In a time when anti-Asian racism and violence is unfortunately on the rise, we recognize the importance in highlighting small businesses owned by Asian Americans. In addition, Women’s History Month encourages us to shine a light on female visionaries and women-owned businesses, so BELLA compiled a list of star-power-packed entrepreneurs in the AAPI community to support now and beyond.
Alicia Sandve, Founder of HEYMAEVE
HEYMAEVE, a pandemic born brand, aims to bring minority representation and growth to the fashion industry. Founded by Asian American businesswomen Alicia, the brand is best known for their wide array of 18k gold plated, water resistant, hypoallergenic and nickel free jewelry.
Additionally, HEYMAEVE carries unique home, beauty and lifestyle products, all under $70. An advocate for women around the world, HEYMAEVE has partnered with i=change to donate $1 from each sale to the shopper’s selection of women focused charities.
Carol Chen, Founder and CEO of Maskela
Carol Chen, Taiwanese-American and founder of luxury mask brand Maskela, is a serial entrepreneur who has built five businesses across four countries in addition to Maskela. After being turned away at her private club for wearing a disposable face mask, Carol went home, turned dresses from her own designer gowns into face masks, and developed the idea of Maskela.
The former Miss San Francisco previously had a fashion label in LA which retailed in over 300 stores, a uniform factory in China which manufactured for top professional teams, a MMA brand in Hong Kong worn by international fighters, and a dress rental company in Singapore which dressed the stars in the movie Crazy Rich Asians. Maskela retails from $20-$60, and is available for purchase here.
Samantha Honstetter, Founder of Bellemere New York
Driven by her desire to offer high quality for a reasonable price, founder, Samantha Honstetter began a collaboration with a New York designer to create Bellemere NewYork.
Bellemere utilizes a textile company that is 100% traceable and has passed numerous international certifications including The Responsible Wool Standard, The Good Cashmere Standard® and with The International Cooperation Committee of Animal Welfare (ICCAW). Utilizing eco-natural fibers to craft luxury cashmere yarns, the collection offers unparalleled luxury at an accessible price point, for a 100% hand-made wool coats.
Gina Nam, Founder of AMYO
Korean American founder of AMYO Gina Nam grew up in a family of jewelers and noticed how wasteful the industry can be trying to keep up with trends, so she set out to make minimalist and evergreen pieces meant to last at an affordable price point. She runs an all-female team based out of New York City who craft her jewelry by hand.
The ethically hand-crafted jewelry brand is built with individualism in mind, evoking intimacy and self-expression using the highest quality of materials. Products including huggie earrings, layered necklaces, bracelets, and more are available from $30-$300 here.
Julie Kuo, C0-Founder of AVRE
After immigrating from Taiwan and growing up in a family who created the powerhouse footwear company East Lion Corporation, Julie Kuo has continued the legacy and started AVRE. Compelled to think outside the box, Julie developed an innovative manufacturing and design process to produce AVRE footwear from recycled materials. The very footing of each AVRE shoe is to recognize and celebrate every woman’s step towards an authentic, versatile, responsible, and empowered life.
Each AVRE shoe is knitted with fibers created from recycled P.E.T plastic from 8-10 water bottles through Repreve, the same manufacturer as Rothy’s. After the shoes are created, they are tested and verified with Unifi—one of the largest well-known sustainable verification companies. Today, AVRE proudly stands with GoFundMe and GoldHouseCo, and leaders in the AAPI community who are devoted to taking initiative. Together, they are standing against turning a blind eye to unlawful acts of hate and violence.
Mary Jane Chon, Founder of Mono B
Mono B is a Korean-Owned brand athleisure collection founded by Mary Jane Chon and Cindy Lee, designed in Los Angeles. This fashion meets functional brand prides itself on its size-inclusive collection with unique fabrications, futuristic designs and prints at an affordable price.
The brand’s Recycled/Eco-Conscious Selection was constructed using either 100% recycled polyester or 100% recycled nylon (and woven with an elastic fiber such as spandex or Lycra). Mono B designed for high-intensity activities or for relaxing on the couch, whatever the activity Mono B is sure to be the best fit! The collection ranges from $19-$49 and includes sports bras, tops, leggings, jackets, and more, available here.
Jenn Chong and Roman Khan, Co-Founders of Linjer
Sustainable accessories brand Linjer was cofounded by husband and wife team, Jenn and Roman Khan. Based in Hong Kong, Linjer started their design studio in 2014 because they were fed up with having to overspend to buy beautiful, high quality products that would last and choosing between unsustainable fast-fashion products and overpriced luxury brands.
As a DTC brand, Linjer is able to offer luxury quality products at a fraction of the price of traditional luxury brands. Sustainability is a core value of our studio therefore Linjer selects the most eco-friendly and long-lasting materials available to us, work with the best artisans in the world, and offset carbon emissions for every shipment we dispatch to our customers.
Alicia Tsai, Founder of Aerangis
Aerangis brings true luxury as a result of a conscious commitment to handcrafted craftsmanship, high quality ingredients, and uncompromising sustainability. These high standards are the heartbeat behind everything we do. We thoughtfully consider every detail to deliver an experience that embodies our values and respects the sanctity of your home.
Working closely with world-renowned perfumers, we carefully craft each and every fragrance to either recall precious memories, whether they are ours or yours, or create one that will evoke memories for generations. Our signature scents are inspired by my most cherished memories, including a secret garden in Taiwan, a ranch and vineyard in upstate New York, and the spirit of New Orleans.
Carolyn Kim, founder of Yobo Soju
Yobo Soju was founded by Korean American mom and lawyer, Carolyn Kim, with a desire to create a premium spirit that was easy to drink and paid homage to her roots. Handcrafted in the New York Finger Lakes, the award-winning soju has a lighter alcohol content (23% ABV) and clean taste bring an understated elegance to an everyday drink. Yobo is free of gluten, sugar, preservatives, additives and is low calorie (36 calories per ounce) and keto friendly.
Enjoy Yobo Soju with crushed ice and a straw or mix with your favorite beverage. In the first two months of 2021, Yobo donated 100% of its company’s profits to COVID-19 restaurant and food service relief. Yobo is committed to serving its communities and will continue to find causes to support and share. On an ongoing basis, Yobo will divert funds to organizations paving the way for minority owned small business owners, struggling restaurants, and the workers who support them. Visit their website, to find Yobo Soju near you, or purchase on Drizly.com and Wine.com.
Saima Chowdhury, Founder + CEO of Grey State
Born and raised in Bangladesh, Saima Chowdhury founded Grey State in 2015 to provide an edited selection of relaxed luxury clothing that gives comfort, style, and a sense to calm confidence to a woman’s busy schedule.
Grey State is a female-owned and operated brand that is committed to keeping their environmental impact low.
Jennifer Lee, Vice President + Co-Founder of LAPCOS
Jennifer Lee is the Vice President and Co-Founder of LAPCOS, a family run brand. Growing up as a Korean American, surrounded by the ever-changing beauty world, has deeply informed her experience leading the helm at the company.
Jennifer brings to the position a heart-centered mission and core values that are helping to not only evolve LAPCOS, but also with the intention of advancing the beauty industry as a whole.
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