My name is Jae young Noh. My life and store, Noah Beauty, was destroyed in one day.
I came to the United States pursuing the American Dream as an international student at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1997. I was in my fourth year of university when the IMF broke out in Korea, and my father passed away from shock. Under economic pressure, I gave up my studies and began work as a manager at a beauty supply retailer in South Chicago for seven years. I worked very hard, got married, and had two sons. This area of South Chicago became my beloved home.
In 2007, I was able to borrow just enough money through owner financing to buy a small store in a run-down area of the city and patch it up. Thinking about the resilience of the people and businesses crumbling in this era, I named the store Noah Beauty after Noah from the Bible. Within the opening year, the store was plundered by an employee. At this time, I could not afford insurance and incurred more debt from this loss.
However, we faithfully worked hard every day for 13 years to overcome challenges and finally paid off some of the debt. When the pandemic came, we followed government orders and only opened for curbside pickup. We were looking forward to fully opening our store in June. On May 30, we stayed very late reorganizing the store for its beautiful reopening.
At 12:30 PM on May 31, the alarm company called us. Immediately, my family watched the CCTV footage of our store from a phone. In shock, we witnessed the store windows shatter as a mob of people flooded into the store. The huge mob smashed, looted, and destroyed Noah Beauty. In the mob, there were people I had never seen before and, shockingly, customers that I recognized. Horrified, I jumped into my car and desperately tried to reach my store. The traffic was at a standstill, and I could not move. I watched as people took everything from my store and the neighboring stores. Even the police, who were unable to help because of the huge volume of the mob, watched helplessly. Devastated, I sat in my car staring at the camera's footage and cried. No one could help.
The 13 years of my hard work, sweat, and blood was destroyed.
My only way to financially support my family was destroyed. The destruction of the storefront and products resulted in a suffocating loss exceeding $300,000. I only had liability insurance because that is all I could afford. The most difficult, painful part of this is dealing with the trauma of witnessing the store that I loved and the life that I worked for destroyed in one day. I lay in bed with the unbearable weight of watching everything be taken away.
I hope that Noah Beauty is able to grow again. The loss of my store is not the loss of the American Dream. I am trying to rebuild my store once more with the emotional support of my wife and our children who are in elementary and high school, my church members, and the fellow business owners whose businesses were also destroyed. I am thankful for everyone who has been supportive.
Together, we can rebuild this community, too. South Chicago is my home, and because I am part of this community, I will not abandon it. Together, we can support the protestors who are looking for equality. I want to help people, who like me, face emotional and financial difficulties. I will become that person. With your help, we can make rebuilding our store and the community a reality.
We are starting to repair and rebuild our store with some help!
About Mr. Noh's team:
My name is Hye-Jeong Kang, and I am a family friend of Mr. Noh. I live near Chicago where I met Mr. Noh's kind and gentle family. My daughter, Heidi, and I helped translate Mr. Noh's story into English from Korean. We want to do everything we can to help Mr. Noh reopen Noah's Beauty! We are a team, and we are helping spread awareness about his store's destruction and the hurt that his family must endure daily.
All money raised benefits Mr. Noh's business, Noah Beauty to repair their store (windows, walls, everything is broken and damaged), hundreds of thousands of dollars of missing and ruined product and damage to the store, and the debt from this event that they are struggling with.
- Don Joe
- Ezer Lee
- Paul Yi
Organizer and beneficiary
Jae Young Noh