How It All Started
How It All Started
Amy Chu’s career as an interior architect was the inspiration for her aesthetic outlook.
“Architecture is about blending design and function. You can’t have one without the other.”
Landing roles in big architecture firms throughout New York City, Amy drafted drawings for construction, worked with contractors on site, and collaborated with designers to create spaces that focused on beautiful design and practical functionality.
It was then, during her lunch break in Manhattan, that she had the idea to blend these concepts from structural spaces to everyday products.
“New Yorkers never bring their lunch, and I was one of them. I saw so many white plastic bags distributed at the checkout counter, and that’s when I had the idea for a reusable foldable lunch bag.”
Amy is an avid supporter of sustainability, and she also had a desire to design with textiles.
“I love seeing beautiful textiles in a three-dimensional form.”
While working her day job, she took her idea to production and designed 50 different eco-friendly lunch bags on the side. They all sold in a New York minute.
Spurred by the positive feedback, she enrolled in part time business classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
An instructor there encouraged Amy to enter an international handbag competition. She became a top five finalist, and produced her first high-end handbag samples recognized for its best use of swarovski crystals.
She had to make a hard decision to leave a job she loved to pursue her passion in handbag design and production. She decided she could always find work in architecture, but if she didn’t ride out the momentum of her newfound creativity, it would be a long-term regret.
She made the move to Korea, and continues to learn her craft.
“Sourcing high-quality materials at a reasonable price is a major challenge.”
Amy left New York, where creating a handbag sample cost nearly $1000 US, to Asia where she could be closer to a range of manufacturers.
Initially, she sourced genuine leather, but couldn’t find the level of quality that would match her high-end brand. She revisited her brand vision and decided to focus on vegan leather for its sustainability and eco-friendly impact.
She spent many months searching for high-quality vegan leather until she found a reliable and quality source in Seoul. She also connected with a reputable Korean manufacturer, keeping all production local.
For Amy it was difficult getting started in a country where she barely knew the language and didn’t have a network.
But slowly, she immersed herself among a network of entrepreneurs, starting with a group of adoptees like herself through the Global Overseas Adoptees’ Link.
She then built her Kaesa brand and team at the Seoul Global Startup Center.
“Support for startups in Korea is amazing. I’m constantly learning and growing here with the opportunities provided.”
Kaesa is continuing to build its product line around streamlined staples for a Korean and international audience.
“I don’t want to just create pretty products. I want Kaesa to be a brand that people will use for daily life, where beauty meets function.”
Inspired by designers like Chanel for its classic chic and Balmain for its cool edge, Kaesa’s focus is classic silhouettes with a modern twist.
“I start with the high-end materials, create classic shapes, and modernize with different accents.”
Kaesa’s current product line includes a daily crossbody bag that functions as an organizer.
All Kaesa handbags and accessories can be purchased online at KAESA.CO.