Sukone Hong is a South Korean fashion brand CEO. The 17 years old entrepreneur isn’t stopping here, but after making $1 million in sales this year. However, Hong’s fortune doesn’t only rely on one business alone, but rather, it’s two businesses with different niches.
First, Hong created the South Korean brand which made $1 million in sales in 2021 and has even gained the attention of Hard University. Then, he also founded a company that makes smartwatches for the visually impaired.
“It was hard for me to get engaged with school. I kind of got bullied. I had to find something that could change my life,” Hong told CNBC Make It.
The 17 years old entrepreneur started his career four years when he was in his eighth grade. This journey started after Hong struggled with bullying in his school in Seoul. Instead of trying to fit in, Hong has founded the branded clothes. Consequently, he started selling on the South Korean search engine giant Never.
What makes the story more exciting is that Hong had only $150 in his pocket by the time of the launch. In his first weeks, Hong sold 300 shirts.
“On Monday morning, there were like 15 orders. Fifty at lunch. Eighty by evening. That week, I sold 300 shirts.” He said
Hong expands his business
Later, Hong knew that he had to grow his business and cover business expenses. He used a $5,000 loan from his grandparents and relied on a printing business to turn his shirts ideas into reality. Hong’s business makes unisex casual wear with creative and eye-catchy design.
With that, Olaga Studios — Korean for “going up” — was born.
“Nothing happened for like a week,” said Hong. “Then, on Monday morning, there were like 15 orders. Fifty at lunch. Eighty by evening. That week, I sold 300 shirts.”
After 3 years from the launch, Hong’s business has become a success. The young entrepreneur has gathered $1.2 million in annual sales in six Asian markets and has even ranked as number 1 in Style Share’s t-shirt category.
Resultantly, Hong started
expanding and employed 12 people in his team to run the website and even paid back for the school fees at the American international school in Seoul.
“Before, I thought business was just about making lots of money,” said Hong. “But after moving school, I had some good education.”
“My teacher said that my experience could be used to create a business to help others,” he added.