90-year-old continues to sell Amorepacific products as long as health permits

Kim Young-ae, back row left, waves at her colleagues at an office behind Amorepacific’s shop in western Seoul, in this photo taken in May. Courtesy of Amorepacific

Kim Young-ae, 90, a door-to-door salesperson of 51 years, said she will continue working as long as her health allows, according to Amorepacific, whose beauty products she has been selling since 1972, on Sunday.

Kim visits one of Amorepacific’s outdoor shops in Yeongdeungpo District in western Seoul 10 to 15 times monthly. In this era of online shopping, the beauty sector attracts consumers via celebrities, trendy commercials and stores run by clerks speaking multiple languages in tourism hotspots, but Kim faithfully sticks to her now nearly extinct sales practice.

“Amorepacific is a historic brand with many years of research and development. Because of that fact, many local people here believe the company is the country’s No. 1 cosmetic firm,” said Kim, who has sold more than 1 billion won ($720,000) worth of the company’s products throughout her career.

“My customers mostly seek Sulwhasoo these days. Among the brand’s products, concentrated ginseng renewing cream and first care activating perfecting serum are the most popular,” she added.

As Kim has been getting old, so have her customers. Some of her loyal customers have already died. Among those still buying from Kim, some have become her close friends, concerned about each other’s health and remaining years of life.

“My family members tell me to quit and rest, but I want to do this until I can,” Kim said. “Having a place to commute and people to talk to is a joyous thing and the best way to keep myself healthy.”

Amorepacific said that out of over 22,300 door-to-door sales agents currently active in Korea, nine percent are women in their 70s or older. Kim, in this aging society, maybe a role model for her age group within the workforce as modern medicine continues to help older people keep their careers.

Kim began her sales career at Amorepacific at age 38 in 1972 when her husband’s difficulties at work called for her to help bring in an additional income to keep her household afloat. 추천 With her shy nature, she couldn’t sell a single product for the first 10 days. Her first sale was a 600-won manicure product someone bought out of pity. The same day, she also sold a 1,600-won bottle of milk lotion.

“I still remember how I felt that day even after 50 years,” said Kim. She sold dozens of Amorepacific labels during the 1970s and 80s, when door-to-door sales accounted for more than 70 percent of the company’s overall sales. Now the figure has dropped to 15 percent.

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