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100+ AAPI-owned businesses to support in 2023

We caught up with AAPI-owned business owners about their challenges and triumphs, and included some of our favorites to shop
Here are some AAPI-owned businesses to check out across shopping categories, including fashion, beauty, fitness and wellness.
Here are some AAPI-owned businesses to check out across shopping categories, including fashion, beauty, fitness and wellness.Courtesy Bokksu; Courtesy SelfMade

Ming Yi and Ching Yeh Chen felt like they were “dropped in the middle of New York City'' when they immigrated to the U.S. from China in 1965— they didn’t feel an immediate connection to American culture and struggled to access traditional items they grew up with in Asia. In 1971, the Chens opened the Asian goods market Pearl River Mart with the intention of bridging that gap.

The Chens imported their favorite soy sauces, clothing, kitchenware and more from Asian manufacturers, hoping to provide a place where their Chinatown community could find the products they missed from home, as well as share them with their broader neighborhood, says Joanne Kwong, the Chens’ daughter-in-law and the CEO and president of Pearl River Mart since 2016.

In the 52 years since Pearl River Mart’s opening, Asian American business owners and creatives has grown across the country — there are currently over 2 million AAPI-owned businesses in the U.S., according to the Asian/Pacific Islander Chamber of Commerce.

SKIP AHEAD Notable AAPI-owned products we recommend | 100+ APPI-owned brands to support in 2023

“There is still a need for a store that centers the Asian American experience, but it’s different now,” Kwong says. “As the community grows and evolves, there are more people who can contribute to the movement, and we see ourselves as a place that helps to elevate Asian American entrepreneurs.”

Select connected with over 100 AAPI-owned businesses, many of which, like Pearl River Mart, are inspired by their founders’ heritage and cultivate a sense of cultural appreciation and tradition. AAPI business owners shared stories about their biggest successes and challenges, and we rounded up over a dozen products they offer across categories like home, kitchen, skin care, apparel and more.

Notable AAPI-owned products in 2023

The AAPI community is far from a monolith — it spans numerous cultures, countries and languages, so defining an AAPI business means dealing in broad strokes. To qualify as an AAPI-owned business, we verified that each business is 51% owned by persons of Asian or Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander origin — akin to the way the Census defines Black-owned businesses and women-owned businesses.

The Birthdate Book

As an Indian-American, Ajay Mehta always felt a strong cultural tie to astrology and was fascinated with mysticism and horoscopes — but he noticed there were no quality products for people interested in modern mysticism. “If you or a friend loved astrology, there were apps to use and websites to visit, but not a lot of personal or thoughtful products you could buy, gift or display in the home,” he says. He founded Birthdate to fill that gap.

The brand’s Birthdate Book was directly inspired by Kundali in India, a full birth chart horoscope made by a professional astrologer. “I had a version of this made for me by an aunt when I was young,” Mehta says. He still has his original Kundali, and keeps it with the original design of the Birthdate Book, a made-to-order astrological birth chart illustration with over 70 pages of detailed horoscope analysis. Birthdate offers other astrology-based items, including the Tarot Candle, the Birthdate Candle and Birthdate Pendants.

Blueland Body Wash Starter Set

When Paiji Yoo decided to reduce her personal plastic consumption, she quickly realized how difficult it was to do. “Many household items use single-use plastic in their packaging,” she says. “This ultimately is what led me to found Blueland," she says.

Blueland originally focused on refillable cleaning products like Glass + Mirror, Multi-Surface and Bathroom sprays certified by the EPA’s Safer Choice program, which we highlighted in our guide to eco-friendly cleaning supplies. In the past few years, Blueland expanded into the self care space with the launch of its tablet-based Botanical Hand Soap Duo and powder-based Body Wash Starter Set.

