Celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Month — Get to Know These Inspiring Women-Owned AAPI Businesses

Celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Month

The month of May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month and we are highlighting 11 amazing female-owned businesses. Most of these extraordinary women are “first” in their families. They are breaking down walls and paving the way for their future generation of women. We are thrilled to introduce them and their innovative businesses.

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Connie Chi of The Chi Group

Connie Chi of The Chi Group

Connie Chi is a film and television studio head and founder of The Chi Group. She is an award-winning PR agency working with inspirational talents in television, film, and fashion.

Q: What does Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you? 

A: AAPI Heritage Month is where we celebrate our heritage while supporting the AAPI community. It’s also an opportunity to highlight other AAPI- founded businesses that are doing great things in their respective industries.

Anna Ren of Journey 180 Planner

Anna Ren of Journey 180 Planner

Anna Ren is an independent educational consultant and creator of the Journey 180 Planner. Growing up as both a first-generation American and the first person to attend college in her family, Anna cares deeply about student success and personal growth.

Q: Why did you start your business? 

A: I created Journey 180 Planner after witnessing a third of the high school students I work with develop mental health challenges due to the pandemic and the ever-increasing demands of high school life. I wanted to create a tool that students could use daily in order to practice self-care and self-love in addition to productivity. My interactions with the hundreds of teens I’ve worked with and the trusting bond I’ve developed with so many of them helped shape the unique elements of our Journey 180 planners.

Judy Tan of Purely

Judy Tan of Purely

Judy Tan is a self-taught, fearless entrepreneur with a passion for health and wellness. She is an award-winning product leader based in San Francisco. She founded Purely Botanical Infused Elixir on the foundation of bridging cultures with what has been lost.

Q: Why did you start your business? 

A: Growing up, I watched my grandmother infuse fresh plums and seasonal fruits in rice vinegar sweetened with honey. We drank a lot of fruit, herb, and root infusions that are nourishing and healing for our body and mind. Inspired by the memories of my grandmother’s recipes, Purely started in my own kitchen, and then perfected with a modern approach to meet our consumers’ needs today – organic ingredients, low sugar, vegan, gluten-free, and locally sourced. My passion and purpose for Purely started with one thing: open up a cultural experience through connection, unity and joy.

Gayatri Chopra & Simran Kaur of Simitri

Gayatri Chopra & Simran Kaur of Simitri

Gayatri Chopra (left in photo) and Simran Kaur (right in photo) are co-founders or Simirti. Both born in New Delhi, India, the chaotic beauty, colors, patterns and architecture of their hometown inspires the design of every handbag.

Q: What does Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you? 

A: ​​In my opinion, America is the greatest social experiment in the history of the world. It’s what happens when you give people from all over, irrespective of race, creed or religion, ultimate freedoms and opportunities. AAPI Heritage Month is but one way of acknowledging and recognizing the influential contributions generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to make us what we are today. It celebrates the rich and diverse cultures and heritage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. I see it as a great opportunity to expose it to the rest of society. Many of these contributions by the AAPI people are interwoven with the fabric of what America is today.

Amy Tang business owner

Amy Tang of Sir Owlverick’s Coffee

Coffee roasting brought both of her parents together. Her maternal grandfather was a roaster in Vietnam and coincidentally, so was her father. Her father and mother met, married and moved their growing family to the U.S in the late 1980s. Papa Tang brought over his coffee expertise and opened his first shop in Anaheim, CA. After spending 12 years in the tech industry as a Director of Product Development for a networking hardware company, Amy Tang left her corporate life to pursue her family roasting legacy. In 2017, Amy started Sir Owlverick’s to make the smoothest coffee possible, regardless of light, medium or dark roast.

Q: Why did you start your business? 

A: I conceptualized the word “Owlverick” as a combination of two symbolic animals: a thoughtful Owl and a passionate and driven Maverick horse. The company motto is “ Think like an Owl, Move like a Maverick”. It is a reminder to stay driven to achieve lofty goals, but also to be thoughtful along the way. Sir Owlverick’s coffee and beverages are all crafted in-house in Anaheim with the utmost attention to detail to provide classic, smooth-tasting coffee. All of the Certified Organic coffees are meticulously curated and carefully sourced myself. For example, the ultra popular “Ninety-Nines” has notes of milk chocolate, caramel apple and vanilla and is sourced from an all women’s Colombian Co-op farm. The top-selling “Saigon Nights,” a rich dark roast robusta blend that is my interpretation of the taste profile of my father’s favorite coffee.

In 2022, Sir Owlverick’s was heavily involved in partnering, raising money and creating awareness for non-profit causes. Some being California Love Drop and Kure It Cancer Research. Me and my team also launched creative collab products with the NHL Anaheim Ducks, Brewery X and Anaheim Fall Festival.

Natasha Moor of ​​Natasha Moor Cosmetics 

Natasha Moor of ​​Natasha Moor Cosmetics 

A true global beauty expert, Natasha Moor grew up in Hong Kong of Indian descent. In Spring 2022, she moved to LA where her company is based and immediately served as the lead makeup artist for four designers for LA Fashion Week. She then began her career as a wedding makeup artist. Her clients would fly her all around the world to do their makeup for their wedding celebrations. When she wanted products and formulas that she couldn’t find, she started to make her own. Now, at just 33 years old, she helms Natasha Moor Cosmetics, which began to launch in North America in 2021. And yes, she still does weddings from India to Bali to Singapore to Mexico to New York City!

