Tired of kitchenware that was expensive and clunky, Eunice Byun and David Nguyen filled their own customer void by building their own brand of kitchenware that “peeled away the excess” with Material Kitchen
It’s all in the details. Little things matter.
With an impressive professional background and love of home-cooking, Eunice Byun and David Nguyen founded Material Kitchen, a new category of tasteful kitchenware, designed and curated for modern home cooks. Their less is more approach is a consistent theme throughout their brand — demonstrated in the design of their products, their messaging, and their packaging.
Material Kitchen products have been featured in numerous publications including Architectural Digest, Epicurious, The New York Times, and more. You may have seen their Knife Trio and Stand published in the 2021 version of Oprah’s Favorite Things. We had the pleasure of congratulating Eunice and David as well as learning more about the creation Material Kitchen, their inspirations, and favorite career moments.
Tell us about your professional backgrounds before founding Material Kitchen.
Eunice Byun is the co-founder and CEO of Material. She started her career at Goldman Sachs, helped launch and advise several start-ups in the consumer space, and was most recently Head of Digital at Revlon. In this role, she was responsible for setting the digital strategy for the enterprise and elevating digital marketing, social media and digital innovation across the organization.
David Nguyen is the co-founder and COO of Material, bringing over 10 years of supply chain and business operations management experience with luxury fashion houses such as Valentino and Chanel. Most recently, David was the Director of Planning at Chanel, where he led business planning functions and cross-functional projects for the company’s fashion retail division.
What is something you learned early in your career that you still use today?
Eunice: It’s all in the details. Little things matter. We hold true to this in the design of each of our products. Through the appreciation for the minute details, we can delight our customers.
Dave: I learned early on that being able to adapt and be resourceful is a useful skill, professionally. This has been helpful, especially in a startup environment, where things are constantly evolving.
What was the inspiration behind Material Kitchen?
We set out to deliver a better balance between form and function. There are so many functional things that work. Then there are beautifully designed pieces that seem more meant for display, or cost a fortune so you rarely use it. We believed that we could achieve both utility and beauty, and do so at an accessible price point. You can actually enjoy and be inspired by what you’re cooking with.
Community seems to be at the center of all you do. Can you tell us a bit about your charitable giving and contributions to underserved groups across the U.S.?
One of our core beliefs as a team is that good business leaders are good community members. It’s not just about marketing campaigns or splashy efforts. It’s about working with others to chip away at structural issues that our society faces day in and day out. Together with our customers, we have donated over $100,000 to organizations at the intersection of food and underserved groups across the U.S. including Heart of Dinner, Drive Change and Star Route Farms. Each of these organizations are doing something meaningful in their communities to ensure that access to food and resources is available to all.
Tell us about the proudest moment in your career.
Eunice Byun: Building Material with Dave and our amazing team. What started off as an idea over dinner has evolved into a business we all deeply care about, and I’m excited to show everyone what is coming next.
David Nguyen: Having the opportunity to launch and develop Material with Eunice and the team. It’s been an amazing experience to try to create products and experiences that people love.
What are your three desert island kitchen utensils or appliances?
Eunice: The Good Shears (I have kids and need to cut up everything), my chemix (I have kids and need to stay caffeinated) and The reBoards (perfect for cutting and serving!).
Dave: Material’s 8’’ knife, The Angled Board, and the Saute Pan. That should take care of most of your cooking needs!
What are you passionate about outside of work?
Eunice: Trying to keep up with my six year-old daughter and her hobbies which include skiing and tennis.
Dave: Soccer (despite the constant disappointment of my favorite team, Tottenham) and the theater (it’s one of the great perks of living in New York)
Do you have a favorite NYC moment or place?
Eunice: The Union Square Greenmarket on Saturdays is my happy place. I love taking my daughters there and visiting the same stands every week (Lani’s Farm is my favorite!).
Dave: Bemelmans Bar on a quiet evening. It’s the best place for a cocktail and some live music.
With everything you know today, what advice would you give to your younger selves?
Just a reminder of the Henry James quote, “Three Things in Human Life Are Important. The First Is To Be Kind. The Second Is To Be Kind. And the Third Is To Be Kind”
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