As we wrap up Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, also known as AAPI Month (Asian American Pacific Islander Month), I wanted to take a moment to celebrate the brands, businesses, and Asian-American change makers that have influenced our daily lives in this country.
Many of us are probably familiar with notable Asian-Americans in Hollywood - whether Bruce Lee or Awkwafina - on-screen celebrities of Asian descent have paved the way for more roles to be created, representing the 50+ ethnic groups in the United States that comprise 24 million Americans within the AAPI community (roughly 7.3% of the US population).
However, every day we interact with brands and businesses that are Asian-founded, owned, or led. Because not all business leaders like to be in the spotlight, you may or may not have known that all of these well-loved brands were started (and some are still run) by Asian-Americans:
Forever21 - founded by Don Chang
Away - co-founded by Jen Rubio
YouTube - co-founded by Steven Chen
Bose - founded by Amar Bose
Classpass - founded by Payal Pujji
DoorDash - founded by Tony Xu, Stanley Tang, Andy Fang
The Honest Company - co-founded by Brian Lee
Kickstarter - founded by Perry Chen
The Knot - founded by David Liu
Peloton* - co-founded by Hisao Kushi and Yony Feng
Our passion at SLTC is for growth-stage companies, and the brands above need no introduction. Although Peloton is our client (and we love them), we want to also highlight lesser-known AAPI-founded and run brands that we admire, have worked with, or know personally.
Here’s a shortlist of Asian-American-owned or founded businesses to support and engage with all year round. I hope you enjoy them as much as we loved curating this list for you.
Elix Healing* - founded by Lulu Ge. Medicinal herbal formulas to address the root cause of menstrual symptoms. Our friends have raved about their results.
Material Kitchen - co-founded by Eunice Byun and David Nguyen. Meticulously designed cookware that honors the tradition of cooking and serving meals.
MM La Fleur - co-founded by Miyako Nakamura. Stylish workwear and out-of-office options for women that are practical and comfortable.
North Gens* - co-founded by Ray Dong (who is technically Asian-Canadian, but it’s close enough). Rebellious fashion and comfort in footwear.
Pepper - founded by Jaclyn Fu. Pepper makes bras for small chests. They targeted me with an ad on Instagram. End of story.
Poketo - co-founded by Angie Myung and her husband, Ted Vadakan. Design-conscious goods to cultivate a creative lifestyle. We love their pens, notebooks, and journals.
Private Packs* - founded by Suzanne Sinatra. Discreet, wearable hot and cold packs to soothe private part pain. Available at CVS or online.
Pura Vida Naturals* - co-founded by brothers Rob and Teddy Hagos. Age-defying collagen drinks for youthful skin.
Sundays - founded by Amy Lin. Non-toxic and vegan nail polishes in every color of the rainbow. Visit their brick & mortar nail studios in NYC or buy online.
Modern Minorities Podcast - co-hosted by Raman Sehgal and Sharon Lee Thony (me). Conversations about work and life through the lens of race and gender. Listen for free on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Happy APAHM Month!
*Businesses denoted with an asterisk(*) are current or former clients of SLTC and are being highlighted simply because we love them.