Founder: Lola Milholland
Year founded: 2016
Product description: A glo'd-up Cup o' Noodles.
Yearly sales: Estimated $125,000 for 2018
Is it profitable?: No, it's still investing in its own growth.
Available at: About 60 stores in Oregon and Washington, plus Hollywood and King farmers markets
Lola Milholland got sick of waiting.
The Portland native grew up in a Japanese immersion program and has been studying the country's culture since she was 5 years old. As an adult, she became a hobby noodle-maker, which is when she realized that all the noodles she was cooking with were imported from Japan, while much of the wheat from those same noodles was being produced in Oregon. She thought someone should make some entirely locally produced noodles. She just didn't think it should be her.
"I thought it would be somebody else," she says. "I took me eight years to finally decide I was actually going to do it, with a lot of encouragement from my family and friends."
What sets Umi apart from your typical instant ramen is it's a fresh, certified organic, refrigerated noodle that's never been dried or fried. The buoyancy and texture, courtesy of the whole-grain barley, are similar to that of a soba noodle. It is, in effect, restaurant-quality Top Ramen.
Right now, only the noodles can be found in grocery stores, but accompanying sauces are coming soon.
Guilty pleasure snack: "Definitely soft-serve ice cream—ideally double-dipped in that chocolate magic shell."
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