Today we’d like to introduce you to Hana Jun.
Hi Hana, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Hello! My name is Hana. I am a Korean American born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I graduated from Parsons School of Design with a BFA in fashion design. Before launching ONDO, I was a shoes and accessories designer working in NYC and LA. When I was laid off in 2020 and thrown into lockdown mode like the rest of the world, it allowed me to dive head first into pursuing all of my favorite hobbies – soap making being one of them.
My mother originally exposed me to soap-making in high school. Like many Korean women, she and my grandmother practice natural & eco-friendly living thus utilize making bars of soap at home. My love for DIY and body care steadily grew from there. I never thought my interest in soap making and skincare would evolve into anything more than a hobby. The lockdown allowed this to cultivate and become an obsession of experimenting, researching and learning all about the craft.
At first, I gave all the soap I made to my friends. Soap seemed like a very relevant gift to give during a global pandemic. I got more skilled and wanted to make as much soap as possible. As I experimented with soap designs and shapes, my terrazzo bars started gaining attention. That is when I received a lot of encouragement from family and friends to start selling my soap. Eventually, I decided to turn this into a small business and see where it leads.
During the process, I decided to fully commit myself to creating only products that are eco-friendly, purely plant-based, cruelty free and use only necessary & healthy ingredients. For many months, I worked really hard to build my brand identity. Once I finally completed designing and formulating my unique brand of body-care products, I launched ONDO on Halloween 2021. It’s been a fulfilling and exciting journey since!
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Not at all. ONDO is a one-woman show. Wearing every single hat all at once (24/7) is still an extremely difficult thing to maintain. I was so used to the typical office job and then suddenly I became the photographer, marketing director, fulfillment manager, packaging designer, social media manager, and soap maker all at once! It’s overwhelming because the work never ends but I love it and would not trade it for a mundane office job ever again.
Some days it feels like I can take on the world with what I’ve accomplished, and some days it feels like I’m falling behind because I’m not doing enough. Imposter syndrome is so very real when you start a small business on your own. I’ve had so many highs and so many meltdowns, but thankfully my husband saves my sanity every time.
In the beginning, I was also struggling financially. Since I no longer had any primary income (from being let go), I had many obstacles and challenges I had to face. I had to get very creative on how to finance everything. I had also gotten engaged at the time and wedding planning was mixed in with my brand new business. My financial management was all over the place and I was really stressed out the first few months after launching. Again my hero husband, Eric, got me through it all and helped me a lot during the process. He is my biggest support system. I am so incredibly grateful for him, my friends and my family who helped me through it all.
With all the struggles I’ve faced, in the end, I am so glad I kept going.
ONDO (pronounced like own-doe) means ‘temperature’ in Korean. The human body maintains a tight temperature margin and is very sensitive to temperature fluctuations. I myself have Reynaud’s disease and cold urticaria (which means I’m severely allergic to the cold). We often take for granted the importance of temperature, which is an important component to maintaining a healthy functioning body. Therefore, we wanted to highlight temperature as a key aspect to our body health image and the brand.
ONDO is a handmade luxury soap and body care company that specializes in aesthetic, natural & eco-friendly products that nourish the mind and body. Cleansing all of the stresses and dirt away while being in your most natural state, just you and your body, is a healing daily experience. Our products are made to enhance the quality of this self-care ritual.
In order to take care of our bodies and the earth, our products are purely plant-based, cruelty-free, sulfate, phthalate, palm oil & paraben free. We never test on our animal friends (except my husband) and we do not use any plastic in our packaging. One of our missions is to reduce plastic waste and keep our oceans free of microplastics.
We are proudly committed to producing ethical, sustainable and eco-friendly products. Our soaps are made with mineral rich clays, sustainably harvested oils and butters and various other natural botanicals. We NEVER use any kind of toxic chemicals, phthalates, sulfates or any endocrine disrupting chemicals. The best ingredients are the simplest ingredients, and we at ONDO truly believe that. You should be treating your body with only the best. The skin is the body’s largest organ!
What were you like growing up?
I’ve always been the shy, introverted and creative type ever since I was a child. I still am today, except I don’t hide behind a giant sketchbook all the time anymore. As a kid, I lived in my own little world full of imagination and ideas. I still do and even now, I love to completely immerse myself in my inspirations and interests by researching to no end and getting lost in my hobbies. For example, I am a complete nerd about rare exotic plants, sea shells and photography/film. I get lost learning all the different names, origins, species, history, pertinent techniques and everything in between. So much so that I motivate my husband and friends to go adventuring and experience my hobbies with me.
My mother’s side is a family of artists so I grew up in a creative and nature-loving environment. My family, especially my mother and grandfather, always encouraged me to pursue any and all interests (small or big) and to always think outside the box. Because of them, I have grown to truly appreciate the importance of pursuing my interests. They always say, ‘What’s the harm in learning any skill? It’s knowledge! If it gives you joy to learn it, do it.’
With this encouragement, I went to design school and I learned to make beautiful garments and intricate accessories. I worked diligently to learn and master all of the hands-on techniques to create aesthetically pleasing yet functional products. It is truly satisfying to be able to conceptualize, procure and create a physical rendition of my vision.
Ultimately, I love to design and create. It is my lifeline and drives for never-ending learning and creativity. I am thankful for the support of my family to have helped me in this pursuit. Today, I am so fortunate to incorporate all of my creative skills into my brand, ONDO.
some photos by Sohyun Lee (@hyun.archive) some photos by Hana Jun