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Artists Guides

Asian American Small Businesses I Love

It’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! I wanted to share a few of my favorite AAPI small businesses, brands, makers, and artists I love…

It’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! I wanted to share a few of my favorite AAPI small businesses, brands, makers, and artists I love. This list will constantly update, so feel free to share more you love in the comments below!

Paper Goods
Carolyn Suzuki – Carolyn has also owned a successful greeting card business for the past 7 years, her cheerful cards are sold from Australia to Japan and of course, all across the U.S.A. She uses the reach of her art in her activism, supporting female empowerment, human rights, voter engagement, and several charitable organizations. (Carolyn and Seonna Hong designed the print shown in this post as a fundraiser for AAPI hate)
Summer Space Studio – Summer Space Studio makes unique paper flower arrangements including bouquets, decor, bridal bouquets, and special occasion pieces.
My Darlin’ – A Brooklyn-based design and paper goods studio cultivating nostalgia through design and future paper ephemera. A love for bold colors, playful typography, vintage novelty prints, abstract pattern play, and a susceptibility to love at first sight are at the heart of the company.

Artists with Prints
Meena Patel – An illustrator, children’s book author, and color-lover whose art is rooted in reflections of childhood wonder, the power of feeling seen, the evolution of sharing all facets of ourselves with others, and the many ways strength manifests. 
Ping Hatta – Piamrak Hattakitkosol, or “Ping Hatta” in short, is a Thai illustrator, artist, lingerie designer, and maker of little things living in New York City and Bangkok. Her whimsical illustrations explore topics involving relationships between fashion and culture, womanhood, subtle experiences, dreams, mystics, and attempting to translate those things intuitively into visual form. Ping works across various medium, including gouache, embroidery, linocut printmaking, and digital.
Thai Kim – She is a Vietnamese-American illustrator and artist born and raised in the Midwest. Her love is in illustrating people, food, and using vivid colors. When she’s not drawing digitally for others, she’s creating zines and comics, designing merch, and experimenting with ink and paint.
Felicia Liang – Felicia Liang is an artist currently based in California. She works primarily with digital and colored pencil illustrations and loves weaving storytelling into works that make people feel uplifted, seen, and introspective from the shared experiences and everyday things depicted in her work.
Seonna Hong – Seonna Hong was born and raised in Southern California. Her quietly narrative paintings are often autobiographical and no doubt influenced by her time teaching, as well as her work in TV and Feature animation.

Kids Clothing & Toys
Kira Kids – Kira Kids creates the softest garments, printed with the happiest hand drawn illustrations. Each garment is sewn with love in sunny California and most pieces are made with their signature organic cotton fabric and garment dyed for the softest vintage feel.
Mochi Kids – Amanda is the owner & designer of Mochi Kids (and mother of three!)  She started designing and screen printing tees for her kids a few years ago and after having a demand from family & friends, opened Mochi Kids! Each shirt sold in the shop is hand screen-printed.
Dumpling Mart – Run by Christine Jee, the cutest hand-sewn wool felt dumplings for kids (and adults) to play with!

Ceramics & Glassware
Knotworks – Run by Linda Hsiao, Knotworks is a line of whimsical and precious objects made for the home.  Inspired by the natural materials of wood and ceramic, each piece is made by hand.
Rami Kim – Rami Kim is a Los Angeles based artist and ceramicist. Pushing boundaries of ceramic, she focuses on handcrafting sculptural and functional ceramic objects. With her background in animation, her work is whimsical, poetic and animated. Her inspiration comes from organic shapes, nature, feelings, simplicity, and of course, people.
O-M Ceramics – OBJECT-MATTER “O-M” is a Los Angeles based ceramic and design studio focused on minimal and contemporary form, created by ceramicist & artist Carrie Lau. Her work is distinguished by their modern and curvilinear form, as well as their playful movement and naturalistic tension. She was born and raised in Hong Kong and currently lives and works in Highland Park, Los Angeles.
Janelle Foo – Janelle a proud Asian American artist and a Southern California native, born and raised in Huntington Beach. She went to school to complete a program in Jewelry Design. During her studies, she discovered a passion for working with stained glass. After a lot of patience while practicing and perfecting the craft, Janel Foo Glassworks was born in 2015.
Tak Tak – All TAK TAK glassware is handmade by Risa Recio in Chicago, IL, alongside a talented pirate crew of glassblowers who are mentors and friends.
Milk and Clay – Milk and Clay is a ceramic art and design line created by artist Sydney Oh. The minimal yet refined line was founded upon a love of organic and practical pieces that are both visually appealing and a welcome addition to daily life. The small batch collections include handmade homewares such as vessels, bowls, cups, and unique objects, all of which marry form with function. Milk and Clay’s simple forms embrace the wabi-sabi philosophy and are meant to elevate the everyday.
Pawena Thimaporn – Since graduating 15 years ago, Pawena has been working full time in the design industry, but has always made sure to find time to make things by hand outside of work to keep her true passion alive, and she has recently had the opportunity to return to her first love of ceramic design with the founding of Pawena Studio in 2015.
Ren Vois – Tina Huang, together with her husband Eric, aims to bring a lifestyle brand of distinctive ceramic designs with sophisticated spontaneity.  Through all her design experience, she was able to hone in on her own design sensibilities, one that juxtaposes raw with refined.  
Mud Witch – Run by Viviana Matsuda, a Japanese/Mexican Artist from San Francisco. Her father was a ceramicist and when he passed away she was left with a bunch of pottery supplies. She took a ceramics class as a creative outlet to work through her grief and founded Mud Witch.

