Yira Park holds many titles: founder & CEO of DIDIER DUBOT, 17+yrs of business woman in Sejung Corp., mother, wife, and youngest daughter to Soonho Park, the founder & CEO of Sejung corp. Like father, like daughter, some might say. This was a first for both women: Yira park and Francheska Dyne-Hong, the editor-in-chief and director of HERSTORY series. In this exclusive first-ever media interview with Yira, the two great women of DIDIER DUBOT shine light on honest and personal stories of Yira about work, family, and the constant work to find her own center. There is no sugar-coating: it ain’t easy juggling, balancing all the roles and truth is it doesn’t get any easier. however, Yira does it. And here is how, and more importantly why.
First is always special. First day at school, first crush, first date, and oh that first kiss. It’s a whole blend of excitement, anxiety, a tinge of obsession all because we have no idea what to expect. I too experienced mild symptoms of the above walking into Yira Park’s office on a sunny Thursday afternoon, clutching decadent delicacies in one hand for our coffee date (I am a firm believer in sweets-and-caffeine magic) and in the other, an autobiography of Soonho Park, the CEO and founder of fashion mogul Sejung Corporation who also happens to be Yira’s very own father. This certainly wasn’t my first rodeo - over the six years, I have interviewed countless business executives, celebrities, and the general public with incredible stories; however, this certainly was a first, for both of us.
Coming onboard DIDIER DUBOT’s Global Franchise as branding consultant and content director, I immediately fell in love with the potential of this brand to become a global icon for positive empowerment and diversity. The more I became involved in nurturing its brand story around searching for, discovering, and finding one’s true destiny, it became all too clear to me that there was nothing more powerful and potent than sharing real stories from real women living with their passion, desires, as well as their fears and flaws. Because for me, all this talk about self-love comes down to just this one quote. You love despite, not because: despite all the faults.
And who better than to grace the grand opening of our HER-STORY series but the very founder and CEO of DIDIER DUBOT, Yira Park. So yes, she was my first. Our first. And my, was it special!
She was everything I had expected and couldn’t have expected. Adorned with DIDIER DUBOT’s flowing L’air de Paris necklace that trickled down her clean white blouse and signature gold Poppy Flower studs, we laughed, sipped coffee, talked about everything from her childhood of grueling violin training (which she never really liked), to her amazing parents who instilled positive values that became her surviving kit in the business jungle, to balancing, or rather just having to be everything at each time- mother, wife, daughter (to a father who is also her own boss and mentor), business executive of multiple brands, now including her very own. And no different from all of us, she too, swings from one end to, well, multiple ends.
Even though our conversation only lasted for three hours (sadly), I could not have been in higher spirits knowing that my intuition had been completely spot on. To me, Yira is DIDIER DUBOT: the very living embodiment of the brand itself. She is positive, creative, empowered and empowering, humble because she knows her own limits as a human being, free because she accepted her immortality in business and life, and brave because she can admit to being scared of the unexpected storms but stand on two feet grounded in her family and faith.
She was our first, but first of many more others to come.
And trust me, I am already tingling with excitement.
Francheska Dyne-Hong: It’s so lovely to see you again! I remember meeting you for the very first time in this office earlier this year. I still remember how excited I was to talk business with you that day. You are wearing a DIDIER DUBOT line today as well, right?
Yira Park: Yes, I know. How time flies! It has been so great since you joined our global team and we are very excited. Yes, I do like matching my outfit with the jewelry. (she twirls her L’air de Paris) I think our designs have many options to mix and match with both the more free, casual outfit as well as business suits.
Francheska Dyne-Hong: Thank you so much. It has been an exciting journey, working with the team to build a strong brand identity for our global audience, which is why I wanted you to be the first to grace our interview series. Now, it’s time to hear it from your own voice. Please share with us, how and why did this magic all start - DIDIER DUBOT?
Yira Park: Well, there is the more philosophical approach and the more market-oriented. From a business perspective, I noticed an influx of more free-flowing, sensual style in fashion but absence of accessory lines to accompany that trend here in South Korea. I saw it as an opportunity to create a jewelry brand that could be expressive, free in terms of adopting various designs and inspirations that almost constantly evolves to tell a continuous story of its own. It’s one of the many reasons that I loved the title you gave for our brand story, [The Tale of Two Cities], which is both metaphorical and figurative as we can adapt it to all global cities as we move forward.
FDH: I most certainly agree. I wanted our brand to be intimately associated with global diversity and be fluid both in identity and design. I think it gives us a very unique edge that we started in South Korea but have drawn inspiration from both Paris & Seoul. Speaking of France, I had this burning question: my french colleague has informed me that DIDIER DUBOT is actually a masculine name? Were you aware of this?
Yira Park: I actually did and it was very much intentional. I wanted our brand to go beyond gender identification and represent a holistic human being. I believe humans are a blend of both feminine and masculine energy. There is even scientific research that as we age our hormones reach an equilibrium, right? I feel it and see it from my peers as well. Our jewelry lines are not just for women. The same design can be worn by men as well including our LA MOIRE silver line that BTS Jin wore, for instance. Female customers can wear more masculine designs and of course, vice versa.
FDH: That is a fascinating story. I am so glad I asked.. I thought it was a misnomer but it could not have been more apt. I also believe there is immense freedom and power that comes from seeing yourself and others as such. Are there any personality trait(s) do you admire or respect from other women?
