By Sally Chun
People often ask us about our story – How did we get here? What did we study? What are our hopes and dreams? In light of our 6-month mark, co-founder Sally sits down to reflect on our journey to launching The Selected. This is our story in her perspective.
When I was 13, I subscribed to my first fashion magazine Teen Vogue for only $12 a year. It became my favorite thing to receive in the mail. For every monthly issue, I read vigorously – every single word. I remember analyzing the front cover headers, the photos, the personal articles, and the anticipated finale: trending lookbooks. In desperate moments, I would even read the index (true story!). Hour two, I would be found lying down with Teen Vogue in my nose, cutting up scraps of my favorite inspiration: street style, home renovations, and perfume advertisements – anything I found inspirational to my taste. These images were carefully collected in a box and set aside for my scrapbook.
The scrapbook was a yellow, spiral-bound sketch pad I discovered on the rack of a bookstore. I had no vision when I initially bought it, but with my finished magazines I thought to fill the pages with bits and pieces of my inspirations: Mary-Kate Olsen, LANVIN, Kristen Bell, Marc Jacobs, and Chloe. It took about 12 magazine issues and a full year to finish my 50-page dream board project. I remember beaming proudly and sharing the book with my parents and sisters. This early project reminds me of the creative impulse and passion that ran through my veins during my teenage years.
In my late teens, I ventured into the online world of fashion. I joined my sister in selling clothes on Website X, a blog forum that allowed users to upload content and maintain a virtual shop. This is where I first learned how to take/edit photos (as novice as I was), price clothing, package and ship items, and all the rest that comes with a beta online shop. I also jumped into creating YouTube videos along with my sister, who was already producing content for beauty and makeup. I focused on visual styling and short clips on thrift shopping. I indulged in the world of Polyvore and Lookbook, and shot my first blog post look just outside our neighborhood. As my platform grew, I launched an online shop with hand-picked finds at local thrift stores. I spent days rummaging through vintage shops, consignment stores, and local pop-ups to find pieces that reflected my style. It became the most rewarding and my most time-consuming hobby.
(My first shop: Solatido, 2012)
As I hit my 20’s, I found myself hit with reality in the face of adulthood. I felt lost in direction and muddled deep within a pit of mixed counsels: “Fashion can be a hobby, not a career.” “You love learning languages, try linguistics.” “Haven’t you always wanted to become a teacher?” “Study business, like your father did.” In the midst of this chaos, nothing really stuck with me, and I was left even more confused. I bounced around from one major to another, only to realize that none offered at a University of California would satisfy my creative desires: to create, visualize and style outfits, research trends, publish travel diaries, and blot about the future of fashion.
Quite frankly, I never wanted to attend university to study art, or anything of the like. I had many friends advising me to study art, or go in the fashion industry - but I think in my mind I took for granted that this part of me would always remain in me. I thought, "I'll always have this passion, so why study it?" So, in the summer of 2013, I transferred schools to Santa Barbara, a beach town on the coast with beautiful trails and perfect weather. I packed all my LA clothes with me, in hopes that I would find new opportunities to share them with others. However, the busyness of life, the infectious cultural apathy, and lack of inspiration led me to move these thoughts to the back of my mind. I never knew passions could fade when it lacked careful nurture. More importantly, I failed to realize that every skill is a tool, and if it’s not being sharpened it’s as good as gone. In my final year at university, I lost the hope and desire to pursue a creative career and switched to something ‘practical’.
For one, it looked good on paper: a stable career with decent pay and a work-life balance. However, deep inside, I was turning away from something monumental in my life. With that decision, I foolishly exchanged my passion for a sense of comfort that everyone seemed to chase. Once I had it, the grass quickly turned brown. It wasn’t what I had hoped it to be.
Thankfully, in the winter of 2016 something changed. I can't pin point who or what influenced me, but I started to see things differently. I don't know if it was my co-worker showing me her sketches for apparel design, hours of honest discussion (about dreams and regrets) with my husband, my eye opening trip to Seoul (capital of street style), my sister who is a dream machine of inspiration and effort, or the growing platforms of online inspirations that keep me in check. All things considered, I decided to give my dreams another shot.
In the New Year of 2017, I entered with expectant hope and determination that I would make this year one of pursuit and action. Many late-night meetings and decision-making sessions later, on Saturday, April 22, 2017 (Earth Day), the four of us launched The Selected in our living room floor. It's a company that embodies our collective styles, inspirations, and dreams -- and the four of us carry a unique, diverse set of talents that work best when all wheels were turning.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”
- Quoted by my sister, on our launch day
It’s been incredible to see a blank page turn into a fully published website. We have an overflowing bank of ideas still waiting to be released in the future. As of now, we plan to stay faithful, creative, and committed to our mission -- and we feel thankful to have each other holding us accountable.
We’ve had people ask us about our “real jobs” – how we practically manage the shop. For those of you who don’t know, we live separately and both have full-time jobs. This is how we make the most of our days:
Monday to Friday
I work a 9 to 5 job in global marketing. It’s a full-time job that requires a large chunk of my day. But still, I have the rest of the day like everyone else. During my 1-hour commute drive home, my sister and I will often have our weekly phone call meetings. (Sometimes, it’s as frequent as every other day, depending on the size of our agenda). We discuss new ideas, brainstorm cool concepts, set work deadlines, plan our photoshoot schedule, and always end with our own list of things to get done. Once I’m off the call, I’m home, which is where I begin my second shift. Around 7pm to 11pm (oftentimes ‘till much later) Soyoung edits photos, manages shipments, sends e-mail newsletters, etc. while I manage our social media platforms, write descriptions, or think of new blog articles (like this!). We have an incredible like-mindedness team spirit that keeps each other going, motivated, and inspired.
Weekends are when the magic happens. We try to set aside our Saturdays for photoshoots, physical meetings, and buying or restocking items. For us, it’s crucial to be productive during the weekends in order for us to successfully manage the weekdays.
THIS IS OUR DREAM. WHAT’S YOURS?
All in all, this is how we live out our dream. As sisters, we help each other fulfill one another’s dream by working together. Our ongoing joke is that she is my boss, and I am hers. It’s true. We share a mutual love for what we do, and when we do what we love – well, we don’t mind a little overtime.
This article is a self-written biography on Soyoung Seo and Sally Chun, sisters and founders of The Selected. You can read more about our mission and the story behind ‘The Selected’ here. For more blog articles, visit the Stories page.