Alex talks with two very culturally diverse leaders
Firstly, he talks with Fama Ndiaye Co-Founder at KbeautyFest Global and CEO of Kworld Media. Fama has made it her mission to push the Korean beauty to forge a new path of inclusion away from previously limited definitions of beauty and skin care. Secondly, Alex talks with Ryan Gossel, CEO and founder of The Camarata Music Company and Chief Conductor of the Camarata Choir.
Fama Ndiaye was studying in New York when her friends first introduced her to Korean dramas, one of her reactions was, ‘Oh my god, these women and men having amazing skins.’ This led to her investigating Korea town, New York in search of Korean beauty products. She learned about the 10-step Korean beauty regimes and was not put off by the lack of inclusive products or lack of diversity.
Instead, she turned it around, ‘These products are amazing, I want everyone to get an experience to experience them.’
Since then, she has sought to bring Korean culture and beauty products to the widest audience possible by intertwining them in her companies and projects.
Alex’s second guest today is Ryan Gossel, a founding member of the KBLA and a driving force of music and live entertainment in Seoul. In autumn 2009, Ryan wanted to gather a few people together to sing Christmas Carols. He received over 50 responses from people eager to join, with this interest and his own passion the first production of Camarata Music Company was Handel’s Messiah on December 19 2009.
For almost 10 years Ryan passionately expanded the scale of productions and the breadth of the company. He added musical theatre, chamber singing and a youth choir to the company. The choir’s productions grew and have performed over 300 times musical pieces such as Fauré Requiem, Duruflé Requiem, Mendelssohn Elijah, Mozart’s Requiem Beethoven Mass in C Major, and Schubert’s Mass amongst many others.
Ryan opened a live venue, The Studio in Haebangcheon just before the pandemic, and he discusses the challenges with Alex.
But Camarata is back with A Camarata Christmas Concert”, held in the auditorium at Dwight School Seoul. Tickets available at: email@example.com, or at: www.camaratamusic.org.
We look forward to seeing you at the concert!
Two culturally diverse leaders following their passions
Alex Jensen: You’re listening to Koreabizcast with the KBLA. I’m Alex Jensen and it’s Tuesday, November 16th. K-Beauty for darker skin tones, public entertainment during a pandemic. Perhaps we can call this the episode of paradox. But two brave souls have taken on these business challenges and bring us their respective stories shortly. Today’s episode is brought to you by the Four Seasons Hotel Seoul, stylish elegance in the very heart of the city.
Alex Jensen: So of course, all of our stories in Koreabizcast are interesting. But this next person is someone with a background that we haven’t yet touched on. Someone who was born in Paris, originally from Senegal, went to New York at a school, then ended up in Seoul has taken on the world of beauty and bear in mind, K-Beauty is famous for its brightening and whitening products. So, when you’re marketing those two people of color, that’s a whole different ballgame. But this is someone brave enough to take that on. And I’d like to say thank you very much for joining us CEO, now of the company, the umbrella if you like, Kworld Media, Fama Ndiaye. It’s an absolute pleasure to welcome you on the podcast.
Fama Ndiaye: Thank you, Alex. Thanks for having me. I’m very excited to discuss with you today.
Alex Jensen: I think we need to start at the beginning when you came to Korea and what your goals were initially?
