18 AAPI Founders We Love to Support
We are often inspired by the creativity and resilience of the founders we feature on Brit + Co, especially BIPOC founders who chart their own path despite greater challenges. The anti-Asian racist attacks in Atlanta, and increasingly around the world since the pandemic, are a sobering reminder how far we have to go to see the beauty and richness in our cultural differences. Ahead of Asian Pacific American Heritage month in May, we are featuring AAPI founders who are proof of that richness in diversity and inspire us every day with their fresh ideas to make the world a better, more colorful, more beautiful, and more planet-friendly place for all.
Lin Chen, Founder of Pink Moon
A Brit + Co Self Care Award winner this year, Pink Moon is an online shop where you can find eco self-care, wellness, and lifestyle brands, with more than 30 percent of them being founded by women of color. When launching Pink Moon's in-house collection, Lin made the decision to create it as an open love letter for her Chinese heritage with the launch of a gua sha tool and accompanying face oil (#LOVE). Aromatherapy also plays a big role in Pink Moon's self-care in-house collection with original blends in signature candles, body/hair oils and more.
Tina Chow Rudolf, Founder of Strange Bird
Rudolf's fascination with beauty and skincare originates from watching generations of mothers before her. Her grandmother would give her mother facials using egg whites, cucumber, ginger and ginseng — all ingredients from their kitchen. Strange Bird (also her husband's nickname for her) is a plant-based and crystal-charged beauty brand that combines ancient Chinese beauty traditions with high vibrational alchemy to help women create a daily practice that supports their skin goals and their life goals. Products include ingredients such as ginger, ginseng and goji berry in organic blends as well as flower and gem essences such as amethyst, rose quartz and crab apple.
To celebrate her 40th birthday on Sat. March 27th, Rudolf will be donating 40 percent of sales to Support the AAPI Community Fund.
Phuong Ireland, Founder and CEO of Wknd Nation
Phuong grew up around a flurry of entrepreneurial energy as a Vietnamese immigrant who came to the U.S. at the age of 3. The work ethic she learned while working night shifts at her family's restaurants eventually led her to graduate from Columbia Business School. Her apparel brand Wknd Nation is a highly curated collection of classic silhouettes with a twist that blurs weekend and weekday looks.
Jennifer Tsay, Co-Founder & CEO of Shoott
Tsay is a SAG-AFTRA actor whose personal experience with "side hustles" led her to launch a company that puts creatives and freelancers first. Shoott seeks to make professional photography more accessible to everyone with "Insta-worthy" 30-minute outdoor photo sessions that are free to book online and allow customers to pay only for photos they love at $15 per photo or less. In spite of the pandemic, demand for bookings grew and the company is now available in 500 locations across 40+ cities nationwide (growing from 5 to 7 figures in revenue since launching in 2018 — go girl!).
Diane Reade, Founder of MO MI
Diane's mother and grandmother raised her with holistic, naturopathic, aromatherapy and encouraged her to seek wellness beauty rituals. Diane says her Asian heritage inspires her creative process when sourcing plant-based ingredients that have been used for centuries. Her personal care brand MO MI is animal- and planet-friendly and incorporates values from Diane's heritage and from time spent living, working and traveling in Europe and Asia.
MO MI has made a donation to Stop AAPI Hate.
Joanna Linton, Founder and CEO of Rae's Roots
Rae's Roots is a wellness tea brand for moms. Linton was inspired to launch her company after the birth of her second child —a time she admits was difficult physically and emotionally. "I didn't know how to balance living for me versus living for my family. Moreover, I couldn't find any products that spoke to me during this sensitive time," Linton said. "Most products only consider women as moms; I needed something that emphasized with me as a mom and a person."
Eunice and Sabrina Moyle, Founders Hello!Lucky
Eunice and Sabrina are bi-racial Chinese-white sisters who grew up in Asia and Africa. They founded Hello!Lucky in 2003 as a letterpress greeting card studio with a distinctive humor and style inspired by their Asian and Midwestern roots. Since then, Hello!Lucky has grown to become a design and licensing studio with the mission of delivering joy, creativity, and connection through their products, which include greeting cards, best-selling children's books, and home goods. They are committed to supporting the highest good of their customers and promoting self-awareness and social justice. They recently published Sloth and Smell the Roses, a children's board book on mindfulness and self-compassion and in 2018 published Be the Change: The Future Is In Your Hands, a DIY book for girls and women about using creativity to inspire community and civic action. Sabrina serves as Board President of @mosaicproject, an Oakland-based youth non-profit that provides immersive, experiential learning in building inclusive, equitable, peaceful communities.You can follow along with Eunice and Sabrina @helloluckycards and @helloluckykids.
