The past year has been full of embracing the unexpected. One of the few things we can control? How we choose to spend our money — where we shop, what we buy and what sort of brands we choose to support. So whether you’re looking for a new brand for your everyday essentials (like floss that actually makes us want to floss), the perfect pair of super-comfortable pumps or a condiment that you’ll want to spread on everything, there’s no shortage of incredible Asian-owned businesses that we love, and we know you will too.
We heard from Asian business owners and founders, who shared with us the ways in which their background has impacted and influenced what their company is today. Those stories embody the strength, determination and brilliance of the vibrant communities they represent. Ahead, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite Asian-, Asian American- and Pacific Islander-owned brands (spanning home, beauty, style and food) that you can support now and in the future.
Created for petite women by a petite woman, Petite Studio is best known for its versatile, vintage-inspired pieces created specially for those of us on the smaller side. Founder Jenny Wang grew up in China where it wasn’t difficult to find clothes that fit her 5-foot, 2-inch frame — something that wasn’t the case once she moved to the United States. Today, Petite Studio has a fierce following of petite ladies who can’t get enough of the brand’s thoughtfully created, ethically sourced and truly unique clothing. One product that perfectly encapsulates the brand’s aesthetic is then Hepburn Dress. Classic yet fashion forward, the knit fabric is simultaneously stretchy yet slimming, while details like the side slit and asymmetric neckline make it a special piece perfect for everyday wear.
Ally Shoes is creating comfortable luxury shoes that are both fun and formal. It offers what might be the most comfortable pair of heels we’ve ever tried on. Samatha Dong, founder and CEO of Ally Shoes, shares that as a petite Asian woman, wearing heels made her physically taller and feel more confident in the workplace. But after a foot injury while in business school, she realized that enough was enough. “Heel pain remained an unsolved issue for almost all women,” says Dong. And Ally Shoes was her answer to uncomfortable and at times physically harmful footwear.
Dong joined forces with founding team Dr. Roxann Clarke (an African American podiatric expert) and Sarah Jaramillo (a South American designer), three “powerhouse women of color,” she shares. “Our diverse backgrounds and varying professional experiences inspired the innovations behind our product design.” Our favorite product from Ally Shoes has to be its 5 Shades of Nude pumps, which is a nude collection of unbelievably comfortable, classic pumps that come in five shades. Something that was intentional, shares Dong. Made from either suede or leather, the pumps feature an ergonomically designed insole with incredible arch support. Perhaps our favorite part? It’s available in half sizes and four different widths.
Like many Asians and Asian Americans, Covry co-founders Athina Wang and Florence Shin were frustrated by a lack of comfortable eyewear options. Unlike many folks, they decided to do something about it.
“There was nothing on the market authentically designed for us, so we set out to create eyewear made for our facial features,” shares Wang. Wang grew up between the United States and China, but it took her a while to realize that consistently ill-fitting and uncomfortable frames didn’t have to be the norm. Today, Covry’s Elevated Fit features longer nose pads, a reduced frame curvature and a narrower nose bridge — features that ensure the glasses sit higher on your face and away from your cheeks. The result is a comfortable and flattering fit, based on the measurements of real people. “As an Asian American-owned company, it has always been important to celebrate our diversity instead of to hide it,” Wang notes.
Worried about ordering glasses online? Covry offers a Home Try-On program, which we were able to test for ourselves. Simply choose five different styles, try them on at home and send them back, then you can order the ones you liked the best. It’s super straightforward, and a great way to test both the style and the fit before making a commitment. Of the five sunglasses we got to try out, our favorites were the Rana Hunter Sunglasses — a classic round style with super-stylish green lenses and a gold frame. The best part? They passed the infamous smile test, which meant even when we smiled as big as we could, the frames didn’t touch our cheeks.
There are tons of places to purchase gold-plated jewelry online. But when you’re looking for a truly timeless, luxurious piece, nothing comes close to solid gold. Kinn designs 14-karat solid gold pieces that the brand describes as modern heirlooms — something that’s deeply tied to Kinn founder and CEO Jennie Yoon’s own life. When Yoon was younger, her family was robbed and all their heirlooms were stolen. “In the hopes of replacing a few of these cherished pieces,” shares Yoon, “I learned more about the ins and outs of the jewelry industry.” This knowledge led her to realize that there was a demand for long-lasting pieces that could be passed down through generations. “At Kinn, jewelry is more than a product or piece of fashion,” Yoon says. “We see each piece as moments captured in time, milestones to reflect on.”