Fama Ndiaye: Yeah, that’s where it all started. Well, actually funny enough what brought me to Korea is literally beauty, the Korean beauty industry. So, I was living in New York, and I was studying languages, foreign languages, I major in languages. And at that time, I was studying Japanese and then I had a lot of classmates from Korean American or Korean, right? And I started like, you know, we became friends and all that. And they started introducing me to this whole aspect of the Korean culture. So little by little, I was like, watching, I was already in the whole Japanese animation and Japanese drama. And then I got into the Korean drama and that’s like, probably like 10 years ago. And when I, when I was watching those dramas, I was like, Oh, my God, these women and men have amazing skins. And I started asking my friends, and they were telling me ‘Oh, well, you know, these are like the Korean beauty products’ so, in New York, there is a Korea town that is pretty small, when you compare it to the west coast, but it is still there. And the first time I went there, this where they had The Face Shop, which I had never seen before, obviously. And I was just amazed by all those sheet mask with all those ingredients. And then funnily enough, two blocks away from there was Macy’s and Sephora, and I would spend all my time there, but never seen this type of product. So, from there, I started doing more research getting more into like the skincare routine, you know, this infamous 10 step, and all these culture of beauty in Korea. And then I decided to come to Korea and look into the beauty industry, I really wanted to see more about it. And when I got here, I was so amazed by all the shop, all those products, is literally overwhelming. And you know, as for any girl or woman, when you come to Korea and you see all this beauty product, it’s like ‘oh my god, it’s like a dream come true’. Like, all these products are here for me. But at the same time, I saw that they weren’t there was very little diversity in all of the marketing. But again, I was not, it wasn’t something where I was like, ‘oh my god, like, why I don’t see any like people of color’ because I kind of understood at that time that it’s Korea, and it’s not necessarily the target market. So, it kind of made, it made sense to me. But then I my philosophy was like, ‘Oh my God, these beauty products are so amazing. I want everybody to get a chance to experience’ that. So, then I kind of made it a mission to make K-Beauty a little bit more inclusive.
Alex Jensen: So, there must be a whole range of ingredients in these products that have nothing to do with whitening or brightening or whatever other word is used to describe that which are very good for the skin, anti-aging and all that sort of stuff that we see in the marketing. What happens when you have darker skin tone, what happens when you put on a on a Korean product that’s geared towards trying to brighten the skin?
Fama Ndiaye: You know, that’s a very interesting is that those wording brightening, and whitening mean the same thing for Koreans. Meaning that if I want to brighten my skin, I’m gonna whiten my skin. But for us, like, you know, for people of color and then you know, people from like India’s the Spanish people like Native American like anybody who has like just a little bit like just a tan skin, to be honest from tan skin to all this spectrum of like darker skin, we just want to brighter like maybe hyperpigmentation or darks was that you have like acne scars like this kind of thing, right? So obviously, when I see whitening, I’m just like, ‘Oh, hell no’, you know, but I had discussion because I’ve been working now a long time with these friends and then I worked with them the lab, the lab and the manufacturers. And I tell them it’s like, ‘Why you use the word white?’, ‘No, no, no, no, no’, some now they understand. ‘Oh, no, no, no, it’s actually brightening’. I’m like, ‘Yeah, but we don’t want to be to, to whiten the skin’ like it doesn’t, you know, it’s not a peeling. It’s not something like, we as Westerners or we will not buy this product because we’re gonna be like, we’re not trying to be whiter. And it’s really interesting, because you really understand they’re the beauty standards, how different they are, right? Because here is all about having this really pale white skin as the whiter you are, the more beautiful you are. And then for example, in the US is all about like being tan like so tan people just go, you know, to the tanning salon, you know? So, for us, for me, for example, like most of the time, whenever I use the product, my go to product in terms of testing, if there are any kind of whitening ingredients, or the sunscreen, because it’s always the same issues with the sunscreen. It’s always like that white cast that is inspired.
Alex Jensen: Exactly right. No one seems to want to make their skin red. That’s one common factor across the board and neither do I, so I do wear sunscreen. But when I first picked up what was described as brightening sunscreen, I thought maybe that would have a sort of, at worst maybe a shimmering effect, but ended up with that deathly pale cast that was more pale than what I usually am, so how do we get around here? Have you found solutions?
