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Meet Yunnie Kim-Morena of Kim-Chi Avocado By Yunnie Kim in Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yunnie Kim-Morena.

Yunnie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started out opening my first business when I was 20 years old at the iconic Fred Segal in Santa Monica. I started out with a hair accessory retail store and expanded into three additional stores within Fred Segal that included a jewelry store, lingerie and women’s designer ready-to-wear. After 17 years in fashion, I pivoted to the restaurant business with my husband. We built a boutique restaurant group called EST 1977 Restaurant Group that specializes in revitalizing legacy restaurant concepts. After seven years, I pivoted again into a new career, sharing my passion for developing recipes and creating digital food content under the newest brand under the EST Group, Kim-Chi Avocado. In addition to digital content, I continue to develop product and offer catering with the charcuterie boards that can also be found under the Kim-Chi Avocado brand.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There is nothing smooth about building a brand or a business. Learning to delegate and not do everything myself has been one of my biggest challenges. My first business came presented me with so many different opportunities but I always turned them down because I didn’t think I had enough time to pursue them. I always did everything myself so I passed on so many great opportunities. Hindsight is always 20/20 and if I didn’t learn those lessons then, I would have to learn them now so better late than never.

Kim-Chi Avocado By Yunnie Kim – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
One of the things that motivated me to start the Kim Chi Avocado brand was to bring awareness to Asian food in modern American culture. Growing up in Santa Moncia there were not too many who people who liked like me that I could look up to. Being a young minority girl came with much shame and eating different food all the time just made it worse. Now women are celebrated and being in the minority is often celebrated. I love that my food and recipes I share were once something secret and now live in people’s homes, nourishing families like mine and brining joy. One of my happiest moments was when a mom reached out to me and said her son was in cancer remission and that I inspired her to be more mindful of the foods she was going to feed her family.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
”Success” has been a moving target throughout my life. In my early years of fashion, working crazy hours, traveling and making money were major success markers. Now in my 3rd career, I look inward to the progression of my personal development, my family and my brand. I want my kids and my husband to be proud of me. I have a strong moral compass and I want my personal and professional work to be fulfilling, inspiring and bring health and joy to myself and others….that is my new marker for success.

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