This AAPI Heritage Month, Support the Community by Shopping With These Asian-owned Brands

·9 min read
Travel cosmetics kit and hair oil
Travel cosmetics kit and hair oil

Courtesy of Retailers as Credited

Given the unsettling rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans in recent months, and the fact that it's Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, now is an especially fitting time to support the AAPI community and show solidarity. One of the easiest ways to do that is by choosing to shop AAPI- and Asian-owned brands.

Related: The Past, Present, and Future of Pearl River Mart: An Institution in New York City's Chinatown

So, whether you're in search of a weekender bag for your next getaway or a vitamin C serum to protect your skin against the summer sun, ahead are 14 brands ranging from up-and-coming to established that help champion the AAPI community with a few simple clicks.

Allies of Skin

Allies of Skin Serum
Allies of Skin Serum

Courtesy of of Allies of Skin

When Nicolas Travis launched Singaporean beauty brand Allies of Skin in 2016 with a single product, little did he know how quickly his clean, streamlined, and science-driven approach to skincare would resonate with people. Today, the brand includes 12 products and is sold all over the world. Unsure of where to start? Try the 35% Vitamin C+ Perfecting Serum. "Our innovative formula is the world's first waterless vitamin C product," Travis says of the best seller. "It enhances the potency and stability of vitamin C, so it doesn't oxidize and is gentle enough to even use on sensitive and acne-prone skin."

To shop: alliesofskin.com

Avre

Woman wearing white sneakers
Woman wearing white sneakers

Courtesy of Avre

Designed by women for women, Avre is a sustainable, direct-to-consumer footwear brand whose name stands for Authentic, Versatile, Responsible, and Empowered. After learning the ins and outs of the shoe industry from their family business, sisters Julie and Connie Kuo saw an opportunity to do better by the environment. To that end, Avre uses cutting-edge technology to create shoes with up to 45% less energy use and 20% less water consumption than its competitors. The subtly sporty styles are ideal for casual everyday wear, and for the month of May, Avre will be donating 20% of all sales to the AAPI Community Fund.

To shop: avrelife.com

Cadence

hexagonal toiletry case pods
hexagonal toiletry case pods

Courtesy of Cadence

There's no shortage of travel containers on the market, but Cadence capsules shine above the rest. They're dishwasher-safe, BPA-free, and leakproof. They help organize and securely store your everyday essentials, from contact solution to jewelry. And because they're magnetized, you can snap them together to keep everything you need at your fingertips. But most impressive is the brand's commitment to the environment. "Cadence is deeply involved with Envision Plastics, which sources the ocean-bound plastic we use," explains founder Steph Hon. "They partner with a company that employs locals in at-risk beach areas to pick up plastic off their coasts."

To shop: keepyourcadence.com

Fable & Mane

Fable and Mane hair oil
Fable and Mane hair oil

Courtesy of Fable & Mane

The brainchild of brother-and-sister duo Nikita and Akash Mehta, Fable & Mane is a natural haircare line that honors India's beauty rituals and traditions. "We were introduced to hair oiling by our grandmother who'd visit us from India when we were children," recalls Akash. "She'd bring potent ayurvedic plant roots and oils, and tell us fascinating fables while treating our scalp and hair." HoliRoots Hair Oil, Fable & Mane's hero product, recalls the nostalgia of the siblings' youth with nourishing ashwagandha and dashmool, and is an easy way to indulge in some self-care. Simply massage into dry scalp and hair, leave on for five minutes, then shampoo and condition as you normally would.

To shop: fableandmane.com

Gravitas

Black leggings
Black leggings

Courtesy of Gravitas

Lisa Sun started womenswear brand Gravitas — which has been worn by Alicia Keys and Cate Blanchett — with a single mission: to catalyze confidence. Sun explains, "Our products are where intelligent function meets versatile fashion. We've patented innovations and styling solutions to empower every woman to have a confident sense of self." That means every Gravitas garment is offered in sizes 0 through 26, and will be something you'll wear on repeat for years to come. That's definitely the case with the top-selling Love Yourself Tregging, which looks like a sleek tailored pant, but has all the stretchy comfort of a legging. Even better? Half of the company's offerings are proudly manufactured at its factory in New York City, and 100% of the workforce is of Asian descent.

To shop: gravitasnewyork.com

Lo & Sons

Grey Canvas Weekender Bag
Grey Canvas Weekender Bag

Courtesy of Lo & Sons

Lo & Sons sprung from Helen Lo's desire for a lightweight travel bag that wasn't just stylish, but highly functional, too. Over a decade later, the family-run company cofounded by Helen's sons, Jan and Derek, continues to manufacture travel accessories with thoughtful, human-centered design in mind. "From the very beginning, we've taken user feedback into consideration and continue to engage with our amazing customers every day," says Jan. The popular Catalina Deluxe, for example, is equipped with a bottom compartment for shoes and dirty clothes and a wide back strap that easily slips over suitcase handles. Though Lo & Sons has always promoted AAPI-related causes, during the pandemic, it donated over 3,800 bags to essential healthcare workers across America.