Fama Ndiaye: Oh, yeah, because now more and more I work with some brands and sometimes they send me sample they like ‘Oh, can you tell? Let us know’. And before when I came to Korea, I was doing I was a beauty influencer. So, brands would send me a lot of products and I would test a lot of products and make reviews about it. So, I kept those relationships with those brands and now, work with them on other projects. But nowadays when send me some products and they are telling me ‘oh what do you think of this cream’ so like a sunscreen and I’m just like ‘I’m so sorry, like this is not going to work there is a white cast’. And I have to literally take a picture and show it to them sometimes because they just don’t know it’s really literally like, they really don’t know like what, how is going to affect our skin tone. So, you have to tell and then they understand it and then more and more these days, we are seeing more and more brands having those sunscreen and product without the white cast. So, which means we are definitely going into towards the right direction. But it’s all about, I would say, doing your research, like I would say some of the more, most of the brand these days are really trying because everybody’s trying to go global these days especially with the whole Hallyu wave. So they really want to reach out to the more and more people and I tell this brands you know it’s a different thing if you’re a Korean beauty brand and your target market is Korea, obviously it doesn’t matter but the moment you decide to be more global meaning that you want to sell in the US, you want to sell in Europe you’re gonna have to change your strategy your marketing that means that you’re going to have to be more inclusive in the, in models you use and you’re going to have to think more about the type of products you’re making and how you labeling those products because I’m telling you some products are saying whitening but they have no white cast it’s literally a brightening product but because they’re so used to that term whitening they just keep using it so now like they understand it and now, they started changing it but for me like it’s really like I can’t work with the brands having whitening on their packaging and I’m like ‘I’m so sorry I cannot help yourself’ because it kind of goes against everything I’m working for.
Alex Jensen: So, from a business side you started AGASKIN, originally and then that evolved to Kworld Media. Can you just clarify for us how that process happened whilst you are discovering all this and communicating with the various brands?
Fama Ndiaye: Yes. So how, before I came to Korea already, actually the first time I came is when I decided I came for three months or two and a half months, something like that and I did a lot of research, try to understand the beauty industry. And also, I was decided, ‘okay, I really, I feel like this is something I can do here’. I feel like I can do something in Korea. Now let me learn a bit more of the language. So, I started taking Korean class and then I was doing more research as I was being here. And then as I, after three months, I went back to Paris for a year to kind of have a better vision of what I would be doing, right? and then what I was doing in Paris. I was working for Dior at that time. And then at the same time, I was nurturing a website that are called Kworld now online Kworld. And online Kworld was dedicated to Korean culture. So, for me, I literally fell in love with Korean culture because meaning from West Africa, Senegal, a lot of people don’t know that. But Korean culture and Senegalese culture, slash African culture are very similar in terms of values and how people behave, and then how people have to be respectful and all these little things, how you eat and stuff like that. There are a lot, many, many, many similarities. So, because of that, I was just thinking, I want to kind of share more of the culture because now it’s very different. Now, when you talk about Korea, people are just like, ‘Okay, how you BTS, you know, this is a Squid game’. So, it’s all about this how you, Korea has such a great image right now, obviously, but back in the day, like, if you didn’t really know, people wonder, when you say Korea, people are gonna say, ‘Oh, is it so South Korea or North Korea?’, people didn’t have that much knowledge about Korea. So, at that time, I really wanted to kind of bring more awareness on that level. And then when I came back to Korea, that kind of followed me, right, so the website was all about, like, you know, the whole entertainment industry like drama, movies, and the music industry, and then a little bit more about the food and the culture. And I decided to kind of expand this share in Korea. And because I was already doing so many contents for the Korean beauty brands, it kind of translated into the video marketing that I decided to bring to the company. So that’s how like Kworld Media started it and then from Kworld, Kworld Media is the corporation and then from Kworld Media, we have different, it’s like you said, it’s the umbrella and under Kworld Media, we have different aspects. So, we have Kworld now, that is 100%, dedicated to Korean culture. So, we have a whole platform and website. We write blogs about everything you need to know about Korean culture, from art, to music, to movies, to food, to customs and stuff like that. And then have a partner with who I created KbeautyFest Global. It’s also again, everybody, everything comes back to K-Beauty. So KbeautyFest Global that is dedicated to bringing bring knowledge about Korean beauty, like educate people on Korean beauty because I realized also a lot of people don’t know much about K-Beauty. And it’s really hard to tell you this product, these products are really amazing. Just because I’m telling you, if I’m explaining you why they are amazing, and then you’re more willing to at least try them.
Alex Jensen: Yeah, it really does make sense to have that sort of platform where you’re inspiring as well as just sharing brands. But I did want to ask what the impact of the last couple of years when everyone’s been wearing masks at least much more than usual has been because in my experience I’ve heard a lot of people saying I’m not wearing makeup today I’m wearing a mask I don’t want to take my mask off therefore has it affected sales, do you think in the industry?
