As the scale of companies get bigger, more products and services are offered. On the other hand, more people provide labor to the company. As you can see, a company is the core of production and consumption, so they should share in social responsibility. This means that a company’s spontaneous activities should be aimed at public interests. Due to the importance of corporate social responsibility, many major companies are participating in more volunteer activities. We met a young CEO, who founded the voluntary social company, ‘Dream Start Up’. ‘Dream Start Up’ was selected as a social enterprise promotion business in 2014. This company does many things, for example, it offers youth career solutions & mentoring, live presentations, and radio talks, to name a few. Nowadays, this enthusiastic young man takes on many programs, so we decided we should meet him and ask a few questions.
1. Our society gives priority to profit and your company pursues social volunteer activities rather than profit. What was your ‘special opportunity’?
My family was not wealthy during my childhood. It may seem like an excuse, but I naturally didn’t study hard and I didn’t want to enter college. I wanted to earn money when I graduated from high school. I only liked fashion, so I started a part-time job in a retail store. As I took on the part-time job, I experienced an increase in my passion for fashion. One night I had a dream of working for a fashion company, so that is when I decided to go to college. Also, I decided to help students who didn’t have a dream or a chance of getting an education for financial reasons. After I entered college I heard about socially responsible companies by chance in a special lecture. I realized their values and my values were the same. So I united my major ‘business administration’ and my interest in ‘fashion’ by founding a social fashion company called ‘Dream Start Up’.
2. What is the big difference between a general company’s business and a social company’s business?
First, we should define what ‘social company’ is. If your major is business administration, you know very well. What is the top priority for a company? It’s profit, of course. But social companies pursue common social values. Our company, ‘Dream Start Up’, wants to resolve social problems like the absence of educational opportunities for low-income groups, high private education costs, and a lack of student dreams. Then we proceed with projects like dream mentoring. Profit is the next problem.
3. How do you invite famous designers and models? Social activities are nice but how do you earn money?
My experience in seeing how society runs, tells me that if I approach someone with profitability in my mind, he will also look at me in terms of profitability.
If I just say, “Please stand on this platform” when I invite a designer or a model, they simply reply, “So how much can you pay me?" But if I approach them on a more human level, it creates a different outcome and value. Generally, when I explain the value of ‘Dream Start Up’, they show a favorable attitude. Actually, our company’s profits are not good because we launched ‘Dream Start Up’ in 2014, but I love my job and I enjoy it very much. So far, I think of it as building up and creating our company’s portfolio. That means, “Hold the profit!" (haha). We are just about to complete our portfolio, so we hoping to induce investment and make this a major company in 2016.
4. When are you most proud of your company?
It is during 1:1 mentoring. Like today, I met a student in a café and told him my story to motivate him. When I first met the student he didn’t want to enter college, he didn’t have a dream and no interest in studying. However, after about two-hours of mentoring he had a chance to think about his dream and started to think about studying. In that moment, I felt proud. So I continuously do mentoring sessions and lectures for many dreamless students. Nowadays, two to three students have contacted me to say thanks for uplifting them and providing a chance to find their dreams.
5. Have you thought about another area, other than fashion?
The field of fashion is my passion so I have no other plans right now. Also, I still have lots of ideas for fashion social activities. Vaguely, I want to challenge the advertising area of fashion because I studied advertising when I attended Yeonsei University as an exchange student. On a little different wish list, I want to be on the TV program, “Radio Star”. I want to challenge myself to get on entertainment TV programs as the CEO of a fashion company.
6. Until now, you have had great success with social activities, what is your next goal?
As I said, until now I think we have been in the process of creating our company’s portfolio. From now on, we'll try to attract investment. Also, just a moment ago I was on the phone with Seoul City Hall and Busan City Hall. (haha). With investment, we can make a variety of new programs and make our own items for introducing our company. For example, we could add T-shirts or small daily utility items. Also, we have a video program concept for featuring ‘Dream Start Up’ lectures because video lectures can be shown to more students and around the world.
7. Can you give any advice to students who dream of being a fashion designer?
Well, my answer is for all of students who have a dream, not only for those who dream about becoming a fashion designer. I hope that students will live an independent life. In my case, I dared to imagine project fashion shows, and meeting designers and models. After I had a dream, I lived an independent life and now I have a career. I even have influence on other people. One more thing I recommend is having a role model. I have three fashion designer role models; “Beyond Closet: Ko Tae Young”, model-“Kim won joong”, and CEO-“Ha Dong Ho”. I have met all the three of my role models and have become close to them, but still have many things to learn.
According to the interview, ‘Dream Start Up’ CEO Kim Kyung Hwan’s major was not fashion but business administration. After graduating from college, he combined his interest and his major. Also, a deprived childhood made him want to establish a social volunteer company. Many people think his founding of a social company was by chance, but his whole life influenced his career choice. Everyone has a chance but only a few people will use their chances. It is different for each individual. If you have a dream of a particular field, keep going and develop your ability and skill. At some point, you will be at the top of your field.
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