; I majored in German Language and Literature and International Commerce at SKKU.
H: Hello, I am Heo Yu-jin; I majored in Media and Communication and Business Administration at SKKU. We are the co-CEOs of Ofor. “Ofor” is a compound word of “of” and “for,” which means capturing the emotions of you and for you. We make accessories that capture the emotions and stories of our customers under the slogan, “Object of Emotion.” We also manage a showroom in Yeonnam-dong. We wish to define Ofor’s accessories as objects that help people come together through their emotions.
Q2. Why did you decide to start a business together?
We first met at a student club during our freshmen year and quickly became close because of our similar life values. When we talked about our future careers after finishing our second year at college, we found out that our life goals fit together very well: to give a positive influence on other people. Though we never meant to specifically start an accessory brand, after pondering deeply, we realized that accessories are the perfect medium to express oneself; they are objects that exist closest to one’s body. Therefore, we decided to convey memorable stories and emotions through accessories.
Q3. Are there any experiences at SKKU that influenced you to start the business?
We were significantly influenced by the Change Maker Lab (CML), now integrated into the Social entrepreneurship Team Academy (SeTA). SeTA is a program where participants solve existing social problems through a real-life business project. Among the philosophies of SeTA, “learning by doing” and “finding why we should do something” have become the base of our business. Even now, we emphasize these two principles when we establish our internal values.
The Present of Kim Su-yeon, Heo Yu-jin, and Ofor
Q4. What specific business values do you pursue as CEOs of Ofor?
We focus on growing with society rather than only pursuing our brand’s rapid growth and success. We want Ofor to be a brand that reflects the values that our community truly needs. Such belief can be expressed through keywords such as “together,” “sustainability,” and “change.” Thus, we defined the brand’s essence as emotion, since it is what modern people need the most; emotions lie in our most profound interior and are hard to realize and take care of. Another value we focus on is sincerity. Sincerity is our brand’s identity. We believe that sincerity is crucial for high-quality products.
Q5. It seems that Ofor's strength comes from stories that originate from various themes. For example, the theme "Secret Season" was inspired by the unique concept, "Drawer of Emotions." What inspires you when creating these stories?
We are inspired by our desires at each moment, but we also take into account different market trends when creating stories for our products. Most recently, we decided to refurbish the theme “Secret Season” so that it could include more honest and personal stories. Most of the time, people try hard to hide their negative feelings. However, we believe that negative feelings always lie in our interiors. This goes the same for everyone. So, we wished for customers to reveal those innermost feelings to themselves through the theme “Secret Emotion.” This is why we constantly search for inspiration and renovate the themes according to societal changes.
|Products of “Secret Emotion” Theme (ofor.love)|
Q5-1. Please explain the process of refurbishing the emotion-compounding theme.
The emotion-compounding necklace is a kind of customizing accessory: according to the feeling they want to express, customers can choose gemstones, or “emotion stones,” to create their own accessories. When we set the brand essence as emotion, we had to think deeply about how to deliver the connection between emotion and accessories. We decided to utilize the various types of gemstones as a medium to convey emotions. The saying, “Give me 30g of sadness and 50g of happiness,” suddenly came to our mind one day, and this was the first step to create emotion-compounding accessories. Once we set the theme, we labeled gemstones for each emotion, and let customers select and create their own customized accessories.
|Emotion Stones (ofor.love)||Emotion-Compounding Necklace for Negative Emotions (ofor.love)|
Q6. Please tell us about any difficulties you have faced while exploring various themes.
Recently, we felt lost about our brand’s direction and core competencies. There were moments in which we felt limited when designing products, as we did not major in design. This concern was soon resolved when we realized that Ofor does not need to be a great accessory brand. If our aim was to become an accessory or jewelry brand, our focus would have been on the brand’s design. However, we defined Ofor as a “brand that delivers emotion.” Therefore, we decided to focus on how effectively we can deliver the customer’s emotions and personal stories rather than how to make fancier accessories. Hence, we reaffirmed our aim towards “creating an experience to enjoy emotions.” We wish to convey a new experience to our customers by helping them enjoy their own emotions, which is different from other accessory brands.
Q7. When do you feel accomplished while selling accessories with specific emotions and stories?
We feel accomplished when our customers tell us they have been moved by our products or have gotten the chance to think over their own emotions, as our products allow people to revisit feelings that are often overlooked. Occasions in which our customers tell us they play with our necklaces when they are down or even show their love for Ofor’s stories more than the accessories themselves especially motivate us.
Q8. This summer, accessories containing the story of “Su-jin” have been launched. Is there any specific reason you chose such a concept?
|Necklace in 2022 Summer Season (ofor.love)|
Unlike regular emotion-compounding products, seasonal products carry stories that Ofor wishes to deliver as a brand. Every season, we choose a different theme to express Ofor. This summer, we chose the theme “each and everyone’s summer.” We thought the summer of 2022 could be represented through the medium of “fiction.” Therefore, we set the fictional protagonist as “Su-jin,” a compound of our names, Su-yeon and Yu-jin.
Q9. Do you have a special message for customers of Ofor?
We want our customers to take care of their easily underrated emotions. Do you know how emotions tend to accumulate and later become a part of someone? Some emotions may not be labeled yet, but my unconsciousness still recognizes them. Thus, when our customers encounter an emotion, we wish for them to fully feel and understand it and further find out how a certain emotion affects them. Through this process, we hope they can feel richer emotions.
One Step Further
Q10. How do you want to challenge yourselves as CEOs of Ofor?
We have recently started to plan a rebranding project to provide people with the experience of enjoying emotions more vividly. We had initially set the brand slogan as “Object of Emotion,” but we want to advance it towards “Journey to Emotion.” In the future, we aim to go beyond sharing stories and emotions. We wish to deliver an experience in which one can reflect upon their emotions. Through this process, we want Ofor to become a brand that comes to people’s minds when they think of “emotion.” As the five senses – sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste – are effective in stimulating emotion, we wish to make a product utilizing them. Starting from making Ofor’s own perfume line, we want to deal with emotion directly by expanding our product range to emotion cards, diaries, as well as offline programs.
Q11. Any last words for Kingos?
We recommend that Kingos think deeply about what they want to do. Most college students are concerned about their careers. Of course, it is a privilege to have enough time to deeply think over such concerns. But we are sure that these thoughts will lead Kingos to a greater future. Please also keep in mind that there is no correct answer. What is most important is to create your own path rather than compare yourself with others; we will also try to set a precedent by running steadily at our own pace.
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