Q: What does Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you? 

A: I began my career as a makeup artist, traveling extensively and working with clients from all over the world. My upbringing was strongly influenced by my Indian heritage, as well as my father’s career in Hong Kong and my mother’s birthplace in the Philippines. Growing up, I was fortunate to have family members spread across the globe. I was always so excited to visit and learn about their lives—and my work has taken me to countries. for work, I have been to Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, India, Europe, Africa, UAE, USA, Australia and the United Kingdom. I developed a deep appreciation and understanding of the diverse cultures and communities across Asia and around the world.

Since moving to Los Angeles, I’m always amazed at how I meet people from diverse Asian cultures here every day. Contributing to the landscape and tapestry of the United States in every profession, every industry and in every creative form from beauty and fashion to movies and music. After so many years of working behind the scenes, I’m delighted to see our culture recognized for how hard we have worked for centuries to play our role in building the American Dream for us and for the country as a whole. It’s our time to shine.

Grace Lee & Monica Ashauer of Birdy Grey

Grace Lee & Monica Ashauer of Birdy Grey

Birdy Grey was founded by Grace Lee and Monica Ashauer based on the knowledge they have as past bridesmaids (13 times each!) as well as all the problems associated with the process. So, they set out to create a digitally native, social-first, direct-to-consumer bridal brand focusing on affordable, on-trend bridesmaid dresses, gifts and accessories for millennial women. All dresses are $99, have easy returns and exchanges, and the highly curated selection of 10 colors and 15 core styles simplifies what is typically a long endeavor. 

Q: Why did you decide to start your business? 

A. [Grace] I wasn’t always entrepreneurial… but when I got the idea for Birdy Grey and to bring easy & affordable bridesmaid dresses online, I couldn’t think of a reason NOT to start the company. After having been a bridesmaid 6 times myself, I truly understood the pain points of the shopping experience. There was major whitespace and so much room for innovation… and so Birdy Grey was born. I hustled to launch the company in 12 weeks in Fall 2017, and it’s been an incredible journey ever since. Launching Birdy Grey is my greatest achievement – I’m not equipped to do anything else!

Vienne Cheung of VienneMilano

Vienne Cheung Brown of VienneMilano

Previously to founding VienneMilano, Vienne Cheung Brown was working in the high-tech product industry for Corporate America. She was frustrated at the lack of options available for thigh-highs that could be worn for every occasion. What was on the market did not stay up on her legs or was meant for Halloween. So she took matters into her own hands and after just 9 months, Vienne launched her very first hosiery line dedicated to thigh-high stockings that checked off all the boxes she and many other customers were in search of.

Q: Why did you start your business? 

A. I created VienneMilano as I could not find beautiful thigh highs that could be worn for every occasion. At the time, there were few selections for thigh highs, most of which did not stay up on my leg. Today, VienneMilano brand has grown as we offer various styles, colors, sizes (size Small to 3XL), and textures.

Dr. Anjali Ferguson of Parenting Culture

Dr. Anjali Ferguson of Parenting Culture

Anjali Ferguson is a culturally responsive licensed psychologist, as well as a children’s book author and podcast host. She is an expert on treating racial and social trauma and its mental health effects on children and families.

Q: What does Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you? 

A: AAPI Heritage Month means representation, visibility, and acknowledgment of a diverse and rich community. We know that representation is critical for healthy identity development and self-esteem. It’s important AAPI communities feel valued in our communities. Many times AAPI individuals are often overlooked for their contributions and historical oppressions faced in the country. This month offers a pause for reflection and celebration. Hopefully, maintain the energies devoted to uplifting AAPI voices this month year-round.

Carolyn Chen of Dandylion

Carolyn Chen of Dandylion

Carolyn is the founder of Dandylion, a skin-friendly, irritant-free dog grooming brand designed to take extra care of sensitive, itchy and easily irritated skin. Prior to Dandylion, she worked in management consulting at Bain & Company and then spent four years in the beauty industry launching better-for-you beauty brands.

Q. What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you and why is it important we recognize this month?

A. AAPI Heritage Month is meaningful because it provides an opportunity for communities to celebrate the contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islanders and allows our community to find connection through uniquely AAPI stories. It also serves as a reminder of the challenges AAPI communities have faced and continue to face and recognizing AAPI Heritage Month can help raise awareness and promote understanding and respect for the diversity of AAPI cultures and experiences. 

Helina Au of Redmint

Helina Au of Redmint

Q. Why did you start your business? 

A. As a business executive and a mother of three young kids, I struggled with various minor symptoms of sleep, migraines, energy and brain fog… symptoms were minor but uncomfortable. I was recommended over 5 different life-long drugs. Instead, I looked for an alternative natural approach to healing and I found TCM. As people are more stressed and their bodies go through a lot of tolls in the modern day, I believe a we need a more holistic medicine approach to wellness. So I founded Redmint to serve this purpose.

A great way to celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander month is to support these (and other) AAPI woman-owned businesses. We hope these ladies were inspiring to read and give you that little “oomph”  when it comes to bringing your dreams to life knowing that if they can overcome their challenges, you can too. 

Ashley-Victoria Smith
Ashley-Victoria Smith
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Serial entrepreneur, celebrity publicist, published author, swimwear designer, and creative director. Currently resides in the Queen City with her two rescue fur babies indulging in coffee, a good book, and Marvel movies.

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