Everything started out of necessity. Iruk (my husband and my business partner), my daughter and I wanted to have fresh homemade Kimchi from the first day we landed in Ottawa. The first version of Iruk’s Kimchi wasn’t bad, and his Kimchi got even better after incorporating different ingredients, ratios and family recipes. We never imagined making our own Kimchi before we came to Canada. Moreover, we weren’t planning to sell our Kimchi to others. From the beginning, the power of word of mouth inside the small Korean community was stronger than we expected. Then, a close friend’s idea to join a local farmers’ market began our new venture. Our own business to express ourselves through our ethnic food background! We were all thrilled!
In the same year, we explored other opportunities to expand our offerings, and I noticed the City of Ottawa opened up a program looking for mobile food concessions with more various and healthy food options within the city. Though the due date was just 10 days away and it was a busy time with year-end parties, we devoted all our time to drafting a business plan. We could secure a popular spot for our location and start selling Bibimbap in which our sauces and Kimchi were incorporated. Our ‘from scratch’ Bibimbap was very popular, and we still see loyal repeat customers who tasted our food the first year.
The first step of setting up our business and selling Kimchi and sauces at local farmers’ markets was successful. From the beginning, we dreamed big for the future, so we have been investing lots of time researching and studying Korean cuisine. We visited Korea often to get hands-on training on different topics. The more time we spent, the more excited we became. Korean cuisine (which includes Kimchi, sauces, vinegar, alcoholic drinks & non-alcoholic drinks) is the forerunner of fermented foods. Fermentation and being local are the two core themes of our business. Running a Suul (alcoholic beverages in Korean) boutique and making natural vinegar along with Kimchi and fermented sauces on a small farm setting is our final destination.
The path we have taken was not quick and easy, but the warm support from our customers is the greatest power source for us to keep it up. We look at the sketch drawing of our dream that shows where we are heading towards and why we are doing what we do now, especially whenever we feel tired and lost. We will enjoy the journey, as Raon [ra:on] means happy and pleasant in pure Korean.
by Hana, Co-Founder