Today we’d like to introduce you to Ilkay M. Basugur and Damian Ross.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
We have a combined 20 years of experience as professional cooks. Ilkay in upscale resorts and restaurants, and Damian in family-run bistros. The typical symptoms of kitchen life caught up with us, as long hours, lack of sleep, and poor nutrition took a toll on our health. We began to search for natural healing methods with the purpose of using food as medicine. We’d been hearing about how fermented food plays a big role in gut health, but hasn’t been incorporated in our diet regularly. We started eating yogurt and kimchi everyday, while experimenting with making our own fermented veggies at home. After a few months, we saw major positive changes in our digestion, immunity, and energy levels. At that point, almost 4 years ago, we decided to transition out of restaurants and into our own business. Last year, we added low-carb, Keto-Friendly baked goods to the lineup.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has taken a while to build trust with our customers. We started selling in farmers markets, because most people who shop at them are open-minded and have a basic knowledge of probiotics, right? Not really. It was difficult to convince them that living foods are like medicine, and that certain strains of bacteria are beneficial, or that healing your gut is the beginning step to a healthier lifestyle. Many people just “don’t do sauerkraut” and some actually thought it would make them sick. But one great thing about selling directly to customers is the ability to sample. We burned through copious amounts of sample jars in the early days, and most skeptics who tried our ferments changed their views, or at least asked more questions. After listening to hundreds of stories about chronic pain and inflammatory conditions, it became clear that the mainstream medical community has been withholding information about the gut microbiome and any non-pharmaceutical treatments for digestive issues.
Our mission is not just to provide these foods to the community, but to help change the way they look at the entire food supply chain. Remember, it’s better for everyone if we keep that chain as short as possible.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Fermentality – what should we know?
We make lacto-fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, cauliflower, cucumbers, and probiotic drinks such as beet kvass and water kefir. Our sugar free, low-carb breads and desserts include bagels, brownies, banana-walnut bread, and raspberry coffee cake. They are made with almond and coconut flour, so they’re all gluten-free and high in fiber, healthy fats and protein. The low-carb, ketogenic lifestyle has really taken off this past year, so it’s been easier to attract new customers who can’t find any decent low-carb baked goods in stores. We constantly hear success stories about how our customers achieve and maintain their goals with the help of our products.
We make everything in micro-batches, using locally sourced and organic ingredients whenever possible. Find us at the Long Beach Marina market on Sundays, the Orange Homegrown market on Saturdays, and the Torrance Farmers Market on Tuesdays.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Our families, friends and fellow farmer’s market vendors… they’ve been supportive since the very beginning. Ron Delos Santos and Ashley Ross for their photography skills. Kelli Johnson for her continuous promotion. Christy Pardini for the artwork. Nora Ramos from Nora’s Food Company. Vicente from Azteca Farms, Tu from Beyond Bokchoy, and Fabricio from Divine Harvest Family Farm, to name a few. We get all of our produce from these and other local farms, and without their support we couldn’t make such high-quality food.
- Address: 13941 Nautilus Dr, Garden Grove, CA 92843
- Website: www.fermentalitylab.com
- Phone: 3232469977
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @fermentality
- Facebook: Fermentality LLC
Ronald De Los Santos, Ashley Ross, Ilkay M. Basugur, Damian Ross