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Do Won Chang | The success story of the founder of Forever 21



Do Won Chang is the founder of the clothing store chain Forever 21 with his wife. The couple has a combined net worth of around $1.6 billion. In 1981, they migrated from South Korea to the United States during a chaotic time in their home country. With only $11,000 in savings, they opened up their first store, then named Fashion 21. Today, there are over 700 stores in the Americas, Asia, the Middle East, and the UK. They moved to the States with not much more than a high school education and built a fashion empire. Here’s Do Won Chang’s success story.

Early life and struggles

Do Won Chang was born on March 20, 1954, in South Korea. In 1981, he along with his wife, Jin Sook Chang, moved to the United States. Growing up, ne never attended university and only had a high school education after coming to America. After landing in Los Angeles, they worked for 19 hours a day to financially support themselves. Don Won, just 22 years old at that time, wasted no time and began looking for jobs. He started working at a coffee shop, earning $3 per hour. Later, he worked at a gas station in the evening. Still, not content, Do Won started a small office cleaning business that kept him busy until a little after midnight. Meanwhile, his wife worked as a hairdresser. 

From a very young age, Do Won was extremely hard working. After three years in the United States, the couple managed to save $11,000 in savings. In 1984, they opened a 900-square-foot apparel store called Fashion 21 in the garment district located in downtown Los Angeles. In its first store, Fashion 21 garnered a total sales of $700,000 by buying clothes directly from manufacturers at discounted prices. The business did so well that the couple opened up a new store every six months. 

Do Won Chang’s success

By 2013, there were more than 480 stores and revenue of $3.7 billion. Forever 21’s sales reached an all-time high in 2015 with $4.4 billion in global sales that year. By 2016, the company made $4.4 billion in sales, had 43,000 employees in 790 stores in 48 countries including his native South Korea. Do Won Chang and his wife created Forever 21 with their own money and reached great heights. Their success story is an inspiration to many entrepreneurs all around the world. 

Exclusive Interview With One Of America's Most Successful Immigrants:  Forever 21's Do Won Chang

Unfortunately, due to the increase in online retailers, the company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2019. However, Forever 21 is still one of the most popular brands in the world. Today, the couple’s combined net worth is $1.6 billion. Even with a drop in revenue in recent years by $4 billion from personal net worth. Do Won said that his family matters to him the most than any other measurement of success. His two daughters, Linda and Esther, also work in the company.

Lessons we can learn

He’s life inspired many there is much out as in he was philanthropist also donated for many churches, religious groups and also he travels perform social works and missionary works.

Do Won Chang and his wife migrated to the States with just a high school education. He worked three jobs in order to support his family. Right from the beginning, the couple worked hard and never lost hope. If you believe in yourself, anything is possible. You just need to put in the effort and you will ultimately achieve all your dreams. Finally, hard work is the key to success. 

Also read: Octavia E. Butler | The success story of one of the most successful sci-fi author

What is Do Won Chang's net worth?

At the company’s peak in 2015, Jin Sook and Do Won Chang had a combined net worth of $5.9 billion. Their combined fortune has fallen to $1.6 billion.

When did Do Won Chang start Forever 21?

He set up his first store in 1984.

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