KK Hudson's Mamaka Bowls - How this UA Student Brought the Beach to NWA

By: Anna Whitehead

Let’s face it. As the COVID-19 crisis rolls on in these dreary winter months, we’re all desperately searching for a feasible dose of escapism. For 24-year-old KK Hudson, the constant longing to be on a beach somewhere preceded this year-long pandemic, and created a unique opportunity to supply an endless amount of smiles for NWA locals.

Like clockwork. KK and her mom, Carrie, migrated from their home in Dallas, Texas, to Laguna Beach, California, in search of salty air and sunshine every summer. Their days were filled with endless laughter, perfect waves, and delicious acai (ah-sah-ee) bowls. For those who have yet to get their hands on one, an acai bowl is essentially a thick, creamy smoothie topped with superfood nutrients like fruit, granola, seeds, and honey.

Photo Courtesy of @mamakabowls on Instagram

That fall, both KK and Carrie realized they couldn’t wait nine more months to taste another bowl. Soon after, Carrie created the most decadent acai bowl known to man, and began delivering them to KK’s high school. Following months of hard work and a permanent granola smell in their home, Carrie decided to put away the blender - at least for a while.

Carrie Hudson, Photo Courtesy of @mamakabowls on Instagram

During her junior year at the University of Arkansas, KK took a leap of faith and launched a website for friends to order acai bowls and pick them up at her house in Fayetteville.

“I expected my customers to mainly be my friends who felt like being nice to me that day, but it completely took off,” Hudson said. "After that summer, my mom and I came together and knew Mamaka was bigger than just ourselves and the household operations we had started.”

Construction began on Mamaka Bowl’s first location during KK’s last semester of college. She kept her class load light and her vision strong.

“We were super naïve jumping into the whole process (which I fully believe was a blessing) and built out most of the space ourselves,” she said. “We were doing what we have always dreamed of and were excited by the learning curves that kept coming and continue to come our way.”

KK Hudson (right) and Carrie Hudson (left), at Mamaka's Fort-Worth location. Courtesy of @mamakabowls on Instagram

NWA is exploding with small businesses, startups, art and cultural experiences. Did you find living in Fayetteville to be particularly nurturing for a business owner, specifically when securing a physical space for the restaurant?

Yes absolutely! Again, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we opened and the community of Fayetteville totally rallied around us. Other businesses in the community were excited about helping promote who we were, and our customers immediately showed an immense amount of kindness, encouragement and support. I could go on and on about how much I love Fayetteville!

Between larger metropolitan areas like Waco and DFW, do you see any similarities or differences when compared to Fayetteville? Would it have been more difficult to start somewhere like Dallas as opposed to Arkansas?

I think each location has its own challenges. We are big on believing that everything happens for a reason and God opens and closes the right doors… Fayetteville has such an incredible culture of people who lift each other up and I think that’s probably invaluable. We are super excited about being in the DFW area because it’s where I grew up and it’s where my mom started the whole story of Mamaka!

“We were doing what we have always dreamed of and were excited by the learning curves that kept coming and continue to come our way.”

KK at Mamaka Bowl's Fayetteville Location Photo Courtesy of @mamakabowls on Instagram

Recent research at the U of A found that entrepreneurship in Northwest Arkansas is on the rise, even amid the pandemic. In the Endeavor NWA 2021 Ecosystem Predictions Report, author Sarah Goforth mentions that much of the progress taking place can be attributed to younger generations of entrepreneurs demanding newer models for their businesses, and aiming to grow them sustainably.

KK Hudson is a prime example of how “going in blind” can be a super power to young business owners.

What would you say to any young student or entrepreneur about going with their gut and starting a business (especially in NWA)?

If you’re passionate about something, don’t hesitate. Have faith in what you’re good at and surround yourself with people who are strong in the areas you aren’t. Stay focused on who you are and what you love and don’t be too quick to compare yourself to those around you.

Mamaka bowls is located at 495 W Prairie St, Fayetteville, AR 72701. Keep up with their journey on instagram @mamakabowls.

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