Fama Ndiaye: 100%, you know, it’s an, it’s really interesting because, you know, the beauty industry has two aspects, right? You have the skincare, and you have the makeup, right? So, anything makeup related, that is not, that like that COVID situation did not help anything related to makeup because what’s the point of putting foundation or powder or blush or lipsticks when you have to wear a mask, you know, and all these less, we’ll also remember that wearing a mask is not the best thing for your skin, you know, it’s like your skin is like doesn’t have any air or stuff like that and then you mixing you want to mix the sweat with the makeup is not a great combination. So, so many people, so many people reverted to just basic skincare and just making sure that they were wearing minimal makeup. So, I think people to better care of the skin because of that. But at the same time, anything related to makeup was not necessarily the best in terms of business. And maybe and maybe eyeliner, mascara has anything that above the nose would kind of go well, but I think like, like the lipstick industry, for example, what’s not at the best?
Alex Jensen: Yeah, it does seem like that would be a problem. I wonder, though, does that help you with your promotion of K-Beauty abroad, that maybe the brands would be even more interested in promoting themselves in countries that are a little less mask friendly than Korea, where pretty much everyone adheres to that rule?
Fama Ndiaye: I think what happened globally, in terms of the mask and the K-Beauty industry is a combination of what is going on in Korea these days in terms of the how you weighed and how K-Beauty is also rising, people are seeing more interest, and also the fact that we were all like confined, and people were just on their phone, on their social media on YouTube. So, what do you do, you just keep watching videos and videos and people are starting, seeing more influencer talking about brands that they don’t know, talking about K-Beauty, talking about sheet masks, and people get more interested in the K-Beauty industry? So, I think it’s really funny how it works, like somehow, I think that the COVID can help the industry somehow. In terms of skincare, definitely.
Alex Jensen: So, what is your plan going forward? I think we’re going to need to get an update on this, by the way, maybe in a few weeks or months. But at this stage, what are your hopes for the immediate future?
Fama Ndiaye: Like, for the company right now, we are preparing more events, offline please, no more online. More offline event about K-Beauty to educate more on K-Beauty is really making K-Beauty more accessible to everybody. Because also as remember that whatever is going on in the K-Beauty industry in Korea, and whatever’s going on outside of Korea is very different. So, people might see brands and they’re like, ‘Oh my God, this one is so amazing’. But there might be like 10 More amazing brands here in Korea, they just didn’t get the chance to get to you. So, I hope like these brands get more opportunities to assure their products, their philosophy, and then we see a lot of amazing brands here in Korea. So that’s the first thing so more event we want to see also, we are preparing for Kword now, more eBooks on Korean culture. So, we published a new eBook on the history of K-pop where people can learn how K-pop started because yes, BTS is amazing and BLACKPINK and all that but there is a background story to all that. And then we’re going to have more of eBooks, eBooks on the like, you know, the history of K-drama, how webtoons became so popular. And then we are launching actually next month a podcast on Korean culture. So, to talk about different aspects of the culture And we also planning a TV show some time in 2022. So, a lot of things in the making. But yeah, it’s pretty exciting. It’s pretty exciting.
Alex Jensen: That is amazing. I wish you all the best with that and great to see the podcast space expanding further on the Korean cultural side. Fama, one quick final question that occurred to me before as we are all going to be stuck with masks for a lot longer here in Korea. And let’s try and make this as general as possible. So not necessarily people who are doing a 10-step regime. What are the simple things we can do to look after our skin while wearing masks?
Fama Ndiaye: Well, the first thing you want to make sure always clean your face, right? So, you don’t need to clean your face twice a day or three times a day. You can clean your face at night before you go to bed because, you know, you just want to get rid of all the impurities of the day, right? So can your face make sure you use a toner day and night and depending on what are your skin issues, you know, maybe had have, maybe have dry skin, maybe have wrinkles are fine lines like depending on what are your issues, find the essence that works for you. And if you can have a sense, you can do sheet masks, you know sheet masks is a good way to kind of replace the essence if you don’t have the essence. And, of course, your cream and very, very important sunscreen, always sunscreen, people, sunscreen is the most important. So, you know, you can literally have a 4-steps routine on a daily basis, you don’t need to do the 10-steps.
