DENVER — A hobby jarring Kimchi for family and friends turned into a business for a man who lost three jobs during the pandemic.
Virgil Dickerson found himself with extra time on his hands after being laid off from one job, furloughed from another and lost all of his personal business clients.
"I put a picture on Instagram, just saying, 'Hey, it looks like I have a new hobby,'" Dickerson said.
A hobby born from his passion for food and his Korean heritage. Dickerson says he sat down with his mom and took close notes of her kimchi recipe and added his own touch. Kimchi is pickled cabbage, a Korean staple.
"Over four months, end of March to the end of July, I gave away over 500 jars," Dickerson said. "They were just like, 'when are you going to start a business?'"
On Aug. 8, on Dickerson's 45th birthday, he launched K∙R∙E∙A∙M Kimchi.
"It stands for Kimchi Rules Everything Around Me, which is a nod to the Wut-Tang Clan song, which is cash rules everything around me (K∙R∙E∙A∙M)," he said.
Dickerson makes the kimchi right out of his kitchen. The Cottage Foods Act allows certain non-potentially hazardous food to be sold directly to consumers without a license.
Dickerson estimates he's made about 2,000 kimchi jars out of his home over several months.
"From the very get-go, I sold a ton of jars and it hasn't slowed down," he said. "The reaction was instantly crazy and people started tagging me in dishes they were making with my kimchi."
Dickerson sells his Kimchi at the Penn Street Market and online. He says he lost 50 pounds delivering Kimchi on his bike.
"I would never have in a million years thought that I would start a kimchi business," Dickerson said.
As sales pick up, he hopes to move into a commercial kitchen and someday expand his business to sell K∙R∙E∙A∙M Kimchi grocery stores.