Hallyu, or the Korean wave, is increasingly becoming a major part of Indian pop culture. Though it existed since the 1990s, Hallyu has become explosively popular in the last few years.
In a world of increased internet consumption, it is easier for South Korean media and music to win over more Indian hearts.
Though the Korean wave in India is often credited to youngsters (mostly teenagers), its fanbase is actually much wider. From smaller children to the elderly, the Hallyu demographic is large, and for good reason.
The two most popular offerings of Korean culture in India is K-pop music and K-dramas. South Korean films are also popular across the world, with recent titles such as ‘Parasite’ winning Oscars.
Owing to this Korean wave, there is a huge demand for merchandise for Korean pop culture moguls. Indian fans want to own their mementos of immensely popular bands like BTS, Blackpink, or EXO, but the supply side had been lacking until very recently.
New brands offering pop culture merchandise have seen enormous growth in the country. Blackstop is a prime example of this. Besides K-pop, it also offers merchandise from popular American pop artists, and Netflix shows. Let’s find out more about them.
Get To Know The Founder
Blackstop was founded by Ignatius Donford. He had work experience from a very young age. At 15, while in middle school, he worked part-time as a customer service executive. At 17, he went on to work as a salesman at a reputable company in Chennai. He would usually work during his school holidays.
He had to go to Bangalore for further education, and while there, he worked as a delivery boy before becoming a full-time Customer Support professional.
The terrible thing was that, with the exception of the delivery job, he was not compensated for these jobs. He wanted to be in charge of his life and profession. This had a significant impact on his life, and he began to pursue his ambition of being a businessman.
Seeing his family struggle financially, Ignatius was passionate about owning his own business as soon as possible.
Humble Beginnings To A “Classy” Brand
Growing up, he always dreamt of owning his own business. At the young age of 19, he took the chance and founded Blackstop with a mere 600 rupees. In the beginning, he had to run his startup all by himself. Ignatius handled customer service, product and website design, marketing, shipping, and backend admin.
Ignatius would employ Affiliates to market his business at first, and Blackstop’s monthly revenue was only about Rs 15K to Rs 20K. Shortly, it began advertising on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram.
Having to run your own company as a 19-year-old student is hectic. Eventually, Ignatius hired a virtual crew to help him. Ignatius’ family helps out a lot in the business operations too. As of today, Blackstop’s overall revenue has crossed 1 crore rupees.
Why Focus On Hallyu?
K-pop was becoming popular in India in 2018-2019. But back then, you couldn’t find any online stores that would provide K-pop merchandise conveniently and affordably to Indians.
The ones available weren’t as appealing and often had poor customer service. Therefore, Ignatius decided to give this underutilized segment a shot.
As a result, Blackstop was born. It introduced a variety of unique K-pop products and received good feedback from satisfied customers. According to Ignatius, Blackstop’s customers love its service and goods because the company strives to maintain courteous customer service and great quality.
Blackstop could see numerous rivals with the same products and business model since this was a burgeoning sector. This is the greatest obstacle the startup faces. Blackstop made the decision to import a lot more one-of-a-kind items from Korea and China which are not available to Indians otherwise.
Products For The Pop-culture Savvy
Blackstop offers clothing like t-shirts, hoodies, mobile covers, and other merch for various K-pop bands and artists including BTS, EXO, BT21, Red Velvet, Blackpink, and many more. It also has merchandise for American artists such as Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, and Ed Sheeran, among others.
It also has a “Netflix Collection” which includes merchandise for popular shows such as F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Squid Game, Money Heist, etc.
Currently, Blackstop products are only available on its website.
Growth And Future Plans
The founder has not commented on Blackstop’s future plans, nor has he revealed its growth report or strategy. Ignatius says these things are being kept confidential because the information can negatively affect the company’s future if made public.
The only principle Blackstop believes in is to treat failures as successes, and aspires to reach new heights. Ignatius’ never-give-up attitude and passion will make sure he achieves his goals.