In the bustling world of K-pop fandoms, small businesses are carving out unique niches, and one such enterprise is making waves on social media. ATEEZxAZ, a small business with a dedicated following of over 1,000 on Instagram, specializes in organizing cup sleeve events for K-pop groups during special occasions like birthdays or comebacks. Cup sleeve events are usually held in boba shops where K-pop fans meet and exchange commemorative cup sleeves.  The events have also grown into informal markets where fans buy and sell merchandise focused on K-pop.

The three friends Staar Osegueda, Andrew Zelenak, and Alaza Loring founded ATEEZxAZ. They shared a common passion for K-pop and a vision to create unique experiences for fellow fans. The business model revolves around crafting events beyond the traditional fan celebration, incorporating carefully curated elements that resonate with the specific K-pop group being honored.

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“ATEEZxAZ was created shortly after The Fellowship: Tour was announced in July 2022. It was strictly going to be for your updates but it turned into much more. ATINY (ATEEZ fandom name) based in Arizona began to follow and the following grew rapidly. One main reason for the creation of ATEEZxAZ was being that at the time there was no active fan group representing ATEEZ within the state of Arizona or at least that’s what I saw personally. Another reason was it was ATEEZ’s first time coming to Arizona so it sparked my interest in creating the group. Kpop groups rarely come to Arizona so I wanted to do something special for the boys of ATEEZ to show that they are loved everywhere,” Osegueda said. 

They then interviewed multiple people to work with them and eventually became a team of nine passionate individuals. ATEEZxAZ has become synonymous with creating immersive experiences for fans of specific K-pop groups. The business generates revenue by selling event-specific merchandise such as stickers, photocards, and albums that resonate with the group being celebrated.  

“I asked my cousin who is also an ATINY if they would like to help me run the account. So we both decided the more admins of the account the better to make things run smoothly. A month later, ATEEZxAZ had 6 active admins who all contributed ideas to further expand the fan group and one idea was a banner project. A banner project is a fan event to shows appreciation to the artist for their hard work and dedication but also to show the love that the fans have for them. Immediate work began to make the banner project happen and each admin was in charge a specific task that made the project much smoother. Being that these ideas came from fans, it brought more fans to further engage and be excited for what was to come from ATEEZxAZ. Very proud to say that ATEEZ was very surprised by the banner project at the concert and one of the members Yunho shared a post of the lyrics that were on the banners. It was a huge milestone for us as ATEEZxAZ because our goal was reached to create something special not only for ATEEZ but for ATINY as well. Since then, we continued to plan events for ATINY in Arizona and will continue for as long as we are able to,” says Osegueda, one of the founders. 

Osegueda continues, “Due to ATEEZxAZ being one of the many big fan groups for Kpop here in Arizona, we are able to share resources and information regarding all types of content that pertain to ATEEZ. The main one being merchandise. That’s a huge part of the Kpop industry and it allows fans to have something that’s considered a collectible. It allows their love to grow for the artist and to makes being a fan much more fun. Our ideas get inspired from the concepts that are put out from ATEEZ but also our own ideas as well. Fans are pulled in by visuals, creativity and overall uniqueness of pretty much everything within Kpop. When doing events we make sure to include all types of incentives to the attendees and that helps further bring in more fans to come to our events.”

As the K-pop industry continues to grow globally, small businesses like ATEEZxAZ play an instrumental role in connecting fans and fostering community.

Loring said, “I think just seeing not any active ateez priority groups and wanting to do something big for them when they’d be the same to the state was the main driving factor for the team and we all had a common goal and we’re super excited to see where it would take us!”

The core of ATEEZxAZ’s business model revolves around planning and executing cup sleeve events tailored to special occasions such as birthdays or comebacks of K-pop groups, especially the K-pop group ATEEZ. The events are designed to celebrate the music and fandom surrounding these groups, providing fans with a unique and memorable experience.

“I really didn’t see us continuing after the concert but i’m so glad we did this past year has been so fun and exciting being able to put on events for atiny and seeing how happy everyone is at the events,” says Takoda.

The business thrives on creativity and attention to detail, which is evident in the meticulously planned events. ATEEZxAZ’s success lies not only in the events but also in the carefully crafted merchandise. The team sells stickers, photocards, albums, and more, all intricately designed to resonate with the specific K-pop group being celebrated.

With a growing fan base and increasing demand for their services, ATEEZxAZ has successfully turned their passion into a revenue-generating venture. The business has tapped into the dedicated and passionate K-pop fan community, offering them a way to connect with their favorite groups on a deeper level.

Andrew Zelenak, the third co-founder, highlights the importance of the team’s dedication. “I think the passion for K-pop plays a huge role in our success. The fans of ATEEZ are very welcoming and really nice overall. They’re very passionate and want to see ATEEZ succeed as we all do here as well. We here at ATEEZxAZ are fans first before anything. We have the mindset of ATINY but have built a platform based around that. The support of the K-pop community on a personal level means so much to me because I’m also just a fan wanting my faves to succeed and be there along with them for the ride. As for a business perspective it’s really incredible to see how much time, effort and dedication it takes others who are in similar positions as we admins are. But the support on a business level is insane, we’ve grown so much thanks to the community and we will forever be grateful for that.”