The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 (thanks to the Chinese immigrants who laid the tracks).
Though hundreds of years have passed since our Japanese ancestors stepped foot on US soil, it’s hard to believe that we’re still living in a world with Asian hate crimes after all these years. It feels like so much time has passed, yet none at all.
So as we wrap up Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, we wanted to shine a light on some of our favorite AAPI makers and creators - people who have done some really awesome things and make us proud to be part Asian!
Chanel Miller - One of the best books we read in 2020 was without a doubt Chanel Miller’s Know My Name. This memoir recounts her story of being sexually assaulted on Stanford’s campus and the aftermath and subsequent court case, People vs Turner. We cried, we laughed and we cried some more as Chanel goes into detail about the shame and healing of being sexually assaulted. Her Chinese-American heritage is woven throughout the story as she fights to win justice in a broken system that is not in her favor.
Chinae Alexander has got us feeling all the girl-crush vibes! Filling the gram’, her website and podcast with cool product recs, real talk advice, inspiring interviews, body positivity and lots of f-bombs, she’s got us coming back for more again and again. We loved her recent podcast episode in which she dove into the subject of mental health as she discussed her own struggles with anxiety.
Eyes that Kiss in the Corners - Where was this book when we were growing up!? It’s been on heavy rotation for bedtime reading at our house this month. Author Joanna Ho of Taiwanese and Chinese heritage and Vietnamese illustrator Dungo Ho have created something magical together and we are stoked to see more Asian representation in the realm of children’s literature.
Gyo Fujikawa - An artist and prolific children’s book author and illustrator, we owned her books as kids. Oh, What a Busy Day was gifted to my daughter by a dear friend and quickly became her favorite book around age one, when she requested it non-stop. In 2019, It Began with a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way was released, sharing Gyo’s life and work through a beautifully told and wonderfully illustrated picture book by Kyo Maclear. Not only was Gyo Japanese, but diversity and inclusion were major themes and motivators for her work.
Howl Mercantile & Coffee - Whenever we need the perfect gift or want to treat ourselves to some retail therapy (let’s be honest, 9 out of ten times it’s the latter) this is our go-to for a beautifully curated selection of goods. Located in one of our favorite road tripping towns, it’s alway our first and last stop when we are visiting.
Little Koto’s Closet, created by Japanese American Emi Ito, is one of our favorite resources for raising awareness around cultural appropriation, specifically the kimono. She is an outspoken advocate in the realm of social justice and founded @buyfrombipoc last year which celebrates BIPOC makers and creatives within the sustainable fashion industry.
M.M. Lafleur - If you’re headed back to the office anytime soon, take our advice and book a 1:1 video consult with a stylist right this minute! My husband just gifted this to me for my birthday - it was actually kind of fun and their clothes are not only beautiful, but really high-quality. Bonus- they give you 20% off your order! The founder, Sarah Lafleur has a great interview on How I Built This here and I really enjoyed the openness and vulnerability of her fertility journey she recently wrote about here. Double bonus, both Sarah and her head designer, Miyako Nakamura are Japanese.
Michelle Zauner (brilliance behind the band Japanese Breakfast) was recently interviewed by Trevor Noah on The Daily Show and discusses rediscovering her joy and celebration in her Korean identity, something she previously distanced herself from. Her recent memoir, Crying in H Mart, delves into family, food, grief, and endurance as she reckons with identity and is most definitely on our must-read list!
Sophie Kissin creates beautiful jewelry and accessories, taking inspiration from both her Asian and Scandinavian heritage. Not only do we love her creations but we love her commitment to social justice. Last year she released a diversity, equity and inclusion statement, launched sliding scale pricing for some of her work and started up a book club to do the work of re-education around racism. You can’t help but fall in love with the artist and her work!
What Great Grandma Ate - One of our go-to’s for meal inspiration, creator Jean, embarked on major diet and lifestyle changes after dealing with a host of health issues. Her meals are not only delicious but focus on whole foods and simple ingredients. Bust out your instant pot, turn on your air fryer and get ready to try a few of our favorites including Butter Chicken and Tonkatsu.Wild Omen - Based in the high desert of Santa Fe, I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying beautiful handcrafted chocolate from maker, Holly Jean. This past year she released Winterfood, a collection of 12 guided video recipes that explore traditional nourishment including some that her Okinawan grandmother passed down. This is definitely on our must-do list!