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Unapologetically Asian: A Conversation With Omsom Co-Founder, Kim Pham

We spoke with Omsom co-founder Kim Pham about the success of the brand and what impact she hopes to have on the future of “ethnic” food in America.

Unapologetically Asian: A Conversation With Omsom Co-Founder, Kim Pham

Omsom is unapologetic, real-deal Asian, and founders Kim and Vanessa Pham want you to know it! The conventional supermarket has routinely marginalized and "othered" cuisines of diverse cultures, labeling the food as "ethnic." But the sister/founder duo behind this bold upstart are on a mission to change this misrepresentation through celebrating the flavors and stories of Asian cuisine, and building community, too.

We spoke with Omsom co-founder Kim Pham about the success of the brand and what impact she hopes to have on the future of "ethnic" food in America.

Omsom is unique in that its celebration of Asian culture is very loud, and the entire brand is built around this. How do you recommend other POC entrepreneurs approach the issue of culture discrepancy when their brand isn't built around it?

Only do what feels authentic to you. All you can do is tell your story in the way that feels realest to you. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to storytelling around cuisines or communities of color. For Vanessa and I, we channeled the loud, rowdy kids within us who so wanted to feel “seen” when, for most of our lives, we felt “othered” and invisible. There is no playbook - I strongly push folks to examine what makes their perspective unique + showcase that!

All you can do is tell your story in the way that feels realest to you.

How has consumer reception been? Are people ready and willing to learn/change? Why now?

We launched just over a year ago and the reception has been truly amazing. We sold out 7 times, shipped to all 50 states in 2 months, launched two lines: Southeast Asian + East Asian, and had dream collabs with Disney and Ajinomoto.

What we’ve learned is that consumers are ready for an unapologetic Asian food brand - one who centers not on the obvious “mainstream,” but in this often overlooked + underestimated Asian American audience. We’ve worked hard to showcase the multitudes within our flavors + stories, and consumers are excited to bring that into their own homes -- whether to access flavors of home or to finally cook dishes they’ve only ever had out at restaurants. By coupling our convenient + easy-to-use products with deeply authentic storytelling, we’ve seen that consumers are more than ready to meet us there.

Do you think part of Omsom's success is that it simplifies the learning process and makes introducing this cuisine more approachable?

We definitely think the simplicity of our product has been an advantage and a key to our success. In many places around the country it’s difficult to source these Asian ingredients like lemongrass or yuzu - so we do the work for you and combine all the specialty sauces, spices, and aromatics into one easy to use pouch. The ease of this format makes Asian dishes and flavors accessible to more people.

What do you see as the future of "ethnic" foods in America?

Ooof, this is a doozy! I’m most excited for the multitudes - that BIPOC entrepreneurs throughout the nation are stepping into their powers + reclaiming their voices to celebrate all that exists within our cuisines. From consumers to founders, we’re rejecting reductive, flattening depictions of our food. Expect to see more specific products -- i.e. more regional condiments -- restaurants and media have done a great job on educating consumers about regional cuisines, so it’s about time that CPG brands catch up.

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Omsom is unapologetic, real-deal Asian, and founders Kim and Vanessa Pham want you to know it! The conventional supermarket has routinely marginalized and "othered" cuisines of diverse cultures, labeling the food as "ethnic." But the sister/founder duo behind this bold upstart are on a mission to change this misrepresentation through celebrating the flavors and stories of Asian cuisine, and building community, too.

We spoke with Omsom co-founder Kim Pham about the success of the brand and what impact she hopes to have on the future of "ethnic" food in America.

Omsom is unique in that its celebration of Asian culture is very loud, and the entire brand is built around this. How do you recommend other POC entrepreneurs approach the issue of culture discrepancy when their brand isn't built around it?

Only do what feels authentic to you. All you can do is tell your story in the way that feels realest to you. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to storytelling around cuisines or communities of color. For Vanessa and I, we channeled the loud, rowdy kids within us who so wanted to feel “seen” when, for most of our lives, we felt “othered” and invisible. There is no playbook - I strongly push folks to examine what makes their perspective unique + showcase that!

All you can do is tell your story in the way that feels realest to you.

How has consumer reception been? Are people ready and willing to learn/change? Why now?

We launched just over a year ago and the reception has been truly amazing. We sold out 7 times, shipped to all 50 states in 2 months, launched two lines: Southeast Asian + East Asian, and had dream collabs with Disney and Ajinomoto.

