Shown above is the website of OWNU, which tries to turn childlike simplicity to art while taking advantage of leather scraps. Photo courtesy of OWNU

OWNU CEO Ahn Ji-hae uses leather scraps to create artistic value

As far as the industrial design is concerned, Apple is second to none. Its unique design aesthetic set the U.S. tech giant apart from other corporations across the globe.

Its guiding tenet is simplicity, which Apple founder Steve Jobs brought to the fore. And a South Korean entrepreneur adopts a similar strategy in her social initiative.

She is Ahn Ji-hae, who established social enterprise OWNU in 2014. Ahn fixed her eyes on children’s drawings to create artistic value on leather scraps.

The rise of the so-called fast fashion led to tons of leather and textile scraps. Based on 15-plus years of experience as a designer, I tried to find out a way to reuse them,” the 46-year-old said.

Then, I was agonizing over the graphic design. And I saw my kid scribble on a paper. It was a very natural and plain drawing. I realized that it was special.”

After naming the start-up after her daughter, Ahn began to come up with products on leather scraps with designs inspired by children’s paintings.

On the belief that “every child is an artist,” she even organized drawing contests to find childlike simplicity anew. She turned a dozen of children’s drawings into bags and accessories.

In particular, some of them were presented to former International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, who visited Seoul in 2017.

It is a kind of upcycling. Now the products are available online through our homepage and other websites. In addition, they also hit the shelves of offline outlets in many countries,” she said.

We also have many corporate partners, such as Samsung Electronics and Nexon.”

Her website is

Otherwise called creative reuse, upcycling refers to the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, and useless products into new materials or products with artistic value or environmental value, according to Wikipedia.

Asked about her role model, she picked such female entrepreneurs as GM CEO Mary Barra and Japanese designer Tsumori Chisato.

At the same time, she talked about her mother _ Korea Network of Women in Finance Chairman Kim Sang-kyung. As the country’s first woman foreign exchange dealer, Kim is regarded as godmother of women in the financial industry.

Currently, Kim is also heading the Korea International Finance Institute.