We had the good fortune of connecting with Kylie Long and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kylie, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I spent the last two years reflecting a lot on my identity as an Asian American living in the United States. Though, I would argue that 2020 and 2021 practically held my head against a mirror and forced me to self-reflect. It really was one of the only silver linings that came out of the past two years. I remember being raised in the suburbs of New Jersey and feeling like I never quite belonged. As an Asian kid, I’ve had my fair share of lunch box moments at school all the while never being “Chinese” enough at home. I know the feeling of being a citizen of nowhere and everywhere all too well.
In many ways, the birth of Kahenmei was the result of that reflection. In the process of rediscovering myself and understanding what it means to be Asian American, I founded a company that would be built on recognizing and embracing our third culture identities.
And so, I left the startup and venture world 6 months ago to start the first better-for-you Asian American baking mix company, Kahenmei. Our baking mixes take only 10 minutes and contain 6 real whole food ingredients. They are also gluten-free, paleo, keto, and vegan friendly. We aspire to take the American treats we know and love and explode them with Asian flavors. In doing so, we hope to curate the tastiest, healthiest treats that are not stuck between two worlds, but the perfect merge of both.
Kahenmei is not just a company that sells healthy baking mixes. We exist to empower third-culture Asian American kids to celebrate and take pride in their fusion identities.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
The road to becoming a solo founder is often long and lonely. And especially so for a minority woman. However, building Kahenmei to me was never about making money. It’s about building something that reflected Asian American kids who grew up feeling like they never belonged. We exist to empower the third culture AAPI community to celebrate and embrace their fusion identities. And having that purpose at the forefront of our company mission makes the hard and mundane days of building a company worthwhile.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would not have gotten the courage and inspiration to start Kahenmei if other AAPI entrepreneurs haven’t done so before me. I am so incredibly thankful for them paving the path forward for not only myself but also the future generation of AAPI founders. This list is by no means exhaustive, but here, I hope to give a shout out to Vincent + Andrew Kitirattragarn of Dang Foods, Vanessa + Kim Pham of Omsom, Sandro Roco of Sanzo, Sahra Nguyen of Nguyen Coffee Supply, Jing Gao of Fly By Jing, and Debbie Mullin of Copper Cow Coffee.