For Minji Shin, immigrating to a foreign country from her hometown of Daejun, South Korea was quite a challenge. Moving from Brazil to Argentina to Kentucky to Georgia to North Carolina came with language and cultural barriers. Many immigrants can relate to the hardships of leaving everything behind and starting a new life in a seemingly unknown place.
Minji Shin is a woman that I highly respect and look up to. From her unexpected move across the world to currently making millions from her East Carolina empire and becoming the mother of my two amazing cousins. I believe Minji Shin’s empowering story should be shared with the Her Campus community.
Minji Shin and her husband, Jay Shin, created a restaurant empire by introducing Asian fusion cuisine in fine dining to a fast food supply chain in a part of North Carolina that did not offer this. These include Jay’s 108, Jay’s Sushi and Burger Bar, Jay’s Kitchen and their chain of Ninjas.
Her Campus (HC): What was it like moving to the United States, a completely foreign country?
Minji Shin (MS): It was hard at first, not knowing any English, not eating the same things as the other kids, dressing differently and looking different overall. I remember when many kids made fun of me for what I brought to lunch and thought it was ‘disgusting.’ Even though I had many of those barriers and hardships, having the support of my siblings was what made the transition so much easier. Life also got easier when we moved to Atlanta, where I met other Korean immigrants who had the same problems. Atlanta is also where I met my husband and business partner.
HC: How did you and your husband start in a town with absolutely nothing, and how were you able to befriend congress members and the CEO of Pepsi?
MS: Well, befriending major and top business people is something I credit to my husband. I felt like I was more responsible for all the numbers and the inner side of our business. We moved from a big city like Atlanta to such an unknown city in North Carolina that I was skeptical if anything would happen. Goldsboro is such a small town that I can get anywhere within five minutes! The only restaurants in Goldsboro were major franchises and southern dining that served hush puppies on the spot. Introducing foods like sushi and burgers with tomato confit was unheard of in a city like Goldsboro. However, with my husband’s connections and our mindsets, we were able to start with small hibachi restaurants and eventually worked our way up to restaurants that serve an average of 600 people on the weekends!
HC: How are you able to manage your business, real estate development and now two kids?
MS: I know it’s a lot to manage our eight restaurants, renovate and sell homes and take care of my two kids. I wouldn’t be able to do all of these things if it wasn’t for the support and help from my family, especially from my sister. My family has helped me every step of the way. They helped me from when I first came to America, and they help now in my current situation. Without my family, I would not be able to live in such comfort with all the chaos around me. So family to me is the number one priority!
HC: Is there any advice you would like to give to anyone who would love to start their own business soon?
MS: I think what separates people from succeeding and failing is the mindset they choose to have. If you have a goal that you would like to accomplish, keep trying no matter how hard. Once you go over that steep hill, you will be able to go down so smoothly. Also, do not be afraid to ask for help. Without asking for help from my family, I do not know where I would have been.