Estherlovesyou’s Pop Up Store in Korea
By: Hannah Hightman
Last month, Esther held her first pop-up store, and the event couldn’t have gone more beautifully. Held in Shinchon, the pop-up store attracted hundreds of visitors in the eleven days it was up. The pop-up had tons of exclusive Esther Bunny merch, including phone cases, plush bunnies, and pouches. There were also plenty of photo ops. A giant human-sized Esther Bunny figure made the perfect spot to get that shot for the ‘gram. Fans also had the chance to meet Esther Kim herself; she signed merch and even did a live drawing of the Esther Bunny. Overall, the event truly demonstrated the impact Estherlovesyou has had on the Korean fashion and beauty world.
“I really didn’t expect that many people to show up,” said Esther. “My attitude is always whether 5 people show up or 50, we’re going to have a great time, so it doesn’t matter to me.” Esther was very touched not only by the volume of people that came to the event, but also the deep appreciation they had for her art. “So many people were wearing things from past collaborations like WC and Chuu. They were really sincere fans of Esther Bunny who were interested in my story as well as the bunny. I was really impressed!”
The pop-up attracted people of all kinds, with varying perspectives, and hearing how Esther Bunny had impacted fans’ daily lives was truly gratifying for Esther. “They were like ‘Esther bunny cheers me up after a long day at work,’ and somebody even told me ‘I’ve been to Japan like 5 times to buy Esther Bunny stuff from WC; I’m so happy I can now buy it in Korea!’ A Japanese fan even just flew in for the day to come to the event,” said Esther. These fans weren’t just attracted to Esther Bunny’s cute appearance, but also the profound personal meaning behind the character. “There was an intersection between an interest in cute culture and also me and my story, being Korean. There were art students and graphic designers, and people with different creative backgrounds. My fans in Korea are very international. They can speak English or Japanese. So there’s a lot of things people can identify with.” Esther was especially thankful for the time she had with fans during the event. “I got to know a lot of people in a short span of time. All of the conversations I had with fans were so meaningful.”
One visitor to the pop-up store, Sohyun Jeong, who also goes by Summer (@sostarrr8.7), was especially affected by the experience. Esther spotted her wearing a satin jacket from her WC collab, and the two immediately connected. Summer first encountered the character Esther Bunny on a trip to Japan. “I found some Esther Bunny stuff when I went to the WC store in Harajuku with a friend. My friend and I said ‘Oh my god this is it! This is what I need! So adorable right?’ at the same time!” Though Summer had followed all of Esther’s collaborations with Chuu, Clue, and WC, she had never met Esther in person. “I was so nervous,” she said, describing the pop-up store. “I had previewed the goods that would be there on Instagram, so I really couldn’t wait!” Summer gravitated towards the phone cases, of which there were an extensive variety. “I always change my phone case to match my outfit, and the pop up store really satisfied my tastes. Every item was designed for a Korean girl’s taste, and even my friend, who had no idea who Esther was, fell in love with that.”
But Summer wasn’t just there for the cute accessories. “I won the event from Esther Bunny Korea, so I got to enter the Esther Kim signing event. I was so happy!” The live drawing in particular stands out as one of the best moments. “It felt like a dream, being able to see my favorite character’s, Esther Bunny’s, birth.” The pop-up store also helped to crystallize what Esther Bunny meant to Summer. “At first I just thought Esther Bunny was a cute face. But after I found out about the artist, I thought that Esther Bunny is Esther Kim herself. I’ve always felt like Esther Bunny is a human girl. She likes shopping, hanging out with her friends, and talking on the phone. Like Esther Bunny, Esther Kim is so adorable and lovable. She always tries to communicate with her fans, and works so hard.”
Esther, who had been on the other side of fan meet-and-greets, did put a lot of effort into making sure fans like Summer truly felt like they had worthwhile interactions. “I’m such a fangirl too! In my head, I’m always thinking I want to make it a good experience for them, because I always get bummed out when I get tongue-tied and I sound stupid in front of this person I so admire. So I always try to make them feel comfortable,” she said.
Esther Bunny’s authenticity as a reflection of Esther Kim herself makes the character truly resonate with its fans, and the love Esther Bunny has inspired was on full display at the pop-up event. Esther Bunny has universal appeal, and each of the Esther Bunny collaborations showcases Esther Bunny/Esther Kim’s multiculturalism, but the character has particularly close ties with Korea, given Esther Kim’s Korean background. As Summer mentioned, the pop-up store took into account Korean fashion trends and Esther’s Korean fans, making it truly an experience to remember.