- [BUSINESS&Technology] Market Leader never looks back
- Market Leader Never Looks
Leader of the Month: Lee Young-sookBUSINESS&TechnologyStaff
May 18th, 2011
Mrs. Lee Young-sook,
president and CEO of Youngwoo Textile, the leading company in the Korean
textile market, is a woman pioneer in the Korean textile industry. With a very
practical and pragmatic approach to industry leadership and a bright and
vivacious personal style, she has come to the forefront both in her work and
life. Despite her extremely busy schedule, the Asia-Pacific Business and
Technology Report was able to sit down and speak with her this month in her
office in downtown Seoul. We asked her what it takes for a female business
leader to lead her company and to become the top textile company in Korea in
such a short span of time, all in a traditional Korean society where the
corporate world is still dominated by men. Below are excerpts of this exclusive
interview she had with Asia Pacific Business & Technology Report.
Can you tell us about the
history of Youngwoo and your own background in textile manufacturing?
I was born in Namwon,
Jeolla-do and was raised in a family of 8 brothers and sisters in a strict and
conservative environment. When I was young I developed an interest in clothes
and textiles, and as I got older I started to become sensitive to the artistic
beauty found in Hanbok and the Korean culture. As far as I’m concerned, I
believe that true beauty lies within human beings, and it is only that people
miss this fact due to humans easily succumbing to temptation. Not only
foreigners but also Koreans themselves sometimes neglect the true value behind
the beauty and aesthetics of han-bok. My motivation for this company was
stimulated from the acknowledgement and study of the value behind han-bok.
Clothes are things that cannot be separated from our everyday life, and such a
fact naturally led me to take interest in han-bok and make clothes a part of my
life, as well as making me a part of today’s Youngwoo.
Why did you go into the
I wasn’t originally dedicated
to the textile industry, which has led to my current standing. I was enjoying
what I had interest in and at some point I reached where I am today. Because I
have a strong self-faith, I never considered competing or having a rivalry with
someone else. People usually say that I have a different way of living or
thinking. While traveling abroad I realized that other countries, like Korea,
also don’t have distinctive aestheticism in everyday life. However, when
Koreans themselves realize the true value behind Korean culture, they become
amazed. While other countries have an aestheticism of their own, I would like
to spread the true aestheticism of Korea globally.
What position does Youngwoo
occupy within the Korean textile industry?
There are many providers of
textiles, and many great textile companies in Korea. But actually every company
has many risks and unexpected problems. I do not fear becoming a pioneer in the
market, because I am fond of designing and developing something new. For
example, when I first started to import textiles such as metal and memory
fabrics from Europe to Korea, I had to go through much trial and error. But I
was up for such a challenge because I believe we are the top of the top.
What sets your company
apart from the other textile manufacturing companies in Korea? What are your
It was hard at first to try
something new based on old technology. It is easy when you know the answer to
the question. To lower the risk, most companies take the safe strategy, but
when you take the road not yet taken you will start to see something that
others cannot see. Instead of a pull strategy I have strongly adhered to a push
strategy of providing a finished product to the designer. In the same way that
Apple played the leading role in the market with its iPad and iPhone, I also
wanted to be innovative and challenging. Even though the risk may be high,
through the process of understanding customer needs and pursuing customer
relationship management, our company was able to become a customer-led and
customercentered company. It was because of such efforts that our company was
given a Gratitude Award by SK. To return the favor to the customer, I always
think about what we could provide to our loyal customers. Moreover, our company
was able to further develop through a word of mouth strategy from designer to
designer. For our export sectors, we have never made a single promotion
strategy or exhibition; our marketing was done solely through word of mouth
about our company and products. I believe that when performing business, one
must make a clear distinction between official and private matters. Thus, I do
not engage in any lobbying and pursue transparency through strongly sticking to
my business ethics.
The textile industry has
undergone many changes since you established your company two decades ago. How
has your company adapted to these changes?
I continue to do my work the
same way as I have done from the first day I joined the company. Time and
changes have failed to dampen my spirit to work hard. Today Youngwoo has become
the only company to distribute union clothes under the supervision of
international organizations. I have firm confidence about our company’s technology.
Youngwoo places importance on business ethics and is also renowned for high
How has Youngwoo answered
heightened competition from the textile industries of countries like China?
We do not consider our
counterparts in the market as rivals or competitors. Instead of mimicking other
products, we first try to prioritize the need of our customers through research
and development. Even though the Chinese market has potential, from our stance
we believe that the Korean market has its own advantages compared to China,
specifically in solving delicate and difficult technological problems. It is
because of such reasons that there are times when buyers come back to the
Korean market from China.
Does Youngwoo plan on
expanding into any other Asian markets? Can you please let us know more on the
strategy of expanding into these markets?
Yes, we have plans to expand
to other Asian markets. Our products are distributed through chain stores which
act as intermediaries to our end customers. By developing high-end textile
products through the process of red-labeling, our company is planning to expand
our business both domestically and internationally. Korea has all the colors
for textiles, even unique ones that do not exist in other countries. In Germany
it is normal to put a point on a basic color. But in Korea we use a variety of
colors. We do not make colors simply to make colors, we make colors for
wearing, and we do so by accumulating a color database of Korean culture and
our everyday living, and turn that into a catalog. Currently at Youngwoo, we
use our T&F color book to provide customers with a clear description about
products and brand image. We believe that through Youngwoo’s color book code,
people will some day easily be able to find which textile company handles which
Who are your major foreign
I do not have a particular
company to pinpoint as a rival. I would appreciate it if people would just
watch me do the work that I like and do as best I can.