YP: Those who have self-assurance and exude a certain aura of confidence. And this is very different from being arrogant because they know and accept their shortcomings. I personally know and admire female CEOs who have this grace to remain poised in every situation, whether it be about their own children, family, or business. I think we, business folks, are so used to solving problems and finding better solutions that we approach what life throws at us as another problem to solve. (haha) Also, I think they are deeply well aware that life is a continuum of ebbs and flows and the key is to find balance, or at least try.
FDH: I most certainly agree. And that profound level of self-assurance comes to those who have weathered many of their unknown struggles. You mentioned that the “key is to find balance.” For so, so many working women navigating “work-life-balance” has been a conundrum especially more if you start having a family. Some say it's urban legend, others say it's a pendulum, the constant shifting of weight from one to another that doesn’t stop. How would you define it and how do you balance it all?
YP: Oh wow… (sighs) you know, your question is actually making me think about this for the first time. I hadn’t before. (she twirls her necklace again)
FDH: Why? Because it was so obvious or?
YP: Because for me, it wasn’t a question of how but more of a must, almost desperately so in order to live. As a career woman with a family, I would be too devastated and regretful if my life came to an end one day in the middle of this non-stop race. Indeed, balancing and juggling all my responsibilities and duties require tremendous effort, planning, and calculations. Hrm.. I think one has to be 1) strategic; 2) intuitive, and… (pauses) 3) bold in order to achieve good balance.
FDH: Oh I am intrigued. Why bold?
YP: So that you can say “no” when necessary, “ask” when you need or want something. We have to admit that we are not capable of doing everything. In order to better take care of others and produce higher performance, we need to allocate time to heal, recharge, and release. And in order to create that time among our busy schedules, we have to be able to accept some and refuse others. Then the strategy and planning comes into play. A simple example, let’s say I want the weekend to myself. Then I plan all my appointments, including business and dinner with my in-laws, all by Friday night.
FDH: Do you ever get exhausted having to plan your life like a chess-play? Always having to think multiple steps ahead?
YP: (takes a deep sigh) Sometimes I really do and I also do feel the pressure of having to keep up with everything! But one of my greatest strengths and simultaneously my weakness is my optimism-slash-positivity that I inherited from my parents. It serves me well in this particular case as I can pick myself back up pretty quickly and move on. My faith, Catholicism, also empowers me to accept every moment as opportunities for growth, lessons, and greater purpose that I may not know at the time. Also if you want more, you have to do more. Life is fair, I think.
FDH: This is such an important discussion for all of us as there is no one-fits-all answer but what you told me is definitely going on my own list of life lessons.
You also mentioned personality traits you got from your parents. Your father is not only the founder of the fashion mogul Sejung Corporation but also your very direct boss (we both laugh). What roles have your parents played in your life, respectively?
YP: (smiles) I can say they have been my greatest mentors. Starting with my father, he has had the greatest influence in terms of my business career. Even at his age, he is unstoppable. The energy and the passion he has for fashion work motivate me to work harder. He constantly throws business challenges at me and my team, which keeps us on our toes. Sometimes, I get a little annoyed that all he ever wants to talk about is business (laughs). I mean, I am his child, you know?
FDH: Ergh I completely understand! It’s always tricky when family and business mix.
YP: Tell me about it… but there are always two sides to every story. And it is a great blessing to have someone so seasoned and passionate about the business be your own mentor, boss, and father.
FDH: I could see that. Any other people you consider as mentors or important influences in your life?
YP: Two very, very important female figures in my life: my mother and my great aunt. Earlier, you asked me about the philosophy and message I wanted to share with our customers. I wish I could share these teachings with all women. They (my mom and my great-aunt) taught me some of the most important wisdom in life.
My mother maintained a perfect balance by being a wonderful and committed house-wife but never losing ownership of herself. While she does everything she can for her family, especially her children (even still running the household all by herself), always finds time to enjoy her friends and vacations once in a while. You may find this really interesting too, Francheska but there is this thing my mum says to us, her children. On her birthdays or special occasions, she goes “here is a chance to show your appreciation for me, I would like this for a gift”.
FDH: Wow, really??
YP: Oh yessss. At first, I found it a little funny too. She is giving us a “chance”? But over time, her intention became so clear to me. She taught us that even within family members, we have to take the time and care to give and show appreciation and by stating that outright, she was reminding us that everyone, herself included, deserved to be treated well. So tell my husband and my teenage boy the same thing: what I want(haha)
FDH: Oh wow! You are a good student
YP: Learned from the best! Never losing sight of your own value and being. My great-aunt on the other hand taught me what I call “positive-feedback-loop”. Ever since I was young, she repeatedly assured me of my good qualities and even when I didn’t excel, she would say “try again, you have so much potential” or “ maybe it wasn’t yours to begin with but you will find something of your own”. And I think that thought process became wired into me as well and it served as a great survival kit in business. Whether it’s a new business idea or challenges or humps along the road, I always try to channel my thoughts in that direction.
FDH: I think the two wonder-women in your life could have written the best selling help book for practising positive mindset!
YP: I do feel extremely grateful that I had such amazing women in my life who lived and taught me some of the great life lessons. By the way, do you want to take a quick break here, Francheska?
FDH: Sure, I think this a great time to take a coffee-break. I am going to get another.
To be continued after we get coffee refills :)