This idea of timeless and treasured is perfectly embodied in Kinn pieces like the Luna Dome Ring. And like all stones used at Kinn, the ones on the Luna Dome Ring are 100% natural — i.e., not dyed or heat treated. This also means that each ring is truly one of a kind, something that makes such a beautiful piece of jewelry all the more special.
Thakoon is one of our favorite destinations for super-high-quality wardrobe essentials that are classic yet contemporary, stylish and timeless. Whether you’re looking for the perfect work blouse or the sweatsuit of your dreams, Thakoon offers a range of sophisticated pieces that work for every type of person. Founder Thakoon Panichgul is a first-generation Thai American who immigrated to the United States when he was 11. “I know exactly what people see when they say America is the land of opportunity,” Panichgul says. “But the key to success is passion, drive and determination…and growing up as an AAPI person, I’ve been taught to value those qualities from a very early age.” One of our absolute favorite pieces from Thakoon is the Wool Blend Shirt Jacket, which is simple and wearable yet totally stylish. Plus, it’s a perfect wardrobe piece for every season, something that Thakoon focuses on in all the brand’s designs.
If you’ve always wondered how to achieve the elegant yet effortless look of stacking necklaces (and maybe like us, you end up tangling them) you’ll definitely be interested in Amy O Jewelry. The NYC-based jewelry brand offers a range of classically elegant yet affordable jewelry, but what the brand is most well known for is its O Collection — necklaces that feature patent-pending connectors that make the pieces super easy to layer and change up length. We were able to test out the Mika Dangle Crystal Layered Duo, which has already secured a spot as our go-to accessory. It doesn’t tangle, and you can wear it so many different ways, making it a perfect investment piece. On Amy O’s success? Founder Gina Nam credits her background as a first-generation Korean American. “I grew up in an environment where hard work, sacrifice and determination were instilled in me,” says Nam. “These cultural values have been some of our company’s core ethics, and have absolutely contributed to where we are today.”
Pepper creates adorable, better-fitting bras for small-chested women, specifically those who are a AA, A or B cup. “As a Chinese American, I grew up wanting nothing more than to be accepted by society as American,” shares Pepper co-founder and CEO Jaclyn Fu. She recalls experiences of going through puberty being called “small chested” as an insult, and of being handed a push-up bra by a sales associate. “Pepper was born from the pain, and eventually the love, that I have for my own body and learning how to celebrate it exactly as it is,” Fu says. “We exist to remind everyone it’s not your body that has to change — it’s the industry.”
Pepper’s bras feature a shallower cup shape, light padding and optimal underwire — all things that aim to make the pieces more comfortable for your natural shape. The site also features an “Ultimate Fit Quiz for Small Boobs” so you can find your perfect fit.
Aday is a clothing brand that aims to help simplify your wardrobe with pieces that are technical, seasonless and sustainable. You get a great sense of what this actually means in practice by browsing its bestsellers — from the Turn It Up Pant to the Something Borrowed Shirt, the pieces are comfortable and versatile yet appropriate for even a business formal setting. Aday co-founder and co-CEO Meg He was born in Beijing, grew up in the United Kingdom and studied and lived in the United States. She credits her mom, a fellow entrepreneur, for much of her success. She met fellow co-founder and co-CEO Nina Faulhaber while they were both working in the technology and finance sector, brought together by the common dream of a perfect wardrobe — something she describes as well designed and functional and that could work “for anything from presenting at board meetings to dressing up to visit our grandmothers or just being comfortable during travel.”
And that’s exactly what Aday achieves. The pieces are perfect for mixing and matching, and it’s all machine-washable, so you don’t have to stress about maintenance. If we had to recommend just one product, it would be one of Aday’s pants. The material of the Turn It Up and Turn It Around Pants is seriously as comfortable as leggings or activewear pants, but the cut and silhouette give them the look of dressy work slacks.
