The Side Hustle of a K-Pop Lover

Full-time student and freelance designer Amidala Lee (CS'23) channels her love for Korean pop culture into a profitable business.

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An avid fan of Korean pop (K-pop), Amidala Lee (CS’23) has always admired how others create artworks dedicated to their idols. Last year, she made the leap to turn her interest into a business.

Today, the student is the proud owner of Triality.co, an e-commerce business selling K-pop inspired enamel pins and bags.

Despite lacking formal training in design or business, Lee has amassed a respectable following of at least 3,000 on her account — all in the span of a year. Her pins sell at a range of SGD$10-$17.

“Professional software is so expensive and daunting to use, so I just wanted to try it out on a free website.”

Amidala Lee (CS’23), Triality.co owner

It may come as a surprise as well that most of her customers come from the United States.“But the pin community, especially the K-pop pin community, is pretty big there,” said Lee.

While artists elsewhere may work on their craft with professional equipment and software, Lee has settled on using free online design tools, making do with just her mouse and laptop.

She said: “Professional software is so expensive and daunting to use, so I just wanted to try it out on a free website.”

Lee’s business has had its fair share of obstacles.

In the beginning, her parents were not keen on the idea due to doubts over business sustainability. To avoid placing a financial burden on her parents, Lee decided to be independent and funded the business with her own savings of SGD$300 to produce the first batch of pins.

Running the business solo also means that she devotes an average of 12-20 hours a week to it, with most of her time spent on sorting and packing orders.

As Lee’s followers continue to grow, she hopes to expand her work into cosmetics.

Inspired by American and Korean makeup brands such as ColourPop Cosmetics and Etude House, which collaborate with K-pop groups, Lee is currently exploring the idea of producing an eyeshadow palette together with fellow pin-maker Vacany Studio from the U.S. 

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