Content Type

Business Case

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Case Type

Field case

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Level

Intermediate

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Length

3,000–4,000 words

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Publication Date

November 2018

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Eco-friendly weddings. The environmentally friendly ethos of Sewing for the Soil is reflected not only in its wedding gowns, but also in the overall wedding services it provides. An example is the firm’s wedding invitations. The main purpose of a wedding invitation is to convey information. The card is therefore usually thrown away when its purpose of information delivery is over. In addition to using soybean oil ink on recycled or non-wood pulp paper instead of a less eco-friendly solvent ink on ordinary paper, Sewing for the Soil’s invitations are designed to have a second life as a desktop picture frame. For bouquets and boutonnières, flower roots are left uncut so that the flowers may be re-potted after the wedding event. Also, flowerpots, rather than cut flowers, are used for the flower decorations in the wedding hall. When the wedding ceremony is over, the groom and the bride give the flowerpots to their guests as a thank-you gift.

Small weddings. In Korea, marriage is not just about the relationship between a couple, but about the whole family. Many people are invited to the wedding ceremony to congratulate the wider family as well as the bride and groom. The number of people at a wedding signifies the social power of the family. Sometimes an extravagant wedding ceremony and reception party are held for the sole purpose of showing off the family’s wealth and power. Bucking the trend of extravagant, conspicuous wedding expenditure, Sewing for the Soil promotes small weddings that focus more on the couples and the meaning of the wedding itself. The main office building of Sewing for the Soil is a house with a small garden, and the garden is used as a venue for couples who want a small wedding of fewer than 100 guests. The company has also worked with public agencies such as the Ministry of Gender Equity and Family and the City of Seoul to use the City Hall and other public buildings as venues for small weddings.

Ma-eul weddings. In Korea, a handful of luxurious wedding gown rental shops and bridal hair/makeup salons dominate the wedding industry. Wedding planners connect gown rental shops and bridal hair/makeup salons in neighborhoods known as “wedding towns.” Moreover, most popular wedding venues have established links with food caterers. In this system, couples have limited choices and only a small number of business owners benefit.

Sewing for the Soil strives to boost the local economy. The company is located in Seongbuk District, which is an old region of Seoul with a rundown neighborhood. The industries of the region are predominantly small businesses. Instead of contracting hair/makeup salons in a wedding town, the company looks for talented hair/make-up artists employed in small local salons based in the neighborhood of the wedding venue. Sewing for Soil actively seeks potential partner salons through diverse channels, including articles in magazines. One important criterion for selection is the opinion of the potential partners’ employees. This reflects Kyoung-jae’s philosophy of respect for human welfare. She believes employees’ opinion of a salon mirrors the salon owners’ respect for people, and that only people with respect for human welfare would take seriously the environmental and social impacts of their businesses.

In terms of the wedding meal, rather than contracting catering companies, Sewing for the Soil buys food from local small restaurants and brings it to the wedding site. The company also hires underprivileged people such as women whose careers have been interrupted or elderly people for the jobs of preparing additional foods or decorations for the wedding ceremony.

Eco-friendly uniforms. Most work uniforms are made of synthetic fibers. However, Sewing for the Soil makes uniforms (e.g., company uniforms, doctors’ gowns, and patient gowns) with eco-friendly materials such as organic cotton, nettles, recycled PET fibers, and corn fibers, which are less harmful to the environment. The fabric is also colored using natural dyes rather than chemical dyestuffs. In addition, as with the wedding gowns, Sewing for the Soil designs products with a longer lifespan. One example of this was the campaign uniforms made for the election camp of a mayoral candidate. The company found that the uniforms used during an election campaign are usually discarded after the election—especially if the candidate loses. Therefore, Sewing for the Soil made uniforms that could be used as an apron, with easily removable slogans.

Wedding gowns and uniforms are mostly manufactured in-house, except for large orders which are outsourced to regional manufacturing facilities. Sometimes, packaging jobs are outsourced to the Seongbuk Center for Independent Living People with Disabilities.