Art and Culture, Blogging, creatif, exploring, personal

What it’s like to hold an Exhibition at COEX as an artist/seller

For the past four days, I volunteered to help my mom take a shot at selling her Zimbabwean art collection at the annual Home and Lifestyle Exhibition held in unison with the Gyeongyang Housing Fair. This exhibition, alike many others, are hosted in key cities around the country such as Busan, Daegu, Gwangju, Jeju and others throughout the year. It hosts a variety of creative products, from traditional hand held mirrors embedded with mother of pearl to extravagant tech that guarantees turning all food waste into liquid form. I’ve attended many of these events, but got to understand the behind-the-scenes of running our own booth. I thought this would be interesting for anyone wondering whether this is the step to launch or propel their business in Korea to the next level.

With 30 years of experience, this event boasts an average attendance rate of 180,000 persons. There is an entrance fee of 10,000 won, but they have the option of reserving a ticket for free beforehand. The bigger firms use this as an opportunity to showcase their exhibition design with elaborate and flashy architecture, case in point:IMG_0341.jpg

 

 

 

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(This particular shop was all about the pictures and promotions of–can you guess what? Shampoo!)

However, there are still a good number of smaller shops that sell their products in a more straight forward and simplistic manner. There are shops selling handmade jewelry to cosmetics and chocolate. Even if you’re not particularly keen to sell, if you are familiar with the fleamarkets and open market styles, this may be an interesting event reminiscent of those days when you can just walk up to the different stalls, have a chat and be hopefully jostled from your everyday surroundings and gain some home decor tips. Speaking of which, they host different seminars and conferences during the course of four days, where you may listen in on talks of brand design, sustainable and eco-friendly living, and other seminars for free. Unfortunately, most of these talks are held in Korean, and have yet to provide English translations due to the fairly limited attendance of foreigners (or perhaps, vice versa).

Setting Up.

This particular event is held over four consecutive days, with 2 days extra before and after for setting and wrapping up. They give you the whole day before to construct either your own booth or hire another company to do it for you. Because of this, the day (and air) is filled with dust and people panting heavily as they carry furniture and other goods across the huge hall. The hosting company conveniently failed to provide air conditioning on that day, and we had to move, unpack and organize items in the middle of Korean summer. When you apply to be a participating company, they are literally providing you with a standard 3x3m stall, and come to install lights, plugs, and a white box that you can use for some displays. Luckily, the plastic walls dividing shops are pretty durable and you can mount things onto it with a drill. We ended up drilling a painting, a light and a huge mirror so I’m guessing most other things are good to go.

Most of the preparations must be done beforehand. Bring your own tools and posters and marketing strategies. However, COEX has a lot of handy shops nearby, and you can pick up last minute supplies like tape and plastic chairs from the Daiso on the B1 floor. They will require marketing material a week before the exhibition itself, which they will disperse (though unseen by myself still). Another pro tip is packing a large piece of fabric that you drape over your products once you’re done for the day. It indicates that you have closed, and gives you some privacy when you leave the building.

If you don’t manage to complete everything in the day, it’s okay to do so the following day. However, because you share a wall, drilling it on opening day may not be seen favorably. You may still reorganize and set up your goods as there are not that many customers on a Thursday morning.

Personal Experience/Verdict.

Our mini exhibition/shop was wedged between a sink company, a facial exfoliating device company and a handmade arts and crafts store. Overall the neighbors were amiable and you grow a little fond of them by the fourth day, buying each other’s products and breaking bread with one another. However, deciding to partake in this exhibition requires some critical contemplation, especially if you are a relatively small company. While I’ve heard that smaller businesses in the arts pair up to split the booth costs, I am skeptical that many of them were even able to break even during the four days. The bigger companies, like the one above have no problem in fronting ‘advertisements’ as their main priority, even without reaping in the money. On the other hand, many of the smaller shops that were selling towels can hardly sell enough to even fathom covering the 3000,000 won booth fee (very rough approximation of 3000 dollars). Even our booth, which had a higher average price could barely breakeven. On that note, this exhibition, while catering towards companies that offer products as big as beds and storage containers, many of the consumers are within a demographic that are more frugal with their money. This is not the exhibition for you if you are looking for people that are willing to part with their money, even if it is for high quality art. Many are there, including myself in previous occasions, to have a feast for the eyes and have a little chit chat rather than to make an investment. While there is a considerable peak time on Sunday with last minute customers, I just don’t know if there 5~6 days is worth the effort. Through this experience, I felt fully the hardships of entrepreneurs, even with products as brilliant and futuristic as sinks that dissolve food waste into liquid form. They’re just not there for it. On the other hand, we were lucky enough to invite a gallery owner to see our booth and negotiate some business, but this was due to a friend network rather than an amity birthed by the exhibition. It’s really your call, but I strongly recommend that you prioritize your market research and consider what the primary goal of your business/exhibition is. In our case, we definitely chose the wrong market.

