When you think of the month of May, you might think of flowers blooming, the school year coming to an end, or even some start-of-summer beach weekend plans! Another special thing about May, though, is that it's Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, an opportunity to recognize and acknowledge the many incredible contributions the AAPI communities have brought to the world and the innovative AAPI movers and shakers in every space.
Of the many ways you can support the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, one of the most powerful and effective is to buy from AAPI businesses and people. From books to skincare, these are some of our absolute favorite products from AAPI creators, authors, and founders.
South Korean fashion designer Rejina Pyo has teamed up with UK stationery brand Papier to create a truly beautiful and vibrant collection based on her incredible hand-painted clothing prints. The collection includes notebooks, notecards, notepads, and planners, all in bold colors and unique, eye-catching patterns. Excuse me while I just go ahead and order one of everything...
This instant New York Times bestseller debuted with exceptional reviews from critics and an amazing intention: to offer "a love letter to and for Asian Americans." Authors Jeff Yang, Phil Yu, and Philip Wang guide the reader through a remarkable shift in recent history, from skyrocketing interest in Korean cuisine to Asian representation in media to the impact Asian cultures have on urban neighborhoods across the United States. This is an absolute must-read.
A Best Face Mask Winner at the Glamour Beauty Readers Choice Awards, the Nylon Korea's Beauty Hit List, and the Women's Health Beauty Awards. Need I go on? This mask is remarkable. Co-founders and CEOs Sarah Lee and Christine Chang even convinced Shark Tank veteran Robert Herjavec to invest nearly half a million dollars in the company when it was in early days. We bet he's feeling pretty great right about now.
You've heard of Ethiopian coffee, you've probably sampled Colombian coffee, you may even have Costa Rican coffee in your cupboard, but have you tried Vietnamese coffee yet? Nguyen Coffee Supply holds the title of the first specialty Vietnamese coffee company in the United States, and it brings organic beans from a fourth generation farm in Vietnam's Central Highlands to first generation Vietnamese-American founder and activist Sahra Nguyen, who uses only the most sustainable methods to roast the most delicious coffee.
If you want to fully immerse yourself in Asian cooking from the comfort of your home, take a closer look at this course from Uncommon Goods. Jannie Huang teaches you how to make her incredible dumplings from scratch in a 90 minute virtual class. Both steamed in boiling water and pan-fried, these tasty morsels get rave reviews from her students. Be sure to also follow her on Instagram for more cooking tips!
Who hasn't tried the Mighty Patch yet? Ju Rhyu, CEO and Co-Founder of Hero Cosmetics, was tired of the old and unreliable methods of dealing with a problematic pimple, so she brought this South Korean solution to the world with a product that has since become a global sensation. Hero has expanded to accommodate a wide range of skincare needs since it came onto the scene in 2017, and they are only getting bigger with their attentive and inclusive approach to cosmetics.
Juara was created when four friends went searching for better self-care solutions, and inspired by their own diverse heritages, developed a passionate interest in "the ancient Indonesian healing tradition of Jamu, which is centered on beauty rituals and wellness." The line itself is incredibly inclusive and varied, offering a little something for absolutely every skincare need. We're particularly in love with the Candlenut Body Creme, which softens and moisturizes the skin while helping maintain elasticity for a long-lasting, youthful glow.
If you have not followed Joanne Lee Molinaro as obsessively as we have, you're in for a real treat. Having amassed a following of three million TikTok followers thanks to her beautiful and heartfelt food videos inspired by her family's history and her own gastronomic interests, the Korean Vegan herself put all of that love and culinary joy into a cookbook. Full of delicious recipes, from black bean noodles to braised tofu, this one takes you on an incredible journey.
Even if you don't recognize Jason Wu's name, you have definitely seen his work. This Taiwanese-Canadian designer has worked extensively with major names like Michelle Obama (he did BOTH of her inauguration dresses!) and RuPaul, and he oversaw the entire women's wear line of German brand Hugo Boss. In 2020, he launched Jason Wu Beauty to bring clean, luxury cosmetics and skincare solutions to the market at prices everyone can afford.