Alex Jensen: Alright, so after we get your update in a few weeks or whatever, I’m going to catch up with you again on sunscreen alone, even if it’s a personal consultation, because like getting somewhere between sticky and the deathly pale dry is too much. But it’s really great to catch up with you, Fama Ndiaye, I wish you all the best with everything you’ve just mentioned and more and look forward to catching up again.
Fama Ndiaye: Thank you so much, Alex, was such a pleasure talking to you.
Alex Jensen: One theme that has come up a few times over the last few weeks is the importance of a work life balance. Well, our next guest his business is providing that balance whether it be through Camarata and opportunity to gather people of all different nationalities and backgrounds together to sing or through his entertainment space, the studio, which has a great bar as well to go with it. Ryan Gossel is that man, thank you very much for joining Koreabizcast.
Ryan Gossel: Thanks for having me.
Alex Jensen: So, Ryan, you started the studio right in the middle of the pandemic. Camarata had been thriving for years beforehand. Can you give us a quick taste of how that’s been for you?
Ryan Gossel: Sure. Well, the studio HBC, it’s not just a bar, it’s actually, it’s a live music performance venue. And we have a, we have sorry, not going to Camarata mind we’re having live music bands there, we have various other performances. Basically, any type of performance you can give we have available there. Of course, we have a full bar and stuff like that as well. But it’s basically a place where people can come listen to music, listen to other performances, and have a great time.
Alex Jensen: And this was something that I remember you talking about during the pandemic has an opportunity to kind of move things along to create other opportunities beyond Camarata itself, which started many years earlier. How did Camarata begin?
Ryan Gossel: Well, Camarata began in 2009. Actually, it was born in late 2008, just on an idea of, let’s get to people together next year just to sing some Christmas carols. And we were hoping to get three, four or five people that would want to sing some Christmas carols together, we put a post on a popular website. This was before Facebook was really popular here in Korea. And we ended up getting about 50-55 people that were interested in getting together and singing some. So, I like to say may being young and dumb, I decided why not make a choir and we will do major work. Do Handel’s Messiah and we didn’t even have a place to practice much less a place to perform at that point yet. But, you know, we went ahead, and we did it anyway, everything just fell into place. And we went from that time from just us in one choir to now we have five choirs. We have a musical theater team, we have an orchestra, we have an education program. And we have at any given time, in non-pandemic times, we have anywhere from about 4 to 500 active people involved in the organization.
Alex Jensen: Obviously, there have been some tremendous challenges over the last couple of years, which we can come on to, but I think we should use this opportunity to further establish your credentials. I’m sure a few of our listeners will be familiar with you already because you’ve been a very strong fixture on the expat scene in Korea for some time, but you’ve got a professional scene background you also coach people to sing as well. Can you tell us a bit more of that side?
Ryan Gossel: Sure. Well, I’m active here in Korea as a vocal coach, voice instructor and I have an active studio of roughly 25 students per week. And as for educational background, I have a master’s degree in vocal arts from the University of Southern California where I was there on scholarship. My bachelor’s is from Luther College and Decorah, Iowa in music performance. And my doctorate is here in Korea at Hansei University, which is Asia’s leading choral conducting University in choral conducting.
Alex Jensen: But on your own performance side, I think I first heard of you when I saw you on a poster a few years ago in Itaewon. And it was advertising performance that you yourself were delivering, so do you remain in demand for your own vocal talents?
Ryan Gossel: I actually am going to be doing a recital this upcoming in about six months or so, we still have to finish the scheduling and all that stuff for that, but I do a little bit of my own soul singing still, used to seeing all over the US and of course here in Korea when I moved here and Asia, I’m doing both musical theater and opera.
Alex Jensen: And you speak good Korean. How long have you actually been here?
Ryan Gossel: I’m on my 17th year as of two weeks ago, actually.
