The Asian American community is hurting right now. While hate crimes overall across the U.S. decreased by 7% in 2020, those targeting Asian people rose by nearly 150%. The weaponization of COVID-19 against Asians contributes to this devastating increase in violence against Asian Americans, but anti-Asian racism is not new—it has a long-standing history in America. There’s a lot of work to do to dismantle the systems built to oppress minorities. As a Chinese American, there were times when I felt helpless, unsure of how I could support those in my community. I found that it’s best to start with small, tangible actions; check in on an Asian friend and ask how they’re doing, educate yourself on the history of anti-Asian racism in America, interject when you witness a hate crime occurring, donate to organizations who are doing work on the ground to combat Asian hate, volunteer to protect older Asian Americans who are more at risk of being attacked, to name a few. I’ve also committed to supporting Asian American-owned businesses more often since Asian-owned businesses were the most negatively impacted of all businesses in 2020. If you’re able to and want to be more intentional with where you spend your money, here are six Asian American-owned businesses you can support right now and always.
I’ve written about Omsom before, and my love has only grown for them since then. The two sisters behind the start-up, Kim and Vanessa Pham, have ambitions to revolutionize the way Asian cuisine is cooked in order to stay true to the bold flavors without compromising the integrity of the recipe or ingredients. They offer flavor packets, called starters, that are created in partnership with renowned Asian chefs. The starters are full of all the sauces, aromatics, and seasonings needed to cook classic Asian dishes like Thai Larb or Korean Bulgogi like an expert in under 30 minutes. Try their Best Seller Set to sample the most popular starters (recipes included), featuring Vietnamese Lemongrass B.B.Q., Thai Larb, and Japanese Yuzu Misoyaki.
Diaspora Co. was founded by Sana Javeri Kadri in 2017 to create a new and equitable vision of the spice trade with the goal of supporting farmers and ensuring equity throughout the supply chain process. The company sources India’s freshest, heirloom, and single-origin spices, directly from partner farms to take your cooking to the next level. A wide range of spices is offered, including turmeric, ginger, cardamom, cumin, and saffron. You can purchase the spices individually, select your own trio of spices, or build your own Masala Dabba, which is a beautiful brass dabba that is hand-spun to order in Bangalore, and then hand filled with seven spices from seven organic family farms across India.
Wing On Wo & Co. is the oldest store in New York’s Chinatown and has offered quality porcelain since 1925. The store has been run by the same family over the generations, and today, Mei Lum, the great-great-granddaughter of the original owners, manages the new iteration of the shop, along with launching the W.O.W. Project, an organization with the mission to sustain ownership over Chinatown’s future by growing, protecting and preserving Chinatown’s creative culture through arts and activism. The store offers affordable porcelain goods like beautiful dinnerware, tea sets, and hand-painted flower pots, among other highly giftable items.
Material was co-founded by Eunice Byun and known for elevated, yet affordable, kitchen necessities from knives to cookware. The well-designed, multifunctional pieces are as efficient as they are beautiful and focuses on offering the fundamentals without the excess frills. One of their most popular items is the reBoard cutting board, which is made from recycled plastic and recycled sugarcane. It’s BPA-free and dishwasher safe. There are two special edition colors–To Pó-Po with Love and Reimagine Justice–with 50% of profits going to Heart of Dinner and Drive Change.
Just in time for Earth Day, Blueland offers sustainable home cleaners and soaps that are reusable and eco-friendly. The Asian American-owned business’ mission is to reduce single-use plastic packaging in the home. Co-founder Sarah Paiji Yoo believes that no one should have to sacrifice a clean home for a clean planet. Blueland’s non-toxic cleaning products come in dissolvable refill tablets–just drop one into their spray bottles and add water for a deep clean session. The brand offers individual multi-surface, glass and mirror, bathroom cleaners, laundry, hand, and dishwasher soap starter sets. Or you can opt for the complete Clean Suite set, which includes everything you need for all areas of the home.
Apothekary, founded by Shizu Okusa, offers USDA organic certified, fair-trade, non-GMO herbal blends that focus on holistic wellness. It’s billed as a natural apothecary that believes in food as medicine to heal our modern-day ailments. For stress (which we’re all feeling more of these days), try the License to Chill set, which is meant to proactively address the origins of the stress response by helping you feel calmer, think more clearly, and sleep more soundly. The set comes with Chill The F* Out, known for its serotonin-boosting ingredients targeting cortisol levels, Do Not Disturb, which includes powerful sleep-inducing and stress-reducing herbs, and Ashwagandha Root, which is known for its powerful and immediate calm-including effects.