Activist investor and CEO Shiza Shahid co-founded Our Place with the intention of bringing people into the kitchen to share a family meal. Born and raised in Pakistan, she brought her passion for cooking as well as her devotion to the joy of a family gathering to a kitchenware line that boasts the ability to totally replace all others. The Always Pan in particular has made enormous waves across the internet, and for a good reason: it's amazing.
Angela Ubias and Cary Lin co-founded Common Heir in 2020 in an effort to bring clean beauty options to the world and reduce the harmful impact of wasteful packaging practices. Common Heir's products are not only silicone-free and plastic-free, the are also cruelty-free and biodegradable, too. Their entire line is remarkable, but a far and away favorite is the Vitamin C Serum, which helps smooth texture and brighten skin.
It can feel impossible to find a sunscreen that doesn't feel sticky or oily. Tatcha's incredible "The Silk" suncreen, however, is weightless, sheer, super hydrating, and smooth, feeling much more like a moisturizer - but with skin-protecting SPF. Tatcha's Taiwanese-American founder Vicky Tsai spend years studying Japanese techniques and traditions to craft some of the most exceptional skincare out there, this magical sunscreen included.
Voted in the top ten of Barnes & Noble's Best Books of the Year and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner details her upbringing in predominantly white Eugene, Oregon and her experience as an Asian American trying to find her way in the world. Told with humor and heart, Zauner takes the reader along her many adventures from moving to the East Coast to forming her band Japanese Breakfast. 100% worth a read.
A Peach & Lily bestseller, the Glass Skin Refining Serum was a 2022 Best of K-Beauty Award Winner, and it's no wonder. This smoothing serum is ideal for a wide variety of skin types and brings an incredible blend of essential vitamins to target dryness, redness, texture, fine lines, and so much more. Founder Alicia Yoon is passionate about bringing Korean skincare practices to the world, and we're here for it.
CEO Lin Chen founded Pink Moon to encourage others to go on the journey of self-love that she herself discovered. Pink Moon not only offers magnificent skincare, it also makes home goods such as organic laundry detergent and pet shampoo! While you're there, be sure to check out YINA, another holistic skincare brand founded by doctors of Chinese medicine, Angela Chau and Ervina Wu.
The surging interest in traditional Chinese medicine is only growing, and one of the most noteworthy is the practice of gua sha. Known to reduce inflammation, promote lymphatic drainage, and relieve tension in the face, gua sha has taken the internet by storm. Before you get started, though, be sure to get your gua sha tool from an Asian-owned brand like Mount Lai and read up on best practices directly from Asian creators and experts.
Brightland wants us to rethink the way we do oils, honeys, and vinegars, and honestly? We agree. Many of the typical off-the-shelf versions are diluted with additives, and we all deserve ingredients that are top quality. After a bad experience with low-grade olive oil, Founder Aishwarya Iyer started Brightland to bring only the purest ingredients to the heart of every home: the kitchen. With no fillers and zero artificial preservatives, Brightland product pride themselves on traceability and trust.
Who doesn't love a decadent little macaron? You're about to love this one even more for setting your polish. Co-founder and Co-CEO Christina Kao loves a good gel manicure just as much as the rest of us, and Le Mini Macaron makes the process of doing your own nails with gel polish that much easier - and cuter! There are the tiny lamps that are a touch closer in size to your typical French cookie that do one nail at a time, and there are these wider (still adorable) ones that fit all your fingers at once.
Helen Hoang has been a favorite author of mine since The Kiss Quotient was first published back in 2018. Her first novel and the first of a so far three book romance series that includes The Bride Test and The Heart Principle, this book follows the story of Stella Lane, an econometrician with Asperger's who hires an escort in order to try out human intimacy for a change. Every book in this series does an impeccable job of giving Asian-American characters on the autism spectrum (like Hoang herself) a beautifully-rounded and heartfelt story about finding love.
Founder Tina Chow Rudolf says that "wellness is the way we treat ourselves," and if Strange Bird's incredible products are anything to go by, I was treated awfully nicely when I first tried their line of skincare items. Everything from the Inner Clarity Cleanser to the Gaia Earth Drops is carefully crafted with sustainability and overall well-being in mind.