The story behind the name SoYoung: “Great things will happen”

Before I started SoYoung, I spent 10 years in banking and financial software and was extremely unhappy but had no idea what to do about it. So I enrolled in a year long Zen Shiatsu course taught by a buddhist who taught shiatsu as a means of going within. We meditated, did yoga, chanted and did lots of bodywork. It was a transformative year for me, where I finally found the courage to quit my job without knowing what the next step was.

For some reason, my buddhist teacher (called Sensei) expressed interest in my ethnic heritage, and when he learned that I had a Korean name, suggested that I start using it.

I balked at this idea. Up until that point, I had no relationship with my Korean name, SoYoung, which was given to me by my grandmother. Aside from appearing on official documents, this name had lain dormant for my entire life. The idea of suddenly adopting this name and the notion that my friends and family would think I had joined a cult was at the forefront of my concerns. So my response was a hard no.

But he persisted. Everytime he would see me, he would ask excitedly - “Have you changed your name yet?” and when I would shake my head no, he would clasp his hands and exclaim “Great things will happen if you do.” I remember smiling but not taking him seriously.

Finally he wore me down. The day came where I said “OK, fine. I’ll change my name to SoYoung. But only here, in the dojo. Nowhere else.” And so my fellow shiatsu mates all started calling me by this name.

A couple of years after that is when I made the decision to start my business. While considering what it should be named, it seemed obvious to me that it should be called SoYoung, although I wasn’t sure why.

Now, 15 years later, when I reflect back on how much I have grown and transformed through running SoYoung, my teacher’s words “Great things will happen” echo in my head.

This is certainly not to say that the journey of entrepreneurship has been easy- quite the opposite, actually. But with the challenges have come tremendous learning and opportunities, as well as clarity of purpose and contribution.

I lost touch with my shiatsu teacher after that formative year, but if I were to bump into him today, I would take the opportunity to say “You were right, Sensei. Great things have happened. Thank you.”



2 comments

Im wondering why you don’t make the spaceman case I would have loved to purchase it with the backpack,lunchbox,ice pack

Araceli L Hernandez February 01, 2024

❤️

jen February 01, 2024

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