The first Challenge Semester project, planned by THE Ewha Excellence Center, started last December and finished this June. The semester-long project allowed students to plan out their own project related to their dreams and careers, without having to get a leave of absence.
For the first project, 30 students were admitted and finished their own projects, such as establishing a new company. Ewha Voice was able to meet a participant majoring in Apparel Studies, Yu Min-ji.
As Yu became a senior, she wanted to have first hand experience with a field she was interested in: fashion and clothes consumption. Searching for an opportunity for challenging herself, she soon became interested in taking this special semester to gain a first-hand life experience on selling a certain product.
“At first, I was simply dreaming of having a real job experience,” Yu said. “One day, I suddenly found the craze on the laptop sleeves designed by Marc Jacobs. In the past, many people did not really see laptop sleeve as a fashion item. However, public perception towards the laptop sleeves has changed a lot. I thought that I can actually start my own brand of laptop sleeves with my own design,”
Yu launched a brand named “Feb15,” which stands for the number fifteen, a number of players in each team during a game of rugby. This term inspired her to design her products based on rugby. Her brand is targeted at youths who enjoy free lifestyles, one of the main reasons why her designs turned out to be close to street fashion.
“I recognized that laptop sleeves in Korea are either basic colored ones from the laptop-producing companies or from design shops that do not specifically design laptop sleeves,” Yu mentioned. “I believe this is why consumers usually end up choosing to purchase the ones made by fashion brands like Marc Jacobs overseas. It is difficult to get a sophistically designed laptop sleeves in Korea.”
She meticulously considered every little part of her design, from the package design to the Web site. Her products were also sold at other big fashion shops like Biskit.
Upon launching her brand and being part of this semester project, her parents were worried at first since the last semester of senior year is really important for any university student preparing to get a job. But they soon supported her because she has been a daughter who would autonomously challenge herself.
“Being out in the society as an individual was the hardest part for me during this project,” Yu said. “Signing contracts with manufacturing companies and fabric businesses, at first, was difficult for me. But after being recognized as a representative of my own brand and working with other companies, I felt more than just proud.”
Other than her experience as a designer, she mentioned other benefits of this project.
“Before I started this project, I sometimes felt let down, fearing what other people might say,” Yu revealed. “This project definitely made me more courageous, and gave me the power to really get down with my own plan. I of course, felt hesitant about the things that I was doing. However, after I successfully launched my brand, I now have the power to fight through uncertainty.”
Since this project gives students up to nine credits, Yu mentioned that it is not much of a disadvantage for the admitted students even if they decide not to take any other classes.
“I would really like to say that before applying for this project, you should at least think about its meaning,” Yu told her advice to Ewha students. “Then, if you plan out your project and are not oppressed by the thoughts that make you uncertain, you would do just fine.”