By: Justin Humphries
For Karen Pogosyan and Seoyoung Park, hopes dreams and ambitions led to the start of a small store that specializes in selling South Korean fashion.
In May, Pogosyan and Park opened Be uniQ in hopes of starting something that Ottawa has never seen before. Located at 110 Parent and selling unique clothing from South Korea, the young couple hopes to find success in the heart of the ByWard Market.
“At first we only joked about it when we started dating,” said Park. “I guess the more we spoke about it and the more focused we became, the sooner it became a reality.”
23-year-old Pogosyan and 23-year-old Park are recent graduates of Algonquin, majoring in hospitality management and business marketing. Being from Russia and South Korea respectively, they first met at student orientation for international students.
“It was the first time we met each other,” said Pogosyan. “I think we found a connection quickly because we were both interested in fashion, so that’s how it all started.”
“All of our clothes are made by authentic Korean designers,” said Park. “That’s where I think the idea of Be uniQ comes in, because there is nothing in Ottawa that sells the same clothes as us in Ottawa.”
Although starting a business together brought many opportunities, with it came many challenges.
“We thought starting a business in Canada would be hard but it was actually pretty easy,” said Pogosyan. “Because of our location, the challenging part was selling our product and getting people to walk into our store.”
“We were very busy in the summer months,” said Park. “Just recently we have started offering 20 per cent off any purchase to students. The most surprising thing to us was that we actually see people of all ages.”
Michelle Cameron, an old friend of the young couple and an employee of the international office at Algonquin, went to the store this summer.
“It’s good to see former Algonquin students have so much success,” said Cameron. “The products at their store are fashionable and affordable, so I think it’s the perfect place if students want to find some good clothing.”
According to Pogosyan, there is nothing in Ottawa like Be uniQ. He believes that South Korean culture will only get bigger and bigger in Canada.
“I’ve noticed Canadians usually value comfort in what they wear over fashion,” said Pogosyan. “But according to every fashion magazine, slim is in if you want to look good. I can guarantee that if you buy something from our store very few people will be wearing it.”
Even though Be uniQ is still young, Park and Pogosyan want to one day start their own clothing line of Be uniQ products.
“We’re not sure when but we want Be uniQ to become its own brand,” said Pogosyan. “It’s still just a dream for us, but so was starting our own store together, so we’ll see what happens and what directions we’ll take.”
According to the young couple, Ottawa is still a growing city compared to cities such as Toronto. Park and Pogosyan want people from Ottawa to take pride in what they wear.
“When you’re wearing nice clothing you should feel confident and good about yourself,” said Park. “That’s what Be uniQ strives for.”