What we’ve learned is that consumers are ready for an unapologetic Asian food brand - one who centers not on the obvious “mainstream,” but in this often overlooked + underestimated Asian American audience. We’ve worked hard to showcase the multitudes within our flavors + stories, and consumers are excited to bring that into their own homes -- whether to access flavors of home or to finally cook dishes they’ve only ever had out at restaurants. By coupling our convenient + easy-to-use products with deeply authentic storytelling, we’ve seen that consumers are more than ready to meet us there.

Do you think part of Omsom's success is that it simplifies the learning process and makes introducing this cuisine more approachable?

We definitely think the simplicity of our product has been an advantage and a key to our success. In many places around the country it’s difficult to source these Asian ingredients like lemongrass or yuzu - so we do the work for you and combine all the specialty sauces, spices, and aromatics into one easy to use pouch. The ease of this format makes Asian dishes and flavors accessible to more people.

What do you see as the future of "ethnic" foods in America?

Ooof, this is a doozy! I’m most excited for the multitudes - that BIPOC entrepreneurs throughout the nation are stepping into their powers + reclaiming their voices to celebrate all that exists within our cuisines. From consumers to founders, we’re rejecting reductive, flattening depictions of our food. Expect to see more specific products -- i.e. more regional condiments -- restaurants and media have done a great job on educating consumers about regional cuisines, so it’s about time that CPG brands catch up.

Be the first to know all the hottest trends in Food & Beverage when you sign up for our weekly newsletter!

Omsom is unapologetic, real-deal Asian, and founders Kim and Vanessa Pham want you to know it! The conventional supermarket has routinely marginalized and "othered" cuisines of diverse cultures, labeling the food as "ethnic." But the sister/founder duo behind this bold upstart are on a mission to change this misrepresentation through celebrating the flavors and stories of Asian cuisine, and building community, too.

We spoke with Omsom co-founder Kim Pham about the success of the brand and what impact she hopes to have on the future of "ethnic" food in America.

Omsom is unique in that its celebration of Asian culture is very loud, and the entire brand is built around this. How do you recommend other POC entrepreneurs approach the issue of culture discrepancy when their brand isn't built around it?

Only do what feels authentic to you. All you can do is tell your story in the way that feels realest to you. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to storytelling around cuisines or communities of color. For Vanessa and I, we channeled the loud, rowdy kids within us who so wanted to feel “seen” when, for most of our lives, we felt “othered” and invisible. There is no playbook - I strongly push folks to examine what makes their perspective unique + showcase that!

All you can do is tell your story in the way that feels realest to you.

How has consumer reception been? Are people ready and willing to learn/change? Why now?

We launched just over a year ago and the reception has been truly amazing. We sold out 7 times, shipped to all 50 states in 2 months, launched two lines: Southeast Asian + East Asian, and had dream collabs with Disney and Ajinomoto.

What we’ve learned is that consumers are ready for an unapologetic Asian food brand - one who centers not on the obvious “mainstream,” but in this often overlooked + underestimated Asian American audience. We’ve worked hard to showcase the multitudes within our flavors + stories, and consumers are excited to bring that into their own homes -- whether to access flavors of home or to finally cook dishes they’ve only ever had out at restaurants. By coupling our convenient + easy-to-use products with deeply authentic storytelling, we’ve seen that consumers are more than ready to meet us there.

Do you think part of Omsom's success is that it simplifies the learning process and makes introducing this cuisine more approachable?

We definitely think the simplicity of our product has been an advantage and a key to our success. In many places around the country it’s difficult to source these Asian ingredients like lemongrass or yuzu - so we do the work for you and combine all the specialty sauces, spices, and aromatics into one easy to use pouch. The ease of this format makes Asian dishes and flavors accessible to more people.

What do you see as the future of "ethnic" foods in America?

Ooof, this is a doozy! I’m most excited for the multitudes - that BIPOC entrepreneurs throughout the nation are stepping into their powers + reclaiming their voices to celebrate all that exists within our cuisines. From consumers to founders, we’re rejecting reductive, flattening depictions of our food. Expect to see more specific products -- i.e. more regional condiments -- restaurants and media have done a great job on educating consumers about regional cuisines, so it’s about time that CPG brands catch up.

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