Toronto software developer starts up stylish side hustle that keeps selling out
A full-time software developer in Toronto has started up her own side hustle that's been completely selling out, especially since she was featured in Vanity Fair London.
Plate Pillows started with something relatively simple and relatable: being homesick during lockdowns. Founder Eunsu Shim's family lives far away - her parents in Korea and her sister in California - and during lockdowns in 2021, she was craving shared family meals with all of them.
"Being homesick and missing my family, I started investing time in looking up ways to make my home more homey with a cozier vibe," Shim tells blogTO. "I wanted to make my home a sanctuary, a safe place."
However, she grappled with a problem lots of us face in Toronto: her apartment was too small to redecorate with new furniture. She realized smaller touches would have to perform the big task of enhancing her tiny space.
"I wanted functional home decor that would enhance my living space but I wasn't able to find it," says Shim.
And so, Plate Pillows was born. Shim modestly says she actually had no expectations for the project, only introducing it to her close circle and only promoting it through Instagram.
"I remember being amazed at how our initial posts received 1,000 to 5,000 likes organically," says Shim. "It was absolutely surreal and it wasn't long after our launch that we sold out."
Plate Pillows is kind of what it sounds like: it's a line of plates, bowls, coasters and glasses that feel like cushy pillows for your food, and they also sell mirrors and candles.
Plates with scalloped edges go for around $19, ruffled "oyster bowls" are priced at $35, and beautifully formless-seeming glasses are $30.
Shim also emphasizes multifunctionality with Plate Pillows pieces, again revolving around the enhancement of smaller spaces. One of their most popular, currently sold-out products, Saint Cloud, can be used as a coaster, jewellery plate, perfume display and candle holder.
"On a typical day, I wake up around 6 to 7 a.m. to review and pack new orders," says Shim.
"Then I go to my office job, often times using my lunch break to drop off orders for Plate Pillows. When the workday ends, I completely switch over to Plate Pillows to work on the next product launch and marketing."
She says she owes her success in part to having a strong support system of friends and family, and that each milestone she's reached (like her coverage in a Vanity Fair London roundup) has helped motivate her.
Currently, you can shop Plate Pillows online or at pop-ups in Toronto, but Shim hopes to take things further in the future.
"It is a far-reach dream of mine to open a cafe in Toronto featuring my products," says Shim.
"Currently, I invest all of my money back into Plate Pillows but perhaps if I reach a state where I can open up a storefront I would love to quit my job then. I hope this day will come soon."
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