“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.