HEATseeker Kat Mututina

Fly By Jing is celebrating AAPI Heritage Month with a new HEATSEEKERS series, where we highlight innovators generating exciting energy across diverse realms. Keep following for more kindred spirits who embody the hustle and bustle of RÉ NAO 热闹

There’s a buoyant rhythm to all the work Kat Matutina does. As the founder of Mayumi Market, a pop-up maker market (the 1 year anniversary market happening on May 25!) that centers around Asian American and Pacific Islander creators and makers, Kat is always looking to meet new people. By day, she’s connecting with small business owners and curating good vibes at Mayumi Market. By night, she’s dreaming up vegan recipes, tackling the skin care industry, and DJing around Los Angeles. Get to know Kat, a multi-talented artist who’s dedicated to amplifying the AAPI community around her.

Who fuels you to do your work?

My mom serves as my ultimate source of inspiration. Growing up without much, my mom always taught me to make the best with what you have, and that you can make almost anything yourself, and better. My mom was always very DIY and crafty so she always inspired me to learn to make things myself. This was before youtube and tiktok for inspo and reference, so she really was a boss.

I also grew up as one of the only non-white people in our small town. Growing up in the 80s, I never really saw Asian people do anything, and I certainly didn't see them on tv either. This fuels my motivation to increase representation!

We have so many young people that go to our events and I think it's so important for them to see people that look like them making art, owning a bakery, DJ'ing, designing their own clothing line, tattooing, selling their photography, performing, and slinging dishes with a line circling the parking lot. I never got to see that growing up, and even now as a grown woman I still get so inspired and am in awe!

I worked in the natural food and beauty/wellness industry for over 20 years working with hundreds of natural food, wellness and beauty brands. My brand (Mayumi Goods) was born out of me being passionate about using all clean, natural products and the confidence I had to make my own products better.

After working in the industry for so long, I wanted to make things I wanted, but better than what was on the market. There weren't any skincare products I loved 100% so I took my knowledge and started formulating my own products with more concentrated, efficacious formulas. I did the same with my non-toxic candles while also incorporating Asian-inspired scent profiles.

I also got super into cooking and nutrition at 10 years old and adopted a plant-based diet when I was only 14 in 1994. I was making my own meals and showing my mom food ingredients I wanted her to incorporate into the meals she made for me. Growing up Filipino, there aren't many plant-based options, but my mom was excited to modify traditional Filipino and other Asian dishes with vegetables and tofu and learned to use different umami seasonings to make things just as good as the traditional dishes.

This later led me to start my own food pop-ups in the early 2000's in my early 20's and attend an organic plant-based culinary school. I worked in restaurants and was a private chef for years, but now I mostly only cook at home. I am still a big foodie, so that's why food is such a big part of Mayumi Market!

Give me your hottest take about events

There are some curators of events that say they're doing it for "community" but are really just in it for the bag. They know how to use buzzwords to their advantage and are focused on how lucrative it can be to put on events. Ironically, the people truly doing it for the cause and for the community barely make much for their work. It can be a huge labor of love.

My brand Mayumi Goods came before Mayumi Market and after participating in many other markets I was inspired by the talented AAPI artists and vendors I met along the way and wanted to create something for us, by us. When you're in this world, it can become obvious who is truly doing it for the community.

Mayumi Market hasn't had any grants or financial sponsorships, so all production, marketing, talent and staff comes out of my pocket, from the accessible vendor fees we offer, and from sales of my brand's products and merch.

I'm also lucky to have such an amazing group of volunteers who share my passion and really help with the events. Really telling everyone's story sparks excitement and intrigue with the people who attend the events. Right now I'm trying to find a good balance where I can pay myself for my time while still offering something accessible to the community as I continue to work to amplify AAPI artists and businesses.

What has recently inspired you that you weren’t expecting?

The growth of Mayumi Market over the past year has inspired me so much. The collective excitement from both the patrons and vendors has truly motivated me to keep brainstorming on how to make it bigger and better. The talented artists and small business owners I have met have inspired me so much. They inspire me as a business owner myself, and as a community event organizer. The excitement has definitely motivated me to work harder to give more people a voice and grow the community.

Tell us about a life experience that expanded your mind?

Traveling to Southeast Asia by myself expanded my mind. Traveling alone to a foreign country is one of the best ways to force yourself out of your comfort zone. When I went to Bali and Thailand alone, I learned a lot about myself by learning to navigate a new country and culture alone and these experiences are probably why it's so easy for me to always adapt in different situations.

It's also way easier to meet new people when you're alone — and the locals were so nice. I made so many friends during these travels and was inspired to experiment cooking with a lot of the local ingredients when I got home. I always loved doing things solo because you can also do whatever the hell you want and leave/come when you feel like it. I am in a relationship now, but luckily we travel amazing together because we enjoy all the same things.

Describe a meal that changed your life?

Lasita restaurant in Chinatown, Los Angeles. Lasita is a restaurant and wine bar that is known for their Filipino rotisserie chicken and pork belly lechon, but also has amazing plant-based menu options which is very rare for Filipino food!


Switching to a plant-based diet in the early 90's is very different from going vegan in 2024. There weren't many options with prepared foods, restaurants. I traveled to the Philippines in 2013 and stayed in beautiful resorts and most days all I had to eat were mangoes and garlic rice. There was nothing I could eat anywhere..

For most of my adult life, I never got to enjoy Filipino food because there were never any plant-based options. I still remember taking my first bite of my dish at Lasita. It was the first time I tasted Filipino food not made by myself that was truly out-of-this-world delicious (sorry mom!). I made reservations to take my parents there when they visit later this month!

What are you hoping to spark with your work?

I hope to continue to amplify AAPI creators and artists including my own brand! I also hope that by celebrating so many talented AAPI creators and small businesses, more people switch over to shopping small and shopping from within the community. Shopping small from locally owned businesses recycle a much larger share of their revenue back into the local economy, enriching the whole community. The foods and products are also usually of better quality and sustainability.

Shopping from small businesses also contributes to the social fabric of a community. I find so much joy in providing a gathering place for locals where locals can meet and interact with each other and locally owned businesses. Networking can also bring the community together and foster social bonds that make a community strong and vibrant. I've seen so many amazing collaborations among vendors who have met at some of the markets and friends who have met and bonded at some of these events.

My dream is also to gain financial grants and sponsorships so that one day Mayumi can play an even bigger role in helping small businesses and artists grow. I would love to be able to feature more than 20-50 vendors for each event with a bigger space, more attractions, and ideally when we get grants or sponsorships, Mayumi can be able to offer micro grants to help businesses just starting out as well.