Bokksu Classic Snack Box

Danny Taing created subscription-based Japanese snack box Bokksu in 2016, when he couldn’t find the authentic Japanese snacks he had discovered in Japan back in the U.S. But his motivation was about more than just snacks: Shocked by the level of racism he witnessed toward Asian Americans, he wanted to do something about it. "[A]nd what better way than delicious, authentic food people may have never had before? If they like it, then they'll just feel closer to that culture," he says.

Each month, Bokksu ships a box of 20-22 assorted Japanese snacks and teas curated around a cultural theme based on season, region and festivals. They're meant to “teach people about aspects of Japanese culture through food,” Taing says. Each box also has a 24-page Culture Guide explaining each type of snack, its story and how to best enjoy it. The snacks, chosen by Bokksu staff during monthly tastings, are directly sourced from local snack makers in Japan. This year, Bokksu launched a Hello Kitty and Friends Subscription Box, which offers over 20 products in a themed box and ships once every two months.

Brightland Pizza Oil

Brightland founder Aishwarya Iyer’s ancestors were salt farmers in South India, so it's fitting that Iyer's company makes elevated pantry staples, like some of our favorite olive oils. Iyer says Brightland prioritizes partnering with small, family-owned farms in California to make its oils and vinegars to ensure control over what goes into its products and so it can track where every ingredient is sourced. Brightland also gives back by helping plant trees — over 30,000 in coastal California, according to the brand.

Brightland sells olive oils, vinegars and honeys, each with a unique flavor profile. One of the brand’s latest launches is its Pizza Oil, a rich, buttery oil infused with jalapenos, garlic, oregano and basil to give it an herby, spicy taste. You can drizzle it on pizza or salads, eggs, pasta, toast and more.

Cadence Capsule Flex System

Cadence specializes in magnetic, refillable containers made from recycled plastic that snap together to keep your skin care products and other travel essentials organized. They also have customizable, interchangeable tile labels. Steph Hon launched the brand in February 2020 with the mission to eliminate single-use, travel-size plastic toiletries. While they’re on the pricier side — a pack of seven starts at $98 — she says they don’t leak and last for years, which is good for the planet.

While the original Cadence capsules was available in one size, the brand recently released its Capsule Flex System with three new sizes: The 56, The 132 and The 275, plus The Extender, which you can add to any capsule to increase its volume by 1.43 ounces.

Calpak Stevyn Duffel

Edward and Judy Kwon, first-generation Korean immigrants, founded Calpak in 1989, and their daughter Jennifer Kwon has run the company since 2013. The brand makes bags, suitcases and travel accessories, like packing cubes, designed to be functional and stylish, says Jennifer. “We hope our products can be travel companions that are an extension of our customer, bringing a little more ease and joy to the journey,” she says.

Calpak’s Stevyn Duffel is one of our favorite weekender bags. It has a bottom compartment for shoes and a spacious main compartment with interior pockets to help you organize. There’s also a luggage sleeve on the back, plus a removable shoulder strap.

Gr8nola Cinnamon Chai

After running her granola company as a side hustle for five years, founder Erica Liu Williams left her decade-long tech career to pursue Gr8nola full time. As a member of the AAPI community, Williams says she aims to use her platform to help uplift voices like hers: “I feel socially responsible to myself, family and broader community to be a role model ... leading by example and showing other young girls and people who look like me that you can achieve success on your own terms, without succumbing to becoming a 'model minority' stereotype,” she says.

Gr8nola’s granola is free from refined sugar, dairy, soy and GMOs, according to the brand. It’s available in flavors like Original, Peanut Butter, Matcha, Cacao and Cinnamon Chai. You can order individual bags of granola or subscribe.

Hey Dewy Portable Cool Mist Humidifier

When doctors recommended a humidifier to help Cindy Kang's dry, sensitive skin and her son’s nosebleeds, Kang says she was faced with options that were large, clunky, difficult to clean, impossible to travel with and just “ugly.” So Kang co-founded Hey Dewy, which created a portable, wireless and rechargeable personal cool mist humidifier. At 7 inches tall, it can sit on your nightstand, your desk — even in a car cup holder.

