Asian American and Pacific Islander Brands to Support During AAPI Month

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. This is a great time to recognize the positive influences that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have had on the United States. One way to show your support is to purchase high quality items from people of these legacies. I’ve rounded up some of my favorite AAPI-owned products below.

Inside Chinatown: A Novel


Author Charles Yu was raised by his Taiwanese immigrant parents in Los Angeles. He received the 5 Under 35 award from the National Book Foundation and has written four books, the latest being “Interior Chinatown”.

The main character of “Interior Chinatown”, Willis Wu, is a second-generation Taiwanese American (like the author). Wu does not see himself as the protagonist of his own life, but rather as a “generic Asian man”. Written much like a movie script, the book delves into Asian-American identity as Wu tries to become an actor while stuck in stereotypical Asian roles like “Background Oriental Male.”

I only recently learned that he was nominated for two Writers Guild of America awards for his work on the show “Westworld” (I watched all the episodes). But I haven’t heard of Yu or “Interior Chinatown” from the awards; it was recommended to me by my retired reading specialist mother.

Best Choice for a Children’s Book: “Cora Cooks Pancit” by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore

Cora cooks Pancit

Cora cooks Pancit

Lee & Low Books


Author Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore is the granddaughter of Filipino-Hawaiian and Italian immigrants. She holds a master’s degree in children’s literature and has published three multicultural children’s books as well as a collection of poetry.

Her book “Cora Cooks Pancit” was named Picture Book of the Year by the Asian American Librarians Association. In it, Cora helps her mother prepare Filipino dishes. When it’s time to make pancit, a spicy noodle dish with meat or seafood and vegetables, Cora takes on the toughest, most adult tasks and nervously awaits reactions to her cooking.

As a graduate in elementary education, I would definitely recommend this book to teachers. It’s also the one my niece has asked to read several times.

Try the Do Anything Foods Dinner Wake Up Kit.

Try the Do Anything Foods Dinner Wake Up Kit.

Hannah Kowalczyk-Harper for Hearst

Best Choice for Dinner Planning: Do Anything Foods Sauces

Dinner Revival Kit

Dinner Revival Kit


Do Anything Foods is a women-founded company co-founded by Monica Salhotra and Allie Shanholt. Salhotra is of Indian descent and said her mission is “to bring healthy shortcuts to the kitchen through smart and accessible products. Do Anything Foods’ variety of sauces are tasty and versatile.

I tried all five flavors available from the brand, including Kale Pesto, Lemon Beet Pesto, Cauliflower Alfredo, Butternut Squash, and Veggie Tomato. It’s simple to serve them to anyone in my group of friends because all the sauces are vegan, organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, and keto-friendly.

When my friend Beeshoua tried butternut squash sauce, my favorite flavor, over pasta, she immediately asked where she could buy it. I mainly use the sauces on noodles and pierogies, but they work just as well as dips. Recently, instead of standard pasta noodles, I put the Beet Lemon Pesto on Solely’s Spaghetti Squash Noodles and felt I had hit a healthy peak.

Best Choice for Dessert and Snacks: Highkey Cookies

Highkey Keto Chocolate Chip Cookies

Highkey Keto Chocolate Chip Cookies


Highkey was founded by AJ Patel, a first generation American Indian. Patel grew up in India and moved to the United States when she was 10 years old. He started his entrepreneurial career in high school and never looked back.

Patel is currently on a mission to eliminate excess sugar from Americans’ diets. You’d never believe it by the taste, but her Highkey Cookies contain NO added sugar and are keto friendly.

You don’t want to take my word for it? These cookies are ranked as one of the best selling Wafer cookies on Amazon and have over 69,000 ratings.

The best choice for personal hygiene: Blueland hand soap tablets

BLUELAND Hand Soap Starter Set

BLUELAND Hand Soap Starter Set


Sarah Paiji Yoo, co-founder and CEO of Blueland, is the daughter of immigrant parents from Korea and Thailand. When the pandemic hit — a time when hand soap appreciation was apparently at an all-time high — Paiji Yoo was receiving derogatory comments online for his heritage and the fact that some of his products are made in China.

Blueland was born out of Paiji Yoo’s mission to reduce single-use plastics, an easy-to-achieve mission. The brand creates hand soap tablets that dissolve in hot water inside a glass soap dispenser. Once the tablet has dissolved, you can press it down to lather the hand soap. No need to keep buying endless plastic soap bottles.

Best Choice for Jewelry: Kahili Creations

Sterling Silver Dangle Blue Glass Dangle Earrings

Sterling Silver Dangle Blue Glass Dangle Earrings

Kahili Creations


Marcia Asuncion Ricchiuti designs and makes jewelry by hand in her home studio in rural Hawaii. His business was even able to thrive during the 2018 Kilauea eruption at Leilani Estates. When you buy Kahili Creations, you are supporting not only an AAPI business, but also a woman-owned small business.

Asuncion Ricchiuti offers a superb collection of earrings, necklaces and bracelets made with quality materials, such as sterling silver and 14k gold. Do not worry; you don’t have to travel to Hawaii to get this jewelry. Many parts are sold on Amazon.

The best choice for pet lovers: PLAY lounge beds

PLAY Pet Lifestyle and You Dog's Life Lounge Bed Dark Blue, Medium

PLAY Pet Lifestyle and You Dog’s Life Lounge Bed Dark Blue, Medium

PLAY (The Pet Lifestyle and You)


The PLAY brand, which stands for Pet Lifestyle And You, was founded by Deborah Feng and Will Chen. Chen wasn’t happy with the pet bed options on the market for his pug, so the pair began creating visually appealing, durable, and comfortable pet beds with ergonomic support.

PLAY beds are filled with 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles, helping to eliminate plastic waste. The covers are hypoallergenic and you can also put them in your washing machine.

With the success of its dog beds, the brand has branched out to make toys, collars and more with exclusive designs from around the world.

Best Choice for Coffee: Bean & Bean

Bean & Bean Ethiopia Sidamo Single Origin Coffee

Bean & Bean Ethiopia Sidamo Single Origin Coffee


Bean & Bean is female-owned and co-founded by Jiyoon Han and her daughter Rachel. Jiyoon’s parents emigrated from South Korea and opened the first roastery in Queens, NY. This coffee is USDA organic, ethically sourced, Fair Trade certified, and traceable back to a small farm or cooperative.

Bean & Bean uses recyclable and compostable packaging, which is no surprise, as Jiyoon was the elected Social Responsibility Coordinator of the Specialty Coffee Association (US Chapter). As a bonus, the brand donates 1% of its coffee sales to The Sloth Institute in Costa Rica.

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