Over the last year, we’ve seen increased violence targeted at members of the Asian-American community. In cities all over the country, Asian-Americans are being targeted and scapegoated for the looming pandemic, which started one year ago. The Asian-American community is also mourning the tragic events of the shooting in Atlanta on Tuesday, March 16, which resulted in the deaths of eight people, many of them Asian women. With all the hatred rearing its ugly head in America, AAPI, or Asian-American and Pacific Islanders, are finding themselves on the receiving end of heinous acts.
For years, Asian Americans have been the scapegoats for many issues that have nothing to do with their people and communities. This violence has no simple solution, of course, but reteaching tolerance and kindness is essential. If one group can become a target of hate, then every group can be. In order to uphold the democracy that America and its civilians pride ourselves on, we must make sure that the diverse groups that make up this country are respected. Remember, it’s liberty and justice for all.
How can you show your support for the AAPI community? You can peacefully protest and donate to foundations and charities that promote the safety and betterment of AAPI communities. Some of these options include: the Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Think!Chinatown, Send Chinatown Love, the Asian Mental Health Collective and many more. Over the summer, we wrote about putting your purchase power to good use by supporting Black businesses, and you can do the same now by supporting AAPI-owned businesses. These are all ways to create a stronger democracy, with freedom and safety for everyone.
Again, social justice is not a hat or a costume that you put on and take off when things go awry. Instead, it’s something that requires constant action. Below, we’ve put together a list of businesses owned by Asian and Asian-American entrepreneurs that you can support to use your buying power for good.
1. Nimble Made
Founded because of a lack of shirts that fit slimmer bodies well, Wesley Kang and Tanya Zhang, the brand’s founders, created a tailored shirt brand that will always fit the consumer well well. Created from scratch, this brand strives to put Asian-Americans in the spotlight by always hiring Asian American designers, photographers and models. There is a variety of styles and silhouettes that the brand sells so that there are no more complaints of sizing within the tailored fashion landscape.
If you’re looking for chic yet stern glasses that will make you look good, then Covry has you covered. As a means to break away from the eyewear standard of one-size-fits-all, Covry created its inclusive line of glasses that fits faces of every shape and size. The brand is 100% female-founded by Athena Wang and Florence Shin. With the brand’s signature Elevated Fit, Wang and Shin help to create a more comfortable and diverse glasses-wearing experience. With an abundance of glasses that vary in shape and design, there’s sure to be a frame that suits your fancy.
Wallets are an everyday essential that deserves more credit — I mean, what else will hold your cards, money, that awkward baby picture and your loose change? Capsule finds ways to bring modernity and creativity to something that most people consider to be just boring and functional. Coining the term “flexutility,” the brand is all about making function have utility because if the two don’t converge, then the product is pointless. Capsule offers a variety of wallets in many eye-catching colors that have “flexutility” seeping through their fibers.
4. 3.1 Phillip Lim
One of fashion’s most beloved brands is 3.1 Phillip Lim. Founded in 2005 under the leadership of Phillip Lim and his entrepreneurial business partner Wen Zhou, they had an idea and goal of bringing a “cool, easy, chic” set of clothing to the modern citizen that felt wearable. The two have succeeded as the brand is knocking on the door of its 16th anniversary. The brand has won three Council of Fashion Designers of America for Womenswear (2007), Menswear (2012) and Accessories (2013).
Cardon’s mission is simple: to help men get premium skincare products at affordable prices. Started by Jacqueline and Narea, Cardon started with a simple Daily SPF + Moisturizer that quickly became the best seller for Cardon. The brand uses cactus as its main ingredient and has created full cactus-based self-care products that men have come to love. The brand’s products are offered individually and even in sets for convenience.
Started from the idea of rowdy and noisy children, Omsom wants to bring the same rowdiness to the flavor of your food. Vanessa and Kim Pham are sisters and the co-founders of Omsom. They started the company so that they could shine a light on Asian cuisine and its multitudes of heat and flavor. The company sells seasoning packs that you use to help amplify the flavors of your food. With loud Asian flavors, Omsom brings the authenticity of Asian cuisine to your doorstep and allows it to see in between the garlic and onion powder in your pantry.
