Omsom founders Vanessa and Kim Pham on reinventing meal starters for a new generation
Bringing “proud, loud Asian flavors into American homes.”
One of the best meals I’ve had during quarantine was a spicy, umami-bomb, herbaceous, Thai larb salad. That I cooked myself. With a sauce packet.
Omsom, however, is no ordinary sauce packet.
Founders Vanessa (pictured left) and Kim Pham launched Omsom just a few months ago, offering bright and bold meal starters, sold online, direct to consumer, for three Southeast Asian dishes: Vietnamese lemongrass bbq, Filipino sisig, and the larb.
And they’ve been a hit. The Pham sisters, based in New York, have already sold tens of thousands of starters, and are on track to pass 100,000 by the fall.
“We’re a pantry staple brand that brings proud, loud Asian flavors into American homes,” Kim Pham, who previously worked in venture capital and startups, describes.
“Our ambition is to be the new authority in Asian food CPG,” Vanessa Pham, a former Bain consumer packaged goods consultant, tells me.
I was excited to talk to the Phams about their startup for a few reasons.
First, they’ve put together a fun, cool brand in a large but dusty category of the grocery industry. From the photography to the colors to the copy, Omsom feels fresh and personal, without trying too hard. (Creative is mostly done in-house, with early brand work by Charleston-based Outline.)
Second, with the restaurant industry in pain because of Covid-19 lockdowns and economics, Omsom has an interesting partnership structure with chef partners — it calls them Tastemakers — that sounds like it could be at least part of a future business model for an increasing number of chefs.
And third, that larb starter — it really is good enough that I needed to learn how they made it.
Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Hi, I’m Dan Frommer and this is The New Consumer, a publication about how and why people spend their time and money.
I’m a longtime tech and business journalist, and I’m excited to focus my attention on how technology continues to profoundly change how things are created, experienced, bought, and sold. The New Consumer is supported entirely by your membership — join now to receive my reporting, analysis, and commentary directly in your inbox, via my twice-weekly, member-exclusive newsletter. Thanks in advance.