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badass, BIPOC brands making their mark.
My inspiration behind starting Mala came from a local candle maker that I met in Milos, Greece when I studied abroad back in 2016. I learned and fell in love with the process of candle making in his shop. When I returned home and started to do more research about candle making, I uncovered a lot of ugly truths about the industry. For starters, many store-bought candles are actually made from a nonrenewable source, paraffin, which is actually a by-product of crude oil, and many cotton wicks are laced with lead! After spending years ideating on toxin-free candles, Mala the Brand was born.
I created Curiosity Lab in 2017 to be an alternative in the advertising category, through business diversification and progressively inclusive hiring practices. My first breakthrough product, Actually Curious, is a conversation card game created to foster meaningful connection and spread empathy. I drew references from psychologists, journalists, crisis negotiators, game developers, our parents, and our friends, and came up with a game that is teaching us the tools of having conversations with empathy.
I was born and raised in a small coastal city northeast of Beijing. As a child, I spent a lot of time with my grandma who made the most nourishing herbal teas on a regular basis. Just like brunch, herbalism and holistic wellness was simply a way of joyous life. Fast forward 20 years and now living in the US I experienced the total opposite approach to wellness. Today our hyper speed world makes being busy, stressed, and overwhelmed feel like the new norm. This burnt out lifestyle and my most cherished memory connecting over tea with my grandma inspired me to create simple and delightful ways to be well, and The Qi was born.
Even Keel is the definition of stability and balance. I started it as a culmination of a few things: I wanted to do something where I would work with my hands more, be closer to nature, still maintain my involvement in design and art, and lastly, take better care of my happiness and health. I hope to bridge the gap between “Form” meeting “Function.” While all my formulations center on handcrafting clean and simple products with an herbalism background, I work in tandem with our natural ingredients to create more than just a product, but also an object that is aesthetically beautiful.
Esha and I both have worked in the climate change and social impact spaces for the last ten years. We were also raised in Indian-American households where drinking chai was a daily ritual. When we grew up and started working, we realized that most Americans didn’t take tea breaks as frequently or with as much enthusiasm as Indians did. The initial spark of Alaya came from wanting to bring the concept of Indian tea time to the United States. Our name Alaya comes from the Himalayas—the Northeastern region of India where we source our teas. Our bags are 100% compostable and biodegradable, including the zipper, label and adhesive.
In 2013, I was going through the toughest time in my life emotionally—major heartbreak and relationship drama, and my life felt like it was crumbling. My skin was getting irritated through the stress, and adult-onset psoriasis showed up. My mom was a holistic healer for over twenty years, and she was the one who got me into botanicals, natural healing, and aromatherapy. My daily skincare routine became my time for self-care, and it became sort of a daily therapeutic ritual that was a constant reminder to me that I mattered. I wanted to share this breakthrough experience with everyone, and the business was born.
Sending handwritten notes in cards has always been how I show love to my family and friends. I would look for the cards that reflected my experiences but usually had to settle for less. There weren’t cards with black faces. Even though stationery is a multi-billion dollar industry with billions of global consumers, women like me were occupying a gap in the market. As an advocate for environmental justice, I also wanted to make sure that my company didn’t perpetuate climate change and pollution, since these problems disproportionately affect black and brown people. All of our products are made from recycled paper without excess waste or pollution.
Science shows us how beneficial plant-based essential oils are to mental and physical health. I tried many essential oil products on the market, but couldn't find one that checks all of the boxes: all-natural, easy-to-use and minimal & chic. So I studied and learned from aromatherapy experts to create a line of easy-to-use, all-natural aromatic sprays. Each blend is carefully selected and crafted by hand to align and harmonize the plant properties and natural aromas so that they benefit the mind, body and spirit for all genders.
After noticing a lack of widely known and distributed Asian-owned tea brands in the United States, I founded Us Two Tea with a clear mission to make Asian tea culture—and Asian culture at large—more accessible to discerning millennial consumers and tea lovers. Sourced from family-owned farms in Taiwan, Us Two Tea's teas are cut as loose-leaf teas, then packaged in premium, sustainable 100% corn fiber tea sachets which can be brewed up to three times. “Us Two” means the two of us. It’s about celebrating all sorts of relationships and connecting people together.
At a young age, I learned from my grandmother that “good skin starts from within” and the idea of intaking superfoods for beauty is an ethos that ingrained into my routine. Through personal experience I saw the positive impacts that superfoods had on my skin health, and decided to channel this into the foundation of my company. Common Clover is on a mission to reimagine the connection between beauty and wellness – curating Asian superfood products to help people achieve a glow inside and out.
I started Tea Drops in 2015 because I was looking for an environmentally friendly, convenient, yet high quality tea experience that simply didn’t exist. At the time, I was working in market research at eBay. I would try to prepare a cup at work for a moment of calm, but realized it was more of a hassle than a stress reliever. By making an assortment of bagless, organic, whole leaf teas, Tea Drops sheds 15% less waste than traditional tea bags.
Inspired by childhood memories of baking days past, Kitsby (Kits-by-you) was made to bring people closer through sharing sweet moments and delicious desserts together. We believe that good food becomes great because of the meaningful experiences shared in the kitchen and at the table. Kitsby started as a standalone DIY baking kit - as of 2019, we've expanded Kitsby to include a full-blown brick-and-mortar location as well.