May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. AAPI Heritage month has been officially celebrated in the United States since 1990, and it lasts for the entirety of May each year. We here at Kim’C are celebrating the achievements of past generations of Asian Americans while also recognizing those making a difference in our community today.
As you may already know, Kim’C Market (김씨마켓) is a Korean-founded online grocery store, and because of this, we love to celebrate the beauty of Asian culture every day. This month also offers us a chance to honor our own place in the community as an AAPI owned business with Korean roots.
With Sungmee Cho, Ryan Kim founded the market in 2019 with one main goal— making natural, premium Asian food products more accessible. The two first-time startup founders decided to procure wholesome Korean ingredients for people looking for better alternatives to the ones traditional Korean Markets offer. While there are many options for buying Asian groceries in big cities, there is often limited access to natural foods in these markets. The duo sought to bridge that gap, offering wholesome, premium foods with familiar Asian flavors.
Ryan was driven to create Kim’C because of a few key events in his life, including the passing of his young uncle Inuk in 2018, with whom he shared a very close relationship. As a result, Ryan wishes to lead a healthier lifestyle so he can be a strong father figure to his beloved young cousins and his own children.
Because of his trouble finding natural Korean food and ingredients in America, he set out to find wholesome ingredients on his own. Since Kim’C Market’s mission aligns so closely with Ryan’s personal history, we are very particular about what type of products we present to our users. Viewing our customers as our extended family and friends, we wish to give them the same access to nourishing, high-quality Korean food that Ryan looked for when founding the company.
Thus, Kim’C Market was born. With five essential Korean pantry items. Those first ones on our shelves were Gochujang, Doenjang, and Soy sauce from Jookjangyeon, and Sesame Oil and Perilla Oil from Chung-O. Those initial five have grown to around 500 as of May 2022. Our growth has been rapid, but the heart of the business remains the same as we continue to provide high-quality, authentic products from Korea, and soon from different countries in Asia.
Kim’C Market’s grocery e-commerce model allows anyone who wishes to cook with natural food products and get them shipped directly to their homes, making fresh, natural Asian groceries more accessible than ever.
Here at Kim’C, we select products and vendors with a 12-step selection model, where we ensure that each product can fulfill different criteria. These include producer’s values, wholesomeness of ingredients, taste, innovative and functional packaging, retail partners of the vendors, communication with vendors, compliance with FDA regulations, 3rd party certifications (like HAACP, USDA organic, and pesticide-free guarantees).
We know this is a long list, and not all products make it through our rigorous selection process. However, we want to give the best possible quality of products to our customers, and this selection model allows us to do just that. We also like to be transparent about our products and producers to give you peace of mind. Kim’C Market simply knows how hard our producing partners work to create their food products, and we love to share their passion and dedication for quality foods with you!
We personally source products from Korea, ensuring the quality of each product before we decide to place it in our stock. Ryan and the team often fly to Korea to visit farms and artisanal food makers. The team involved in sourcing spend time with our producers, sometimes staying with them for days to learn about their practices and philosophies, and build strong bonds. We think a hands-on approach is best, and it helps us to ensure the quality of each and every product we import.
We also strive to share AAPI culture with those outside the community, as the rich heritage and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is something that we are proud of. We offer a wide range of content to our social media followers and on our blog. This content can help those unfamiliar with Korean cooking or culture to immerse themselves more fully in Korean cuisine. We love to educate people about our heritage, and find it especially important to do so during the month of May. Soon, our content will also include cuisine from other Asian cultures.
This AAPI Heritage Month, we wish to celebrate all of those who are working to foster a sense of community with their fellow Asian Americans. Supporting AAPI entrepreneurs is also important to us, especially considering Kim’C Market’s own origin story. Our team loves to work with other Asian-owned businesses, which is a way for us to actively create community in our area and around the world. We also continuously make donations to local organizations, typically monetary contributions, donations of food, or volunteer activities. It is important not only to nurture community growth, but to continuously connect with those in your community. Kim’C Market is proud to celebrate Asian heritage not only every May, but each and every day of the year.