Avre is creating super-comfortable and stylish sneakers that are also sustainable — something that we can always have more of in the fashion industry. “Rooted in the vision of creating elevated yet responsible and sustainable footwear, Avre is the go-to shoe for all types of women on the go,” shares Avre co-founder Julie Kuo. We were able to try out the Life Force White sneakers, which seemed like the perfect sporty yet stylish white sneaker. While it completely delivered on all that once it arrived, we instantly fell in love with how comfortable the shoes were — Kuo was absolutely right, that we’d be wearing these whenever we’re on the go. After getting caught in the rain with them and experiencing some stains from the water, we were even happier to learn that the shoes were machine-washable, which is always a huge bonus when it comes to keeping our white sneakers white.
In 2019, fashion and lifestyle influencer Aimee Song partnered with Revolve to launch her very own brand, Song of Style. While the line undoubtedly draws from her signature sophisticated yet fashion-forward style, it’s also been inspired by Song’s years of blogging, building a YouTube channel and even writing a couple bestselling books.
“My entire collection is a reflection of my life and my experiences,” shares Song. “It’s a mix of being an Asian American born and raised in Los Angeles combined with global experiences my job has afforded me.” And that versatility is what defines some of our favorite products from Song of Style. The Emma Dress references retro colors and details that are all the rage among influencers, and the Chloe Top can either be dressed up for the office or down for a luxurious day of lounging.
Happy Masks is creating some of the most comfortable and breathable face masks we’ve ever tried — and the products are also pretty good at doing their job. Happy Masks’ masks feature five different layers of protection, one of which is a nanofiber filter that claims to be able to block the tiniest of airborne particles for an impressive 99.9% filtration efficiency against bacteria and viruses. Because the filter is built in, it doesn’t feel bulky or uncomfortable; it’s actually quite the opposite. The unique design (that looks a bit like a duckbill) prevents the mask from rubbing against your face constantly, and the adjustable nose wire and ear straps are great features as well.
The story of Happy Masks begins back in 2002, when the SARS outbreak was devastating regions of Asia. Founder Melinda Hwang’s father, who had immigrated to the United States from Taiwan in 1977, partnered with a scientist to develop the nanofiber membrane filter used in Happy Masks today. “The start of Happy Masks was the direct outcome of us being an Asian-American immigrant family that lived through SARS,” shares Hwang. “My mother sent us these masks to protect my family and me, which we then saw as a chance for Happy Masks to help protect families across the United States.”
Wknd Nation launched in February 2021 with a collection of mix-and-match styles that straddle that balance of comfortable yet polished. Though the concept for the brand was born far before the pandemic era of loungewear all day everyday, the brand seems to fit in perfectly with the new work-life balance many of us are settling into. A perfect example of this duality? The Homeworksocial Sweatshirt, which is essentially a sweatshirt (and just as comfy as one), but with details like flattering dropped shoulders and a tapered shape that make it just formal enough for the office — or at the very least, the Zoom office.
Co-founder Phuong Ireland is an industry veteran, but her entrepreneurial spirit is something she credits her family for. “As refugees from Vietnam, my parents worked very hard opening up a chain of restaurants to provide for our family here. I started working in those restaurants from a young age, giving me a front-row seat to my parents’ entrepreneurial journey,” shares Ireland. “This early experience inspired me to chase my entrepreneurial dreams, which brought me to Wknd Nation.”
If you’ve ever wondered how to replicate your favorite Asian dishes from home — whether it’s Filipino sisig or Korean spicy bulgogi — Omsom makes it (almost) as easy as ripping open a pouch. No need to go searching for hard-to-find ingredients or placing an online order for spices you’re not quite sure are right for the recipe. Omsom prepares all the sauces, aromatics and seasonings you need for signature Asian dishes in pouches so you can simply mix them in with your favorite protein and veggies. “Growing up, we never felt seen by the ‘ethnic’ aisle in mainstream grocery stores,” shares Omsom co-founder Kim Pham. “We wanted to build a company that reclaims and celebrates the multitudes within Asian flavors and stories.”