7. ILHA Candles
Michelle, the brand’s founder, wanted to create something that gave a nod to her heritage while also giving love to where she now resides, New York City. Getting the idea from her parents’ native land of Taiwan, the name Ilha comes from the notion of the Portuguese sailors who ventured to the island in the 1500s, and they would call the island “Ilha Formosa.” With many natural scents that are neutral yet smell-worthy, these candles are carefully handmade. Ilha makes candles that feature cotton wicks, natural soy wax and toxin-free fragrances that will brighten up any room.
8. Nguyen Coffee Supply
Coffee is one of America’s biggest obsessions. We’re always looking for the newest way to brew the dark drink, or we’re always trying to find the next best bean to use. Nguyen Coffee Supply was the first Vietnamese-American-owned importer and roaster of green coffee beans in new York. The coffee brand is millennial-owned and created by a first-generation Vietnamese-American, Sahra Nguyen. Nguyen Coffee Supply offers an assortment of coffee beans and equipment that will help you brew that neck cup of “pick-me-up.
9. Mount Lai
Mount Lai’s inspiration comes from Stephanie Zheng, the grandmother of the brand’s founder. Rooted in traditional Chinese medicine, the brand takes a modern approach to ancient rituals to help create radiant and healthy skin. Gua sha and Jade rolling were used centuries ago and aren’t new practices. The brand offers many products from, a variety of rollers to a face lifting tool that uses different stones for different purposes.
10. Dang Foods
Founded by two brothers, Dang Foods focuses on the brothers’ upbringing that revolves around them living between Bangkok and New York City. Dang is named after their mother and brings unique Asian-American snacks that have the traditional flavors that the two love. Some of the brand’s most popular items are Coconut Chips, Thai Rice Chips and Keto Friendly Bars. Also, the brand focuses on being sustainable and making sure that every ingredient gets used completely — eliminating waste. The company’s products are plant-based, non-GMO and gluten-free.
11. Let’s Take Care
For those moments when you need a little TLC, tender loving care, or need a comfortable outfit to lounge around the house in, Let’s Take Care has a few items for you. The brand began to help people start to emphasize self-care and making sure that people are healthy. Currently, Let’s Take Care carries sweatshirts with their simple yet catchy slogan. Let’s Take Care wants you to join their Compassion Community and, simply put, take care.
As the company’s site states, “Slant’d is a collective of Asian Americans celebrating the journey of self-discovery.” With that one statement alone, the brand has a voice that enables Asian-Americans to feel seen and heard. The magazine’s main mission is to cultivate the community that Asian Americans need and want. In wake of recent times, never has a magazine been more crucial to a community. Shedding light on the successes and struggles that Asian-Americans face, Slant’d seek to be a voice of truth for Asian-Americans.
13. Sam Lee Hello
Created by Samantha Lee, Sam Lee Hello is a collection of pottery and illustrations made by the namesake of the brand. Samantha, or Sam, creates pots, mugs, art and other fine goods that will help your room look modern. Lee strives to pull inspiration from the mundane and create exciting magnificence.
Chances are that you’ve seen this brand in your local grocer, or you’ve seen it on your recent Instagram feed with the brand becoming popular throughout the last few years. Health-Ade Kombucha started in 2012 with a husband, wife and best friend trio that wanted to introduce this idea of people trusting in their gut and themselves when it comes to health. If you don’t know what kombucha is, it’s a fizzy probiotic drink made from fermented tea that’s great for gut health. Another added benefit of this product is it being sourced healthily and ethically and doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients.
15. Tower 28 Beauty
For those who don’t know, Tower 28 got its name from a lifeguard tower in Santa Monica. This place is where two LA worlds come together, and this meeting place symbolizes everything the brand stands for community, healthy fun and clean living. The brand’s founder, Amy Liu, started Tower 28 because she has sensitive skin and was finding no relief with beauty products, and she wanted to give others with sensitive skin an option. Known for its eye-catching marketing and fun products, Tower 28 continues to push forward the idea that healthy, happy skin is a good thing. From lip jellies and highlighter balm to facial spray and cream bronzer, Tower 28’s products are cruelty-free, non-irritating vegan and non-toxic.
