When starting a for profit business, the question always comes up: what will I do with the profits? It seemed sensible that if I am blessed with any profits to be prudent. I would keep the majority for of it for myself, give some to church & family, and save some for retirement.
My mentor, pastor, and lead cheerleader in the creation of K-Mama Sauce, Rev. Kim, helped me see a different way than the traditional business plan. Tying in my desire to give back to the community, to help all those that I can, he suggested creating a business that has at its core a social good. With this in mind, K-Mama became a link to giving to the ministries I care about most: alternative food economies, community housing, and even a radical notion of shared purse. This evolved into our company mission. An important element of our mission is that we donate 30% of profits, cementing our commitment by committing our bottom line to our beliefs.
My stints in ministry, community organizing, and government allowed me to see that there is both my personal and community’s interest when a private company interacts regularly with its partners in the public and non-profit spheres. The tripod of effective businesses, governments, and non-profits are based on the interrelated of the others, and yet, each are silo-ed and the relationships can be strained. Instead of a reluctant trudging along of interactions from one industry to the next, I see the beauty of working together with schools, food shelters, places of worship, AND local businesses as the best way to care for my business and community.
We not only create jobs for my church members, but for young adults in the larger community who are neck-deep in debt with school loans. I not only hire, but partner with business people, entrepreneurs, and company who have social missions and are not doing it for a marketing ploy.
K-Mama Sauce, LLC has partnered with Junior Achievement, SACA Food Shelter, Open Arms, HeightsNEXT, and most of all Church of All Nations. Our relationships are current and our contributions are dependent upon our company growth. Our customers are the driving force behind our ability to contribute! Buy K-Mama Sauce and support our partners!
Friends, family, and fans: We have great news! Thanks to the support of our community and customers we have been growing by leaps and bounds these last few months. You can get your Korean hot sauce fix on our website, at Lunds & Byerly’s, at many local co-ops, on Amazon, and soon you’ll be able to find us nationally! And now we can give back to all our supporters for your generosity.
We are continually working towards higher quality ingredients and even though we are a small batch, premium product we are striving to be more affordable. We are proud to announce that as of September 1st, K-Mama Sauce is more affordable than ever! We have now lowered our pricing so it’s even easier to enjoy us in every meal. But only if you invite us. Check out the difference today!
It is incredibly important to me that we share only the best sauce we can possibly make. What makes K-Mama sauce different? It is so authentically Korean that it has received a real Korean Mom (mine!) seal of approval. It is also one of the cleanest, healthiest condiments available.
I grew up eating my mother’s delicious homemade Korean food almost every day. Her cooking is authentic; my mother is from Masan, near Pusan, where the food is known to be salty and spicy. My paternal grandmother is originally from North Korea, resided in Seoul most of her life, and taught my mom to cook – a beautiful combination! Needless to say, having my mother’s version of this familiar sauce is what I tried to replicate when creating K-Mama Sauce.
Flavor is everything! During the earlier formulations of K-Mama, we tried 40 times to replicate the flavor in my mother’s sauce with a few friends who were local sauce makers. With their help we landed on a few possibilities. It wasn’t until my mother came out to visit me three years ago, did I have a real Korean mom sauce. With my mother’s stamp of approval and several blind taste-tests we launched version #60 to the public in March 2015.
During that first spring/summer of farmer’s markets, we noticed some patterns. People loved the flavor! However, “hot” is not necessarily the most popular flavor in Minnesota with its Scandinavian and Northern European descendants. I’ve heard of people who think black pepper is hellfire! We did not want the spiciness to crowd out the sweet, savory, tanginess of the sauce. Conceding to local taste, we made a range of spiciness available: Original & Spicy.
Once we figured out our spice options, we focused on health and feedback. The customers did not like having MSG; we took it out. Gluten intolerant fans kept asking for a gluten free version; we gave them one and it won a national award, the Sofi, this year. Finally, with research we found out that our product was 100% Non-GMO.
My favorite part of K-Mama Sauce is that it is essentially the healthiest version of the sauce I grew up eating. The taste is all there without all the junk. It is a primary ingredient for bibimbap (rice bowl/meat & egg/veggies), hoedoepbap (rice bowl/raw fish/veggies), and pajeon (rice flour pancakes with veggies).
Its application is endless. It is really a unique, all-purpose sauce. Our fan’s Top 5 favorite uses are in eggs, hummus, stir-fry, pulled pork, sandwiches. Share with us how you use it or think it can be used! We are always looking for new and delicious ideas. Follow and post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest so you don’t miss a thing. Make sure you never run out of delicious reasons to stock up on K-Mama!
“Why did you start K-Mama Sauce?” Most people ask me this when I tell them I own my own Korean hot sauce company in Minneapolis. I tell them that I love Korean food and hot sauces, but that doesn’t capture the whole story.
My affinity for Korean food and spicy cuisines is true, but my love for giving back to my community – my social responsibility – is the main reason why I decided to start a business. Utilizing my community organizing background and over a decade and a half of experience in the non-profit & public fields, I chose a path to create impact in my neighborhood and state.
Born and raised in a church setting, I couldn’t conceive of a career in anything but traditional ministry. As an intern at Church of All Nations in Minneapolis, however, I was truly inspired by Rev. Dr. Jin S. Kim and working with him has helped me to reimagine what ministry could be.
Several years into my internship and with great insight, Rev. Kim told me that I am much better at being a businessman than I am a minster. At first offended, I reflected and finally understood what he meant. He suggested I start a business that would be able to fundraise for the church and other organizations I care about. That way I may still be impacting the church and community while using my skills wisely. The question I ask him was, “What kind of business should I start?” His answer: “Korean hot sauce.” Rev. Kim knew my passion for business, Korean food, and spice, and gave me the best answer anyone could think of.
Starting with my mother’s inspired sauce that I grew up eating, we began fundraising via crowdfunding (i.e. Gofundme), grants, and family & friends seed money. While finding money to run a business, I was perfecting the recipe over the span of a year and over 100 variations. Thanks to my community of over 30 ethnic groups, various age groups, and palates and after several blind taste test surveys and farmers market feedback, we launched in March of 2015. The gluten free line of our sauces launched shortly after our debut.
It all happened like a whirlwind. Strangely, it never felt foreign to me: to invite customers to try and learn about Korean food, to fundraise with those who believed in me or who were complete strangers but loved our sauce, to bring people into the bigger story of what K-Mama Sauce is trying to do by being a socially minded company from its roots. It is true: when you do something you love, it is not work. I am so grateful to be a part of this amazing journey.
Please follow this journey as we detail the social good K-Mama stands for, where you can find our products, and how you can get involved with us. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so you don’t miss a thing.