After having to remove all grains, dairy, starches, legumes and sugars from their diet due to an auto-immune diagnoses, the Leoniaks were left with bland cuisine that was anything but desirable, and with limited options to satisfy their flavor cravings. Having experience in the family kitchen, the pair got to work experimenting with different cooking blends that was complient with their unique dietary needs. When they noticed a white space in the market for this type of product, they knew they were on to something... Learn more about Oomph's story in PDX Pipeline, The Dyrt, and on their website.
Now let’s get cooking and dive into our questions with Christine and Michael to see what inspired the brand and how they are managing business during the pandemic.
How did your backgrounds and work experience inspire Oomph?
Both Michael and myself (Christine) have backgrounds in innovation and product design. Or combined passion for food and cooking, and health and wellness, along with a need for a simple, salt free cooking blend sparked the idea.
What were the early days of Oomph like?
We started out super part-time at farmers markets, making everything in our kitchen. Traction and positive feedback from friends and family inspired us to take the leap.
Who are your primary retailers?
We are available in select retailers locally and were scheduled for a number of event this past spring/summer, which ultimately got cancelled due to COVID. This has allowed us to experiment and put more focus on e-commerce.
Speaking of e-commerce, how did you build your website? It is super professional and easy to navigate.
Thank you! We used Shopify for startups to build our site. We are still pretty new to e-commerce, so are definitely still learning and building as we go.
Are you on Amazon?
We are not currently on Amazon, but see this as a huge opportunity with the surge in online grocery sales. Before entering this market we want to finalize our registered trademark.
What has been a key learning from consumers?
Early on we had upwards of 18 different varieties, which was a bit overwhelming. From feedback we scaled it back to the 8 blends we have now.
Congrats on being Whole30 approved! Tell us about how this came to be.
Thank you so much! We are very proud of this achievement as Whole30 aligns with our mission and values as a company. We are the first brand from Oregon to be approved!
What is the Portland maker scene like?
There is a great local network of entrepreneurs in many industries. We are a part of a mentor group and participate in the Oregon Scale Rater, which has helped over 300 founders in the past 25 years.
What have been some of the highlights from your past couple years?
A few highlights stand out.
- Our Whole30 approval. We definitely celebrated this as a team! A huge win.
- One-on-one interactions with customers. These experiences are so touching... when you see how your products affect and help people... there is nothing like it.
- Selling out of a product and when shoppers buy multiple products. It shows that people are a fan, which is so rewarding.
What advice do you have for other early-stage food and beverage entrepreneurs?
Fail faster! Make mistakes and learn from them. You’re not going to get it perfect right away… constantly test and improve.
With the changing consumer diet trends, what role have you noticed Oomph play?
We don’t target any one diet (keto, vegan, DASH, paleo, Whole30, etc.), but we are compliant with each. We position Oomph as a way of teaching and inspiring creativity in the kitchen. The versatility of the product is a huge selling point.
How has COVID-19 impacted you, personally?
We have been more thoughtful of how we are spending our time. We are a very small team yet, so thankfully it has not had a big impact on our production.
- Follow Oomph Cooking Blends on Instagram
- Purchase on their website