The Passion of Culinary Pursuit
Meet Kirbee Miller, founder of KiNiMi Kitchen. Kinimi Kitchen is a lifestyle brand that includes an addictive popcorn line, recipes, cooking classes, pop-up shops, corporate experiences and television appearances. Kirbee decided four years ago to pursue her passion of cooking. She recently was selected in the top ten of Favorite Chefs competition that includes 30,000 chefs worldwide. The foundational purpose of KiNiMi Kitchen is to cultivate culinary experiences that promote inclusion and connection.
What should we know about Kirbee Miller?
Kirbee has always had a passion around food. She says, “Whether it was assisting my mother as she made her famous peach cobbler or watching my neighbor as she roasted peppers for her delicious stuffed peppers known around the neighborhood or taking in every detail as my aunt made her legendary seafood gumbo, each session in the kitchen was invigorating!” While growing this culinary experiential business, Kirbee continues to work in healthcare in Nashville.
She says she is known for creating an environment where others feel seen and included while making cooking fun and accessible. Kirbee is also an Enneagram Type Seven!
Where did the popcorn idea come from?
Three years ago, she was part of a large software implementation and made a popcorn snack or companion carbs, as she calls them, for her coworkers. The first flavor was Cajun pop and she started taking it with her to pop-ups and cooking demonstrations and had requests to add it to corporate giveaways. People started asking where to buy it and a product was born.
Why does she think food is such a great connector of people?
You don’t have to qualify, or be someone else, to be around a table at a good meal. There are so many ways to segment ourselves, but food is the great connector. At our core human design, we are so much similar than different.
How did she have to change or modify her business during COVID?
A large of component of KiNiMi Kitchen, prior to COVID, was culinary experiences in person, including wonderful Popcorn Bars at events. Organizations started to reach out asking ways to bring groups together virtually. They designed virtual culinary experiences which expanded her reach in surprising ways. They recently did an international event that might not have been on the table had the virtual experiences been created.
Does she think the COVID-related changes have improved business and made her more flexible to new opportunities?
Kirbee believes life is 10% of things happening to you and 90% in how you respond. It was an opportunity to meet an obstacle and become creative. There have been collaborative efforts with other entrepreneurs as well that have sustained her efforts.
Has technology changed our cooking habits?
Absolutely, it has changed them for the better. Individuals have learned to cook or developed an interest in food. The tablet and phone allow them to explore recipes, change ways to cook and create community with others who are cooking.
What about the opportunity to add her popcorn to the Grammy VIP bags…how did that come about?
Relationship is so important to connections and opportunities. KiNiMi Kitchen was recommended to a group who wanted a female-owned company that has a product that can’t be found anywhere else. The product chosen was the Rosemary Garlic popcorn that was in the VIP Grammy Bags for all the presenters and the artists.
What does marketing look like for KiNiMi Kitchen? Tell us about social media usage and what’s been learned from Kirbee’s marketing experiences?
It’s an organic and authentic marketing approach, putting out the “why” behind the brand. There is not a huge team or strategy. She has not done paid campaigns, but social is very important. Kirbee tries to honor her authentic story in all she does.
Resources and Links
VoyageATL – Meet Kirbee Miller of KiNiMi Kitchen
Urbaanite – Nashville Publication : 24 HOURS IN NASHVILLE: FROM A LOCAL WHO LOVES TO COOK
TN Minority Pages – Feature on Page 66 (PDF)