Originally from upstate New York, Cris White is the owner of Chemi Code, a shop that specializes in stationary inspired by Korean culture. I have been following Chemi Code on Instagram from an early stage as a small business, and have seen Cris become increasingly creative in terms of the photos and videos that are posted on a regular basis, as well as the designs that are for sale. Please enjoy my interview with Cris!
What made you decide to start a small business?
My business pretty much started once I saw others starting their own business around 2020. I saw people making their hobbies into a business and therefore I wanted to give it a shot as well. I loved stationery and stickers so I decided to make my own. I also loved the Korean culture and finding stores that sell Korean inspired stationery and stickers is hard to find especially where I live.
Did you spend a lot of money to start your business?
I did! At least, it was a lot to me. I’ve heard of people spending way more for their business. In the beginning, I had a full-time job to cover the expenses of my business but when my business became my full-time job, I had to use a credit card and things added up quickly. However, I tried to remind myself that I will receive most of that money back since thet are business expenses. In the meantime, I just try to pay off what I can through sales and other means on a monthly bases until we get the money back for those expenses.
What do you sell and who is your audience?
At the moment, I sell stickers and stationery products (notepads, sticky notes, washi tape, etc). At first, I started making requested stickers by friends and family just to get sales and to get my name out there. However, recently, I’ve been focusing more on making things based on the Korean culture. My goal is to find others who have a love for the Korean culture just as much as I do. Some of them might still be in hiding, but due to Korean dramas and Kpop, many are starting to come out of their shell which has been nice.
Where can people find your items?
Is it your goal to have a secondary income stream or do you want it to be a full-time business?
My goal is work full-time with my business. I’ve always been someone who wanted to be my own boss every since I was a kid. Even now, that desire is still in me.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future is to bring diversity into the Korean community. It’s not often that you find people of color (aside from their own) being represented in a way in which they’re the main focus. It’s very rare. they’re often in the shadows and I want to break that barrier. Not only for black people, but for those of other races as well. I think it speaks volumes when you’re able to connect people with their interests and the things that they find joy in. I hope to be the one to bring the noise haha.
Do you worry about the future of your small business, in terms of current economic developments?
hat’s a good question. I would say that seeing things such as the cost living rising and the cost of items actually makes me more curious than worried. For example, I’ve currently been reading more about finance and how to save up for long-term and short-term emergencies. When it comes to having a business, doing research is definitely important, especially when it comes to finance. Even if my business does fall in the future, I’ll be okay with it. Some things are just out of our control and that’s okay.
Thanks very much to Chemi Code for doing an interview with me! May you be inspired to purchase from and support small businesses, and may future and budding entrepreneurs be motivated to work on their own small business.