To shop: loandsons.com

Lux & Nyx

Black tote duffel
Black tote duffel

Courtesy of Lux and Nyx

What started as a search for the perfect bag to complement her busy lifestyle as a career woman in corporate finance soon became something more. "I realized it wasn't just about the bag, but what it represented," says founder Lisa Hu. "There is still an imbalance in female and minority representation in leadership roles across industries. We're an underserved population with specific needs that aren't catered to well." Thus, Lux & Nyx (Greek for "light" and "night) was born. The brand is built around smart, versatile accessories (like the Origami tote, with over 18 compartments and functions) that happen to be eco-friendly, too. And every year, Lux & Nyx donates part of its proceeds to non-for-profits that empower women.

To shop: luxandnyx.com

Ming Yu Wang

Woman wearing gold rings
Woman wearing gold rings

Courtesy of Ming Yu Wang

Taiwanese American Ming Yu Wang attended New York City's Fashion Institute of Technology to pursue a career in fashion design, but it didn't take long for her love of "structure and volume" to eventually lead her to jewelry — not just for women, but for everyone. Unveiled in 2013, Wang's namesake brand features recycled metals and striking silhouettes, and her pieces are intended to last a lifetime. Of all her distinctive designs, Wang is especially fond of the Primer Ring: "The craftsmanship behind it really embraces the design in a thoughtful way. It hugs your finger perfectly, and is a statement piece that's also simple and minimal." Also, for the rest of May, she'll be donating 20% of her online sales to stopaapihate.org.

To shop: mingyuwangnewyork.com

Odin New York

White t-shirt with red and black graphic
White t-shirt with red and black graphic

Courtesy of Odin New York

Menswear boutique Odin New York got its start in 2005, launching some of the most recognizable names in fashion, and it continues to make waves today with its eponymous fragrances and apparel. Each of the 15 scents are sophisticated, long-wearing, and have terrific sillage, which refers to the trail a fragrance leaves behind. And the clothes are incredibly wearable, thanks to a sporty-preppy vibe. The Corea T-shirts are a favorite of cofounder Edward Chai: "They're based off a popular Korean card game (hwa-tu), which I played growing up. We also chose C instead of K for Korea to show a different spelling Americans might not be accustomed to."

To shop: odinnewyork.com

Soohyang

Pink and white candle
Pink and white candle

Courtesy of Soohyang

Soohyang Kim, the founder of Asia's buzziest home fragrance line, stands behind the power of good scents. "I've always believed it can lead to good fortune," she says. "I'm not just selling candles of scents, but happiness." Her original creations are deeply personal, and take inspiration from favorite memories and places. (The top-selling Itaewon 565 candle is named after the address of the first Soohyang location.) Beyond candles, the brand also offers diffusers, wax tablets, and room sprays to lend any space a boost of olfactory elegance. Plus, the eye-catching petal-pink and black packaging makes all of Soohyang's offerings ideal for gift giving.

To shop: soohyang.us

Diaspora Co.

Various spices in set
Various spices in set

Courtesy of Diaspora Co.

Diaspora Co. offers a wide variety of spices, from single-origin turmeric to Kashmiri saffron, all organically sourced from small, multigenerational family farms paid fairly. Founder and CEO Sana Javeri Kadri, who grew up in Mumbai, built the company on the principle of disrupting the spice trade, working toward a more ethical future of the industry. You can build your own spice pack or shop items individually, allowing you to stock your kitchen however you please.

To shop: diasporaco.com

Aloha Beach Club

Black t-shirt
Black t-shirt

Courtesy of Aloha Beach Club

Founded by Oahu native Kahana Kalama and Billy Wickens, Aloha Beach Club offers stylish beach basics for men, from graphic T-shirts to swimwear, all of which are "rooted in the Aloha spirit." With an online store as well as retail locations in both Hawaii and California, this brand seeks to bring the beach to wherever you are.

To shop: alohabeachclub.com

Prim Botanicals

Various beauty products
Various beauty products

Courtesy of Prim

From CBD self-care products to luxurious candles, Prim is a chic wellness brand with a wide variety of beautiful products you'll want to display proudly on your vanity. In fact, the brand's three purposes are: "making products that feel good, making you feel great, and sharing as much happiness as possible." Founder Stefanie Walmsley was born and raised in the Philippines, and was inspired to start the brand by the natural beauty remedies she had grown up with. Plus, the brand partners with organizations in the Philippines to help various causes affecting the local population.

To shop: primbotanicals.com

Paper Project

Navy and red hiking socks
Navy and red hiking socks

Courtesy of Paper Project

From classic T-shirts to expertly crafted socks, it never hurts to stock up on the basics, especially when they're made this well. Paper Project, a New York-based brand with roots in Japan, makes apparel with a unique paper yarn that's anti-odor, moisture-wicking, and anti-bacterial. The brand's hiking socks, for example, are a must for active travelers.

To shop: paperprojectny.com

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