AAPI Month: Highlighting Founders of Asian-Owned Brands

AAPI Month: Highlighting Founders of Asian-Owned Brands

Putting a spotlight on AAPI-owned beauty brands, we've partnered with some of our favorite brands including U Beauty, PHLUR, and Emilie Heathe! 

We’d love to hear about your background: your family, where you grew up, what that experience was like, etc.
I grew up with two immigrant parents who were traumatized from the war, and that experience was incredible difficult for me as a child. I grew up in Tampa Florida and was one of the few Asian people at my school. I didn’t realize how different I felt as an Asian until my peers were making fun of me. I was incredibly lonely growing, but thankfully I had an older brother; we played video games and watched cartoon shows together. During this time, I went more into my imagination, creating stories in my head and drew them to life. It was my way of coping. My Father left my Mother, and she was scared and didn’t feel secure. This was when she met my Stepdad who was not the best person for her. We moved into a low middle class (predominantly white neighborhood). The house was always messy and dirty because my Stepfather was incredibly controlling and a hoarder. Looking back, I realized most of the decisions and habits he developed were from fear and scarcity. Most of my memories of my Mom, are of her crying. All I wanted to do, was to get my family in a better place, and to see my Mother laugh and be free.

What does being proud of your heritage mean to you?
I never understood what my country was. All I knew in textbooks, was war. The war where no one won. There was this, stain on the name of my country that made me feel sad whenever it was brought up in class. Because of that, I wasn’t interested in my heritage. I wanted to be American. I was insecure about looking Asian. I wished I had blonde hair and blue eyes. Looking back, I wish I was more kind to myself. I wish I knew back then how beautiful I was. This is why representation is powerful. It reminds us of our worth. Today, I am proud of my heritage. I’ve been learning more about Vietnam, the real history (unbiased from the western point of view) and I feel so empowered by the will of my people. We have such an incredibly strong will. Even after devastating war after war (Vietnam has been at war, protecting their rights and land for most of its existence) they’re able to rebuild stronger than ever. The will to live, to be free and to enjoy life, that’s what it means to be Vietnamese. That’s what it means to be human. 

What inspired you to found your brand?
From the moment I drew the first line on my eyes, I understood that makeup was a powerful medium of self-expression. EM Cosmetics was created to give you the tools you need to express yourself - through colors, lines and other forms of creativity. Whether you are a new beauty enthusiast, a seasoned creator, or a bona fide pro artist, I hope you find our products to be refined, effortless and useful in your own personal journey of self-expression. Through EM Cosmetics, I encourage you to claim your power, share your art, and above all—rethink beauty.

What does being proud of your heritage mean to you?
I never understood what my country was. All I knew in textbooks, was war. The war where no one won. There was this, stain on the name of my country that made me feel sad whenever it was brought up in class. Because of that, I wasn’t interested in my heritage. I wanted to be American. I was insecure about looking Asian. I wished I had blonde hair and blue eyes. Looking back, I wish I was more kind to myself. I wish I knew back then how beautiful I was. This is why representation is powerful. It reminds us of our worth. Today, I am proud of my heritage. I’ve been learning more about Vietnam, the real history (unbiased from the western point of view) and I feel so empowered by the will of my people. We have such an incredibly strong will. Even after devastating war after war (Vietnam has been at war, protecting their rights and land for most of its existence) they’re able to rebuild stronger than ever. The will to live, to be free and to enjoy life, that’s what it means to be Vietnamese. That’s what it means to be human. 

Who's an AAPI brand founder you really admire and why? or What are some of your other favorite AAPI-owned beauty brands?
I am constantly inspired by different individuals and leaders. Sarah Lee and Christine Chang from Glow Recipe lead the skincare space with such impressive backgrounds. They are very formula driven; and their passion speaks to me.

What’s something you’d like allies to know about supporting the AAPI community?
Many of my Asian Americans friends opened up to me about how growing up, most Asian parents show love, but conditional love. For example. If you get an A, I’ll shower you with words of affirmation and love, but if you get a B, I’ll disown you. This conditional love creates an unhealthy mindset where you feel the need to perform and to excel in order to feel worthy. In doing so, it also creates a competitive mindset. If you’re critical of yourself, you’re critical of others. Everyone becomes your competition, and it becomes difficult for one to make meaningful connection and relationships. I truly believe as a species, we are all one. You are me. I am you. If I support you, I support me. Life isn’t a competition. The path to inner peace is personal for all of us. Who are we to judge? Be kind to yourself, and you’ll be kind to others. Love yourself, and you’re love others. I ask the allies in AAPI, to open your heart. Don’t dehumanize a person. Show more compassion and kindness because this beautiful world needs more of that. 



We’d love to hear about your background: your family, where you grew up, what that experience was like, etc.

