Dongsuk Sin

10.17 2015 INTERVIEW DATE

Founder of To My Baby, Lifestyle Director

Suyu-dong, Gangbuk-gu, Seoul

“Because I like red-colored cola”, confesses Dongsuk Sin, who calls it a 'childish' reason behind her username 'red cola', mostly known as 'Mrs.Cola'. She is a famous blogger who actively posts and makes records of her daily stories on parenting, camping, cooking and household duties. Living in Suyu-dong, Gangbuk-gu with her husband and their two daughters, she is an exceptional mom and also a hidden expert on housekeeping. Taking good care of her kids, preparing meals for the family, never missing out on the laundry and cleaning, the hardworking mom also manages to do extra work in the midst of her tight hours—she runs her own brand/online shopping mall 'To My Baby'. The daily products she introduces and creates contain the common 'mother's heart'.

Yoojin Jung

Please share us how you came about living in Suyu-dong.

I’ve never been to this neighborhood until I got married in 2003 to my husband, who happened to live in Suyu-dong. I was born and raised in Seoul but it was an unfamiliar place for me. I think because of its location on the far north-end of the city, it has yet the faces of the old and undeveloped Seoul. And the mountainous region provides fresh air. These were all very different and new to me and surprisingly the town’s old market is just fantastic, so unlike Seoul. I found the joy in going to a traditional market only after I moved to Suyu-dong.

 

What are the differences between the local traditional market here and the ones in other towns or the major superstore chains?

Before marriage I used to go grocery shopping at major chains. Well, I was employed at one of them as a designer to a daily goods brand department. For market researches I often visited a number of local markets in Namdaemun and Dongdaemun or the wholesale markets. And then after I got married, as I started to engage myself to household duties, I began going to small stores and markets sitting in-between allies in the neighborhood. The traditional market here sells merchandise at a very low price. There’s a great deal of self-grown vegetables or fruits sold by the elderly—in small quantities of fresh stuff everyday. Those are sold quickly because of their good price and apparently it seems to result to high merchandise turnover, meaning super freshness at all times.

You worked as a designer at a daily goods brand. What triggered you to build your own, along with its online shopping mall ‘To My Baby’?

Nowadays there’s a huge flow of informative blogs or websites related to lifestyle around the world but back in the mid 2000s it was different. I would click into my secret list of less-known international websites and find all these beautiful and sophisticated kid’s stuff. But I could rarely find satisfying ones out here in Korea. By the time I troubled over what to do once I quit my job, I had some thoughts on doing something related to children since I had my own kids. My plan was to introduce and sell imported kid’s stuff along with ones that I produce myself. Starting from scratch, I made presentations to brands like Anne Claire Petit from the Netherlands and Vilac from France. Along with those I sold children’s clothing, using my daughter as a model, and people began to like them, which made me proud and happy.

In your personal blog you continue to post and record a variety of stories on parenting, housekeeping, daily episodes, your interests and camping and so on.

In the beginning I started to blog casually, just to post pictures of my daughters. And then as I communicated with others, relieving stress and feelings, I realised it was a place I sort of found escape from my house, where I’ve fully tied myself to all day long. You know, when you post something people would make comments and share, express their sympathy to what you write. I gained high level of energy from those interactions. If Naver blog keeps running I’d really like to show mine to my kids when they become adults. It will keep traces of the growing kids and my life—it’s a grateful space.

How important is a life of a mother?

There are people that see me as a devoted mother but frankly I’m a very self-centered mom. I think I’m closer to being their aunt rather than their mother. I treat myself more special than my kids. I mean, the kids have their own lives and the same goes for me too.

 

But it does look like you enjoy your figure and role as a mom.

When I was little my mom was a very busy woman. She rarely brought me an umbrella to school on rainy days. And because of that part of my memory, I force myself to look after my kids at all times, which is what I put my most effort into. But all this is possible under the circumstance that I gain hours and work of my own. I break down into minutes in devoting myself to the kids until 4pm and as a housewife after that and once the two roles are done for the day, that’s when I find my time. I usually work at nights and past midnight, which are my favorite hours.

Your studio is located within your house. That should be an advantage but not always quite so.

At the beginning I worked at home and then I opened up a small shop in Tongui-dong. It was just a half-hour away by bus but with two kids to raise, it was still too far a distance. So I ended up re-locating my studio near the house, only to find out again that there weren’t enough time to make the best of everything. So I tried to figure out whether it was really necessary to keep one. And then I finally decided to move the studio into our house once more. Defining my own space separated from the family is pretty okay, I suppose.

I can spot a lot of your children’s drawings.

The kids hand me small scraps of paper with their drawings as a gift. I could hardly throw any of them away. Notes written ‘I love you mom’ or ‘I’m sorry mom’ also head straight to a box full of other notes. It’s not that big a deal but I just can’t get rid of them. (laugh)

Your husband is an average employee at a company but it’s just fascinating how he switches into an amateur wood-maker after work. 

This house was originally my parents-in-law’s and as we moved in we only made a standard re-touch to the old house. And all we had were a couple of home appliances and a large cushion. We hadn’t prepared any furniture but as we went on to purchase some, we couldn’t find ones that satisfied us. My husband had always been good with his hands and one day suggested “Should I make them myself?” and started to make our dining table—which turned out very nicely. And eventually it led him to making our kitchen cabinet, our daughters’ beds, their closets, bookshelf and so on. He made everything, from our furniture to every small-sized furnishings and home supplies. He was really good at what he was doing, that he even managed to take charge of the interior of my shop in Tongui-dong. We have a room in our basement which he filled one by one with expensive machines and now he can pretty much make anything down there. His skills are just too good to let be so I’d like to work together one day.

 

Is there anything that’s special to you?

My husband carved wood to make the light above the dining table. And the sofa is also his work. He structured the wooden frame and selected the seat sponge and fabric to go with. He even made openings with zippers on the covers for easy washing. The curtains and gauge towels are also his works made under the sewing machine. All of these mean a lot to me.

 

Where in Seoul do you like most?

The Dongdaemun and Namdaemun markets. These two places are where I frequently went for market researches while I worked as a designer and I still make visits once in a while. If you dig through the old and dusty stuff there’s usually a good chance of finding yourself a handful of treasurous products. And for me, that’s the fun in going to those markets.

RECOMMENDED PLACE

Twoffice


5-6F, Euljiro 230-1, Jung-gu, Seoul
4 Dongdaemun History & Culture Park
12:00-18:00 (Tue-Sun)

  PRICE RANGE

“It’s a space full of charms created by my friends who once shared one of the happiest years together.”

Located in the middle of Dongdaemun History & Culture Park station of subway line 4 and Euljiro 2ga station of line 2, Twoffice is a café. It sits on level 5&6 of a building across from the Hullyeonwon Park. Instead of a sign, you can easily identify it by a blue flag with a puppy drawn on it. By the time you tramp up the stairs of the elevator-less building and start to doubt if the place really exists, you’ll soon be facing the steel door with ‘Twoffice’ written on it. And once you boldly push the door open you’ll spot the two owners who also work as designers. The aligned tables and chairs against the windowed walls will provide you a fine view outside while you enjoy your coffee. It serves a simple menu of coffee and beer.