[iSSF 2020] Successfully Adapting to the Contactless Era②

Chung Ji-won, Dressed Doll Artist “Profit has increased after online conversion..Conscience is important in ‘untact’ situations”
Jiwon JUNG, dressed doll artist, announces at the 2nd individuals Survival Strategy Forum iSSF 2020 held on September 2. Photo | In the News

Hello. My name is Jiwon JUNG and I’m a dressed doll artist.

I used to speak in front of the people who knew me. However, today I am standing here and getting attention from the people who mostly do not know me. Therefore, I’m quite nervous, but I’m also excited to meet you, and I’m honored to be here.

Today, I would like to share my experience and story to co-ruminate on a very serious, critical, and complicated topic of human survival strategy in the non-face-to-face era with you, to give hope and joy that can make your lives happier.

I’m a dressed doll designer, and as the name implies, I mainly create dolls with my hands. As these dolls are beautiful and eye-catching, a lot of people ask about the price because they want to buy them.

However, because of its high price, some people wanted to learn how to make dolls from me. As a result, I eventually opened up a business based on lesson fees and material fees.

Since this is a craft, I had to meet the students in person for demon- strations, and in some cases, I had to proceed with apprenticeship classes. It was a business that required in-person meetings, which has become something to fear nowadays.

However, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, this handicraft field went through sudden changes over the course of half a year. Some artists have become busier while some started to have more free time and suffered financially.

Fortunately, I was able to be a part of the former group. I had already set up my own online channel a few years ago and I had a blog, forum, and social media accounts that I was managing per- sonally. When I first started working in this field, I had so much fun giving lessons on how to make dolls and doll clothes while sitting in the class with students who had similar interests and goals.

Photo | Gettyimagebank

Since we all met regularly, we got closer over time and talked about various things. It was no longer just a simple process of making something, but a time of healing. But since work isn’t always perfect, sitting down with the same people and getting to know them wasn’t always a good thing. I was sometimes disappointed in people and got stressed out, so I reduced my class hours and even grew tired of marketing my class for offline lessons.

I had to keep making money somehow, so I increased the DIY products I was selling, but I realized it wouldn’t be easy to maintain my revenue if I didn’t open more classes that maintained the class tuition ratio. So the solution I came up with was online classes.

I started creating online video lessons and sharing the service through an online channel called Naver Caf , which is operated for a fee because I was tired of meeting with people. That was the only reason.
I have been teaching online classes for about 7 years. However, since the item and classes were rare, there was a limit even though I had the same level of recognition as a top tier lecturer in the doll crafting field. But suddenly, the COVID-19 virus emerged.

COVID-19 is one of the biggest misfortunes and the greatest threats humankind has faced. Many people were infected and suffered in terms of health and social activities. A lot of them even lost their lives.

COVID-19 has prevented us from seeing our loved ones and has shaken up what we had known as “normal life”. Business fields that seemed like they would last forever suddenly collapsed, and we’ve started to face fear and anxiety about how we’re supposed to live from now on.

In my case, all the meetings that I had in my laboratory were canceled, and huge doll exhibitions that allowed me to effectively advertise my business, meet fans, and maintain my reputation were all canceled. The students that I used to meet every week for class- es or to chat were no longer able to creates dolls with me.

My students, who had to stay at home by themselves, started ordering DIY kits online for doll-related hobbies at home, and other people who were searching for hobbies to fill up their newfound free time started to ask about my brand and started to make orders. As a result, my online business, which has never grown significantly above a certain level, suddenly soared.

After all, I accepted a proposal from Class 101, which is a company that runs the largest online hobby class platform in Korea. There were soon ads that completely outperformed my previous efforts to expand my business over the past 20 years, and my class became one of the top craft classes in a mere 2 months.

Photo | Gettyimagebank

I have provided the lessons and materials at a more affordable price compared to the classes that I’ve run on my own, but I was reach- ing a turnover ratio that was 20 times higher and I experienced the miracle of making over 30 million won in profit in the first month. Of course, some people may have been driven by a curiosity about the new class. However, this was a dramatic difference in terms of income compared to what I was making in the past.

