LOS ANGELES — “I don’t think anyone grows up knowing they’re going to start an oatmeal company because it’s really not the sexiest thing out there,” said Grace Cheng, a fashion model turned food entrepreneur.

For years, her beloved breakfast has remained a constant amid a chaotic blur of business school, casting calls and cross-country photo shoots.

“It’s like a warm hug in the morning,” Ms. Cheng said. “It gives me the energy to get through my day. If I don’t start my day with oatmeal, I feel off, like something’s missing. It’s become like a religion for me.”

However, many oatmeal options in the marketplace are packed with sugar or have a texture she described as “gummy and gooey, like wall paste,” she said.

Less than five years ago, she launched Mylk Labs, a premium instant oatmeal brand inspired by her homemade recipes, featuring organic coconut sugar, fruit and nuts or seeds. This month marks a milestone for the brand, which is rolling out to Target and Whole Foods Market stores in select regions.

Texture was a key factor when developing the products, Ms. Cheng said, noting, “We don’t buy quick oat flakes, which give it that gummy, mushy texture. I get thin-rolled oats, so it cooks fast but still has that chewy, al dente texture, plus you’ve got the big, sliced almonds for crunch.”

The addition of roasted almond meal, an upcycled ingredient, contributes creaminess, flavor and nutrition.

The oatmeal is packaged in grab-and-go cups and made with four to six ingredients. Flavors include blueberry with Vermont maple, roasted almond with Himalayan pink salt, and toasted coconut with cassia cinnamon, plus two nut-free offerings, strawberry with Madagascar vanilla, and Granny Smith apple with sunflower seeds and cinnamon.

Within its first two years, Mylk Labs gained distribution in coffee shops, hotels and corporate offices across the country.

“Then the pandemic hit, and I lost all of my business overnight,” Ms. Cheng said.

She started selling into specialty grocery stores in the Los Angeles area and eventually expanded to additional major cities along the West Coast. Over the past year, she also has focused on building direct-to-consumer sales. Most recently, Mylk Labs began launching in Whole Foods Market stores in the Northwest region and Target stores in California.

“It was my decision to start smaller so we can handle that growth and commit all the marketing efforts we can to do well,” Ms. Cheng said. “I’d rather not launch in the entire West Coast or nationally and just not have the money or resources to make it successful, only to fail out and have them never try us again.”

She plans to continue building her self-funded startup slowly and strategically, noting she has declined several opportunities because she “didn’t want to overcommit and underdeliver.”

“You start a company young and naïve, and you think you’ll go big, and then you realize it doesn’t really work like that,” said Ms. Cheng, the daughter of entrepreneurs. “It’s a lot of hard work.”