Asian American and Pacific Islander
Heritage Month 2022
Celebrating AAPI Founders!
In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we're putting the spotlight on the AAPI founders and co-founders of our favorite beauty brands. We believe that, through their experiences, they bring unique perspectives to our industry, and we're so happy to be able to feature them and their fabulous products!Shop the Brands
Faith Kim and her mother, Jane, launched Lashfood in 2010 as a natural alternative to chemical-based lash enhancers and commercial eyelash extensions (the latter of which they helped to pioneer). Today, the line includes a number of products for healthy eyes and lashes, including enhancing serums, lash primer and a unique makeup remover pen.
"As a first-generation Korean American, my heritage has played a massive role in my relationship with and introduction to skincare. My mother has been my biggest influence, and skincare had always been a ritual for her—it was the time she’d set aside to take care of herself. As a child, I always viewed this time as a luxurious and sensorial routine. Even now, the smell of certain Korean skincare products still reminds me of her. She’s influenced my less-is-more approach to beauty. Not too perfect or too done. Beauty should be effortless, easy and fun."
As a daughter of Indian immigrants growing up in small-town Wisconsin, Michelle Ranavat sometimes felt as though she was going back and forth between two different cultures. Today, she merges them with her eponymous beauty brand, which brings products made in India from traditional and locally sourced ingredients to the rest of the world.
"Ranavat is inspired by my culture—I’m Indian, so of South Asian descent—because I grew up knowing how incredible the practice of Ayurveda is for the mind and body. My mission and passion with the brand is to share this on a broader level through skincare and beyond!"
As a beauty columnist for The New York Times, Bee Shapiro saw firsthand the lack of cleanly formulated fragrances available on the market. Inspired by the possibility of what she could create, Bee launched Ellis Brooklyn in 2015 to fill this unmet need and expand the range of clean beauty categories.
"I was born in Taiwan and moved to the Seattle area when I was about three and a half. The culture is warm yet direct. It's amazing to have these wonderful comedians now like Ali Wong and Jimmy O that capture this exact dichotomy so hilariously. The directness of feedback can be startling, but it's taught me to live in my truth. I know where I'm strong and where my weaknesses are and that's helped me build Ellis Brooklyn along the way. I think it's the same principle when creating fragrances with master perfumers. With scent, smells can be so tough to describe. We try to cut the old school fragrance marketing jargon and instead be direct with everyone on our team but also with how we describe scent to our community."
In 2016, Lillian Tung launched Fur Oil with her childhood friend Laura Schubert, and a brand was born. Now the two women oversee a company that promotes body acceptance, producing products that are vegan, cruelty free and safe enough for the body’s most intimate areas.
"I'm a second-generation Chinese American. From a heritage perspective, something my parents taught me was the importance of respecting yourself and others without being overt. Fur reflects a lot of this belief as we focus on respecting your body and having the freedom to take care of it in an elegant fashion."
Snow Fox Skincare
After struggling with unsuccessful conventional treatments for her rosacea, Phoebe Song took matters into her own hands, traveling to Taiwan to develop Snow Fox, a sustainable, cruelty-free skincare line that blends traditional Eastern healing practices and modern Western science.
"My parents are first-generation immigrants from Taiwan, bringing with them their traditional culture and work ethic that still resonates within my family today. Honestly, growing up in Australia made me somewhat foreign to our home culture until fate brought me back to the island. I met my head chemist (an amazing Taiwanese woman who’s still responsible for new Snow Fox products), who suggested that I come and explore local proprietary production technology with her.
As we built our brand, my re-connection to Taiwan grew with it, and it definitely became a core influence on our brand—even though our original concept came out of Australia. This heritage is very much part of me, and I’ve always carried a deep respect of native flora in different regions and their traditional remedies and practices. This is applied to Snow Fox formulas through ingredients such as ginseng, Australian snowflower or astragalus root. Snow Fox is a blend of East and West, a reflection of me as its founder, and I am proud of that multicultural identity as an AAPI person.
I believe that blended cultures (third cultures) will become more of a norm in the future, and this will be reflected in founders and their brands, just like it has with mine."
Kim van Haaster
Kim van Haaster was a beauty marketing and sales executive based in New York City when she fell in love with a man whose family owned a Dutch tulip farm. After relocating to the Netherlands, she created Bloomeffects: a Conscious Beauty skincare line formulated with their proprietary Dutch tulip complex, which is rich in antioxidants, amino acids and natural moisturizing factors, for soft, glowing skin.
"I was born and raised in Australia as the daughter of Vietnamese refugees. Growing up I was often the odd girl out, not only for my Chinese/Vietnamese heritage but also because I suffered from severe eczema. As I had very few strong Asian female role models around, I looked to my Mom for beauty and skincare inspiration. I am so grateful to my Mom for making me feel proud of my roots, the way I look and for always instilling a sense of grit and drive in me. These experiences made me realize that one day I would love to launch my own skincare line."
Dr. Maryam Zamani
London-based oculoplastic surgeon Maryam Zamani, MD, is well-known for her non-surgical approach (think syringes, not scalpels). Her philosophy that prevention is the most important factor in aging well led her to introduce MZ Skin, her line of skincare and devices, in 2016.
"Being Iranian is my culture and heritage. It gives me the breadth to see and experience life differently. I’ve been fortunate to be Iranian, raised in the States and now to live in the UK. Being a citizen of the world means I’m curious to learn about different cultures, empathetic to differences in value systems and always evolving in how I see the world. I feel very blessed to have this uncommon combination. And I think that being a successful surgeon and entrepreneur from an area that’s often critiqued for political and religious ideologies, I can also represent the beautiful side of a country richly rooted in history and culture and hopefully give a better understanding of a country and land I feel deeply connected to. MZ Skin is an alchemy of my total life experiences. Iranians pride themselves on their presentation. Skincare and maintaining beauty rituals is very much engrained within the women and men of the country, stemming thousands of years. My mother started me on my skincare regimen from a young age, and that’s always been a cornerstone of my own home beauty rituals."
Saluting More AAPI Creators!
While we’re super in love with the AAPI founders of the beauty brands we carry (see above), we also wanted to shine a light on some fantastic AAPI female founders of lines we don't sell. Here are seven more cool women worth getting to know.
Florence Shin and
Started by two friends frustrated that standard eyewear frames didn't fit diverse face shapes, this line of spectacles and sunglasses boasts elements like longer nose pads and a narrowed bridge to stay in place on any face.Shop All Covry
Nguyen Coffee Supply
Roasted in Brooklyn from single-origin robusta beans (IYKYN) grown in Vietnam and imported by a first-generation Vietnamese American daughter of refugees, this coffee is prized by aesthetes and casual sippers alike.Shop All Nguyen Coffee Supply
The brainchild of a Native Hawaiian and accomplished hula dancer (as a child, she performed in Don Ho’s legendary Waikiki show), this collection of home decor interprets the island aesthetic through graphic textile design.Shop All Noho Home
After you cofound the Malala Fund, what do you do for an encore? Why, launch a range of ethically and sustainably produced kitchenware that gets bonus points for its utter chicness, of course!Shop All Our Place
Fans of fine jewelry crafted from responsibly sourced materials, such as jade and opal, will love the delicate creations from this NYC-based atelier that donates 10 percent of sales to Apex for Youth and the Asian Youth Center.Shop All Ren
Hand-sewn by artisans in India paid a fair wage and using sustainable materials, these colorful, embellished dresses, tops, accessories and now home decor instantly brighten both room and wearer.Shop All Roopa Pemmaraju