And that’s when I realized this is how the top lecturers in Daechi rake in money and even buy expensive buildings with cash.
The class I held went without a hitch, and many people who took the class sent me good feedback and compliments. My class had maintained a 100% cumulative satisfaction rate, and new students unexpectedly started flowing in through word-of-mouth. This keeps happening.

Base expansion… I’m actually the Chairman of the Independent Division of Dress Dolls of the Korea Handicraft Association, and my role is to expand the base. This work of the base expansion is more valuable and should be prioritized over the profit I make from class fees and material fees. However, the results concerning the promo- tional effect or the increase in the number of big fans for the past half-year after the COVID-19 outbreak (when the non-face-to-face era began), were far more dramatic than the results I achieved over the past 20 years after I launched my brand.

This success completely overshadowed all my hard work in meeting lots of people, attending exhibitions, attending various doll events, recording videos, and uploading a couple of tutorial videos by my- self in the lab, and I actually felt a bit dismayed. However, I quickly found the answer when I looked up the cause of this increased effect, the style of the platform that I was working with, and the concept and structure of my work.

When I looked into the lectures that I planned and produced, I found out that they were filled with emotional factors such as pas- sion, honesty, sincerity, and humanity. Of course, the exceptional designs are a basic part of the success. This is my skill and expertise that I worked on for 20 years, so it’s something that I always prior- itize. And it is my passion, honesty, sincerity, any consideration for the students that can be felt from the lecture that makes the online students happy as they watch the videos.

I firmly believe that when a student makes a mistake, the teacher should take responsibility for the mistake, and this is why I send stu- dents the same materials without any additional costs or shipping fees even if there is a loss of the materials, and this is what inspires and impresses students. Sending out extra materials isn’t a loss for me. Because students usually don’t make the same mistakes more than once. I learned how to run a business effectively by making a good impression on people at a small cost.

To be honest, I could have hidden some of the key points of my expertise in my video classes. It’s natural for an artist to not want
to share their special techniques or their secret methods with other people. However, I shared all of my expertise, expressed my sincer- ity and concern for all the students who I couldn’t meet in person in a video lecture for a reasonable price.

People these days are smart and catch on quickly. Most people tend to think that there’s something that only they know and feel, even though that’s not true. I’ve been working in this field for 20 years. However, as time goes by, the fans become more incisive and better, and the more it does, the more the teacher feels the duty to work for them.

The students know when they watch the video. They know what their teacher is doing for them. They know what their teacher is hiding from them. But you must not be afraid of that or think of that in a bad way. There’s nothing you can do about it. Just show them everything they want to see and satisfy their hunger. I believe this is the job and duty of a creator or a teacher who teaches online.

While wine and beer were taking the world by storm, how were Korean soju and rice wine? Asahi Beer, Tsingtao Beer, and other alcoholic beverages have become world-class items in countries or regions other than the country where they were first made, and they are gaining popularity among people around the world and contributing greatly to the country’s economy.

For a very long time, the soju and rice wine experts refused to share their expertise with others and swore to go to the grave with their secret recipe, and their senseless greed won’t do anybody any good.

If you are part of a field and if you are a leader in that field, then
you should have a sincere and open mind to survive in the “untact” world. There aren’t many jobs left that you can do alone. We must accept this truth and use collaboration opportunities without being fearful of them.

Those times when we used to walk around and meet people with- out having to wear a mask won’t be coming back anytime soon. Until the vaccine is created and distributed, the coronavirus is continuing to mutate and upgrade, and it’s difficult to say when this will all be over.

But we can’t just sit and be depressed during this time. Today is the youngest you’ll ever be again, so let’s not waste this precious time in anxiety, fear, or suffering from “Corona Blue”.

If we can live a non-face-to-face era with sincerity, enthusiasm, and consideration until we can meet people in person, and disseminate them through a tool called an online channel, it may be comparable to the efficiency of the face-to-face era.

Now is the turning point for you to turn this new, contactless way of life into an opportunity.

The potential of this contactless era that transcends time and space will enable you to meet countless people and will be the driving force that allows us all to grow and be happier.

Thank you.

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