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Toronto software developer launches sleek side business that keeps selling

A full-time software developer in Toronto has started her own side business which has completely sold out, especially since being featured at Vanity Fair London.

Plate Pillows started with something relatively simple and relevant: feeling homesick during lockdowns. Founder Eunsu Shim’s family lives far away — her parents in Korea and her sister in California — and during the 2021 lockdowns, she longed to share family meals with them all.

“Being homesick and missing my family, I started investing time looking for ways to make my home more inviting with a more comfortable vibe,” Shim told blogTO. “I wanted to make my home a sanctuary, a safe place.”

However, she struggled with a problem that many of us face in Toronto: her apartment was too small to redecorate with new furniture. She realized that small touches should accomplish the big task of improving her small space.

“I wanted functional interior design that would enhance my living space, but I couldn’t find it,” says Shim.

And so, Plate Pillows was born. Shim says modestly that she actually had no expectations for the project, only introducing it to her inner circle and promoting it only via Instagram.

“I remember being amazed how our first posts got 1,000 to 5,000 likes organically,” Shim says. “It was absolutely surreal and soon after we launched, we sold out.”

Plate Pillows is kind of what it sounds like: it’s a line of plates, bowls, coasters, and glasses that look like soft pillows for your food, and they also sell mirrors and candles.

Plates with scalloped edges are around $19, ruffled “oyster bowls” are $35, and beautifully shapeless glasses are $30.

Shim also emphasizes multifunctionality with the Plate Pillows pieces, again centering around enhancing smaller spaces. One of their most popular and currently out of stock products, Saint Cloud, can be used as a coaster, jewelry plate, perfume display and candle holder.

“On a typical day, I get up around 6:00 or 7:00 a.m. to review and pack new orders,” says Shim.

“Then I go to my office job, often using my lunch break to drop off orders for Plate Pillows. At the end of the workday, I switch completely to Plate Pillows to work on launching and marketing the next product. .”

She says she owes her success in part to her strong support system of friends and family, and that every step she’s taken (like her cover in a Vanity Fair London roundup) has helped her to motivate oneself.

Currently, you can buy Plate Pillows online or at pop-ups in Toronto, but Shim hopes to expand further in the future.

“It’s been one of my most distant dreams to open a cafe in Toronto featuring my products,” says Shim.

“Currently, I invest all my money in Plate Pillows, but maybe if I reach a state where I can open a storefront, then I would like to quit my job. I hope that day comes soon.”

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