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Ericka McKim: Founder & Owner of And I Like It

PenFed Military Women Startup Accelerator finalist

With severe muscle cramping, bone and joint pain, digestive issues, and sleep concerns, Ericka McKim said her body was slowly deteriorating over time. She suffered through her time in the U.S. Navy as military doctors attempted to treat her symptoms which McKim noted seemed to be making her sicker, “they didn’t have a clue what was wrong with me.”

McKim was medically retired in 2014 due to her debilitating illness, or what she found was a severe gluten sensitivity. While her mother struggled with celiac disease, she suspected she might too but was never diagnosed. One thing McKim knew for sure was the need to rid her diet of gluten. But, the solution wasn’t so simple. She realized, gluten-free foods have high sugar content. Sugar-free and gluten-free foods use artificial sweeteners or chemicals that weren’t any better.

“I ended up having such severe reactions…I was in so much pain from eating some of the sugar-free products,” she said. “I’ve tried others that made the roof of my mouth itch and break out and would cause hives on my skin.”

Rolling the dice to find foods that didn’t cause her medical condition to flare up but also tasted good led McKim to create her business, And I Like It, in 2018. Along with her sister, who happens to be a biochemist, McKim tested and developed her own sugar substitute, which she uses in her sugar-free, gluten-free mini cheesecakes and candied pecans. On her website, McKim offers her specially mixed substitute, or what she calls “First Rate,” her desserts and a baking blend to make your own sugar-free, gluten-free muffins, pie crust, and cookies.

She’d never considered herself a baker, but as a veteran who adapts and learns as they go, McKim has perfected her recipe to consistently produce individual-sized cheesecakes on a large scale.

“The leadership and communication skills I’ve learned in the military have really worked well as an entrepreneur,” she said. 

McKim was recently named a finalist and grant recipient in the Pentagon Federal Union Foundation’s Military Women Startup Accelerator. She is among 10 finalists who received the $3,000 investment after attending the 10-week “boot camp” hosted by the PenFed Veteran Entrepreneur Investor Program. Over 260 business owners attended seminars or “modules” aimed at continuing education and expanding a startup.

Through the accelerator, McKim said she’s been able to use a provided formula known as the “heroes journey” to better articulate the need for her business and hire employees who can relate to and are invested in the company’s mission.

Get And I Like It desserts and sugar substitutes from or follow @AndILikeItCheesecakes for more information.



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