A Korean laundry expert, fulfilling his filmmaking dreams through YouTube
Laundry SSul studied film back in college and worked in the movie industry for some time However, he got married early and had to find a job that gives him a stable income. His father, who used to own a dry cleaning store, suggested starting a dry cleaning/laundry shop. He got bored one day and posted a video on ironing dress shirts. Since then, he has been posting videos sharing dry cleaning/ironing/laundry tips, home maintenance tips, as well as home appliance reviews and tips. Now that the channel became so successful, he also opened an online shop with laundry and cleaning products.
He's also convinced his father to open a YouTube channel about his small walnut farm in a rural area. The father is now the “Walnut Tree expert” of YouTube.
Please introduce yourself briefly.
Hello, I am Seol Jae-won, a laundry expert who owns a laundry business and runs the YouTube channel “Laundry SSul.” I also own an Internet shopping mall, 'SSuls Day.'
What content does your channel 'Laundry SSul' mainly cover?
Since I'm a laundry expert, my content is mainly related to laundry. My channel's main viewers are women in their 30s and 40s. As an expert, I featured a lot of professional content at first, but realized that the viewers found it too difficult. So now, I'm mostly featuring content that caters to the public. I do not just talk about how to do things, but also create living content that suits the issues of the moment, such as reviewing household appliances and daily necessities, or talking about frozen washing machines and water pipes, etc. during the latest cold waves. I think about various topics and formats in order to expand the scope of the channel, but I'm trying to keep laundry the key subject.
What inspired you to start a YouTube channel?
My dream was to become a film director. I studied movies and worked on films a little, too. I got married early and had a family to take care of, so it was difficult to make a living from working in the movie industry. I had worked at Dongdaemun morning market and drifted from job-to-job. Then I started working as a laundry worker at my father's behest, because my father runs a laundry business. After about 10 years, I found life boring. I had low self-esteem, too. When I saw my colleagues debut as film directors in the movie industry, I felt sorry for myself. Then one day, when I was watching YouTube while working, and I thought to myself, “Oh, I know how to do that!”
So I filmed some scenes using my cellphone. My first video was about how to best press a shirt. Since I knew my friends who I studied with and my former teachers would watch my YouTube channel, I could not make my videos sloppy. I did not have any equipment for filming, but I was desperate enough to do it with my old computer. I really wanted to make videos, and thought about what content I should create. The most realistic answer to that question was filming about my job. So I started filming videos with two cameras. More people loved my videos than I expected, and so I was able to keep up my channel.
How are you using YouTube for your business?
I think self-employed business owners also have no choice but to transition to no-contact business methods. Even after the pandemic is over, I think consumers who have tried using no-contact services will not want to go back to the way it was before. The laundry industry is a business that requires labor, so my work cannot be duplicated in large quantities. Actually, the reason why I started my YouTube channel was not to promote my laundry business. That's why I did not put the name of my laundry shop as the name of the channel. I just wanted to create something. But many people contacted me, saying that they wanted to request laundry from me, though I do not know how they found my shop. It is true that those requests helped a lot in sales at first; however, as a small business owner who has to handle everything alone, it was a little too much for me. So I am temporarily not accepting laundry requests. Instead, I started an Internet shopping mall. A lot of people ask me how they could buy the products that I introduced my videos. Also, there are people who masquerade under my name and sell products. So I thought I shouldn't let this happen. This is why I started a shopping mall called “SSuls Day.” It's been about 2 months since I started the shopping mall, and my seller's rank has been rising. I also started live commerce, which has seen a good response. I think people like it even more because I tell them how to use the products correctly through YouTube. Now that it is a brand called “Laundry SSul,”I think it can be used as a business. I'd like to gradually expand it from the laundry sector to the living sector. I want to make my shopping mall helpful in everyday life, and I want to introduce and sell eco-friendly products and also participate in the zero-waste movement, together with consumers who share my values.
What is the secret to your success with the channel?
I think being curious helps. I believe you should think that everything is special. I think about what consumers would be curious about, and I find something special in it. I think I am trained to seek out subject matter because I studied movies when I was younger. It's like telling a story. Also, I think originality is the most important feature. I'm sure there are people who copy other people's content, but as an expert, I am not comfortable with that. Personally, I think it's better to study, research, organize, and provide people with the right information, so I'm trying to offer the original content even if it takes some time. This makes me become more confident. Laundry has a narrow spectrum in terms of content, but I think it can be developed into original content by adding some stories into it.
Do you have any tips you would like to give to self-employed people who have expertise in diverse fields such as laundry?
Creating videos is not always easy, but I highly recommend that you run a YouTube channel if you are self-employed. Although there is a lot of content that is produced by broadcasters, viewers can recognize genuine content. Don't overthink it, and you can film videos with your cell phone. Even if people are lukewarm about your videos or there are ups and downs, if you do not fluctuate between hopes and fears but put forth constant efforts, I believe that you’ll be met with good results someday. There were times when I wanted to give up, but as I kept going, and viewers started recognizing my sincerity. Above everything else, it is regrettable that the irreplaceable know-hows and experiences of self-employed people are not being shared with other people.
Let me take one as an example. My 70-year-old father grows walnut trees in the rural area, and seeing me run a YouTube channel made him want to do it, too. So I told him to just try to upload one video a day. He has been uploading videos without even editing and without thumbnails, and his channel, “Imsil Dalgu’s Farm,” has more than 2,000 subscribers now. Even more, my father pioneered a market for walnut trees through YouTube, and became a “Walnut tree expert.”
If I had only worked in the laundry business, my influence would have reached this neighborhood only. I think my influence has no limit ever since I started my YouTube channel. I believe it’s YouTube’s power to make our businesses’ influence expand and help us get out of bounds. Especially in times like this, I think it is an essential platform for us to make our own brand, related to business.
How would you define YouTube in one word?
My movie. I feel like I myself became an actor and am achieving my dream of movie-making through YouTube. It is filled with joys, sorrows and dreams of my life. I do not simply want to sell products and promote using YouTube. I guess that is why I received favorable responses from the viewers. I do not think of myself as a laundry expert, but I just want to communicate through the topic of laundry. It has been two years now, but I want to do it for 10 or 20 years. Sometimes I find it so fun to watch the videos I uploaded long ago. Those videos contain the changes that I experienced, and how I felt back then. My subscribers who have seen me for a long time know it, too. In a way that I can see myself grow up on YouTube, it is like a movie.