Q&A Series: Soom Beginnings

By: The Soom Sisters  |  December 27, 2016

We often get questions about our business – how it started, why it started, and if we still eat tahini every day!  So we figured we’d turn some of our answers into a series of blog posts.  We hope you enjoy this Q&A series with the Soom Sisters!

Why did you choose to start a business of tahini as opposed to something else?

Amy: I was in college and Shelby was working in Israel for the year. Jackie was dating Omri, and Shelby called me and said, “Omri sells this really delicious tahini – it’s like nothing we’ve ever tasted in the states and I need you to do some market research for tahini.” So that’s really how it started – the product presented itself.  And Shelby, who studied business and had been guiding people in their entrepreneurial endeavors, well, her wheels just started turning…

I was a senior in college but I was working in customer service at a solar panel installation company in Delaware and it was awful. It was a terrible job because they hired me to communicate with the customers and we were 6 months behind schedule already. I even remember sitting at work and playing on illustrator, which I didn’t even know how to use, and making logos up for Soom. But I took a day and went to the Penn State extension program for how to start a small food company and I started learning about minor details of the business.

Shelby: Similarly, from my perspective, I was working in Israel and I got to learn more about Omri’s product – how delicious it was. So delicious I wanted to eat it on its own. I was dipping bread into plain tahini.  And what I previously knew of tahini was that you drizzle it on falafel or you would use it for hummus. I didn’t realize it could be this delicious. I tried two things: Omri’s mom made a carrot cake using tahini and Omri and Jackie mixed tahini with a little bit of date syrup/molasses (called Silan) to make a dip and it was so good. It was a really inspiring product that led to a whole process of discovery, and through that discovery we learned there was a lot of opportunity for tahini in the United States.

Why did you name the company Soom Foods?

Shelby: In Hebrew, Soom Soom is sesame. With that in mind, we were going through different names and different iterations. We thought about what we want this company to be at the early stages and we thought that Soom had a nice ring to it. It was playful and a lot of the future products we were thinking about in the beginning were snacks and smoothies. Therefore, we began thinking that Soom snacks or Soom smoothies had a nice consonance. And Foods was all encompassing of being in the food space. I like to talk about the etymology of Soom Soom – that that means sesame. It has been a fun name, although it has proven a lot of difficulties. People think it’s soon, or some, or zoom. And it’s also confusing because now people call us the Soom Sisters and that’s not our last name but people think that it’s our last name.

Does your company have a mission statement?

Jackie: Our mission is to harvest the natural powers of the ancient sesame seed to inspire delicious cuisine, healthy people, and happy communities. Our vision is to re-introduce sesame as a superfood and contribute to the growing demands of healthful eating and innovative palates. We really believe that sesame is beneficial to add into your diet or, more importantly, into your life. I think when there is yummy food and people around that it could create more community ideals. When people go to restaurants, or even at home with their families, they are coming together and sharing food. So I think that offering a healthy and versatile ingredient helps contribute to those nice times in people’s lives.