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The Bible

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Forever 21

Kay’ la M. Sanders

Regent University

Forever 21

Everyone has a story to tell and there is always four characteristics to a story. In the beginning of a storyline, it is fundamentally making its audience a promise to lead them somewhere. Therefore, a plot, protagonist and antagonist is introduced.  At some point of the story, “the fall of a man” happens this is considered the climax.  By some sort of faith, luck, or fate, life is starting to get back on track. The end of the story, a lesson is learned. Redemption implies returning to the whole, perfect state before sin, error, or mistake. According to Merriam-Webster, redemption is the act, process, or an instance of redeeming. (2017)

The Bible illustrates just this as God’s redemption plan which includes: Creation, Fall, Redemption and Renovation. God’s creation begins in the first chapter of the bible, Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and earth” (KJV). Genesis 1:26- 27 further states God created people to imitate him, to be imitators of God is to have God’s love, or when we are holy. (Gruehn, 2003) The Bible teaches, man was made for a relation with God, but lost relationship with God because of God’s holiness and man’s sin (Keller, 2014). 2nd Corinthians 5:18 says, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (KJV). Renovation is the restoration of a relationship with God. Acts 3:21 says, “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (KJV)

The purpose of this paper is to tell a story of two immigrants ‘American Dream’ turned into a glorious, triumph, victory because of their faith for God. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (KJV) John 3:16 is on the bottom of each yellow, Forever 21 bags showcasing their faith for God. This bible verse is simply asking us to have faith, to believe in God and ask Him for forgiveness of our sins.

History: Faith + Fashion = Forever 21 Story

With two recessions looming in the background for America. The 1980’s began with sluggish growth, job gains, and losses among industries (Plunkert, 1990, p. 3). However, despite recessions for three years, people still had hope for the ‘American Dream’. One of those people were newly immigrants Do ‘Don’ Won Chang and his wife. According to Grace Chung interview with Do Won, he said “I had dreamed of coming to the U.S. since I was in the sixth grade...My parents had visited and I would always say next month, next month?” (Chung, 2016) After, tying the knot, the newly couple flown into LAX in 1981 from their home country. (Mathew, 2017) Their home country was in turmoil, amidst protests of the Martial Law, assassination of Park Chung- hee, hard-living conditions, and very little opportunities. (Chung, 2016) Chung noted Don saying, ““Even now, but especially at that time, there were many opportunities in America,” he said, speaking to this reporter in Korean. “There were a lot of people chasing the American Dream.”” (Chung, 2016) After, securing a green card for themselves and his parents. He wasted no time putting his strong work ethic to use. He immediately was interviewed for a position at a coffee shop, making roughly three dollars an hour. He said, “it wasn’t enough to get by.” (Chung, 2016) So, he applied as a gas station attendant, adding eight more hours to his day. To further support his family, he started a cleaning business which kept him busy until midnight. While, his wife, Jin Sook worked as a hairdresser. While working at the gas station, he quickly noticed many people in luxury cars were in the garment industry. He would ask these drivers, “What is it that you do for a living?” (Chung, 2016)  Not knowing what garment was, he was driven to take a job at a clothing store and “learn the ropes.” (Chung, 2016) It was there, he found the key to the ‘American Dream’.

After, saving for three years from his three jobs, he opened his first store in Highland Park area of Los Angeles calling it Fashion 21. (Hiiemaa, 2015) The Highland Park area had very little “people traffic” and the previous six owners of the store closed within three years. (Lamb BUZZ, 2017) He mentioned, “the previous shop owner, who also sold clothes, brought in a mere $30,000 in annual sales.” (Chung, 2016) because of this observation, he became an aggressive businessman and focused on each individual customer to bring sales in. In its first year, Fashion 21 made $700,000 in annual sales. (Chung, 2016) He wanted to broaden his customers, and changed the name of the store to Forever 21. Within five years, Forever 21 has expanded into eleven stores, including one in his hometown. (Hiiemaa, 2015) During the Great Recession, it was a tough year for people and businesses, Chung aimed to “create 7,000 jobs within a year. At an annual prayer meeting with office employees, he said he announced plans to focus not only on sales and profit but on increasing jobs.” (Chung, 2016) However, the company faced setbacks and were forced to make cuts and close a few stores. Do Won Chang mentioned some of these setbacks were due to, “traffic in malls has decreased with the [proliferation] of online [sales].” (Chung, 2016) Despite, the few setbacks Forever 21 has continued to prosper to over 600 stores around the world under Forever 21, XXI Forever, For Love 21, and Heritage 1981. (Hiiemaa, 2015)

Chang hopes his story inspires others like him, who are looking for the ‘American Dream”. Chang says, ““Forever 21 gives hope and inspiration to people who come here with almost nothing, and that is a reward that humbles me: the fact that immigrants coming to America, much like I did, can come into a Forever 21 and know that all of this was started by a simple Korean immigrant with a dream.” (Hiiemaa, 2015) However, his ‘American Dream’ lies within his family not the success of the company.

Reason for Founding

Forever 21 founding was originated from the ‘American Dream’. As, some would say it’s a true, inspiration story that tells a tale of immigrants whose strong work ethic provided for their family. Don tells LA Times, “"Forever 21 gives hope to people who come here with almost nothing… And that is a reward that humbles me: The fact that immigrants coming to America, much like I did, can come into a Forever 21 and know that all of this was started by a simple Korean immigrant with a dream.” (Elkins, 2015) In other words, the reason for founding is one percent of inspiration and ninety-nine percent blood, sweat and tears.



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