Being part of the AAPI community inspires Kang to make health and wellness a priority in her personal and professional life. “Asia has been a leader in the beauty and skin care industry and is constantly on the forefront of ingredients, rituals and tools," she says. “I love that there are now so many Asian ‘skinfluencers’ and Asian-owned beauty brands using their platforms to empower so many, including me. The AAPI community inspires me to think holistically around clean beauty and to continue to innovate.”

Lo & Sons Catalina Deluxe Tote

Lo & Sons was co-founded by brothers Jan and Derek Lo with their mother, Helen Lo, to offer travel bags that don't sacrifice style for functionality. Being an Asian American family-owned business influences the social impact part of the brand’s mission; Derek says Lo & Sons partners with nonprofit organizations that support the Asian American community, like Heart of Diner, which delivers food to homebound and isolated Asian American seniors in New York City.

Sustainability is also part of Lo & Sons’ business model, says Derek. Its Upcycled Collection is made from its returned bags to keep them out of landfills, and more than 75% of the materials used to make the brand’s products are sustainable, meaning they’re either recycled, upcycled, downcycled or vegan, Derek says. The fabric used to construct the brand’s Catalina Deluxe Tote, for example, is made in part from recycled plastic bottles, according to the brand. The tote has a separate bottom pocket for shoes or dirty clothes, multiple interior pockets, a key leash, a suitcase handle sleeve and more.

Nguyen Coffee Supply The Original Vietnamese Coffee Trio

Nguyen Coffee Supply — which makes one of our favorite coffee subscriptions — imports coffee beans from its partner farms in Vietnam and roasts them fresh, weekly, in Brooklyn, says CEO and founder Sahra Nguyen. The Original Vietnamese Coffee Trio comes with three coffee blends: Moxy, Truegrit and Loyalty Arabica-Robusta. The coffee comes finely ground, and you can brew it using the brand’s Phin Filter.

Nguyen says AAPI heritage month is an important time for her community to share their stories. “Many people don’t understand our community because we’ve been erased and ignored for so long,” Nguyen says. “Taking the time to learn about our community's unique experiences will deepen our connection and sense of shared humanity. From here, we can effectively work together to build a better world.”

Pearl River Mart Chinatown Dragon T-Shirt

Pearl River Mart carries clothing, kitchenware and home goods imported from Asia, as well as products made by Asian American-owned companies, like Fly By Jing and Pink Moon. CEO Joanne Kwong sees the market as “a jumping off point for AAPI entrepreneurs and their brands,” noting how challenging it can be for new businesses to capture shoppers’ attention. “It’s even harder for companies of color to distinguish themselves and get shelf space or media attention, so we take our role quite seriously,” she says.

In addition to retail, the Pearl River Mart store has an art gallery and hosts events to showcase work by AAPI artists, chefs and authors. Kwong says Pearl River Mart is heavily involved in supporting its local AAPI community, too — it sells merchandise from businesses in Chinatown like this shirt designed by 4 Good Measure, an independent Asian American design firm in New York City. Kwong says all profits from those items go to the businesses that designed them.

Pink Moon Rose Quartz Gua Sha Facial Tool

After a series of unhealthy relationships, Lin Chen, founder of Pink Moon, turned to traditional Chinese medicine and astrology. Pink Moon grew out of her desire to share her learnings. With an “East meets West approach,” Chen says she makes authentic Chinese practices accessible to U.S. shoppers. “Our products are created to be a part of daily self care rituals and to help people rediscover themselves and love themselves unapologetically,” she says.

Pink Moon’s rose quartz Gua Sha Facial Tool was the first product Chen released. Designed to fit the contours of the face, it helps reduce puffiness and lifts and sculpts facial muscles as you use it, according to the brand. The tool comes with an instruction card to help you learn about gua sha, plus a pink velvet pouch for storage.

