“We also make bags using the leather that Hermes makes.”
CEO Jeong Yun-ho: “I want to work until I die”
Bag manufacturing Huikwon Corporation – 35 years of craftsmanship recognized by the world… Come to Europe to learn technology
A small Korean leather bag manufacturing company surprised Europe. Global luxury goods companies are also learning how to make crocodile leather bags from Hwikwon Corporation, a small Korean company. This is a miracle created by 35 years of craftsmanship and know-how. CEO Jeong Yun-ho of Huikwon Corporation, who has been making bags for 35 years since he was 17, is the person who created the world’s only crocodile leather bag manufacturing technology by investing 5 billion won over three years.
‘Big hit’ in Korea with skills learned for 8 years in Japan = Bag making is life for CEO Jeong Yun-ho, who inherited his father’s family business and has been making shoes and bags for 35 years since the age of 17. At the suggestion of his uncle, who had been working in the same business, CEO Jeong moved to Japan in 1986. He wants to learn advanced Japanese bag-making techniques through an academy run by his uncle’s disciple. After learning technology and know-how at Japanese academies and small companies for more than eight years, he returned to Korea in the mid-90s, when the Japanese economic bubble burst.
The first thing I did as soon as I returned to Korea was to set up an original equipment manufacturing (OEM) factory in Korea. It is currently Hwikwon Corporation. He recalled, “People I met in Japan advised me to open a factory. The first thing I could do was OEM production rather than developing my own brand.”
He had competitive skills and was able to make a lot of money in a short period of time, but something was missing. Special measures were inevitable.
CEO Jeong explained, “The money we earned over the three years from 1997 was almost 4 to 5 billion won,” adding, “Nevertheless, the moment orders stopped, our lives were doomed to ruin.” Ultimately, the conclusion he reached was to produce his own brand of bags made from crocodile leather.
Own brand ‘Homiga’ created after losing 5 billion won over 3 years = “The answer will be revealed only when the money earned so far runs out.”
This is advice that CEO Jeong received from an industry expert regarding the development of his own brand. The chances of success for a private brand of crocodile leather bags made by small and medium-sized companies were close to zero.
CEO Jeong searched everywhere to learn know-how, but no one could teach him. In the end, he decided to enlighten himself. As the master said, the amazing bag was finally created just before he ran out of money he had saved through three years of research.
He said, “I went through trial and error by destroying 2 to 3 pieces of leather, or as many as 7 to 8 pieces, per day, which cost 500,000 won per piece.” He added, “If you calculate it, I studied for 3 years without missing a day at 4 to 5 million won per day.” “He said. He added, “It was the most painful time, but it was the only thing I could do well, and I was able to do it because I was confident that even small and medium-sized businesses cannot become the best in the world.”
The brand that was born this way is the crocodile bag ‘Homiga’. This means ‘worker ant’ in Spanish. The background of the brand name is also interesting. This is the result of a survey conducted by CEO Jeong himself when he went to Japan. The brand name was chosen based on the word that Japanese people put the most stickers on among English, Japanese, and Spanish, which means worker ant in Harajuku and Sapporo.
He said, “The meaning of being a worker ant fits everything related to my life,” and “I want to work until I die.”
He then mentioned that making crocodile skin bags is itself a work of conscience. He emphasized, “This product itself can only be made by a master. No matter who makes it, if there is a conscience, a good product will come out.” He emphasized, “A true luxury product is not a brand, but a conscience.”
There is one thing that Huikwon Corporation is ahead of other groups of experts. It is the first in the world to receive a patent in the manufacturing method (processing method of crocodile leather). Currently, global patents, including those in Europe, are being applied for.
A true luxury bag with a production period of only 5 days… Future goal: ‘World’s top brand’ = When you enter Hwikwon Corporation located in Gasan-dong, the view of the factory inside the office is unique. The factory runs all day, from 8 a.m. to night. At first glance, CEO Jeong, who wears paint-stained work clothes among his employees, is just an ordinary employee.
Jo Tae-shin (59, male), who has been with the company for 15 years, said, “The boss commutes to work almost the same time as us,” and added, “Some of the employees come to work a little after 6:30.”
Another interesting thing about Hwikwon Corporation is the diversity of age groups. Some employees joined the company immediately after graduating from high school and have been practicing craftsmanship for ten years, while more than 10 are in their 50s or older. The oldest is 75 years old.
CEO Jeong smiles brightly, saying, “As long as you have the skills, age doesn’t matter at all,” adding, “Since it’s work done with hands, it’s actually good for preventing dementia.”
Huikwon Corporation’s total number of employees is 70, including store employees, and half (35) are employees inside the factory. It takes 5 days to make one crocodile bag per person. It is a product that reflects the hand of true craftsmen. About two and a half to three crocodiles are used to make one bag, and the price range on the market is in the 7 to 8 million won range.
Crocodile leather is also imported and used only from the highest quality leather carefully selected by France’s TCIM, a subsidiary of the world-famous luxury brand ‘Hermes’ group.
This means that the products of small and medium-sized companies in Korea have been recognized. CEO Jeong explained, “TCIM provides leather and in exchange for receiving our technical know-how, we have established a mutual assistance system by obtaining leather-related information from them.”
Since it was recognized in Europe, exporting to Japan was, in a way, a piece of cake. Huikwon Corporation plans to target the Chinese market from the end of this year. CEO Jeong said, “The world’s best market is China,” and predicted, “The market size will be at least 1 trillion won.”
CEO Jeong, who achieved annual sales of 7 billion won last year, has ambitious future goals. He expressed confidence, saying, “We are aiming for 10 billion won in sales this year,” and “10 years from now, we will definitely be able to establish ourselves as a top global brand and easily achieve 200 billion won in annual sales.”
A man of tenacity who can confidently refuse requests to acquire large corporations, CEO Jeong’s dream is to make crocodile skin bags until the end of his life.
Original article: https://www.etoday.co.kr/news/view/556131