[INTERVIEW] CEO brings Prestigious startup to Korea

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[INTERVIEW] CEO brings Prestigious startup to Korea

Suomi Park-Fujiwara, founder and CEO of travel platform startup Prestigious, headquartered in Paris, poses for a photo during an interview with The Korea Times at a cafe in Garosugil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, July 15. Korea Times photo by Jung Da-min

By Jung Da-min

Being a mother and a CEO of a startup at the same time is largely about managing time and planning schedules, said Suomi Park-Fujiwara, 39. She is the founder and chief of Prestigious, a travel platform startup introduced recently to Korea, which aims to provide personalized travel experiences.

As a mother of a four-year-old girl, Park says she strategically makes a plan for the whole year every January to make sure she has some quality time to spend with her daughter.

"I go for trips at least twice a year with my daughter, each time to a different destination," Park said, during an interview with The Korea Times, July 15, at a cafe in Garosugil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. "The most important thing is to plan my schedule well and to actually implement the plans."

Park said she also wants to be a successful business leader, so that she can alter existing male-dominated working environments to create more space for women.

"The environment of current economic society is mainly set up for men, and women had be 'manly' to get inside, which I do not think should be the way," Park said. "As a generation in a transitional period of gender equality, what I want to do is to firmly secure my own area in the industry first, adapt the working environment to be more female-oriented then turn over my area to women in the next generation."

Born in Tokyo to a Japanese conductor father and a Korean opera singer mother, she has since travelled many countries following her parents, which allowed her to meet various people and inspired her to see more of the of the world.

Living in Tokyo until she was eight, in Seoul until 15, in New York until 18 and in Paris until now, she spent most of her school days studying dance and the piano until she graduated Conservatoire de Paris majoring in Ballet and Piano in 1997, as her parents, well-versed classical musicians, had wished.

But then she decided to jump into interior design, studying at Arts-decos in Paris. She could not spend much time drawing as she had to spend most of her time practicing dancing, a skill she started to develop at the age of five.

"If I had chosen music, everything would have been so easy, as my parents would have guided me with their huge network in the world," Park said. "But I chose something harder."

She joined Chanel as a textile designer and later transitioned to Philip Stark, where she could take a look inside the luxury market.

After working at the two high-end brands in Paris meeting talented people, she wanted to take on another challenge ― launching her own business. In 2008, she founded her own interior design firm Park and Associates, where she learnt entrepreneurship.

The culmination of these experiences led her to start Prestigious, which Park founded in 2014.

"From my childhood, traveling was such a great benefit for me. Living and traveling in different countries gave me an open mind and infinite curiosity," Park said. "I wanted to share all the magic of travel. There are so many people traveling without knowing the true benefits. With Prestigious, I aim to share travel experience curated by true professionals for true travelers."

As a luxury digital travel platform which proposes the accommodations and travel experiences curated by professionals, Prestigious serves 24 destinations in the world and its latest destinations are Korea and Japan.



Suomi Park-Fujiwara, founder and CEO of travel platform startup Prestigious, headquartered in Paris, poses for a photo during an interview with The Korea Times at a cafe in Garosugil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, July 15. Korea Times photo by Jung Da-min

By Jung Da-min

Being a mother and a CEO of a startup at the same time is largely about managing time and planning schedules, said Suomi Park-Fujiwara, 39. She is the founder and chief of Prestigious, a travel platform startup introduced recently to Korea, which aims to provide personalized travel experiences.

As a mother of a four-year-old girl, Park says she strategically makes a plan for the whole year every January to make sure she has some quality time to spend with her daughter.

"I go for trips at least twice a year with my daughter, each time to a different destination," Park said, during an interview with The Korea Times, July 15, at a cafe in Garosugil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. "The most important thing is to plan my schedule well and to actually implement the plans."

Park said she also wants to be a successful business leader, so that she can alter existing male-dominated working environments to create more space for women.

"The environment of current economic society is mainly set up for men, and women had be 'manly' to get inside, which I do not think should be the way," Park said. "As a generation in a transitional period of gender equality, what I want to do is to firmly secure my own area in the industry first, adapt the working environment to be more female-oriented then turn over my area to women in the next generation."

Born in Tokyo to a Japanese conductor father and a Korean opera singer mother, she has since travelled many countries following her parents, which allowed her to meet various people and inspired her to see more of the of the world.

Living in Tokyo until she was eight, in Seoul until 15, in New York until 18 and in Paris until now, she spent most of her school days studying dance and the piano until she graduated Conservatoire de Paris majoring in Ballet and Piano in 1997, as her parents, well-versed classical musicians, had wished.

But then she decided to jump into interior design, studying at Arts-decos in Paris. She could not spend much time drawing as she had to spend most of her time practicing dancing, a skill she started to develop at the age of five.

"If I had chosen music, everything would have been so easy, as my parents would have guided me with their huge network in the world," Park said. "But I chose something harder."

She joined Chanel as a textile designer and later transitioned to Philip Stark, where she could take a look inside the luxury market.

After working at the two high-end brands in Paris meeting talented people, she wanted to take on another challenge ― launching her own business. In 2008, she founded her own interior design firm Park and Associates, where she learnt entrepreneurship.

The culmination of these experiences led her to start Prestigious, which Park founded in 2014.

"From my childhood, traveling was such a great benefit for me. Living and traveling in different countries gave me an open mind and infinite curiosity," Park said. "I wanted to share all the magic of travel. There are so many people traveling without knowing the true benefits. With Prestigious, I aim to share travel experience curated by true professionals for true travelers."

As a luxury digital travel platform which proposes the accommodations and travel experiences curated by professionals, Prestigious serves 24 destinations in the world and its latest destinations are Korea and Japan.



Jung Da-min damin.jung@koreatimes.co.kr


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