Here on the Refinery29 Most Wanted team, we're all about shining a light on BIPOC-owned brands that deserve more love and recognition. To celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we have given shoutouts to our favorite AAPI-owned fashion brands, as well as emerging Asian-owned beauty brands that should be on your shopping radar. There are also plenty of AAPI-owned home brands to support now (and all the time). Now, we're highlighting the AAPI-owned lifestyle brands available on what is perhaps the most convenient shopping hub of them all — Amazon.
The e-commerce giant has a high-key impressive search algorithm for everyday buys like cleaning products, but due to the sheer volume of inventory available, it can be really difficult to spot the minority-owned, indie brands from a sea of other products. Luckily, we've got you covered. From travel essentials to delicious snacks, keep reading for our pick of the best-in-class products from AAPI-owned brands to add straight to your Amazon shopping cart.
The beauty of Asian comfort dishes, like bulgogi or stir-fry noodles, has a lot to do with their rich and complex flavors. Unless you're a skilled home cook with a well-stocked spice rack, pulling off these crowd-pleasers in an authentic way can be a tall order. Thanks to OmSom's bestselling spice samplers, DIYing these classics are now a lot less complicated. The buzzy food brand, founded by Vietnamese-American sisters Kim and Vanessa Pham, offers a sampler of the essential sauces and seasonings you need for three iconic East Asian and three Southeast Asian dishes — including Vietnamese Lemongrass BBQ, Thai Larb, and Chinese stir-fry — wrapped in punchy, photo-worthy packaging. It is a great pantry addition for yourself or a cute gift for the foodies in your life.
Here's an important packing essential you never knew you needed: a waterproof pouch that doubles as a toiletry bag and a swimsuit holder. It is a great way to prevent any moisture from damaging the rest of what's in your suitcase, such as leaky sunscreen or dripping bikinis. The tropical motifs and patterns are inspired by the founders' native Hawaiian roots, and the brand has pledged 5% of the profits to conservation organizations on the island.
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world — and a very important ingredient in the practice of Ayurveda. It can only be harvested by hand and is believed to be effective for brightening and firming your skin. Ranavat, a South-Asian-founded luxury skincare line, has bottled up all of saffron's goodness in the form of a serum. "I've had a lot of 'maskne' scarring thanks to the pandemic, but I've noticed that consistently using this serum has really helped fade the scarring, and has overall just helped my skin brighter and more supple," writes one enthusiastic five-star reviewer on Sephora. "I also like that this serum is brightening without making my skin more sensitive to UV rays, which is usually the case with brightening products." Now, you can also pick up this bestselling serum on Amazon.
Dubbed "the first Asian-inspired sparkling drinks brand," Sanzo was founded by Sandro Roco, a Filipino-American entrepreneur from Queens. The yummy flavors are concocted with various tropical Asian fruits, such as yuzu, lychee, and calamansi, a type of sweet and tart lime commonly found in the Philippines. There are no added sugars, and they make refreshing chilled beverages on their own — and an even better mixer in cocktails or mocktails.
Even if you're not a huge spice fiend, you will want spoonfuls of this heavenly chili oil. Featuring a medley of Chinese chilies, peppers, and fermented black beans, the sauce is not overly hot but packs an umami-filled punch. The chili flakes, which feature front and center in every bite, are the mouth-watering cherries on top. According to founder Jing Gao, an expert on Chinese cuisine, the Sichuan Chili Crisp will taste good with literally anything — fried eggs, meat dishes, dumplings, even vanilla ice cream.
Japanese knives are widely known to be the best-quality blades you can invest in, but they are also famously expensive. Noticing a gap in the market for well-made kitchen essentials that mirror the quality of Japanese products without breaking the budget, Elliot Cao launched Hast, a collection of cutting tools crafted in premium powder steel. The brand's bestselling Santoku knife has been praised by Amazon reviewers for its unparalleled sharpness and ergonomic handle design. The Scandinavian-chic, minimalist look will also last you for years to come.
First things first, we're really digging the too-cute-for-words design of this DIY manicure kit. The fact that it can give you a salon-grade gel mani in as little as 15 minutes makes this a total Amazon must-have. The LED lamp is powered by USB cable and is shaped like a macaron (incredible). It was created by Christina Kao, a Taiwanese-American business owner who used her decade-long career in luxury fashion in Shanghai to launch this unique nail care kit. Also worth checking out is the brand's gel top coat, which can make your nail color last for up to three weeks.
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