I am Chinese. I immigrated to the United States at the age of eight, speaking barely any English, and I’ve always maintained a strong sense of my culture. 

 

What does being proud of your heritage mean to you?

It means keeping a deep connection to previous generations and our traditions. It also means maintaining a strong sense of pride, purpose, and sense of self-worth. I’m unapologetic when it comes to talking about my culture and telling my story.

 

What inspired you to found your brand?


You might already know the answer! It started with cosmetic confusion and the need for high-performance products that didn’t exist yet. But the motivation (and name) came from you–and you means everyone, including all races, genders, ages, and skin types,

  

What are some of your other favorite AAPI-owned beauty brands?

There are so many! I have a lot of love and respect for EM Cosmetics, by Michelle Phan; PHLUR, recently overseen by Chriselle Lim; Glow Recipe, by Christine Chang and Sarah Lee; Emilie Heath, by Emilie Rudman; and Tower28, founded by Amy Liu–their BeachPlease cheek tint is consistently one of my go-to's.
 

What’s something you’d like allies to know about supporting the AAPI community?

We see you and appreciate you. We’re all in this together. And everyone has a responsibility to support the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. 

  

We’d love to hear about your background: your family, where you grew up, what that experience was like, etc.
I’m Korean American . Born in Texas, raised in the Bay Area California, but also loved in Seoul Korea. I was always split between the two cultures as I was one of the only Asians in my school growing up . I always felt like an outcast and tried to fit in and that’s where my love and passion for beauty and fashion began. I realized that thru fashion I was able to put together looks that made me feel confident.

 

What does being proud of your heritage mean to you?
Being proud of my culture and embracing my Asian American journey and celebrating my differences. Also reaching my kids to do the same . Teaching them things that make them unique because of their culture whether it be beauty techniques? Language, food, etc. 

What inspired you to found your brand?
Fragrance/ scent helped heal me. I was in one of the darkest places of my life as I was going thru a divorce and thru scent I was able to visualize myself being confident, happy, and excited about life again. It was part of my healing process. During that time I had the opportunity to acquire PHLUR.


What are some of your other favorite AAPI-owned beauty brands and founders?
Tina Craig of U Beauty, Mariana Hewitt of Summer Friday’s, Charlotte Cho of Then I met you, Jin of Fly by Jing

What’s something you’d like allies to know about supporting the AAPI community?
Supporting the AAPI community will help de-stigmatize Asian Americans especially women founders.


 

We’d love to hear about your background: your family, where you grew up, what that experience was like, etc.
I grew up in New York. Practically a Native New Yorker, having arrived here at 4 months old as adoptee from South Korea. My father was a New Yorker as well having been raised in Brooklyn by Jewish parents and also having lived in his early teens and young adulthood in Chicago. My mother was raised in Connecticut and met my father through mutual friends in New York. My experience was mixed as someone who grew up very white adjacent but never quite felt like I was "Asian" enough for one community and never "Caucasian" enough for another.

What does being proud of your heritage mean to you?
It means highlighting and celebrating our differences and uniqueness within culture and with other cultures.

What inspired you to found your brand? What does being proud of your heritage mean to you?
Every little girl’s idea of beauty is impacted by what they see growing up. As a Korean American, adopted by white Jewish and Christian parents, the images I was surrounded by never reflected what I saw in the mirror. The few Asian women I saw on TV and ad campaigns were either fitting into Asian stereotypes or trying to hide their Asian aesthetic to fit into a more Western, American look. I spent years trying to hide my Asian attributes, even considering double eyelid surgery to get rid of my “hideous and weird” monolid. Like most, I simply wanted to fit in.As I grew up, I traded in some of my pencils for makeup brushes and found a new medium for creative expression. I truly understood the power of makeup when I discovered makeup Artists Kevyn Aucoin and Bobbi Brown. It’s a celebration of one’s individuality. Learning the techniques taught me to see makeup as a powerful medium for art and creativity, a way to tell everyone’s story, including your moods, inner beauty, and strength. It was also a way to showcase the best of yourself for yourself and for yourself alone.

Who's an AAPI brand founder you really admire and why? or What are some of your other favorite AAPI-owned beauty brands?
Vicky Tsai from Tatcha. I am really inspired by her story and journey. Especially after her sale when she was removed from CEO and then came back as CEO because without her, the brand did not do as well. So many out there! But I have to shout out those that I have had a personal connections and personally use: Bloomeffects, Orce, Youthforia, 4AM Skincare, Phlur, U Beauty, Glow Recipe, Ranavat, and so many more.

What’s something you’d like allies to know about supporting the AAPI community?
It's a constant education and re-education. Speak out when you see something wrong and make sure you are alway asking how someone is doing, even if it feels uncomfortable.
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