These days, environment
concerns are getting worldwide attention from the corporate world. What is your
take on this?
As we all know humans are made
up of water and soil. When something touches your skin and does not irritate
you then it is harmless to humans. Today we find sources of textiles from the
environment. For instance, I have personally raised silkworms. If there is too
much food for the silkworms, it becomes a problem. But silkworms producing and
consuming the appropriate amount of food won’t cause any problems. So harmony
between man and nature is very important.
Can you please tell us more
about the research and development activities done by your company?
Yes, our company does many
research and development related activities. Currently, other than woman’s
wear, we are developing outdoor and sportswear textiles through our research
institutions. Youngwoo has 15 people working in Daegu - there we have a special
research team which has worked on textile development projects for 30 years.
How has your religious
faith helped you in coping with the daily pressure of running a company like
The company’s name, Youngwoo,
originated from our CEO. One day someone told our CEO that Youngwoo will one
day become eternally prominent. Thus whatever Youngwoo pursues as a business it
wants to become a role model for other companies. Strong business ethics and
standards are guiding principles of our company.
Customers are the backbone
of any business. How do you manage your relations with your customers?
I’m always thankful. It does
not matter if the customer is big or small, I’m always thankful for the
customers who visit us. And I want to do something favorable to show such gratitude.
What are your short-term
and long-term plans for the company?
Under the mission of spreading
the aestheticism of Korea, we are expanding our company to other countries
including India via chain stores. Personally, I would like to share what
Youngwoo has with those who pursue the same mission. Currently we are seeking
potential importers of our products to the wider Asian region, including India.
Is there any other
information you would like to share with our readers?
Please evaluate Youngwoo with
a long-term perspective. If customers can provide us with information on their
requirements, we would be happy to provide our customers with satisfying
products and services.> 기사 원문: http://bit.ly/1i8f5da
- [YTN] 영우 T&F LEAD, 교직물 독자기술 개발 성공한 원단 회사
- 국내 교직물 독자기술개발 성공한 (주)영우 T&F Lead YTN 기사입력 2010.07.06 2010년 섬유산업이 새롭게 태어난다 '1960~70년대 우리나라를 대표하는 산업과 기술이 무엇이냐'는 질문에 아마도 상당수의 사람들이 '섬유산업'이라고 답할지 모르겠다. 하지만 '2010년 우리나라를 대표하는 산업과 기술이 무엇이냐'는 질문에는 어떨까? 과연 섬유산업이라고 대답할 사람이 한 명이라도 있을까? 물론 있다. 바로 국내교직물독자기술개발에 성공한 '(주)영우 T&F Lead'의 이영숙 대표다. 이 대표는 지난 1990년 영우직물을 설립한 뒤, 원단개발의 선두주자가 되고자 차별화된 원단 개발에 힘써왔으며 친환경적이고, 건강기능성과 실용주의까지 생각한 원단을 공급하기 위해 '(주)영우 T&F Lead'를 설립했다. '영우'는 '영원히 우뚝선다'라는 의미가 담겨 있는데, 바로 사향세에 접어든 섬유산업을 끝까지 지키며, 최고의 원단을 개발함으로써 세계시장에서 우뚝 솟겠다는 이영숙 대표의 의지가 녹아있는 회사명이다. 사실, 60·70년대 대한민국 경제발전을 이끌었던 섬유산업은 노동집약적이라는 산업의 특성상 현재 내리막길을 걷고 있는 것이 사실이며, 값싼 노동력으로 승부를 펼치는 중국과 인도네시아가 섬유산업의 강자로 떠오르는 실정이다. 때문에 '(주)영우 T&F Lead'와 이영숙 대표의 도전은 자칫 '무모한 도전'으로 그치지 않을까 하는 염려가 있는 것도 사실이다. 하지만 이영숙 대표는 더 멀리 내다보고 있었다. "교직물은 제품을 개발하거나 생산해 내기가 여간 까다로운 것이 아닙니다. 쉽게 생산해 나갈 것들이 많이 쌓여있는 중국으로서는 어렵고 까다로운 것은 기피하고 있는 것이 현실입니다. 또한 어려운 교직물을 완성도 있게 제품이 나오려면 그만큼에 세월도 필요하다고 생각합니다. 니트종류의 원단은 중국에서도
많이 하고 있지만 교직은 아직까지 따라오지 못하고 있기에 마지막까지도 살아남을 수 있는 것은 교직이라고 생각합니다."
섬유부분에서 많은 업체들이
기피하는 교직을 전문화, 특성화시킴으로써 '(주)영우 T&F Lead'의 나아갈 방향을 설정한 것이다.
"인간이 생존하고 있는
한 섬유업종은 항상 사람들과 함께 할 것입니다. 유럽이나 세계 각 국의 명품업체들도 어렵고 힘들었던
수많은 시간을 거치면서도 포기하지 않고 노력하여 현 시대에는 많은 사람들이 존경하고 부러워하는 업체가 되었습니다.
그 속에는 자신만의 자부심과 장인정신, 그리고 투철한 서비스정신이 깃들어 있지 않나 생각해봅니다."
이영숙 대표의 이 말을
듣고도 어떻게 섬유산업을 2010년 대한민국을 대표하는 기술력이라고 표현하지 않을 수 있을까, 그의 도전에 박수와 함께 힘찬 응원을 실어 보낸다. > 기사 원문 http://bit.ly/1kHwM2D