Alex Jensen: Yeah. Well, great guy to know if anyone’s listening, you haven’t met Ryan Gossel yet, you wouldn’t be too hard to track him down someone you know will know him. But Ryan, let’s come back to how you’ve dealt with the last couple of years, then? First on the choir side, Camarata, I know that you’d been planning an event which had to be delayed and then delayed and then delayed. And of course, without any source of revenue, it has become a big challenge for you, hasn’t it?
Ryan Gossel: Yeah, it’s, honestly, it’s been really quite tough, doing with this, especially with these really heavy restrictions which, you know, are warranted and needed. However, it has been really quite tough.
Alex Jensen: But what did you do to overcome it and to keep people interested in Camarata? Because you basically got a standing group of members who have been standing by, quite literally.
Ryan Gossel: Yeah, literally is standing by we, it’s very tough with this COVID situation because our organization is a live performance organization. And it’s specifically it’s using our voices to sing together to have many people singing together. Obviously, that’s not very good with respiratory borne illness. But so, we basically had all that shut down everything, we can’t get people together to sing. Even now we can luckily, I’m going to get into that in a minute. But we had to basically shut everything down, we couldn’t get together, we had to can’t cancel our Carmina Burana performance that we were going to do at in mid-2020. And then we had our gala which we were going to be putting on like a more, how do I say compact gala? Just to help us with funding during these very difficult times. And, but unfortunately, that with the resurgence of the second, third, fourth wave, we had to cancel it or reschedule it a few times. So, we were lucky where we had a few people supporting us, but to be honest, you know, it’s quite tough times right now. So, we’re very excited with the new restrictions or easing of restrictions, I should say that we are able to start up again slowly. And we are aiming to get the ball rolling again from January of 2022.
Alex Jensen: Before then, of course you got Christmas and acquire does Christmas carols very well. Especially Camarata choir does. Do you have any plans to offer anything in that regard?
Ryan Gossel: Actually, um, so we this past fall, our Chamber Singers, which is our auditioned choir, it’s our small choir, we have been rehearsing. We’ve been doing it in a hybrid fashion, I’ve been bringing in as many people as we could be legally allowed to with the requirements. And the rest of the people were online via Zoom. And then we would just trade out people every week. So, we have been rehearsing since August. And we are preparing for a Christmas concert. The Christmas concert is going to be sorry for my shameless plug, but a will be on December 4th at 6pm and it will be at Dwight school Seoul. And we hope that everybody can come, it’ll be an in person, completely in person concert first time in two years. But of course, we will take all precautions that are still required. But we hope that everybody can make it to this concert. Of course, we will be going out and doing some caroling and stuff like that. But this concert is quite exciting for us, and we hope that we can generate a large audience.
Alex Jensen: So, if memory serves Dwight is out near Digital Media City, which is line 6 or the airport railroad is well on the subway. Seoul has a very good and fairly convenient way of getting you there if you want to go by public transport, but driving is not too bad either. Ryan, how would you get tickets?
Ryan Gossel: The easiest way to get tickets is actually this week. It’ll be put up on our website is going to our website at camaratamusic.org, that’s c, a, m, a, r, a, t, a, music.org and you can buy tickets online, or you can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You can get tickets that way as well.
Alex Jensen: Well, having witnessed you perform one Christmas, I think it was probably about three Christmases ago. Now it’s definitely before COVID struggle. I can’t recommend this highly enough. It’s even better than what you might imagine. Let’s just put it that way and I’m not just saying that because you’re on the other end of the line, Ryan. It’s a reason why I participated with you alongside you for a bit during the pandemic to try, think of ways to get things off the ground is just so challenging with those restrictions moving constantly and I think every industry can sympathize but in the performance space non-motor.
Ryan Gossel: Oh, very much is, to be honest, the performing arts and specifically vocal music has been hit the hardest and it’s very unfortunate that we were forced to shut down and there was no, unfortunately, there was almost no financial assistance given by the government while they shut us down which made things honestly even more difficult.
