In 2016, Oliver Saylor and his sister, Mia Saylor, founded Kuma and launched its first product, the original Kuma Chef’s Knife.
Based in Denmark, the sibling’s focus since day one has been to create high-quality cutlery that is comfortable to use and also more affordable for those consumers seeking a quality knife that won’t empty their wallets.
Recently, Oliver Saylor spoke with Kitchenware Today about Kuma’s four-year history, the company’s goals and why he and his sister started a business selling cutlery.
KITCHENWARE TODAY: What was the company’s goal when you started?
OLIVER SAYLOR: The goal with Kuma has since day one always been to create high-quality knives that are comfortable to use and that won’t break the bank. We have many customers who have compared our original Chef’s Knife (currently selling for $45) with $100-$200 big brand knives. These stories from our customers sincerely warm our hearts considering this is what we’ve initially set out to deliver.
KT: Why cutlery?
OS: There are three siblings in my family (I have an older brother but he is not involved in the business), and we have always loved cooking since we were kids. For a long time, the three of us were responsible for dinner twice a week when we lived with our parents. However, we all went to Copenhagen Business School and got interested in business. My sister and I realized we wanted to open a business related to food. Thinking about what our favorite tools and processes were in the kitchen, we really felt that kitchen knives were important, beautiful and exciting tools that we had always enjoyed using; but also tools that varied vastly in how easy and efficient they were to use. And that’s when we set out to create something we thought was cool.
KT: How do Kuma’s products differ from other items on the market?
OS: I think what sets our products apart is the sum of the characteristics that we strive for; our knives must be aesthetically pleasing, light and comfortable to use, and they must be razor-sharp with great edge retention. Our customers are especially pleasantly surprised by the edge retention in our softer steel knives, considering that competing products with similar soft steels will often turn dull rather quickly.
KT: Where are the products manufactured?
OS: Our knives are crafted in our facility within YangJiang, China. There we have a team of great bladesmiths that are highly devoted to proving to the world that Chinese artisans can deliver exceptional, world-class quality. YangJiang is a unique and passionate city with an impressive history of masterful knife crafting for nearly 1500 years. For our Damascus knives, we use premium steel imported directly from Japan to our facilities where the knives are crafted.
KT: How often does Kuma launch new products?
OS: Being a family-owned business it has taken a while to expand our product range since the demand for our existing products continues to grow. We currently have four different products on the market and two additional products are set to release later this year.
KT: Where is the company based?
OS: We are personally based in Copenhagen, Denmark. However, our main business is in the United States.
KT: Which U.S. retailers currently carry Kuma products?
OS: We currently sell our products on our website (www.kumaknives.com) as well as on our eBay Store and our Amazon Store.
KT: Are there any plans to expand the company’s product assortment beyond cutlery and into other cooking-related products?
OS: At the moment we do not have plans to expand outside of cutlery. Our passion is kitchen knives and we are driven to establish Kuma as a great kitchen knife brand.