16. Eastwind Books of Berkeley
It’s not often that you see an Asian-American-owned and operated bookstore. Hopefully, with Eastwind Books of Berkeley gaining more traction, we can see more Asian-American own bookstores. Founded in 1982, Eastwind has been a watering hole for Asian-American literature, Asian studies, ethnic studies and a host of other humanity sectors. Through events and partnerships, Eastwind makes sure that Asian-American authors get to have a spotlight shined on their work.
17. Fly By Jing
Founded in 2018, Fly By Jing’s creator and owner, Jing Gao, found herself inspired by her childhood and the flavors that permeated that time of her life. “Fly” in the brand name stands for the hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Chengdu, Jing’s hometown, and of course, “Jing” stands for Jing’s name. The brand sells spices, seasonings and sauces that are akin to the culture, but they don’t follow tradition but instead make their own rules. And that’s what sets Fly By Jing apart from the rest.
18. Victor Li
Started in 2018, the eponymous label Victor Li started as a menswear brand that has now evolved into a unisex line that expresses design in the menswear-silhouette. Wanting to be a voice for an underrepresented group of people, Li created his line with them in mind. One of his main techniques for inspiration is to use cross-cultural references that he absorbed through travel. With every season, Li draws our attention to destinations around the world, with a boyish charm and intricate color play.
19. Pearl River Mart
The Pearl River Mart began in 1971 in New York City and started as a “friendship” because a group of young Chinese men and women figured that China had a lot to offer America. Founded by Ming Yi and Ching Yeh Chen, Pearl River Mart has been running by them for 45 years, six days a week. You can buy anything from Asian-American culture here. With multiple locations throughout New York City, Pearl River Mart will remain to be a staple within Asian-American history.
20. Tatcha Beauty
Victoria Tsai, Tatcha Beauty’s founder, started the brand as a way for her to battle her acute dermatitis. By traveling to Kyoto, she met a modern-day geisha that would change her life. By using generational medicine and traditions, Tsai was able to create a beauty line that uses basic ingredients but creates tremendous results. Carrying everything from face serums to rice water, eye cream and skin softeners, Tatcha has an option that will help you.
Think DoorDash or Grubhub, but exclusively for Asian cuisine. That’s the mission behind Chowbus. Chowbus seeks to bring awareness to Asian cuisine and empower the greater Asian-American communities within the United States. Ran through an app, Chowbus seeks businesses that sell authentic Asian cuisine and make it deliverable to anybody. With service to Austin, Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York City and other cities, this app takes the guesswork out of finding authentic Asian cuisine.
How would you like for a website to be able to decorate your home for you? That’s the idea behind TRNK. By searching on the net, in person and in countless other ways, TRNK finds pieces and puts them together in a succinct manner so that they would fit and complement a house nicely. The brand then studies the materials to make sure that they’re of quality and that they’ll make a lasting impression on you.
Built on over 20 years of skincare research in South Korea, Venn is activated from nature and tailored for modern life. Venn has three areas it strives to achieve: efficiency and convenience, simplicity and effectiveness and proprietary science and technology. With many products marketed towards men and women, this brand has the capabilities to handle anything that you throw at it. From body washes to lifting masks to cleansers and serums, this brand is versatile.
24. Gentle Monster
Sunglass giant Gentle Monster is one of the most beloved sunglasses businesses in fashion. With many collaborations with artists and brands like Diplo and Marine Serre, Gentle Monster carved its niche path within the fashion industry. There are many options for frames that the brand offers from, more edgy looks to subdue looks. Whatever you’re looking for in a pair of spectacles, Gentle Monster has an option.
25. CLE Cosmetics
Created by Lauren Jin, CLE Cosmetics seeks to create products not only modern in their technology but modern in their thinking as well. With multiple masks, elixirs and moisturizers, this brand is perfect for the skincare enthusiast.