Oct 26, 2021
Omsom is one of the most publicized and respected food startups in recent memory, and for good reason.
Launched in May 2020 by sisters and first-generation Vietnamese-Americans Vanessa and Kim Pham, Omsom markets chef-crafted starter kits that the company describes as “pantry shortcuts for specific Asian dishes” that include sauces, aromatics and seasonings all in a single package. A consumer combines the starter with protein and/or vegetables to create a finished dish.
Since its debut, Omsom has captured the attention of consumer and trade media with its dazzling labels (the brand picked up a Best Package Design award from NOSH last year) and innovative approach to at-home meal prep. The company’s most notable aspect, however, is the story of its founders and their vision to break long-standing barriers in how ethnic food is perceived and sold.
In an interview featured in this episode, Vanessa Pham joined us for an expansive conversation about Omsom’s mission and business philosophy, why she and Kim set out to build a brand for all consumers and the reason they don’t use the word “authentic” when describing Omsom or its products. Vanessa also spoke about the company’s retail and merchandising strategy, how the team is attempting to align buyers with their vision for the future of grocery, their PR strategy and why it has been effective in attracting national media attention and why she is bullish about greater financial investment in BIPOC-owned brands.
This episode also includes a short interview with Caroline Cotto, the co-founder and COO of Renewal Mill, a brand of baking ingredients, mixes and sweet snacks made from upcycled byproducts of food production. Cotto joined us for a conversation about the Renewal Mill’s origins and vision, multi-pronged approach to product development, its alignment with brands of a similar focus and how the company is positioning itself to be the go-to supplier for upcycled food ingredients.
0:52: Interview: Vanessa Pham, Co-Founder & CEO, Omsom -- Following a brief chat about her recent croissant-laden respite, Pham spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif about the inspiration for and meaning behind Omsom, her parents’ influence on the brand’s creation and the role her experience working at Bain & Co. played in the company’s emergence. Pham also explained why she and her sister/co-founder Kim chose starter kits as the brand’s inaugural product line and why observers may be mistaken into thinking the company has a niche focus, the extensive research that went into Omsom’s development and why the company uses the term “cultural integrity” instead of “authentic.” Later, she discussed the target consumer for Omsom, the ideal retail placement for its products, the company’s approach to bridging the gap between online and brick-and-mortar retail, how the PR strategy and resulting media coverage inherently tie into Omsom’s vision and her recommendations on how financial organizations can increase funding for women and minority-led businesses.
47:24: Interview: Caroline Cotto, Co-Founder & COO, Renewal Mill -- In an interview recorded at Natural Products Expo East 2021, Latif sat down with Cotto to talk about Renewal Mill’s product portfolio, retail footprint and how the company’s marketing and communication strategy has evolved since its launch. She also discussed the brand’s innovation pipeline, which leans on “familiar vehicles to introduce novel ingredients,” as well as its approach to co-branding partnerships and the company’s pricing strategy. Later, Cotto explained Renewal Mill’s thoughtful growth strategy and why she expects its ingredient business to be the primary focus in the future and her background prior to founding the company.