Joy Cho, Founder and Creative Director of Oh Joy!
Another Selfmade teacher, LA-based Cho exploded in the world of licensing with home decor, kids, pet, and furniture collections with brands such as Target, Band-Aid, Calpak, Petco, Keds, and more. She has authored six books and consulted for hundreds of creative businesses around the world. For two years in a row, Joy was named one of Time's 30 Most Influential People on the Internet and has the most followed account on Pinterest with over 14 million followers.
Andrea Xu, Co-founder and CEO, Umamicart
Conceived by Xu to serve as a one-stop-shop for home cooks, Umamicart, an online market, prioritizes Asian American-led businesses, immigrant-led businesses, and the mom-and-pop suppliers and producers behind consumers' favorite heritage brands, as well as the inspiring Asian American founders that are reinterpreting traditional flavors with new and personal products.
Angela Chau Gray + Ervina Wu, Co-Founders of YINA
YINA is a beauty and wellness brand based in California whose mission is to demystify and enliven Chinese Medicine. Co-founded by Dr. Ervina Wu, a licensed in TCM, the brand features products for skincare, wellness and more.
YINA will be hosting a masterclass on gua sha on April 18th with 50 percent of ticket sales going to Risenow.us.
Vicky Tsai, Founder of Tatcha
One of our favorite Teach Me Something New podcast guests, Tsai's personal skincare routine (equal parts skincare + meditation) is as impressive as it is inspiring. Her customers include celebrities like Meghan Markle and Kim Kardashian who are fans of her Japanese skincare products, which are based in ancient Geisha beauty practices. For Vicky, skincare *is* self care, and we all need to take time for ourselves to wash away the day, and start fresh each morning.
Syama Meagher, Co-Founder of Rendall Co.
Syama originally planned to launch Rendall Co. as a home goods brand featuring aprons but pivoted to premium face masks at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. The styles were bestsellers and now the brand finally launched its collection of aprons, which feature durable chambray and denim fabrics and professional quality workmanship. We love our Bistro apron!
Hanna Chiou, Co-Founder of Habbi Habbi
Chiou, a mom of two, grew up in the U.S. speaking her parent's native language Mandarin but not reading it. "It's challenging because Chinese is character-based so most books from Asia are intimidating because there are a sea of characters — and speaking doesn't translate to reading," she told us. Habbi Habbi was her answer to accessibility and ease of learning with a set of language books that kids can tap with the simplicity of a translating wand (our kids love theirs!).
Justine Tiu & Adrian Zhang, Co-Founders of The Woobles
We love this online learning platform for crochet. The brand sells beginner crochet kits that have been designed leveraging UX research and customer feedback to push through initial frustrations of learning a DIY art through remote learning.
The Woobles have donated to Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
Dev Heyrana, Fine Artist and Hip Hop Dance Teacher
Heyrana's particular brand of creativity is one-of-a-kind. She manages to be warm, welcoming and woke, with a focus on inclusivity, social justice and motherhood that comes through in every piece of art she creates. Born in The Philippines and immigrated to the U.S. when she was 9 years old, her family comes from the island of Cebu. "I'm a proud Cebuana. My childhood in the Philippines felt like freedom. I had my swimsuit in my backpack for whenever we decided to swim and I biked everywhere."
But immigrating wasn't easy as a child. "I witnessed racism towards my family and didn't know how to make sense of it," she told us in a recent Creative Crushin'. "These events left a mark. I was a quiet kid and observed everything and everyone around me. I think about my grandparents, Lolo Jose and Lola Rita, a lot as I walk through life. When I make decisions. As hard as it feels, you have two choices, do you let it take you down or take it one step at a time forward. I kept going and it really shaped me as to why I am the way I am today."
Cat Seto, Founder of Ferme a Papier
Cat Seto is a San Francisco-based artist, author (Impressions of Paris and Mom, Inc.). and founder of the paper goods collection Ferme à Papier, inspired by her first visit to Paris. She is also a recipient of three Jules Avery Hopwood Awards in poetry, short and long prose. In 2017, Seto founded Saving Faces, a local San Francisco collective of creative women makers raising awareness for women's advocacy, mental health, domestic abuse and violence. She is passionate about bringing voice to victims through visual and literary arts. This spurred a national organization, We the Women, in concert with artist and author Lisa Congdon. We the Women is a visual campaign to advocate for LGBTQ, women of color, health and reproductive rights, job equity and immigration services.
To support the fight against anti-Asian racism, visit Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition documenting and addressing anti-Asian discrimination during the pandemic.
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Theresa Gonzalez is a content creator based in San Francisco and the author of Sunday Sews. She's a lover of all things design and spends most of her days momming her little one Matilda.