Kim and Vanessa Pham, sisters and Omsom co-founders, are first-generation Vietnamese Americans and the daughters of refugees. Food, as they describe, is a way of reengaging with their identities as women of culture and as “third culture” folks — those raised in a culture other than that of their parents. “Our mission is to give Asian Americans a modern way to access a real deal taste of home and to show non-Asian Americans what it means for this category to be done right,” Pham explains. All the starters we tested were incredibly delicious and simple to use; our only suggestion is that you order more than one type. We’d recommend either the Southeast Asian Omsom Samper or the East Asian Omsom Sampler, each of which is enough for upward of 16 meals. Can’t decide between the two? Get both with The Omsom Bundle.
Bokksu is one of the most delightful subscription services we’ve ever tested. For just $49.95 per month (or less, depending on your plan), you’re sent a massive assortment of some of the most delicious and interesting snacks from around Japan. And this isn’t the Japanese candy you can find in a local grocery store — most of them come from small businesses and artisanal creators — so you’re trying stuff that, without sounding clichéd, is really special.
“As an Asian American born in the US to immigrant refugee parents, I always had to act as a bridge between my family and the rest of society,” shares Bokksu founder Danny Taing. “This experience with navigating linguistic and cultural barriers was key to my success of integrating into Japanese society during the years I lived in Tokyo.”
Taing credits this eventual fluency in Japanese culture as what enabled him to successfully launch Bokksu, which he hopes can expose people across the world to authentic Japanese culture and food. And our absolute favorite part about Bokksu achieves just that. With every box of snacks, you receive a booklet full of information all about each of the goodies – no Japanese required. You can read up on fun facts about what you’re munching on (a wonderful window into learning more about Japan and Japanese culture), who they’re made by and by what, along with any dietary restrictions or common allergens.
Sometimes you stumble across something that you just can’t get enough of. Bachan’s is one of those treasures, in sauce form. To put it simply, Bachan’s Japanese Barbecue Sauce is sort of like an upgraded Teriyaki sauce — it’s sweet, salty and super umami. But its superpower is in transforming a bland dish of protein and veggies over rice into something much greater than the sum of its parts. “Bachan” is Japanese for “grandmother,”, someone to which Justin Gill, owner and founder of Bachan’s, has a lot to thank for the brand’s success.
Gill credits the beginning of Bachan’s history to his great-grandmother, Shigeno Yokoyama, who immigrated to the United States from Hiroshima, Japan, in 1923. “Her culinary talents, family focus and entrepreneurism have inspired generations, including our brand,” says Gill. “Named for my Bachan Judy Yokoyama — Shigeno’s daughter-in-law — this sauce is a family heirloom that has been present at family meals for decades.” And it’s one that we’re thrilled to be able to enjoy as well. “Bringing the sauce to the public has been a way for our family to honor our heritage and rich history,” shares Gill, “while also hoping to bring other families together over delicious food and good times together.”
Fly by Jing offers a range of mouth-watering sauces and spices, the most popular of which is the brand’s Sichuan Chili Crisp. While reminiscent of other hot chili oils, this one is way more complex, savory and deliciously crispy — truly, we’ve been putting it on everything. It’s also the first and only 100% all-natural Sichuan chili sauce, crafted in founder Jing Gao’s hometown of Chengdu. “My Chinese identity is totally inextricable from Fly by Jing, in terms of the brand’s origin, where it is today and where it’s going,” shares Gao. Her goal with the brand is to create a destination for the best Chinese food products on the planet and reshape how people in the West think of Chinese food. “It’s an ambitious mission,” Gao notes, “and one that has everything to do with me, my hometown and its flavors.”
Cookware isn’t traditionally exciting, so perhaps the fact that a pan can bring so much joy to one’s life is indicative of how investing in everyday products can be a form of self-care. If you don’t already know what we’re talking about, the Always Pan from Our Place is the monochromatic kitchen pan that Oprah, Instagram and Underscored alike are obsessed with. It’s both a kitchen statement item and a multipurpose cooking tool, and one that we loved particularly as a gift for the kitchen-dwelling, aesthetic-loving individual in your life.
It’s sturdy, and overall a fantastic nonstick pan that works in all the various ways it claims to — not just as a pan but also as a saucepan, skillet, steamer and a ton more. And as it turns out, joy was a big part of how Our Place came to be. “We launched Our Place to make home cooking easier and more joyful,” shares founder Shiza Shahid. “As immigrants, my partner and I literally found our place in America by cooking at home and sharing food with new communities who became chosen family. … Home cooking is at the heart of nourishment, identity and belonging.”