Selfmade Corrective Experience Comfort Cream

Selfmade founder Stephanie Lee is fueled by a “try it all” approach: Out of college, she was a field organizer for Barack Obama's presidential campaign and worked her way up to serve on First Lady Michelle Obama's White House staff. Then she became ... a global product developer at MAC Cosmetics in New York City.

It's a style that was instilled in her as a child of Vietnamese refugees: “Growing up in the south as a first-generation Asian American revolved around assimilation and following the rules, which was in direct contrast to my internal desire to get messy and make trouble,” Lee says. Five years later, Lee left the corporate world to travel and reflect on her mental health and self worth. Eleven countries and 16 states later, she created Selfmade. “Belonging is a necessary part of life, and despite our individual uniqueness, it’s our collective lived experience of learning to love ourselves that connects us,” she says.

Selfmade makes moisturizers, scrubs and serums based on psychodermatology, which involves the relationship of the mind and skin. The brand’s Corrective Experience Comfort Cream is a fragrance-free moisturizer that contains niacinamide and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and brighten the skin. It’s also an occlusive, which creates a barrier on the skin to prevent moisture loss and improve the skin’s ability to heal, according to the brand.

Silk + Sonder Monthly Subscription

Meha Agrawal is on a mission: She quit her career as a software engineer to build Silk + Sonder to help empower women. Agrawal says she was directly inspired by the stories of AAPI community members who were living to meet others' expectations rather than chasing their own calling. But it wasn’t easy. “I needed to overcome those unique challenges around guilt, fear, and doubt that many of us face as children of immigrants,” she says.

A self-care subscription service, Silk + Sonder sends members monthly themed wellness journals with guided prompts designed to reduce stress and anxiety. They are formatted in the style of Bullet Journals, with habit trackers. You can choose from monthly, quarterly or annual subscriptions, which provide access to the Sonder Club app virtual community for peer-to-peer support, virtual classes and workshops, daily affirmations and other benefits.

Tower 28 SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen

Growing up in California in the '90s, Tower 28 founder and CEO Amy Liu was “surrounded by beach culture that idolized blond hair and blue eyes as a typical American look,” she says.

Liu set out to break that stereotype With Tower 28, skin care products for different skin types, tones and sensitivities. “As an Asian American woman, people are shocked when they learn that I'm the founder behind this beachy, L.A. beauty brand because I think they still expect someone who fits the more traditional standard,” she says.

Tower 28 was actually a real lifeguard tower in L.A., close to Liu's office, she says. "At that point on the beach, you truly do see every kind of person - age, race, socio-economic [status] - but it’s also a place where everyone gets to enjoy a healthy, fun lifestyle.”

Tower 28’s SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen is available in 14 shades and was designed with BIPOC makeup artist Kirin Bhatty to ensure it works with all skin tones and does not leave a white cast or oxidation. It also has the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance.

100+ AAPI-owned brands to support in 2023

In addition to our favorite products from AAPI-owned brands, we’ve rounded up other businesses we think you should know about across categories including home, food, beauty and wellness. We asked each business to confirm it is at least 51% AAPI owned. While not exhaustive, we aim to actively update this list to help keep you informed about AAPI-owned companies.

To make your browsing easier, we separated these brands into the following six shopping categories.

Clothing and accessories brands | Beauty and skin care brands | Home and kitchen brands | Food and drink brands | Books and education brands | Wellness and fitness brands

AAPI-owned clothing and accessories brands

AAPI-owned beauty and skin care brands

AAPI-owned home and kitchen brands

AAPI-owned food and drink brands

AAPI-owned books and education brands

AAPI-owned wellness and fitness brands

Why trust Select?

Mili Godio and Zoe Malin spoke to over a dozen leaders of the AAPI business community to better understand their challenges and successes, as well as what they hope for for the future. Godio and Malin also connected with over 100 AAPI-owned businesses to compile this story. Godio and Malin have previously worked on several entrepreneur-focused pieces, including Black-owned, women-owned and Latino-owned businesses.

Catch up on Select's in-depth coverage of personal finance, tech and tools, wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date.