We’ve restarted the Foodie Diaries! Ramping up for Christmas, we think these hampers of delight are ideal for your Foodie friends. Actually anyone who eats (so everyone), but we know the hardcore Foodie would love to have the first bite of some dreamy foods that are just making their way into Hong Kong! We’ve collected the inspiring stories of the founders, seeking to dig a little and find out about how and why they are doing what they do. This week we chat with Chelsea and Kate, founders of a very popular brand in Hong Kong, for The Foodie Start Up Diaries: SOTE Popcorn! “All natural handmade gourmet popcorn”
Their unique story is quite enchanting; they met while performing at Hong Kong Disneyland and bonded over our love (perhaps obsession would be more fitting) of popcorn, stemming from both childhoods. Chelsea began bringing popcorn, popped in coconut oil, every time the two had movie nights or hang outs and it quickly became a hit.
A few months later, Kate was in the shower and had a split second picture in her head of the artistic duo running a popcorn company called Salt of the Earth (SOTE). It sounded totally crazy and spontaneous but they realized Hong Kong doesn’t have any great, locally made, fresh popcorn, and so just ran with it and registered a couple weeks later.
So are you trained poppers or performers; did the business come out of either of your education backgrounds?
NOT AT ALL! We have both been performers our entire lives. Kate is a singer/actor and Chelsea is a dancer/aerialist. It’s been a challenging but extremely rewarding journey so far. We have had to learn the ins and outs of running a business and being in the food industry quite quickly.
That is so wonderfully unusual. Why are you so passionate for popcorn?
We are passionate about popcorn because it’s the snack that brings people together. It’s a snack EVERYONE can enjoy and share. Our goal is to be that extra something that makes your event, party and day POP!! It motivates us when we hear that people are excited about what we’re doing.
With all this popping, when do you usually sleep and rise?
What’s sleep? (Just kidding) It always depends on what we have the next day. If we have a big order we’ll be up until past midnight or up really early the next morning so the popcorn is fresh.
And how does the day begin?
We usually check e-mails and get our lives in order before we start ‘poppin’. Music and coffee are an important part of this process.
An important part of every process, really. What do you both feel like you have learned of valuable nature during this time?
One of the most valuable lessons we have learnt is to be patient and teachable. Growth and experience take time and a lot of mistakes will be made in the process. We used to really stress out over timing and getting everything perfect as fast as possible. Now we realize not everything is in our control and it usually works out at the ‘perfect time’ in the end.
Agreed. What would you say does work really well in relation to your product?
We have fun, crazy and delicious all-natural flavours! From classics like THE CRAVE (Creamy caramel with a twirl of Salt) and THE KICK (Spicy Chili with a Bang of Lime) to our more adventurous flavours THE ISLANDER (Sweet curry with a wave of coconut) and THE CHA CHA (The Original Hong Kong style Milk Tea). We also have our signature SOTE Gourmet Popcorn Bar which has been a huge hit for parties.
That sounds an absolute treat! With all this frenetic energy, what do you think SOTE looks like in three years?
In 3 years we see SOTE thriving in Hong Kong. We want to use our experiences to help and influence other people. Both of us have some other projects up our sleeves. Stay tuned!
And tuned we shall stay. Thanks Chelsea and Kate! (In an exciting development, SOTE opened their first flagship store November 1st, at 21 Robinson Road, Mid-Levels)