By only looking at Shini Park’s Instagram for a minute, you can tell she’s hopping from place to place in wide-leg trousers, a notebook in hand and a graceful yet stylistically comedic essence.
Born in Seoul, raised in Poland and now living in London, Shini Park is not only internationally experienced but along the way she turned her hobby into a side hustle that evolved into a platform with worldwide interest. Shini built a community of creatives when she started her lifestyle blog, Park & Cube, 9 years ago, leading to the launch of her company, Cube Collective. She’s an all-around content creator extraordinaire: a digital consultant, graphic designer ánd photographer. She prefers to spend her days lightheartedly with a dash of elegance, but either way, the hustle never stops.
Shini talked to Chapter Friday about her journey so far, what’s next, the ever-evolving blogging industry, snacks and emoji’s (aka the important things in life).
If you were a bag, what style of bag would you be?
Shini: “I’d be a fanny-pack, always close to the butt.”
An average day in the life of Shini Park?
Shini: “The one thing I love about my job is how different every day is – I wake up with my husband at 7 am. He’s taken on a hobby of making breakfast for me (fingers crossed it lasts forever!) in bed so I definitely wake up and feel like a princess. I pow at emails and catch up on various news for an hour and after, it could be anything from a full-day of client shoot with my team, meeting-day, or being chained at the desk working on a web design project. I’ve been blessed with a lot of travels in my line of work so I may also be boarding a plane!”
Growing up, was there one job you knew you could see yourself in or did you dream of creating your own role for yourself?
Shini: “I don’t know if it was all the Lara Croft/war movies I enjoyed watching, but I always wanted to be a police officer – but now that I look back, I think just wanted to have a job that allowed to be a headstrong woman. Fast forward to now, I’m definitely my own boss, minus kicking down doors and fighting criminals! I suppose I can call my job an all-round ‘content creator’.”
Fast-forward to today, how would your describe your job and how has this role changed over the years?
Shini: “In the past this was perhaps what a marketing/ad agency might do, but now I believe we’re in a unique position to be able to direct, produce, photograph, design, model, as well as be an independent platform under one umbrella, which caused a considerate change in the creative landscape in the past few years.”
And what was the turning point in your career?
Shini: “The turning point of my career was when I decided to launch Cube Collective, which definitely helped draw the line between work and play, and where I got serious about producing content on a professional level. This meant I could concentrate on my ‘9-5’ and then dedicate the rest of my time to spend with my husband.”
Blogging has changed incredibly over the last ten years and it requires a great deal of adjustments if you want to maintain your position.
Shini: “It is absolutely true that there’s been a massive shift – I remember before the era of having to write a coherent blog post without the need to have a ‘hot’ body and an expensive wardrobe. Now it’s moved onto a hashtags, designer goods, and dream-scapes; and it’s NEVER been so much about numbers and statistics. For this reason, influencer marketing is sadly proving not to be a sustainable strategy for brands. Hopefully, sooner or later the bubble will burst, leaving only those genuinely passionate behind. Of course, in the real world, we all crave for the next Kardashian, the next Instagram, and that void will be filled with one thing or another. Video is a new massive hype that was unimaginable ten years ago.”
It feels as if everyone has a blog these days and there is a growing number of digital creators. How do you strive to make a difference in the big world of blogging?
Shini: “Everyone has an Instagram account these days, that is true. Blogging is apparently a dying platform, but I do think it’s foolish to let go of your permanent home and investing more time on platforms that you have no control over. As a team, we try to create content that will, firstly, be evergreen, but also be multifunctional and not only self-serving. We try to cater more to the client than ourselves so that they can use the content as much as we can. The only difference we can make in this ‘world of blogging’ is remaining passionate, constantly curious, and interested in what’s going on without losing our head to earning more or fame.”
Were there any sacrifices you had to make to focus on Park & Cube?
Shini: “One of the biggest sacrifices I made was perhaps my personal life, for a life online, although I am glad I started when I started because I think boundaries were still feared when I got married/went on honeymoon. However, if I was to do it all again today, I imagine I would have brought ‘work’ to my wedding or honeymoon by either finding a ‘sponsor’ for certain elements or simply over-sharing it with the world.”
Design and fashion link together in many ways. What do they each mean to you?
Shini: “Both are ways of expressing your beliefs, education, and creativity – the two industries might be ever so slightly different (i.e Fashion has slightly more visibility in the socioeconomic ladder). Design is for me all about improvement of life, both in form and function, and fashion an everyday voice of expression.”
Being a creator means coming up with new and innovative ideas everyday. How do you stay inspired?
Shini: “Thankfully I have a passionate team with whom I share a lot of the creative energy with, and I find most inspiration in the little moments I share with them, especially in humor. During slower periods I like to get out of London to bring the spark back, even if it’s just to the English seaside. Lately, I’ve also been trying to challenge myself to do something I’ve never done before, like rock-climbing or going to a live drawing class – it’s a wonderful way to exercise the way you think and perceive the world.”
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What’s the biggest career lesson you’ve learned so far on your journey?
Shini: “Not to sound cheesy, but honesty and hard work goes a long way, even if it doesn’t immediately show results (especially on social media!). It forms the basis of your career and eventually long term reputation. Ironically though, another major lesson I learned is the power of ‘pretentiousness’ – it’s what Hollywood is based on, but especially in the rockstar industry we’re in, a bit of pretentiousness (not necessarily by lying) does tend to award you with more interesting opportunities.”
What’s your go-to emoji in any situation?
Shini: “It’s the clown/black moon emoji – both encompass a good level of insanity, confusion and ‘meh’ all at the same time.”
And your favorite movie snack?
Shini: “My absolute favorite movie snack of all time is the combination of salty popcorn and Haribo gummy bears (one fistful of popcorn + two bears), it’s such an odd combination but makes any movie about 15% better.”
What’s next for you?
Shini: “I’m currently in the middle of a massive redesign/rebranding for Park & Cube, all under wraps for the time being, but I’m really hoping to change the way ‘influencers’ account for themselves and how we are perceived in the industry. Also, technically speaking, there’s a lot that can be done with storytelling on the web! So we’re currently working on more aspirational storytelling devices and modules. Other than that, I’m aching for a road-trip and looking forward to going to Scotland again.”