There are ample amounts of outdoor sights and experiences in Jeollabuk-do, enough to keep locals and visitors occupied year-round. The problem, however, is that come winter, the majority of us want to stay indoors, tucking away our bucket lists until the warmer days. Over the course of a year, I have uncovered an abundant amount of businesses and spaces that are local, community-focused and in fact, indoors. In this article, I will be talking about women-owned shops where you can stay nested inside guilt-free.
Illustration and design studio, “Studio Fleur”. is owned by Jin Youngha (Summer). It first started as an overnight decision when her friend told her there was an empty space up for grabs on the top floor of the Nambu Market. Forging your own path and starting a business is not an easy road, and while she has seen ups and downs, it has since blossomed into a three-year venture. The studio is home to her beautiful artwork and designs, her specialty being an integration of whales and flowers. Although she is shy and might hide behind her studio curtain, rest assured that all of her products speak volumes. She sells a variety of things, such as totes, phone cases, cards, and other small items, each imprinted with her designs. Summer uses her passion for art to bring people together; whether it is Halloween face painting, Christmas events, or drawing caricatures at local fairs, she continuously strives for a growing community.
It was a crisp autumn day when I first discovered Diny Art. There was an artisan fair happening in Jeonju, with many vendors and booths in the downtown area, covering the span of at least four blocks. Design Director and CEO Kim Ji Eun’s booth stopped me dead in my tracks. On the table, I saw these intricate colorful shapes, still unsure at the time what their purpose was. It turned out, they were just bars of soap. It made sense to me at that moment why her company name is Diny Art; they are truly beautiful and complex pieces of work that require viewers to stop, observe, and process. She told me instead of following a set guideline with her products, she simply trusts her intuition when making her final batches- a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and she sees what comes from it.
Gaeksa is the downtown core of Jeonju, bustling with coffee shops, new and loved clothing stores, restaurants, arcades, and more. I have been there more times than I can count, each time leaving me with a better reason to come back for more. My ultimate discovery was Sosimshop, a vintage clothing store nestled away on a side street. It plays contrast to the particularly new area that it is located in, as it sits in an older building with a rather ambiguous façade. As you enter the doorway, there is a staircase to the right which leads you down into the main shop. It is a tiny basement filled with eclectic vintage clothing pieces, who is operated by the lovely Boram Yoon. She is almost always covered behind mountains of clothing, but her personality shines bright through all of her hand-picked items.
A calligraphy and design studio owned and operated by Kim Ah-Reum, is also located on the top floor of the Nambu Market, nearby Studio Fleur. It is a cozy space and is home to a variety of items that are beautifully complemented by her calligraphy work. I first visited her store on Hangul day, where she was writing patron’s names on white paper in celebration. Her work has been featured throughout the city in many restaurants and shops.
The inner parts of a city and its community can be difficult to navigate, but it’s important to seek places that inspire and feel connected to you. For me, the purpose of traveling and living abroad is to uncover and unlearn as much as you can. It’s important to support small shops, no matter where you are in the world.