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However, I had a good experience. I had my very first taste of a small exhibition beyond the confines of my home. I did not realize the time was passing as I shifted products, displayed and rearranged the sculptures here and there. While it was a strenuous process, especially since it was done by the three of us only, unwrapping each of these products and finding an aesthetically pleasing composition took up the whole evening. I felt all the better after it.IMG_0305.jpg

 

Wrapping Up.

While it is advertised that the wrap up time is till the Monday after, we were surprised to see that most of the shops were packed and ready to go by Sunday evening following the exhibition. It dissolves into more chaos than the original set up, with some hoarse screams here and there as peoples’ frustrations go through the roof. This is another frustration that I had with the exhibition hosts–they do not seem to care for the participating companies. I say this because they offered no airconditioning the entire set up day, and immediately switched it off at 6PM when everyone was packing up. Everything had to be done in the excruciating heat and humidity of the Korean summer. This struck me as a disgusting capitalistic ploy, where all the smaller companies paid high sums to participate, slave away for four days everyday as they try to break even (sometimes located in farway and unfortunate areas with little customers) and immediately discarded as soon as they are away from the lime light. This was particularly disheartening to see, as some shop owners looked like they were on the verge of tears by the end of the show.

This is my personal experience and view on the Living and Lifestyle Expo, which transformed into the Home and Lifestyle Expo held in COEX. I felt like this was an interesting insight to the shenanigans, and especially interesting for those who do not have access to such information in Korean. Atleast, you know a little more and can perhaps have a little more sympathy for the sullen faces you may see at one of these exhibitions.

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Incheon, Korea//Date on the Moonlight Path

Hello everyone! The weather in Korea is steaming hot, but it’s definitely better than to all my summer breaks here. Maybe it’s because I go about building-jumping between air conditioners. Anyway, this got me reminiscing of early spring, on one of my dates with my lovely boyfriend when he taught me how to long board.IMG_6030

He left the longboard for me at home to try out but I’m too scared after hurtling down a small but significantly terrifying hill.

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We decided to take a stroll away from campus after a long week of college toil. The beautiful flowers were just beginning to fully blossom and the colors were just stunning! The trail is actually a bike trail that follows a little river, and the sight of people gently canoeing down the stream and pet owners jogging their dogs made for an energetic and peaceful afternoon.IMG_5998          IMG_5919

I recommend this path during the budding seasons to clear your head after being cooped up all day.

This abundance of flowers allows for a unique and heartfelt flower ring!    IMG_5928IMG_5916

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Korea: Gwanganli Beach and Dadaepo Beach, Busan

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When I first came to Korea, I made an obligatory trip to the second biggest city in Korea, Busan, where I was born and raised till 3, and most of my family resides.

My cousin (who shares a whopping 16 year old age gap with me) treated me to lunch at a bustling double story cafe right in front of beautiful Gwanganli beach. The toast, omelette and sausages were reminiscent of home, and the atmosphere was relaxed for couples and families. On the beach, there always seems to be a lot of functions, such as beach volleyball or mini music concerts going on. I think it will be useful to check the events out to determine which ones you want to attend (and similarly, what to avoid!)

As night began to sweep into the sky, there was a sudden emergence of many provocatively cladded young women and men, who were probably looking to have an enjoyable evening in the notorious line of bars and clubs.

 Meanwhile, at Dadaepo Beach they were hosting there Dadaepo Sunset Fountain of Dreams festival, an hour long water show, dancing flamboyantly to some of Korea’s most known and beloved tunes.

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  • Free admission
  • First come first serve seating
  • Relaxing, magical and perfect for chasing the heat away!
  • Public transport most convenient as parking can get crowdedIMG_0083
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adventure, Blogging, college, exploring, personal, travels

Hello World

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It’s been almost a year since I’ve properly updated this blog. It’s been a long time coming. There were times where I’d recall with quite the pang how much I enjoyed and needed to express myself in a blog, but I was often too busy and many times too afraid to come back to this platform. I’ve just returned from my trip in Busan a week into finishing my first year at Yonsei University. I finally found the soul’s leisure to pick up some books from my to read list, and top of the list was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Now, though I would call myself a scholar I admit that it is difficult to force down informationals in a summer read, especially on arbitrary tips on ‘how to be happy.’ However, I’ve heard some rave reviews about it, and I must say that I do agree. It is simplistic, experimental, and life changing.

It is pretty tough trying to stay afloat as a new adult, thrust into the city alone and unknowing, and often against my will I find myself feeling grumpy and defensive against the world. Reading this book reminded me of the little pleasures I have in life, and what keeps me gentle and humble. It struck me how similar my life is to that of the author, having an affinity to the languages but directing myself towards law instead, the short anger spouts and most of all, simply trying to live and enhance a life that is already pretty worth living.She started a blog despite her doubts, and so I’ve decided to do the same.

It is a great summer read, and recommendable to anyone.

Look forward to my Busan trip post!

Thank you everyone who has stuck around,

Sincerely,

Me.

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