Jamie Kim graduated Cornell with a degree in hotel administration. She is the founder of Jamie’s Farm, a consumer-packaged goods company that sells award-winning granola. Jamie started Jamie’s Farm during her time at Cornell, and her business idea participated in Cornell’s eLAB accelerator program. Jamie hopes to inspire change in the way we eat on a daily basis and to build community through delicious, fresh granola.
Where did the inspiration for your business come from?
In high school, I was really interested in pursuing a career in the restaurant industry, so I interned for a 3 Michelin star restaurant during my summers. The experience really inspired me to cook at home for my friends and family, and one of the things they kept asking for was my homemade granola. Going to college in Ithaca with a vibrant local food scene, I was inspired to create a New York-centric granola brand (Jamie’s Farm) using ingredients from my local community.
If you could go back in time, before you started your business, what would you tell yourself?
To trust myself. It took me some time to fully realize that what works for one person may not work for me. There were times when I took other people’s advice based on their past experiences, when really, I should have listened to my own intuition. Writing down your “why” and allowing that to guide you in your decision-making process really helps.
What has been the greatest challenge that you have faced on your entrepreneurial journey?
Operations and manufacturing. I struggled with finding the right manufacturing partner since graduating Cornell. I switched three times until I finally found the right one last year, which has since allowed me to focus on the bigger picture of sales, marketing, and growth.
What are you most proud of about your journey and/or company?
The fact that I have continued to run this business! I started the company during my sophomore year in 2017 as a hobby. I’ve always loved having some kind of side project of my own to work on and didn’t imagine myself running the business post-graduation. The last 5 years really tested my resilience and made me question if I was the right person to run a business—I burned out a few times until I came to a realization that I wanted to create a business that serves me, not the other way around. I’m really proud of both my personal and professional growth, and the philosophy that I stand by: to enjoy the process, not the outcome.
Entrepreneurs wear many hats and must quickly become a master of all trades, so how do you find mentors and foster connections along the way?
I attended a lot of trade shows and connected with a lot of people in industry while I was in college. Luckily, the CPG industry is very welcoming, so people are always willing to chat and connect you with other people who might be helpful. I also completed four accelerator programs while I was in college, which connected me to many amazing mentors.
Do you have any piece of advice for Cornellians starting out their own entrepreneurial journey?
Don’t wait until your product is perfect. Go out there and talk to customers, validate the problem you’re solving, and whether your product or service is needed. You can always iterate and improve. I first started my business with hand-stamped kraft paper pouches, went through two packaging changes, and also changed the name of my brand last year.
What role has the Cornell network played along your career?
A Cornell grad student actually introduced me to the co-packer I work with today. I also recently attended an industry tradeshow with Cornell’s Agtech Center of Excellence— it was exciting to see how many Cornellians are out in the industry, whether they were starting other brands, or working in retail, distribution, merchandising, etc. It’s always helpful connecting and exchanging information with other brand founders in the Cornell network.
What do you miss about being on campus the most?
I miss being around so many people and having the opportunity to take so many different classes!