Jewelry
Grace Lee – Founded in 2008, Grace Lee created her eponymous collection after searching for well-designed everyday fine jewelry. With the belief that fine jewelry should be worn and enjoyed everyday rather than only being treasured inside of a jewelry box. Each piece in the collection is designed to stack and layer together.
Kinn Studio – Says found Jennie Yoon: “I started Kinn to replace the antique jewelry my parents lost when their home was robbed. In honor of those priceless heirlooms, we design classic pieces at Kinn that stand the test of time. After a lifetime of wear, you’ll be able to pass your Kinn jewelry on as an heirloom.”

Food & Cooking
Brightland – Brightland was born out of a desire for better, more honest food production – and a deep belief in the land and what it provides. Aishwarya Iyer’s ancestors were salt farmers in South India; the land provided for them, and in turn they provided salt for people in the South. It’s a beautiful cycle when left untouched.
Material Kitchen – Co-Founders Eunice and Dave wanted to create a new category of tasteful kitchenware, designed and curated for modern home cooks like themselves. The whole line is functional and beautiful and I use a lot of it in my own kitchen!
Diaspora Co. – As a young woman born and raised in postcolonial Mumbai, working at the intersection of food and culture, Sana Javeri Kadri, Founder & CEO of Diaspora wanted to give farmers their fair share and consumers delicious spices. Diaspora Co. was founded in late 2017 to create a radically new, and equitable vision of the spice trade, decolonizing a commodity back into a seasonal crop, and a broken system into an equal exchange.
OmSom – Co-Founders and sisters Vanessa + Kim Pham started Omsom to bring proud, loud Asian flavors to your fingertips any day of the week, sitting in your pantry right between the tomato sauce and olive oil. No more diluted dishes, no more cultural compromise. Real deal Asian cuisine and communities are too delicious to deny.
Nguyen Coffee – Nguyen Coffee Supply is the first specialty Vietnamese coffee company in the United States importing via direct-trade and roasting in Brooklyn, New York. Founded and led by a 1st generation, Vietnamese American and daughter of refugees, Sahra Nguyen is on a mission to change the future of specialty coffee through diversity, inclusion and sustainability. 
Dang – Brothers Vincent and Andrew Dang lived between NYC & Bangkok, and grew up eating differently. They created Dang—แดง, named after their Mom—to share uniquely Asian-American snacks with the flavors and ingredients they loved, including their famous original Coconut Chips.
Our Place – At Our Place, they believe sharing a home-cooked meal is foundational to connection and make products that connect people over home-cooking. Their collections are new heirlooms from the cultures and places that make up the fabric of the modern kitchen and they hope that telling stories of tradition will bring the disparate edges of our world closer together.
Brooklyn Delhi – Brooklyn Delhi makes delicious condiments and sauces inspired by Indian culinary traditions. The first line of products that was launched in 2014 focuses on an Indian pantry staple called achaar, sometimes referred to as Indian pickle. Achaar (pronounced ah-char; ‘pickled’ in Hindi) is a flavor-packed condiment made from vegetables & fruits, aromatic spices and chili peppers.
Malai Ice Cream – Malai, figuratively meaning cream of the crop, draws inspiration from South Asian ingredients, aromatic spices, and our founder’s upbringing. Their ice cream is all eggless, handcrafted, and churned with very little air, resulting in purer, more robust flavors, as well as the creamiest textures you can find.

