For the past 20 years, Mr. Kim has been spearheading the development of Green Dry Cleaning throughout California, Washington and Colorado. His objective is to build successful infrastructures of Green Dry Cleaners by educating and converting existing drycleaners who use toxic chemicals to the new water-based process called “Professional Wetcleaning”.
As of today, Mr. Kim has provided countless seminars and demonstrations and converted more than 70 Dedicated Green Dry Cleaners throughout California alone. Many of Mr. Kim’s converted cleaners are operating successfully, and have received recognition and awards from numerous organizations, as well as from state and local government agencies.
In 2011, Mr. Kim’s company, Natures Best Garment Care, Inc., opened the first Green Dry Cleaners in the United States Military Base and provided this green technology for the US military servicemen, women, and their families.
Today, approximately more than 25,000 Drycleaners in the United States still use the toxic chemical solvent called Perchloroethylene (“PERC”), which the EPA acknowledges as a known carcinogen, air pollutant, and groundwater contaminant. In 2001, the CA South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) was the first government agency to lead the world in eliminating the use of PERC in the dry cleaning industry by introducing the new water-based technology called Professional Wetcleaning. Mr. Kim has been instrumental in educating, mentoring, and converting PERC Dry Cleaners to the Professional Wet Cleaning system throughout the last two decades and he continues to do so today.
Where did the idea for Aqua come from?
The Professional Wetcleaning project started with Dr. Peter Sinsheimer of UCLA in 1997. Both he and I had the vision to bring about a healthier and cleaner garment care method that could last for generations to come. We both believed that there had to be an alternative method that was clean, green and cost-effective.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I try to make each day as productive as I can. This entails endless meetings, job site visits, planning and evaluations. Each day begins at the crack of dawn and ends close to midnight, often 6-7 days a week.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Planning and execution are important processes in bringing ideas to 3-dimensional life. Planning must be done well in order for executions to occur. A well-planned execution often enables greater success.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Online e-commerce. With the onset of the internet years ago, so much more can be done that was not possible before. Online e-commerce allows a platform for all business to reach consumers globally at the touch of the keyboard.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I plan small steps at a time. Smaller steps allow me to track progress better and to also be more efficient. Daily accountability is important to me. Foundations that are built on smaller interwoven steps are stronger and more durable as well.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To be faithful. I would tell myself to be faithful not just spiritually, which is very important but to also be faithful to myself and my ideas and visions. When others tell me that something is dubious or cannot be done, I would reiterate more faith in myself and my visions.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
Many people, especially traditional dry cleaners, still refuse to believe that water can be used to process all “dry clean” only garments. For many, believing in something new is often a difficult step to take.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Just try and try again. Often, people give up too easily after attempting something just once or twice. Success is an ongoing continual process.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The best way is to just try it out. Sometimes trial and error is the only way you can experiment and find out the truth. Planning in small simple steps and then executing them is my preferred method.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In the beginning (2004-2006), when the technology was not yet advanced and the process was still developing, a few stores had to close due to lack of experience. But through persistence, continual refinement of the process and a strong focus on teaching and training it has become successful. Many Wet Cleaners have seen consistent growth and popularity in their business over the years. Continual reinvesting, redeveloping and refining human resources are key.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A green fashion business all the way through conception/creation to cleaning. It would provide a myriad of solutions for the fashion-related industries with many green possibilities. The usage of natural dyes and natural fibers would be a great complement to natural and biodegradable garment care.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Dinner with my staff. My staff is my work family and I treat them as so. My success is their success and I make sure to integrate successes into their rewards and recognition.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Online banking. I check it often on my phone and daily as part of my accountability and tracking process. Rather than have to wait hours in line at the bank or on the phone, online banking allows me to monitor transactions and accomplish tasks quickly and readily.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
A good book I’ve read recently was “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”. In a capitalistic society, it’s imperative that business owners have a strong moral compass. They need to have high standards and values that their staff can look up to and emulate and that customers can believe and depend on.
What is your favorite quote?
“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” ~ Albert Einstein
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