13 AAPI-Owned Lifestyle Brands You Need to Add to Your Shopping List ASAP
After a long year of rising hate crimes and attacks on Asian Americans in the U.S., May finally heralds National Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month to celebrate the community. This month is an excellent opportunity to take the time to learn more about Asian history and to connect with Asian culture, no matter what race you are—which is why we're featuring 13 Asian lifestyle brands you can support now and always.
However, while there are many exports of Asian culture popular at the moment—from doing yoga to drinking matcha to using a gua sha for skincare, just to name a few—these practices and trends tend to be co-opted and appropriated by mainstream culture. So, while it's beautiful to connect with Asian culture, make sure to show patronage and respect to Asian-owned brands and the AAPI community by learning about the history of these objects.
Below is a list of Asian and Pacific Islander-owned lifestyle brands for you to support this month, from health-centric pharmacies to sustainable kitchen companies.
Rae's Roots is adaptogen-based teas that are specialized for the mamas in your life, from herbal teas that help milk flow lactation to teas that boost immunity through pregnancy. But even if you're not a mom or planning on becoming one, you can still enjoy Rae's Roots certified-organic teas to calm your nerves or soothe your gut aches.
For founder Shizu Okusa, food is medicine. In 2019, Okusa used her traditional Japanese upbringing and education in Ayurvedic and Kampo Medicine to create Apothékary (a natural pharmacy) after working as a former Wall Street banker so she could lead a life based in her Asian holistic roots. "The expression self-care has completely lost its meaning," Okusa told Forbes in 2020. "People associate it with going to the spa. But for us at Apothékary, it's about maintaining mental, physical, and spiritual balance." Every item in the Apothékary shop is made of USDA Organic Certified, Fair-Trade, and Non-GMO herbs and adaptogenic ingredients—so you know you're enjoying the good stuff.
Strange Bird Beauty
Strange Bird Beauty is a combination of founder Tina Rudolph's two dreams: to encourage women to prioritize their emotional wellness and for her daughter to grow up in a world that represents Asian Americans like her. Drawing from the kitchen masks of her childhood, Rudolph has incorporated ginseng, ginger, and cucumber into her beauty product formulas since opening in 2016.
Strange Bird Beauty also sells singing bowls to help enhance your skincare routine by allowing the vibrations and sounds to keep you in the present moment. The singing bowl's vibrations are resonant and deeply soothing, and what better way to self-care than to meditate and vibe?
Pink Moon's founder Lin Chen wants you to approach every act of self-care with intention, no matter how small and insignificant—from your toothbrush to your perfume. Initially developed as a consulting agency that worked with woman-owned brands valuing sustainability, philanthropy, and empowerment, Pink Moon expanded into a shop of curated brands—from bath and body products to eco-home items—that are thoughtfully priced, high quality, and celebrates all women of all identities.
Chen, who got out of a toxic relationship before launching Pink Moon in 2017, has sourced self-care as a major factor in her healing. She believes that everyone should have the experience to nurture and love theirselves, in small but meaningful ways.
You may be familiar with the KonMari Method thanks to Netflix's 2019 original show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, which featured founder Marie Kondo. But Kondo isn't just a TV star; she also created an e-comm shop KonMari in 2019 that features everyday home items to enhance your daily routine. Think: a tidy tech kit, a Japanese-style hand broom, drawer organizers, and more. Her mission? For every item you have in your home to spark joy.
While "sharing a home-cooked meal is foundational to connection" is cookware company Our Place's mission, its values are rooted in using responsible materials, telling real stories, and investing in ethical labor. When ideating Our Place, Shiza Shahid and two other co-founders wanted to create cookware that fit the needs of the modern, multiethnic American kitchen. And since its inception in 2018, the brand has made the Instafamous Always Pan, main and side plates, drinking glasses, side bowls, and other kitchen accessories.
When it comes to aprons and masks, Rendall Co. knows best. Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Syama Meagher and the brand's other co-founders wanted to provide the hospitality industry with "exceptional quality and modernist beauty," according to the site. But then, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit, and the founders decided to switch gears by launching 100% cotton- and cotton/linen-blended masks. Whether you decide to buy a mask or an apron, you can expect each of the products to be made with 100% cotton denims and chambrays. Plus, the company ensured inclusive labor practices and fair wages for their employees, too.
The heart of every Asian home is in the kitchen, as food is how many Asian parents show their love to their children and family. Co-founders Eunice Byun and Dave Nguyen both want to make sure that whatever these families are buying to stock their kitchen, it's up to snuff—from the knives to the bowls.
Since the company's launch in 2017, Material's cookware has had a casual home-cooking vibe with a functional design in mind that stems from the cofounders' upbringing. The slotted spoon is designed off an Asian-style spider skimmer, and the dishwasher and microwave-safe ceramic plates and bowls are made in collaboration with Soil Baker, a Korean pottery brand that handcrafts all its pieces with Korean soil and draws heavily from the city of Yeoju for inspiration.
MyKirei by KAO
According to sustainable lifestyle and beauty brand MyKirei by KAO's site, "caring for yourself, your society, and the world around you is the key to simple, beautiful living." The company's mission is rooted in the Japanese philosophy of Kirei, which is about living a life of balance, sustainability, and cleanliness. That's why you'll find that all its products are made with up to 50% less plastic than traditional bottles and can be 100% recyclable by TerraCycle.
When Blueland founder Sarah Paiji Yoo became a mom a few years ago, this life change encouraged her to want to live a more sustainable life. "All the plastic I was throwing away was contaminating our water supply and generating hundreds of microplastics in the water and food I was feeding my baby," Paiji Yoo said on the Blueland website.
So in 2018, Blueland was created. Its mission? To "make it easy to be eco with innovative products in reusable packaging that are convenient, effective, and affordable," per Blueland's website. While the company is widely known for its Clean-Up Kit, you can also buy other sustainable products such as The Garden Hand Soap Starter Kit, the Hand Soap Duo, and more.
According to LAAUNCH, over 75% of Americans are familiar with food from Asian countries, but only 44% are familiar with Asian customs and music/arts. Well, AAPI- and woman-owned puzzle brand, Puzzle Sensei, is working on changing that. The brand was founded in October 2020 by Emily Liang out of the desire to inspire curiosity and celebrate diversity by sharing her passion for food through art and trivia, the founder told HelloGiggles.
By using Asian food-themed puzzles, Puzzle Sensei is bridging this knowledge gap by providing each puzzle with original illustrations of Asian foods (like ramen and dimsum), fun facts about the food illustrated in the puzzle or the culture behind it, and a bonus recipe to try out.
Dang Foods founder Vincent Kitirattragarn is hoping you try his Asian-inspired snacks and say, "Dang, that's good!" Born from his interpretation of his mother's toasted coconut recipe in 2011, the brand now includes coconut chips, keto-friendly almond cookies, keto-genic lemon matcha bars, and Thai rice chips. Dang Foods sources its coconut fresh from family farms in Thailand.
Is there a sense that can trigger deep-rooted memories or tell a story quite like your sense of smell? Alicia Tsai, the founder of Aerangis, started her candle brand in 2019 off of a foundational childhood memory: the scent of the aerangis orchids of her grandfather's greenhouse in Taichung, Taiwan, where she spent hours by his side as a 9-year-old.