Do Won Chang was born in a humble village called Myeong-Dong in Seoul, South Korea in 1954. He was very, very poor indeed. So, he developed the sense to make money from an early age. When he was a young boy, no matter what anybody said to Chang, he was willing to work.
When he was old enough, he initially worked in coffee shops before he started his own coffee delivery service. And it was really hard work on his part.
In 1981, Chang immigrated to the United States from South Korea with his wife, Jin Sook. The couple arrived in the US with nothing. Chang only had a high school diploma from a foreign country. At one point, he had to work three jobs to sustain himself and his family. He worked in coffee shops, he worked as a janitor, and as a gas station attendant.
He continued struggling like this for three years. For a long while, Chang noticed that all the wealthy people around him worked in fashion. So, he decided to take the risk and launch a clothing store of his own.
With the wages that Chang made from his three jobs, he was able to open his first clothing store in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles in 1984. He named it “Fashion 21” and targeted it towards his fellow Korean-Americans.
Chang pushed himself so hard in his work that after the first year, sales soared from $35,000 to $700,000. He soon decided to broaden the demographics of his customers.
Chang changed the name of his store to “Forever 21” to appeal to more customers. This clearly worked as he was then able to open more stores in the United States and even in his hometown. Within five years, Chang had opened eleven stores.
In 2009, Forever 21 faced a tough time due to the recession that affected everyone. Chang was forced to make a few cuts and close seven stores. However, Forever 21 soon recovered and has continued to grow and grow. It now has over 600 stores around the world, including one in Birmingham and one in London, UK.
Currently, Forever 21 has grown quickly by taking advantage of the benefits of “fast fashion.” Forever 21 is now multi-national and has 480 locations across the world. It has also managed to bring in $3 billion per year.
One inspiring lesson from Chang’s life story is hard work and dedication. He did some jobs that were too odd for a married man. He said, “I tried everything when I first arrived in America: dishwashing, cleaning, working part-time at a gas station. I tried my hand at whatever physically demanding jobs I could get. Then I got interested in fashion and decided to start a fashion business.”
Sometimes in life you just don’t know what to do.
At a time like that, you have to remember the Biblical advice which is, “Whatever thy hand find, do it diligently.”
So many people are confused because they don’t know what to do with their life. The best way to figure out the right thing to do with your life is to be busy doing something. Like Chang, if you’re busy experimenting, you’ll find your true passion.
As you wake up this morning, make a commitment to yourself never to stop until you find who you are and what you’re passionate about because true happiness comes only to those who know themselves and what they are capable of doing best.
Mandy Hale said, “Sometimes when you lose your way, you find yourself.” Sometimes when you fail, you know how to succeed. Sometimes when you fall, you know how to walk. Then, the secret to success is the ability and willingness to get lost, to try things, to experiment and to fall. Robert F Kennedy said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”