30 Years in Sales: Director Jaesoo Cho, New Jigu Trading

30 Years in Sales:
Director Jaesoo Cho, New Jigu Trading

He was a salesman in the ’90s when the hair market was booming, and he’s still a salesman today, in a time of change where every month is different. While there were times in the past when he was at full throttle, he now feels grateful for every day because he has a family he loves and a company he wants to be a part of. His natural friendliness, down-to-earth posture, and straight-to-the-point delivery made it clear that he’s a well-seasoned salesperson. I talked to Jaesoo Cho about his long journey as a salesman.



Crossing paths with New Jigu Trading

After his military service and coming to the U.S. at age 22, Director Cho worked for 15 years at a wig company run by a distant relative. “Looking back, I’m grateful. Because of them, I was able to live without worrying about my immigration status. I learned a lot, and it led to my current job.” The company was forced to close due to circumstances, and he had to find another job. “I joined a jewelry company in a hurry because I needed to make a living. I thought it was still the sales, so I took it for granted, but it didn’t work well with jewelry. After a little over two years, I left and sent my resume to a few wig companies, including the one that became today’s New Jigu. “My last interviewer was the current president, Mr. Hyunjoon Kim. At the interview, he recalls that Mr. Kim shared the vision that resonated with him, and he realized that he wanted to be a part of that vision if he got the job. That became a reality and he’s continued to work with him for the past 13 years. Now he is a regional director covering Georgia, Alabama, and West Florida.


A company that respects you as a sales professional

Speaking of the devil, I asked him to brag about the company. “First of all, New Jigu has 40 years of legacy, and the current owner is young and with a young mindset. While I respect the first generation of the hair industry and know that we are here because of their hard work, I have a sense of disappointment from the previous generation, just as younger generations feel the same way with me. In that sense, Mr. Kim is flexible and adaptable and has a good understanding of the field because he worked as a salesman for a long time. If there’s an error in judgment, he’s quick to fix it, and he’s open to feedback.” Of course, there is a hierarchy for the corporate structure, but there is less micromanagement and more trust. He said that makes him a good fit with New Jigu.


A second life: appreciating the present

When I came to the U.S., I started as a salesman in my 20s and never looked back. There was a time when I was at full throttle, but I had a moment that made me rethink the meaning of life. I was driving on the highway from Michigan to Chicago when my car’s engine suddenly stopped. “I thought to myself, ‘It can be the end of my life, just like that.’ I managed to pull over to the side of the road, but my hands and feet were shaking, and I was in shock for about 10 minutes. After a while, I thought, Maybe I still have some work to do here. Wow. Thanks God it’s summer and not winter.”

He attributes his optimistic view of life to his wife. “In my 20s and 30s, when I liked drinking and hanging out with friends, I thought I’d never get married and just live alone. But it’s funny how people change. I met my wife, who was studying in Mississippi after finishing her undergraduate study in education through a mutual friend.” He describes meeting and marrying his wife at age 37 as “the beginning of a second life.” “I’m so grateful to my wife. Sometimes I get angry at what I think is unfair, and she reminds me that I’m not losing by giving in. I think she’s wiser than I am.”

When asked for his health secret, he smiled and pulled out a picture on his phone of his beautiful daughter, whose smile looked just like his. The daughter he had upon his marriage became his secret to good health and his reason for living. “I used to work out regularly, including lifting weights, running, and golfing, but as my daughter has gotten older, I’ve been spending more time with her, so I haven’t been able to work out as much. I need to start again for my health. My daughter is now in adolescence, but she’s still a vitamin for my life.”


30 years of sales, the romantic early days, and the reality of today

According to him, in the early days of sales, there was still romance. People had a strong sense that we’re all in this together, and deals were made out of good relationships. “I even had a client who said, ‘Let me have some because you’re from so far away.'” But today, it’s so fast-paced that even as you’re carrying a product that’s been well-received, you get the word that it’s already off-peak in some regions. This increases the risk of inventory management and makes it difficult to balance, he says. In today’s chaotic, fast-paced market, the relationship between salespeople and retail owners has become strictly business. “In the early days, it took a year to get something up and running, and once it was up, it lasted for five years. The risk in inventory management was low. Over the course of five years, the West, the East, the Midwest, and the South, the regional markets took turns for a product. Now? Social media makes a product a nation-wide best seller in a month, and it doesn’t last more than six months. The inventory is so troublesome that it’s hard to be a romantic relationship over time.”



A salesman’s philosophy

“Never overpromise” is the philosophy I keep in mind, especially when times get tough. In the moment of making a sale or about to meet a sales goal, I try to be wary of throwing empty promises that are presented without corporate approval. I’ve been a salesperson for over 30 years, I’ve seen a lot and I certainly know it comes back to bite me in the end, so I’m very disciplined about it. “I believe that a promise is a foundation of trust, so once you make a promise, you should keep it. That’s how I was taught when I was learning sales. You talk a lot, but you make few promises.”




Back to basics: LUX GOLD, 100 grams of the finest quality human hair

The hair industry has become overheated with over-competition and bleeding due to competition, which has led to a decline in the quality of hair products across the board. “I’ve been in the hair industry for almost 30 years, and we’ve been selling hair products that were incomparable to the products of the early days, just chasing low prices. The competition has been self-destructible to the market so much as that we wanted to reflect on ourselves and restart, and LUX GOLD is the new beginning.”

New Jigu has been keeping a 3-5 year cycle of product development and hit releases, but it has put considerably more effort into LUX GOLD. New Jigu is not the only company to offer quality products that are a good compromise between price and quality. Among the New Jigu’s lineups, the Momo bundle is a solid example of such products and remains popular. However, knowing the old standards of the hair market and remembering the high quality, he always had some regret. The timing of the launch coincided with the movement to return to the highest quality human hair products, which were not an easy move due to the high price, and the resulting product is something that Director Jaesoo Cho is more attached to and proud of than other products.

“It’s the real deal, the original, highest quality product in the industry. The human hair bundle comes in the weight of 100 grams. There is no competition in regard to quality in today’s market. I can say this with confidence.”

The end goal is to retire as a salesperson

How about his end game? “When you’ve been in sales long enough, people around you say things like, ‘You should have some ambition’, ‘You should run a store’, ‘Shouldn’t you have a business to raise your kids?’ and even, ‘Are you still in sales?’ I think everyone has something they are cut out to be, and for me, I’m more of a salesperson than an entrepreneur. I know how much time and energy you have to put into your business or entrepreneurship. Inevitably, you’re going to miss time with your family, and that’s a big sacrifice. When they are grown up, you won’t see them as often. I married late, so this time with my kid is so precious.” He says his friends’ children are already in the military or having a job noting that his daughter is so young that he’ll have to work many more years with a laugh.

“New Jigu’s Vice President has been with the company for 30 years and is still an active salesman overseeing Virginia and Maryland. He is my role model as a salesperson. I’m always thinking that’s what I want to be. I’m working hard as if New Jigu is where I retire.”

As we said goodbye at the end of the interview, I noticed his jacket, marked with the Harlem125 logo, a New Jigu brand. Somehow, it blends in with his image, which is best described as gentle charisma. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for Director Jaesoo Cho, a salesman who has traveled a single path all along.



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