Jinah Kim-Perek, principal and executive producer of WorldWise Productions, LLC, knows how to tell a compelling story—no matter the lens.
This NAWBO member knew early on that she wanted to pursue journalism, working for her high school newspaper and then the Daily Bruin while in college at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). On a print journalism path in the spring of her sophomore year, Jinah applied for an internship at the Modesto Bee and Sacramento Bee. “These were small newspapers that I thought I was more than capable of interning at, and I was rejected,” she recalls. “I was without an internship heading into summer.”
At the time, Jinah was working at UCLA’s Expo Center delivering birthday flowers and candy and knew they could help place her in an internship. She ended up at CBS News in New York and loved it. “This was in the early ‘90s when Connie Chung was the co-anchor with Dan Rather, so being an Asian American woman, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I was very inspired by her and the newsroom,” Jinah shares.
With a new passion for broadcast journalism, Jinah switched her career focus. In the fall of her junior year, she got an internship at KTLA in Los Angeles and enjoyed it so much that at the end, she walked into the news director’s office and thanked him for the opportunity. “My polite Asian upbringing mixed with gumption made me completely unafraid to approach the highest guy in the newsroom,” she laughs. He told Jinah to have a seat, left the room and then came back with a job offer.
Jinah had been working several jobs to support herself through college and quit them all to focus on her new role at KTLA. It soon turned into a Friday through Sunday gig, where she worked as a desk assistant through her junior and senior years of college. Near the end of her senior year, the news director offered her a full-time position as the Monday through Friday assignment desk assistant. “I took a week off after graduation and then went to work for KTLA,” she says.
Nine months in, however, Jinah started to see herself in front of the camera. She began writing for KTLA’s weekend news at 10 and spent time with reporters in the field making her resume reel. She then used it to get producer/editor/anchor roles in Monterey, Salinas and then San Diego, California. But when her father died, Jinah pushed to get out of her contract in San Diego and to Los Angeles to be close to her mother.
Back in Los Angeles, Jinah was serving as a reporter when the downturn of 2006-’07 hit. “Every day someone new was laid off and it was scary,” she remembers. “I told my brother, who was working at Fox at the time, that we should come up with a plan B.” She and her brother had complementary skillsets (he could shoot and edit), so she suggested they start a corporate and commercial video production company. They had no business plan, but are children of a grocery store owner so had some entrepreneurial spirit and fearlessness.
Two weeks after launching in 2008, Jinah learned an important business lesson: that relationships are everything. She received a call from UCLA Health’s media relations manager who she knew from her years as a local reporter. The woman had recommended WorldWise for training videos, which Jinah had never done, but believed she could. “We made $50,000 that first year doing three training videos and this person has since brought me everywhere she’s gone,” says Jinah, whose business doubled the next year, and again the next.
By the end of their third year of working together, Jinah and her brother were butting heads about the direction of the company and decided to part ways to maintain their close relationship. Jinah bought her brother out of the business and he returned to his day job. At first, Jinah says she was scared because she didn’t know how to shoot or edit, but she took classes and then at the recommendation of her brother, met with someone he had met at a party. “I was so desperate that I met and tried him for 6 months,” she shares. “Everything he turned in was amazing, so I scooped him up as my first full-time hire. He was completely dedicated to churning out videos so our revenue doubled.”
The next year had its milestones, too—Jinah had a son and hired her second full-time employee. Fast forward to today, and she has five full-time and six part-time employees and has hit the $1 million mark in revenue producing videos in the academia and health system space. “I’ve never regretted any of my hires—they allow us to take on the work,” she shares. “This business is very seasonal so there are a lot of 1099ers. If you’ve been in business at least a few years and see the business coming in, it’s time to hire another employee, if not two.”
When the pandemic hit and shutdowns began last March, Jinah experienced what many entrepreneurs did—her business was put on hold. It was a scary time, but she was able to get Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding and state, city and county grants to hold onto her employees. Then, just as her resources were running out in June, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center called and ordered virtual recruitment videos for their fall fellowships and residencies since no one would be able to tour the campus in-person.
“They saved us and had us working for the next three months solid,” Jinah says. In fact, in 2020 WorldWise had its best year yet—with a 50 percent loss the first half of the year and a 200 percent gain in the second half.
It’s also the year she discovered NAWBO. She received an email about California public companies needing a certain percentage of women and minority board members and was intrigued. “It seemed like the perfect career move for me in the future,” she says. “I am now in this space where my business is not so needy and I can look for my next thing. I wanted to see what NAWBO was all about so became a member last winter.” Jinah is now part of a Wells Fargo accelerated growth program for women of color as well as a NAWBO California cohort on board service.
She is also exploring independent board member positions for major companies. “I think a lot of the qualities of my life story would be very valuable for a company to have as a fresh perspective,” Jinah says, “but also because we desperately need women’s voices and colored women’s voices in large corporate spaces.”
Indeed, Jinah’s ready to tell her next compelling story—whatever the lens!
A Beach Day Leads to a Second Business
After a day at the beach when Jinah’s son was 2, he was wet, sandy and still in a diaper and Jinah had to put him in his car seat for the drive home. She tried placing a towel under him, but the seat’s five-point harness wouldn’t allow it. “I looked online for a solution and bought a couple but they were horrible,” she says. So this entrepreneur decided to create her own.
Jinah purchased towels and approached a local quilting club for a seamstress to sew together a car seat cover with a waterproof bottom and pockets. She even spent evenings at Babies R Us measuring every possible car seat dimension. When the result wasn’t exactly as she imagined, she tapped into her Korean connections in the textile industry. One of her contacts makes clothes for large companies and has four kids of his own. “He took me under his wings and made an amazing prototype,” she says.
In May 2018, Jinah launched the Niko car seat cover (named after her son), which is now sold through her website and on Amazon. Last year, the new venture brought in $125,000 in revenue and this year is on track to double it. She now has a utility patent and the product is available in seven styles.