We’re big fans of Blueland’s nontoxic, planet-friendly cleaning supplies (read our full review here). In short, the brand utilizes high-quality reusable containers and cleaners with powerful yet people-friendly ingredients to help cut down on plastic waste, in addition to unhealthy chemicals you might be exposed to with standard cleaning products.
“My mother and father immigrated here with very little, so there was a mindfulness around not being wasteful that was very ingrained in me from a young age,” shares Blueland founder Sarah Paiji Yoo. “I remember my parents saving all our takeout containers, and washing and reusing Ziploc bags,” she recalls. “Growing up with this reduce-and-reuse mindset definitely led me to be very conscious about all the waste we generate.”
Today, Blueland is on a mission to eliminate single-use plastic packaging, starting with household cleaning products. If you pick up just one product, we’d recommend starting with The Clean Essentials. The kit includes a foaming hand soap, multisurface cleaner, bathroom cleaner and glass and mirror cleaner. So far, we’ve loved how effective and simple to use they are, not to mention how inexpensive refills are. Turns out, it’s easier than it seems to start cutting down on plastic waste.
Perhaps the internet’s favorite retailer for all things plant-related, The Sill has long been one of our go-to destinations for everything from houseplants to trendy planters. Founded back in 2012 by Eliza Blank, Blank hoped to demystify plants and make them more accessible to folks who weren’t traditionally tuned in to, well, the plant world. Fast forward, and The Sill now has stores across the country, subscription services for those looking to grow their plant collection and a whole range of delivery-ready plants on its website. “The Sill was born in New York City’s Chinatown,” shares Blank. “Both the Chinatown community and my mother, an immigrant from the Philippines, modeled hard work, resilience, grit and bravery. I wouldn’t have the success I have today without seeing this so close up.”
It’s easy to be dubious of direct-to-consumer brands that make promises of cutting out an intermediary and democratizing luxury. What sets Italic apart? You’re actually getting high-end products — made by the same factories that create other luxury and designer products — at cost. How is this possible? Italic charges an annual membership fee — $120, to be exact. The brand guarantees that you’ll make up that fee in savings, otherwise you’ll be refunded the difference. Fortunately, it’s really not tough. A lot of the savings on Italic are borderline unbelievable, and the quality of the products speaks for itself. “Part of the reason why we started Italic and are so passionate about the work we do here is to dispel the decades-old stigma that high-quality products can’t possibly be made in Asia,” shares Italic founder Jeremy Cai. “This stigma has plagued the industry for decades and couldn’t be further from the truth.”
A favorite we have to share is the Slumber Cotton Sateen Sheet Set, of which the quality can easily be compared to bedding brands that will cost you double (if not 10 times, literally!) the price.
For those who love modern and minimalist home decor, Yamazaki Home is one of our favorite places to find reliable yet inexpensive products. Inspired by Japanese life and aesthetics, Yamazaki Home places an emphasis on functionality, something that other decor pieces can oftentimes miss. And while the pieces seem simple, CEO Shigeru Yamazaki shares that the true value of the products is when you find yourself using them every day. Something as simple as the White Sink Dish Drainer Rack or the Tower Ladle Holder can make a huge impact when navigating your kitchen. The genius Tower Rolling Slim Storage Cart makes all the difference when it comes to making the most of the space you do have — we’re currently using it as a multipurpose spice rack and bar cart. And other products, like the Magnetic Key Rack with Tray and the Desk Bar-Wood & Steel Organizer, make organization stylish and, more importantly, completely intuitive.
Long gone are the days of super-bold brows and a dramatic smoky eye. Today, natural makeup is what everyone’s opting for. And CLE Cosmetics is the perfect brand for building your arsenal of “makeup that’s also skin care” products.
“Growing up, my parents tied Korean culture into every aspect of my life, and self-care rituals were definitely a part of that,” shares CLE Cosmetics founder Lauren Jin. “I remember going to the Korean sauna every month as a treat we all looked forward to. The idea of sheet masks, jiab (acupressure massage) and getting your skin exfoliated was embedded into my idea of self-care early on.”