If there was any doubt that the future of retail will be digital, personalized and led by companies with bold new visions, the pandemic has dispelled that doubt. Exhibit A: Omsom, founded in March 2020 by Kim and Vanessa Pham with the goal of transforming the way Americans experience Asian cuisine. Omsom‘The direct-to-consumer model succeeded thanks to the sisters‘ exceptional ingenuity and media acumen, evidenced by high profile collaborations with Pepper Teigen and Instapot.
Omsom‘The rapid rise caught the attention of Klarna, the global payment and shopping service, which (in conjunction with FastCo Works) recognized the company with its inaugurationI Fluid Motion Award in the Little Star Celebrating category “the small businesses that power the future of retail. In the following conversation, co-founder Kim Pham talks about Omsom‘s rise to success.
Why did you and your sister create Omsom?
Vanessa and I are Vietnamese Americans and refugee daughters. We grew up in a 98% white town just south of Boston. Growing up, we internalized a lot of shame around our identity, and that was embodied in the “ethnic aisle” in consumer grocery stores. It was so old school, watered down and compromised. When we launched Omsom, Vanessa and I were inspired to reinvent this category and do it the right way, truly reclaiming the complexity of Asian flavors and trying to build a brand that tells Asian stories with cultural integrity.
How is Omsom‘distinctive vision of driving a new type of product?
I think there are two fundamental differences between our products and those you typically see in the “ethnic alley. The first is the boot package format. Our starter packets are about the size of an M&M bag and contain all the spices, seasonings and oils you need to cook a specific Asian dish. You provide protein and vegetables, and you‘You have everything you need to cook an Asian dish in less than 30 minutes.
Second, the cultural integrity with which we make our products. We partner with iconic Asian chefs across the country to create authentic recipes, and source over 90% of our ingredients directly from Asia.
How has Omsom had to be flexible in its messaging to thrive during a global pandemic?
Like many other small businesses, we‘We’ve struggled with everything from supply chain issues to labor shortages during the pandemic. We also ran into challenges with our initial marketing strategy, because a lot of what we planned to do was in person – breaking bread with influencers, with our community. But we quickly pivoted. For example, I ended up doing all the photo and video shoots in my apartment. I‘I’m not a photographer or videographer, so I learned how to do this from YouTube videos. When you‘As the founder of a startup, you sort of learn to be a Swiss army knife.
I also think the pandemic has forced us to have intense clarity about who we are and what we stand for. And I think authenticity comes through in our content.
You‘is just getting started as a business. How do you see Omsom growing over the next two years and beyond?
Our ambition is to be a household name. Right now, we sell largely through our website, and direct-to-consumer selling makes perfect sense during this pandemic, when people are doing a lot of their shopping online. But over 70% of meal decisions are still made in-store, so we‘let’s think about how we can integrate Omsom into physical grocery stores this year. We‘We are also looking to expand beyond our starter packs, perhaps into snacks or ready meals. Whatever our consumers desire, we want to make sure we meet them where they are.
To learn learn more about the Klarna/FastCo Works Smoooth Move Awards and this year‘the winners, Click here.