Some people dream of becoming fashion models. Others aspire to be role models. Mylk Labs founder Grace Cheng thought, “Why choose?”
Grace began modeling at the age of 17 and simultaneously planned for her second career. She wisely stashed a portion of her pocketbook in an intelligence fund; money later used to bootstrap her company.
Between her USC business school education and her love of homemade oatmeal, Grace had a winning recipe. Mylk Labs is all-natural, non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, and sweetened with just enough unrefined sugar for a truly satisfying treat.
Recently, we caught up with Grace to learn more about her journey and hear her advice for fellow entrepreneurs.
01 Why did you start Mylk Labs?
Adults would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said, “I want to start my own business because I don’t want to work for anyone else.” Pretty sassy for a kid, but I truly wanted to be an entrepreneur! Besides, it runs in my blood.
I rediscovered my love of oatmeal while attending the Marshall School of Business at USC and taking modeling classes. It became a core part of my daily life — a warm, good morning hug to jump start my day. Life was busy, but oatmeal got me through everything.
After I graduated, I participated in my first Fashion Week (more like a month, split between New York, London, Milan, and Paris.) Dozens of castings and late night fittings later, Vogue picked me as a “New Model to Know” off of Marc Jacobs’ runway. As excited as I was, all I could think was “I WANT MY OATMEAL!”
Unfortunately, most of the oatmeals at the time either had too much refined sugar or too little in the way of flavor. I sometimes felt like I was eating baby food or bland cardboard. I was constantly on-the-go and couldn’t find anything that suited my needs. That’s when it hit me – this should be my business!
I started Mylk Labs to share my daily dose of warmth and happiness with the world. It’s an exact recreation of what I enjoy at home — creamy oats cooked in almond milk with crunchy nut butter and a light touch of unrefined sugars.
02 What obstacles did you face along the way?
I had zero connections or experience in the food industry. I thought, “Where do I begin?!” My first instinct told me to draft a business plan as a roadmap. Then came the research, planning, branding, sourcing, and, finally, execution. I sat in front of my computer at home Googling everything from A-Z.
It was hard to start from scratch with zero foundation in the field, but I guess I didn’t do half-bad — Mylk Labs launched two-and-a-half years ago and we’re still going strong!
03 What lessons do you have for other entrepreneurs?
The most important thing is to be passionate about what you do. It will enable you to work that much harder and your passion will shine whenever you interact with clients and customers. Also, if you love what you do, you’re not really working every day. It’s more like a lifestyle that you enjoy experiencing!
04 What’s on the horizon for Mylk Labs?
Expanding to a new product category outside of oatmeal! It’s in the works, so I can’t disclose everything just yet. All I can say is that we will continue to stay true to our core values — flavor, nutrition, and convenience.
05 How do you keep work/life balance? What drives/inspires you?
Going back to what I said earlier, it’s all about being passionate about everything you do. This allows you to enjoy your day-to-day duties while maintaining a healthy balance between life and work. I personally believe that the journey is more important than the end game. Obviously, it’s important to have an ultimate goal, but people often forget the importance of each step along the way.
My creation makes peoples’ lives happier and easier. That alone drives me to work hard, continuously improve, and do even more!