I first discovered Chumami when the brothers behind Buy Local NJ profiled them last year. After that I was on a mission to track down the chili pepper oil, but their current batch had sold out. As luck would have it, when Vicki and I walked into &Home a few weeks ago, I spied the Chumami product on the shelves and grabbed it immediately. Finally, it was mine! I took it for a spin last week and made spicy mayo with it as a dipping sauce for chicharron, and it was every bit as delicious as I imagined it would be. Let’s find out how it all started…
What is your business?
We are Jessica Chu and Herman Chu, co-founders of Chumami Chili Oil. Chumami Chili Oil is a NJ based family business. Our artisanal chili oil is based on a three generation family recipe!
What was the inspiration behind starting your business? How did you become an entrepreneur?
Chumami Chili Oil has been in our family for generations, so we are OBSESSED with it. There’s always been a home made jar of the chili oil at every social gathering and has been a sought after gift from our mom to visiting friends and family. Folks always requested more and it wasn’t until we got older did we realize there is nothing like Chumami on the market.
We wanted to share the taste of our chili oil with and through that excitement and passion we were able to start Chumami.
What do you do on a daily basis to grow your business?
There are several parts that we focus on that help grow the business – Working with Stores/Food Creators and Branding. On the daily basis, we are studying and looking at businesses that aligns with our brand culture to see if they could be a good distributor for our product. We also have a routine of creating engaging content via Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok to connect with our audience and get new eyes on our product.
What are your success habits?
- Leveraging our unique strengths. This allows us to always feel motivated and excited about what we’re working on. For example, Jessica loves cooking and creating recipes, so she takes the lead on developing new food creations to show the audience.
- Creating content consistently. We know the importance of inspiring our audience on the millions of ways to use Chumami Chili Oil, so we need to do our part in creating engaging content that shares our story and showcases Chumami.
What has been your biggest failure in business and what did it teach you?
We haven’t been in the business long enough to have any huge failures, but there’s a lot of trial and error that we had to go through.
What drives you on the most challenging days?
Sometimes when you’ve had a challenging day it’s good to just give yourself a break. We’re lucky that we are siblings and can rely on one another when one is more down. At the end of the day, the excitement of starting something and watching it grow is what drives us. It can’t always be growing or exciting, but most of the time it is.
How do you define success?
Success is not giving up. It’s feeling fulfilled and happy in what we do.
What is next for your business?
Many exciting things happening in 2021! This spring we plan on launching our first limited edition flavor to the public (still a surprise!) This is our first time launching a product outside the original recipe, so we are so excited!
We’re in the process of collaborating with some amazing local, small businesses such as Bakesbycr.ena (women-owned, micro bakery) to create a delicious Chumami creation to be featured in the Spring.