Maum: Arnold Byun & Kioh Park

On building a company centered on community


Maum Founders: Arnold Byun @arnoldbyun & Kioh Park @kiohpark

Photos: Henry Wu @hello.henry & Courtesy of Maum

Maum in Korean translates to “heart and mind.” Co-founders Arnold Byun and Kioh Park were drawn to this word because of the warmth it gave off, and they wanted their monthly markets to feel like they came from the heart. In January 2022, they held the first MAUM Market and opened MAUM General Store shortly after.

What started as a Korean makers market, intended to support their friends and family, has extended to showcase the talents of all Asian artists, creatives, and small business owners. It has become a place where you can find unique creations, gather with like-minded people, and feel a sense of belonging.

Building such a community doesn’t happen overnight—it takes a strong vision and a lot of intentional planning. So how did it all begin?

Los Angeles, known as the “City of Angels”, is often celebrated for its diverse and multicultural population attracting people of all walks of life. Byun, however, experienced a different side of LA. After living in New York for 10 years, Byun relocated to LA and felt a sense of exclusivity, where cliques formed around people native to LA or attended school there. It was difficult to break into communities without having many ties.

One year into his move, Byun went to meet a friend at Hwasoban, a ceramic store in Koreatown, when a guy drinking tea using a Gaiwan tea set caught his attention. He later learned that it was Kioh Park, the founder of Kioh Tea, and one of the only tea masters that Byun had known of in LA. Byun and Park became friends after realizing they had similar outlooks on life and in terms of business partnerships.

“We both agree that if there's a partnership between two people, we should do what we do best and not interfere,” Byun says. “I think a good partnership is one when two people are running parallel to each other and not perpendicular.”

Byun and Park shared a vision to build a company where other Asian Americans would want to and be proud to work. Both being people oriented and wanting to support the community, Park brought up the idea to create a market. The name would come from Byun’s Notes app where he documented brand name ideas for years.

Maum was in my notes app for years. When [Park] brought up the market idea, I [thought] this would be a great name for this marketplace because maum means ‘heart and mind’ in Korean and we wanted to work with like-minded people and do things from the heart,” Byun said.

In the beginning, the market was invite-only for their Korean friends and family. However, after the second market, they realized many non-Korean Asian Americans were interested in joining in. So in May 2022, they welcomed all Asian communities to participate in the MAUM Market.

Unlike many founders of markets, Byun and Park make sure to attend every market. The balance in their skill sets also help with the market’s success. “Because Arnold's more part of the operation during the market and I used to be a vendor, we get feedback from each other after the markets,” Park mentions.

What makes MAUM Market so special is that it’s become a safe space for Asian artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs where they can express themselves through their creations without feeling judged. Byun states, “There's always going to be that baseline of respect for how they got to where they are. We're all just trying to help one another.” Some makers even say it feels like seeing family every month.

“At the end of the day, I think we are growing fast because we open ourselves to the community,” says Park.

For MAUM, the monthly market is just the start. “The long-term goal is that we want to have staying power. We want to be around where we can continue to make our own decisions and support all these emerging talents that's coming up and continue what we're doing,” says Byun.

Creating a community has always been the center of Byun and Park’s vision for MAUM. As transplants who struggled to find communities themselves when they first arrived in LA, they’ve created their own where others can find support, friendship, and a sense of belonging.

MAUM Market is available one Saturday of every month at ROW DTLA in Downtown LA.