For Thaifusions’ founder, Max Borthwick, his business runs on two things: Love of family and passion for Thai food.
Borthwick and his mom Toi started the Seattle-based company, featuring authentic and ready to eat Thai sauces and curries, more than a decade ago. This past summer, Thaifusions was selected as one of the food and beverage brands to take part in the Target Takeoff Accelerator Program. It’s also the only small business based in Washington to be part of this year’s cohort.
The International Examiner sat down with Borthwick as he shares how Thaifusions has grown over the years and what’s next for this business that has captured the attention of a major global brand.
IE: Tell us about this Target Takeoff Accelerator Program? Why was it such a great opportunity for a small business to be selected?
Max Borthwick: It was such an honor to be selected for this program, alongside a wonderful cohort of small and emerging businesses from across the country. Target Takeoff gave us the opportunity we may not have otherwise to engage directly with buyers and directors. Our mentors helped us understand the process of pitching to a great retail brand like Target. Most of all it’s a chance for smaller underserved family businesses like ours to continue sharing our story to a much larger audience.
IE: What are some of the best lessons you learned as an entrepreneur through this program?
MB: That we are relevant and necessary even in large channels and that customers are really demanding quality in their products with real people and stories behind them. It’s also inspiring to learn alongside other businesses and share ideas while supporting each other along the way.
IE: Thaifusions showcases the authenticity of Thai food to the American public. What does it say about companies like Target mentoring companies like yours?
MB: It shows that Target values diversity and is aware of the growing multicultural landscape in this country. The US consumer habits are changing. What we are doing in this accelerator program is sharing our voice, both in our personal and business stories, to inspire others to share their own stories through their products.
We’re grateful that our customers have found a connection with our story as a Thai/American family. We hope that through additional exposure through things like Target Takeoff, more people can identify with our story and that’s what drives us.
IE: What advice do you have for other AAPI owned small businesses trying to make a mark in the bigger corporate world?
MB: My advice is to believe in your story. It’s unique and needs to be told and there is a need for it. Don’t be afraid to share your passion. And when times get tough, hang in there. It’s not always an easy journey, but you may be just one phone call or email away from getting to that next level. That is what is so exciting about owning a small business. There’s so much opportunity out there .
IE: What’s next for Thaifusions? How do you see your brand and business evolving in 2022?
MB: Hopefully with the exposure and opportunity we’ve been given with Target Takeoff, more retailers and customers will learn about Thaifusions and our family’s story. My Mom, Toi, deserves all the credit. Because after all, she has always been our inspiration. Her drive and her willingness to never compromise for quality and authenticity is what has gotten us here in the first place.