Not many people can claim to be business owners by the time they are 24. Yet, this is the case for Hwiwon An, otherwise known as Bella An, who came to the U.S. to study abroad. Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Bella is a student at Sookmyung Women’s University studying business. At Mississippi College, she is studying marketing. “I love my major,” Bella said. “I have a strong interest in the business field.” This makes it no surprise that she has already begun to build her own business.
Bella An owns and operates a business called Online Mall. On this website, she sells items such as phone cases, iPad covers, Airpods cases, mousepads, and lamps. The story of how the online business came to be is quite inspiring. Bella was initially supposed to attend Mississippi College in the fall of 2020, but unfortunately, those plans were changed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “During that year in Korea, I was a little confused about my life,” Bella said. “I had some time to think about my life and what I should do, so I just decided to explore and experience a lot of things.”
Her exploration led her to a YouTube video produced by another college student who started his own business. After watching the video, Bella had the desire to try it for herself. She created the website and formed her own business. While attending MC as a full-time student, Bella does not have much time to manage the website herself; therefore her sister, who is still in South Korea, has been helping her. In the future, Bella hopes to grow her business. After she graduates, she plans to expand her Online Mall and hopefully open a physical store.
Bella’s family has played a huge role in who she has become both as a businesswoman and as a follower of Christ. Not only have they encouraged her to pursue her passion for business and marketing, but also to continue to grow in her faith. “My grandfather is a pastor in South Korea and has definitely been my Christian mentor,” she explained. “My parents also have had a strong impact and influence on me and my faith.”
Though Bella is a Christian, that is not the main reason she chose to attend Mississippi College. When deciding where to go, Bella looked at a list of schools that were offered through her exchange program. She then read a report on MC from a student named Yunkyoung Lee, or Yun, who attended MC through an exchange program in 2019. Bella was impressed with the report. “It said that MC had many good students and that the people were nice,” she said. “If I were to go there, I would get to experience the real American culture, so that is why I chose here.” Bella and her fellow South Korean exchange student Minseo, who also chose MC because of Yun’s report, had the opportunity to meet with Yun in person and talk about the university. Bella explained that Yun played a major role in her choosing to come to MC.
Besides running her business, Bella also enjoys other activities. “I like riding my bike in Seoul along the Han River,” she said. “It is so beautiful.” Bella also spends her time dancing, cooking, and traveling. She has been to numerous places including Japan and Taiwan, but she says that she has always wanted to come to America, so she is thankful for the opportunity to be at MC.
Though Bella is only here at MC for the fall 2021 semester, she has already made an impact on many. By being involved in student organizations, she has met many people and made long lasting friendships. “Bella has been such a blessing to me during her time here at MC,” senior Bailey Wright said. “She is so much fun to be around and always makes me laugh. I am so thankful that we get to be friends during her short time here.”