Welcome to our Start-Up Stories series which delves into the real-world experiences of food company founders and key players through interviews to uncover their road to success. Whether you’re passionate about food or simply curious about the brands behind your favorite foods, this series has something for you.

Today we have the pleasure of speaking with Grace Cheng, the Founder and CEO of Mylk Labs, to find out how she turned her passion for delicious and nutritious oatmeal into a successful business…

Can You Tell Us About The Process Of Transitioning From A Career In Modeling To Entrepreneurship And Founding Mylk Labs?

Juggling two different career paths, I’ve always emphasized the importance of eating healthy on the go. While fashion took me all over the world and allowed me to walk for big time brands like Marc Jacobs and Bottega Veneta, my true passion lies within the food and wellness industry.

Having come from an entrepreneurial family (both my parents have businesses), I always knew I wanted to start something of my own. With that in mind, I went to business school at USC to learn the basics of entrepreneurship and when the time came, I was able to hit the ground running!

Of course, there was a huge learning curve, but sharing the go-to breakfast that got me through my busiest years was something I was passionate about and able to really put my all into.

Can You Talk About The Challenges And Lessons You’ve Learned As A First-Time Entrepreneur In The Food Industry?

Grace Cheng, Founder Of Mylk Labs
Grace Cheng, Founder Of Mylk Labs

It’s HARD being an entrepreneur but if you’re going to invest in anyone, it should be yourself. There was a huge learning curve for me, and in all honesty, I’m still learning from my mistakes. It’s the most painful, but yields the biggest growth.

One challenge I will specifically call out is being a solo first-time entrepreneur. You are never 100% sure if your decisions are the right ones, but you just have to trust your gut and run with it. I learned to lean on friends who I’ve met through the industry – we not only share our struggles but learn so much from one another!

Can You Tell Us About The Decision To Focus On Oatmeal As The Main Product Offering For Mylk Labs?

Most people ask “Why Oatmeal out of all things?” and I don’t think anyone grows up dreaming of starting an oatmeal company because it’s really not the sexiest thing out there. However, amid my crazy life of modeling, business school and traveling, oatmeal was the one constant that got me through my busiest years. In fact, I’ve been eating it every day for almost a decade now!!

It was something I created for myself, but wanted to share the health, convenience and deliciousness with the world.

How Has Your Own Personal Relationship With Food And Nutrition Influenced The Philosophy And Mission Of Mylk Labs?

Coconut Cinnamon & Almond Pink Salt
Coconut Cinnamon + Almond & Pink Salt

Flavor, nutrition and convenience are Mylk Labs’ values – all things I take into account when choosing foods that I eat myself. Convenience was important for me because of all the traveling I did when I was modeling full time. Unfortunately, big food always compromises on one of the three. Fast food is unhealthy while healthy foods have a bad rap for tasting bad. I wanted to make sure all 3 are incorporated in all of the products I create and share with the community.

How Does Mylk Labs Prioritize Sustainability And Social Responsibility In Its Sourcing And Packaging Choices?

Single serve always feels a bit more wasteful than bulk, so we do everything that we can to provide a convenient product that’s also good for the environment. See here:

  • Compostable – please double check with your recycling program to see if they accept items like these (similar to paper coffee cups)
  • Glyphosate free oats – complete ban of this chemical on the farm from seed to harvest > better for you and the environment
  • Only use organic coconut sugar – a much more sustainable harvesting process compared to cane sugar
  • Upcycled whenever possible – we use roasted almond meal which is by-product of roasted diced almonds > super delicious and nutritious!

I hope that provides more insight into what we do to be mindful of the environment!

How Do You Balance The Priorities Of Taste And Nutrition In Developing And Formulating New Products For Mylk Labs?

Mylk Labs Nut Free Strawberry & Madagascar Vanilla Instant Oatmeal
Mylk Labs Nut Free Strawberry & Madagascar Vanilla Instant Oatmeal

We always work backwards. Nutrition first, then play with the ratio of ingredients to get the perfect taste and texture while maintaining the nutrients for a healthy, balanced meal.

How Do You Hope Mylk Labs Will Make A Positive Impact On Its Customers And The Wider Food Industry?

Our goal is to provide a healthy meal in minutes to nourish, energize and give back time to focus on more important things in life!

I Noticed Many Products Use Upcycled Almond Meal. Can You Share More About The “Upcycled” Ingredients Used By Mylk Labs And Its Benefits?

Berries & Nuts Oatmeal Bowl
Berries & Nuts Oatmeal Bowl

Currently we are only using one upcycled ingredient. What’s great about them is that most of the time they have amazing nutrients but go to waste because they’re a by-product of another finished good. For example, when your dicing roasted almonds, there are a lot of “crumbs” that are produced as a by-product and that’s what we buy to use in our oatmeal. It’s delicious, nutty, and full of nutrients  so why waste it?

Which Are Your Most Popular Products And Which Are Your Personal Favorites?

Blueberry Maple has always been our best seller, but I can’t say which is my favorite because I love them all. Just like how you can’t choose a favorite child 😉.

What’s Next For Mylk Labs?

Cultivated Blueberry & Vermont Maple Instant Oatmeal
Cultivated Blueberry & Vermont Maple Instant Oatmeal

Looking to innovate some more this year… Possible a new flavor…. Or a new product line (eventually). Stay tuned!

You can learn more about Mylk Labs at their website and follow them across their social media channels on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.