Alex Jensen: So, we’ve also got the studio, which is a space that some would say, you’d be crazy to attempt to open at this time. But you’ve actually I think, done really well, because what you’ve done is you’ve got a community that you’ve created, and I’m part of that on KAKAO, but through other means as well, you’ve got a group of people who enjoy gathering together for karaoke nights, stand-up comedy, things like that. And you’re operating. If I remember rightly, Friday, Saturday, Sundays, at the moment, you’re, you’re basically, not just now since the restrictions lifted either. Even just an earlier part of the evening, before the living with COVID started, you’ve been able to comply with the authorities, but still offers something like weekend entertainment. So, I salute you for that. Can you tell us how he did it?
Ryan Gossel: Well, you know, when COVID hits and, you know, everybody was really scared. Nobody knew what it was going to be, you know, this was a time when basically everybody was staying home, and nobody was doing anything, I think it was around March, April, stuff like that. I just one day, I thought, you know, it would be great to actually make this into a live performance venue, I’ve been kind of toying with that idea for a while. And, but you know, I never had the funding for it. And so, this time, I just decided, ‘you know what? let’s, let’s go for it’ and we weren’t really using, we weren’t really using the studio for anything at that time anyway, because everything was shut down. So, we renovated everything, made it into a live performance venue, complete with the stages already in there that I built a few years before that, but we just renovated everything put in a new lighting system, a new sound system and made a full bar area, things like that and we launched in, I believe June of 2020, when the numbers you know, we’re down to what, five or six a day, and we had a great time, it got popular right away, I’m fortunate enough to have some amazing friends here in Korea that, you know, started from the very beginning coming. And now we have a regular group of people that are coming often. And you know, it’s really, it’s really a fantastic place and more than anything, it’s not just about you know, nightlife or you know, enjoying entertainment. But it’s very much the studio is very much a community for anybody and everybody to be able to come and to meet up with other people and in a safe space that is available for literally anybody.
Alex Jensen: Well, I just want to hesitate as I asked this next question, because I don’t want to age anybody.
Ryan Gossel: I’m gonna interrupt you right there. So um, so you don’t have to say. Yes, we do have some people that are younger there. But you know what? our average age that is, there are people that are in their 30’s 40’s and even the people in 50’s, and, but we have people that are 20’s, we have people that are in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s. And nobody feels out of place at the studio whatsoever. As I said, it’s a very open and accepting place. We don’t care about age, we don’t care about gender, sexuality, anything like that we are open to everybody, and every age comes every age feels comfortable, every age has a great time.
Alex Jensen: So, you could be the ambassador of XYZ countries, the CEO of XYZ corporation, or you could be fresh in Korea, just landing your first teaching job and sit shoulder by shoulder.
Ryan Gossel: Exactly. Ambassador of XYZ company was just there, last weekend.
Alex Jensen: Thank you very much, Ryan Gossel, it’s great to know that you’re doing this and great to know that people have entertainment options again, it’s been so long. And if anyone wants to find that the studio is in Haebangchon, it’s about halfway up the street is you come from the Itaewon directions on the left-hand side. It’s down some steps though and I know some people struggle to find it and definitely you don’t want to drive because parking is limited.
Ryan Gossel: It’s actually Haebangchon is building now. The government’s building a parking structure there. So, it should be done in the next few months which greatly help the parking situation there as well. And if you have problems coming down the stairs, just give me a call I’ll carry it out.
Alex Jensen: Well, if anyone wants to reach Ryan personally then just message us through KBLA on LinkedIn just search KBLA and we’ll do it that way rather than broadcast Ryan’s mobile number.
Ryan Gossel: You can send us an email, you can send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or you could not check out the studios page just, thestudiohbc.com or we’re on all social media. And again, in regard to Camarata Music, you can check us out camaratamusic.org and if you are, you interested in what we do, especially within Camarata Music and you want to get involved either personally or you want to just help get the performing arts back going again financially or in other ways, you can just check out the website and find out how or contact us directly.
Alex Jensen: Abundance of options. And again, Ryan, much appreciated you taking the time today.
Ryan Gossel: Thank you very much, Alex, I appreciate it.
Alex Jensen: Well, thanks also to Fama Ndiaye for sharing her business story before also with abundant potential. And that’s it for today but let me once more declare our great appreciation for the support of the Four Seasons Hotel Seoul, sponsoring this latest episode and see you again tomorrow whenever and wherever suits you best.