Pet
Kind Tail – The company philosophy is simple: Be kind to pets and people. The inspiration for KindTail came from founder Amy Kim looking for a beautiful home for her dog, Monkey. Amy chose to create the answer she was seeking and KindTail became a reality. Three years later its first product, PAWD, was in production and Monkey (and many more pets) finally had the home Amy envisioned!
Rifruf – The mission of RIFRUF® is to enable your dog to look their best and live to their fullest, every step of the way. The RIFRUF® experience is an invitation and connection to what we value as a brand and family: modern design, sneaker culture, a dose of nostalgia, and most importantly, dogs.

Womens’ Apparel
Asian American Girl Club – An apparel company set to redefine what it means to be a modern Asian American woman. AAGC is dedicated to the normalization of the next generation of AAPI gals and boss babes.
Phenomenal Woman – PHENOMENAL is a female-driven media and lifestyle brand that centers underrepresented communities. 
Rujuta Sheth – She lives and works in New York City.  Born in India, she grew up surrounded by artisans, weavers, beaders, and embroiderers.  When she launched her namesake line in 2015, she naturally returned to these villages to tap into the creativity and craftsmanship she knew so well. The Rujuta Sheth collection juxtaposes traditional technique with modern silhouette, expressed through organic and handwoven textiles. 
Mauby – It’s a new apparel brand designed in Los Angeles and globally inspired. Their pieces are designed to cater to fit, comfort, and sophistication and they are dedicated to bridging the gaps in the ever evolving contemporary fashion landscape.
Corinne Collection – Established in 2015 by Susan Park. Her main mission is to create pieces that have Individuality and Versatility. Every piece is designed and handcrafted by Park in her studio. When you purchase a Corinne piece, every piece is hand sewn which allows for a very small footprint since the fabric and thread is also made locally. Corinne Collection is handcrafted in Los Angeles, California.

Vintage Clothing
Happy Dance – Founded and curated by Richelle who works full-time as a special education teacher. (And hoping to soon be dance and movement therapist). She loves the hunt for vintage, and wants to make sure to only walk away with the pieces that made her want to do a happy dance. Each piece has been thoughtfully chosen by her in order to guarantee that joyful movement feeling, inside and out.

Gifts
Poketo – Founded in 2003 by husband-and-wife team Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung, Poketo has grown from a small startup into a creative hub and online destination. A lifestyle brand born out of the desire to infuse art and design into every day,  Poketo creates collections of design-conscious goods to cultivate a creative lifestyle.
Yui Brooklyn – Yui Brooklyn is an experimental candle lab founded by Yui in Brooklyn, NY in July 2020. She moved from Japan to NYC in 2016 – do yourself a favor and read her “About” section on her website. You’ll be charmed and flattered by her take on American culture and just might add to cart!
A Jar of Pickles – Everything from stationery, pins, and keychains to custom work. It was started by Kirstie in college as a side-hustle while teaching herself Illustrator and Photoshop.
Justine Gilbuena – She’s an illustrator and one-woman shop in New York with her cat assistant, Peach. Here you’ll find pins, patches, prints and more inspired by her childhood and Filipino culture.
Camp by Julia Wester – An Oh Joy! alum, Julia hand dyes a variety of clothing, home decor, and accessories. The shirts and sweatshirts are some of my faves!

(Print at top by Carolyn Suzuki and Seonna Hong)

17 comments

  1. What an incredible round up of people and businesses to support… all year long. Thanks so much for including Dumpling Mart! I really appreciate it. 🙂

  2. Thank you for this, Joy! I just bought from Kira and Mochi as I had a load of kid birthday and baby gifts to get over the next couple of months. Great designs and assortment. This is now the second time in a week or so that I’ve bought from your lists (last one was Roam Vintage and the item fits perfectly) so I appreciate you sharing your resources.

  3. What an incredible list – thanks for sharing!

    My 8-year old Filipino-American daughter turned her favorite quarantine activity – making beaded accessories – into her first business! She was stuck at home and wanted to earn spending money / donate to charities providing community support during the pandemic.

    We’d be honored if she could send your family some items to check out!

    https://kaylenemma.com/

    http://instagram.com/kaylenemma

  4. Such a fun list! Thanks for sharing with all of us. One of my faves for jewelry and now some cool collaborations is Kicheko Goods – beautiful chic jewelry that also gives to education. Owner Sarah Bayot is an absolute gem!

  5. What a wonderful round-up — I’m so happy to read such vocal and specific support from and for the AAPI community. In addition to these, I’d like to shout-out amazing, SF-based Taiwanese-American artist Martin Hsu. I have many of his original and print pieces. He even produced a self-published book featuring an Asian, boba-drinking send-up of Alice in Wonderland. He does beautiful work. https://www.martinhsu.com/

  6. Thank you for introducing me to all these small businesses! I especially love all the paper and stationery products.

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