▲ Co-representatives Lee and Shim. Provided by Lee Taehoon and Shim Keonwoo
About Lee Taehoon and Shim Keonwoo
Lee Taehoon (’13, Chinese Language and Literature) and Shim Keonwoo (’13, Business Management) are co-representatives of Dreamary, a cosmetology start-up for office workers and other customers who want new hairstyle at a quiet, private place at a reasonable price. It also offers diverse opportunities for amateur hair stylists who need more experience to become professional artists. The two congenial friends have worked hand in glove to launch a service platform that meets the complementary needs of both customers and suppliers.
There is no doubt that the present economic conditions have made it more difficult for young people to find a job and build a career. Dreamary, as its name suggests, opens the gate for beginner hairdressers who have not had the chance to prove their skills and become professionals. The store facilitates the connection between these hair stylists and potential customers who are tired of the unreasonably expensive prices of beauty salons. Dreamary is particularly noteworthy in that it satisfies all sides, offering both practical prices and various experiences.
GT: What motivated you to start this business?
It was around the time when I (Lee) was a freshman and I joined a soccer club. I met a man who worked at a beauty salon in Cheongdam-dong, and he offered me a free hair appointment. The service and outcome were very satisfying, and I had free haircuts for almost five years after that. I think I became instinctively attracted to the beauty industry at that moment. In 2017, as a junior, I joined LIKE LION, an online lecture platform that offers programming and coding education that can be used to launch services. At this time, I fortunately met Shim. We understood each other very well and became a team, engaging in a number of contests and hackathons to achieve our goals. After a while, we realized that the bond between us remained strong and decided to plan greater enterprises. Finally, we were able to launch Dreamary in 2018, and it would have been impossible without each other.
GT: What are some special traits of the beauty industry that differentiates it from other industries?
Because none of our initial members had the slightest knowledge of the beauty industry, it took us a long time to thoroughly understand the market. First of all, we figured out that in the beauty industry, technology is comparatively minor compared to other industries because many professionals in this area are not familiar with technical skills. There seemed to be plenty of room for improvement in this respect. Moreover, the employment structure and the apprentice system of the beauty industry is considered unique in Korean society. Therefore, we realized that we should carefully consider the characteristics of this industry and not to introduce our own methods or standards in order to succeed.
GT: Were there any memorable moments that you would like to share?
There was once a mutual no-show incident where one of the customers cancelled a reservation and called our customer center to offer an apology to the hairdresser. We were bewildered at the news but instantly called the hairdresser to inform them, but the phone number did not exist. We eventually figured out that the hairstylist mistakenly entered an invalid number so was unable to take reservations in the first place. Grateful for small mercies, the incident ultimately turned out to be harmless. Nevertheless, this problem with the mobile phone authentication system happened at the very beginning of our company. Fortunately, everything is going well now. We worked hard to improve the system so that it can operate without errors.
GT: What were some of the hardships that you faced, and how did you successfully overcome them?
Money, space and people were the difficulties we have confronted. These three aspects are very important in starting a business because a shortage of any of these will cause an abrupt breakdown. We initially lacked these essential factors, but now, with expanded investment, reliable space, and good recruitment, our main concern is the fundamentals of the company itself. We discuss issues of whether the market is effective in terms of demand, whether our approach with customers is suitable, and many other topics regarding the general yet crucial framework of our company. While we constantly face hardship, such challenges are appreciated because we are thankful for making our way here, and we expect to further develop through continually addressing new issues and finding solutions.
GT: Do you have any future plans or goals for Dreamary?
Dreamary is currently carrying out two projects simultaneously: a platform business and offline training. We have our own ideas about expanding our business horizontally along with improvements in building our brand power. What we can say for sure is that the beauty industry is still a conservative and strict community, and we would like to set a milestone to gradually pursue new prospects in this area. We hope to generate a lot of expectation and support from everyone.
GT: What do you think about the upcoming Crimson Business Mentor as a former participant in the Crimson Business Innovation Center? Also, what advice would you like to give to Korea University (KU) students?
We think it has been created with good intentions and will become a stout pillar for students who are interested in entrepreneurship. We believe it is a great chance to gain experience for those who are interested in starting their own business. As time passes, there will be a greater burden when running a business, so it is important to gain experience when there are fewer risks with the help of a great mentor. The opportunities will continue to be a life lesson, not only in terms of launching your own company but also in terms of holding the keys to your own future – experience plays a pivotal role in your life.