A Shop that Sells Smiles, a Second Life Found after Retirement
Smile Beauty Supply’s Owner Hyesook Amano-Hwang
In this issue of the retail store tour, we found a small, newly opened business. The owner of this business, a woman in her 60s who has retired, is said to have lived a life that has nothing to do with the beauty industry. What is the story that led her to enter the unfamiliar and unknown beauty industry in the second half of her life? We listened to her story of how she is learning step by step as a newbie in beauty supply business.
2,600 sf expansion after taking over a small shop a year ago
In mid-October, BNB’s phone rang.
“Hello. Our store has moved, and I called to get a BNB magazine at a new address.”
The voice over the phone was filled with strength.
“You relocated even though it’s been a difficult time with Covid-19?”
Last year, she acquired a very small beauty supply store of 900 sf, and this October, she moved to a 2,600-sf area in her own building next door.
Until now, articles on BNB’s retail store visits have mainly discovered and introduced the so-called “success stories” that have built up a large business for a long time.
The reason behind that may be to present a role model that readers can refer to in their business through success stories, but another reason behind it is that these days, it is very difficult to find a newly established beauty supply store.
As competition in the beauty industry is increasing and worsening day by day, it is exceedingly difficult to start a new business as almost all of the existing businesses are preoccupying areas that can already be entered.
The opening of a new beauty supply can only be dreamed of by people who have enough capital and experience the beauty industry. But how did she get started with this job?
I did it without knowing anything.
“After I retired, I took a 3-year break, but unemployment made me sick.”
It was predicted that she may have suffered from the so-called “retirement syndrome,” which people who have been working all their lives have after retiring and living boring lives.
“In fact, I’ve never done a beauty supply in my life, so I started this without knowing anything. BNB Magazine really helped me to do business.”
She tells her story without hesitation as if she wanted it all this time.
‘Maybe her active personality was the driving force in challenging a new career field.’ Was our intuition.
Even so, she jumped into a difficult task that she had never encountered before, as a senior retiree. We became curious about her story.
“Can we interview you?”
Owner Hwang Hyesook, who readily accepted the interview without any hesitation.
Smiling first impression, Smile Beauty Supply
At the end of October, when the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases recorded 80,000 across the United States and the second pandemic had begun, I began to journey to Florida for the interview with body and mind heavily armed.
Smile Beauty Supply was settled in downtown Crestview, a small town of 20,000 people, located inland about an hour off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in northwest Florida. The entrance to the store, viewed from the front, looked so narrow, so I opened the door thinking ‘It must be a really small beauty supply.’ However, the store that stretched long and wide in the back felt quite large.
When the door opened and I entered the store, a man with a good-natured impression in a blue neck t-shirt greeted me with a warm smile. At first, I thought he could speak Korean and said hello in Korean, but he shyly said he couldn’t speak Korean. It was Ms. Hwang’s husband, a Japanese man.
Owner Hwang, who was inside, ran out and said hello with a bright smile and a lively voice.
For about 30 years, the couple has run restaurants in Japan and the United States. Her husband is said to be a French chef. resident Hwang has been managing all the business, and her husband is said to have been in charge of cooking. She was successful in the restaurant business and retired from the restaurant business right before the age of 60.
“You must give the customers carrots and sticks.”
“With what guts did you start this job with no experience at all?”
As soon as I sat down for an interview, I asked straightforwardly.
“I really enjoy dealing with customers. I like people, exchanging jokes, and getting along well with anyone. I have been in the service business dealing with customers for 30 years, and I have never failed. That was why I was confident about this. I deal with people, regardless of age, gender, or status.”
And she adds,
“I basically respond kindly to customers, but I never look easy. If a customer does something wrong, I scold without hesitation.”
She tells an episode that happened recently. A few days ago, Ms. Hwang was carrying the items checked out at the cash register in a bag, and a customer suddenly pointed at the bag and yelled to take everything out.
“I respect you, but why don’t you respect me? Get out of my store right now. You don’t have to come to my store in the future. I don’t need a guest like you!”
She admonished the customer so firmly that he apologized, telling her to put them back in the bag.
“Don’t let yourself be swayed by the customers. You need to give them carrots and sticks, or you cannot run a business. People say guests are kings, but if they do something wrong, you need to scold them. In the long run, that’s the best way. In the end, customers like me even though I scold them sometimes.”
Head hurts because of hair
Still, ideal and reality are quite different, and there must be many things that are difficult to overcome. What was the most difficult?
“The chemical, miscellaneous goods, and cosmetics products were okay to handle, but it was really hard to sell hair products without knowing them.”
“So you must have had a headache because of all the head wigs.”
She laughs loudly and agrees to the badly made ‘dad joke’.
“(Laughs) That’s right. Sometimes I get ignored by the salesman, ‘Why do you not know that?’ My pride was also hurt a little.”So, I asked how she got over it, or how she was getting over it.
“First of all, the videos posted on YouTube helped me a lot. In addition, the information from BNB magazine is essential for business. Why black customers need hair products, what products are fashionable, how to use them, etc. Of course, there was also the help of the former boss who handed over the store to me.”
Is your business going well?
“It’s been about two weeks since I opened a new store, but I have already sold 80 wigs.”
It’s amazing that a small store sold 80 wigs in two weeks. I wondered what the secret was.
“I don’t know. I couldn’t open the store for about two months because of the interior work, but even during that period, customers kept coming and asking me when I would open it again.”
Just then, a young female guest came in. Ms. Hwang recommends a wig to the customer, and accurately explains the product with a bright and clear voice. Grabbing a 360-degree lace wig product and showing it back and forth, she recommends purchase by explaining in detail the structure and function of the wig.
“This product is a little more expensive, but it has a lot of advantages. First of all, styling is free. Wearing this, you will look really pretty like a celebrity. It is a product that goes very well even if it is made in an up-do style… It will upgrade your beauty even further.”
After 10 minutes of persuasion by Ms. Hwang, the customer eventually leaves the store with a wig paid over $100 including accessories.
Behind the customer’s back, Ms. Hwang shouts in a bright, smiling voice.
“Say hello to your daughter~! No no no, your DAUGHTERS!”
The customer does not look back, waves her hand and laughs.
“OK I will say hello. Thank You!”
The store’s name is not ‘Smile’ Beauty Supply for no reason. This is a place that sells ‘smiles’. Not only do you buy things, but you also buy happiness.
I wish it would be a little inspiration for those who want to start a new challenge…
Finally, I asked her if there was anything, she wanted to say to the BNB readers.
“I’m still trying new things even though I’m old and I have no experience. I wish my story would be a small inspiration to those who dream of a new challenge.”
“I met the 81-year-old beauty supply owner at the Atlanta Beauty Show, and he looked healthy and young- only about 70 years old. Seeing him gave me inspiration and courage. Like him, I will try hard and do all I can.”