Alexis R. Collins
Packed with Culture and Talent: 9 AAPI Businesses That Are Showcasing Their Talents to the World
Updated: Jun 30, 2021
It’s AAPI Heritage month and we want to honor the Asian American and Pacific Islander community by shining a spotlight on some remarkable businesses, products, and services that they have to offer! As we know, many small businesses have been severely affected by the pandemic, with Asian American-run businesses facing the brunt of the financial impact out of any demographic. The number of working business owners fell by 20 percent from February to December 2020 according to a study conducted by University of California, Santa Cruz and analyzed by CNBC. Some stores either faced a significant drop in sales or had to close all together due to COVID-19 restrictions and rampant racism against the AAPI community (besides the horrific Atlanta spa shootings, there have reportedly been nearly 3,800 anti-Asian racist incidents nationwide, according to Stop AAPI Hate).
There are numerous ways you can show solidarity with your AAPI neighbors, colleagues, or friends. Whether it’s through spreading awareness, expressing advocacy, giving donations, allocating resources, or patronizing small Asian-operated businesses; we wanted to display some AAPI enterprises that demonstrate the rich culture and contributions that the AAPI community continues to make. On top of educating yourself about the storied experiences and racial dynamics that the AAPI community has dealt with in this country (check out our first AAPI Heritage Month post here), you can be cognizant of where you spend your dollars by visiting hard-hit AAPI businesses. Purchase your next Father’s Day gift, birthday present, or personal trinket from a diverse selection of AAPI produced goods.
Pho Ba Lu – Louisville, KY
As a brand based in Louisville, we had to give a special shoutout to AAPI businesses located in our hometown! This eclectic restaurant provides authentic Vietnamese cuisine in the heart of Louisville’s Butchertown neighborhood. As a Vietnam native turned American citizen of 20 years, renowned chef Jessica Mach is a natural when it comes to cultivating delicious recipes, carefully preparing dishes under the tutelage of her mother. Chopping vegetables in Saigon kitchens was a favorite childhood pastime of hers, as she immersed herself in the culinary world for years to master her craft. Pho Ba Lu’s intricate platters are a beautiful representation of Mach’s treasured childhood moments, reflecting the zesty bursts of flavor embedded in Vietnamese comfort food. Deep-rooted staples, ranging from the crispy spring rolls dipped in savory soy sauce, to the rich noodles brimming with a vegetable and seafood medley are the very essence of her mother’s cooking.
Pink Moon – New York City, NY
Promoting self-love during various stages in life is a core principle Pink Moon stands on. This female-founded consultancy brand centers around sustainable beauty, philanthropy, and holistic wellness. CEO and founder Lin Chen built an inclusive and empowering space that seeks to revolutionize the beauty industry through strategic partnerships with women-owned businesses. Chen is a second-generation Asian American who was raised in Southern California, schooled in Texas and Taiwan, and is now establishing an empire in NYC. Her marketing communications background, compounded with deep industry experience, has enabled her to form a conscious enterprise that encompasses every dimension of personal care and eco wellness. Pink Moon gives women the unparalleled access to practice physical, emotional, and spiritual healing, improving their mental health by having them engage in insightful conversations, a curated concept shop, and community circles. Commit to your own joy using the abundant services Pink Moon offers, stimulating your growth in the process.
Baisun Candle Co. – Wilmington, DE
If you’re looking for high-quality candles that invigorate your home, look no further! Baisun handcrafts’ gorgeous aromatic candles exude the sweet notes of different Asian American cultures. Smell the intoxicating blend of fragrances and aromas that have permeated Asian American households for generations. You can unearth diverse Asian elements by exploring familiar (and unfamiliar) scents, with each one symbolizing a specific culture. On top of warming your household with these homemade aromas, your support can create new opportunities for philanthropic efforts and Equal Employment in rural Asian countries and the U.S. The company plans on using their extraordinary candles to raise awareness for Asian American customs, which are often misrepresented or overlooked. Every candle is sustainable, leaving a nearly invisible carbon footprint as sentimental Eastern aromas waft through the crevices of your personal sanctuary, encouraging nostalgia and a newfound appreciation for the AAPI community.
Sharetea – Charlotte, NC
After a long morning filled with business meetings and errands, take a small reprieve by enjoying a refreshing drink from one of the finest boba tea shops in all of Charlotte. When stepping into the shop, you can choose from the list of classics on the menu, which include the to-go black tea and pearl milk tea drinks derived from Taipei, Taiwan. These originals are what kickstarted the popular boba tea store. Since then, they have opened over 450 branches and franchises in 18 countries, with a mission to share their authentic Taiwanese drinking culture among boba tea consumers worldwide. The leaves are specially primed and selected to accentuate your tasting experience, as you embark on an adventure marked with unique flavors and unprecedented freshness. To provide you with a truly unforgettable taste of Taiwan, their delectable natural ingredients are shipped directly from the country, retaining their peak flavorful components after undergoing rigorous testing each growing season. There are beverages for every tea connoisseur, such as milk tea, fruit tea, and smoothies, that boast lush chewy bubbles. Continued growth is always the goal, which is why Sharetea has officially opened 50 locations across America and plans on launching more!
Gifted - Fort Worth, TX
Serving as Fort Worth’s lifestyle shop, Gifted displays design-conscious home and personal gifts for people who want to creatively rework their living environments. Gifted is intentional regarding the hand selected, abstract items they provide to customers. They seek to bring an assortment of products that dismantles trivial trends and embodies timeless artforms. The brilliant minds behind these creations have forged their masterpieces to inspire, uplift, spark imagination, and nurture your spirit. Gifted is a platform where talented visionaries and small independently run businesses can freely share their treasures to the community. A store is only one aspect of this joyful haven, in order to extend creative knowledge and redefine community bonds; Gifted hosts workshops, classes, and events for customers who want to delve into the art realm.
Pinker Times – Atlanta, GA
Located in Buckhead village, Pinker Times is the brainchild of Skye Lin, who discovered a therapeutic form of escapism in ethereal floral design. The floral shop is more than what meets the eye, unveiling breathtaking floral art installations that captivate you with their stunning colors and patterns. Gorgeous bouquets and arrangements are also available for purchase, along with a choose-your-own flower bar. Spanning over 1,200 square feet, the indoor space almost feels like you’re in an oasis, as patrons marvel at the peonies, dahlias, and amaranthus gracing its walls. Keeping up with the minimalist aesthetic and not detracting from the brilliance and meaning of the floral designs, Lin painted the walls a simplistic shade of pink while delicately lining the flowers along its bare surface. Patrons have a chance to drop by Pinker Times’ latest edition: The Forever Flower Bar, a dried flower wall where guests can pick by the stem. Meanwhile, the two featured installations; a floating arrangement styled with dried stems and an exhibition featuring a pink grass field, are significant because they portray more euphoric times where you genuinely felt celebrated and cherished, hence the name Pinker Times. Swing by and purchase floral arrangements for your next event. They cover everything from weddings to baby showers!
Light By Iris Photography – Nashville, TN
One hundred percent light inspired, Iris is one of the few photographers who can shoot at any time of day, whether it’s overcast, sunny, or Golden Hour. Capturing raw and emotive moments that tug at your heartstrings is the goal of her photography, as she adopts a more journalistic approach to achieve these snapshots. Push your formalities aside and complete a laid-back session where you feel comfortable enough to let the true parts of your personality shine. Both lifestyle and documentary sessions give Iris a small glimpse into your everyday life, so she can genuinely illustrate intimate parts of your story. She can loosely guide you or your family through the bustling streets of downtown or in the quiet of your own home. Fill your scrapbook with a lovely compilation of photos that express the transparency of real love and connections.
Philippine Expressions Bookshop – San Pedro, CA
Founded in 1984, the Philippine Expressions Bookshop started in Los Angeles as a mail-order bookshop dedicated to keeping Filipino Americans in touch with their roots. After moving throughout the California area, they relocated to San Pedro in 2016, reopening a brick-and-mortar shop in the city’s famed Historic Arts District. Their affiliate art gallery is right next door. The bookshop is a powerhouse, pioneering the circulation of Philippine writings in the U.S. and giving the Filipino community a physical location to house their profound literary works. Advancing crucial components of the Filipino identity is bookstore’s purpose. They host interactive book discussions, lectures on Philippine culture through Filipino scholars, publication parties, poetry readings, and other literary receptions. Instilling vital knowledge about oneself and his or her ethnic identity is key. Annually, the bookstore celebrates Filipino American History Month in October and AAPI Heritage Month with a program for children. Cultural artifacts also sit proudly on their shelves, transporting you to the Philippines.
Pax Philomena – Phoenix, AZ
Fusing rich Indian block prints and timeless Italian styles, Pax Philomena has redefined color, comfort, and beauty through their multicultural clothing line. Philomena means “daughter of light,” expertly combining lavish details with ancient practices to create a one-of-a-kind brand. Designer Jean Marie Clarke was inspired to invent an innovative clothing line incorporating brightly colored textiles and vibrant novelty fabrics. As the daughter of immigrants, she couldn’t afford to buy “fashionable” clothes and instead sewed her own outfits from original fabric. After she studied abroad in Rome, she combined her love for India and her fascination of Italian aesthetics to start a unique clothing store full of fashionable designs. The exquisitely crafted clothing amplifies happiness and confidence as the rich, cozy fabric rests comfortably on your skin. She transcends traditional clothing barriers, breathing life into her clothes until they become an artform of their own.