5 Inspiring AAPI Women-Owned Businesses

photo via Peach & Lily

Photo via Peach & Lily

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a month of celebration meant to honor the generations of Asian and Pacific Islander people who have enriched America’s history and will play an instrumental role in its future success. Around 7.6 million AAPI women actively participate in the U.S. workforce, and everyone makes a substantial impact.

At The Mom Project, we love to celebrate female entrepreneurs and honor the unique contributions they bring to the work world. So, in honor of AAPI Heritage Month, we’re thrilled to highlight a few amazing businesses that have been founded and are led by AAPI women — many of whom are also mothers. All of these businesses are transforming their industries with innovative products and services, demonstrating how we all benefit from diversity, inclusion and the celebration of new ideas.

Alicia Yoon - Peach & Lily

Alicia Yoon’s love of skincare originates from a personal experience. Her struggles with eczema and problematic skin growing up prompted Yoon to attend skin school in Korea — and a legend was born. Peach & Lily is a skincare company that uses the best actives and ingredients that are safe for even the most sensitive skin. Years of research and development with top chemists have culminated with the development of a skincare line that is consistently top-rated and sold through iconic beauty suppliers such as Ulta.

Peach & Lily prides itself on being “consciously clean and non-toxic.” Sustainability is key, and in addition to streamlining operations to minimize their carbon footprint and using recyclable packaging, the company also plants a tree for every order received. They also work to make a difference by donating to Restore NYC, a nonprofit that seeks to stop sex trafficking and restore the lives of survivors. As a mother and CEO, Yoon is doing her part to create good not only for individuals, but for the planet and the world.

Debbie Wei Mullin - Copper Cow Coffee

Founded by Debbie Wei Mullin, Copper Cow Coffee strives to bring high-quality Vietnamese coffee and lattes to the world. This woman-owned and led team is on a mission to sustainably support and share the vibrant heritage of Vietnamese coffee.

The idea started with a lack in the market: Wei Mullin was shocked to learn that most Americans were unfamiliar with Vietnamese coffee, a delicious staple she grew up drinking thanks to her Vietnamese mother and coffee-loving American father. While the beverages, marked by rich mocha and nutty undertones, could often be found in cafes in the Bay Area where she lived, the awareness of the wonders of Vietnamese coffee weren’t well-known outside of big cities. Wei Mullin decided to change that — and change the coffee landscape, she did. Today, Copper Cow Coffee’s delicious and natural coffees and creamers can be found in stores across the country. 

Wei Mullin’s commitment to sustainability and fair labor shines through the company’s actions, with their farmers paid 2x the market rate to ensure better living conditions and the best quality coffee possible.

Melissa Shin Mash - Dagne Dover

Melissa Shin Mash has been rocking the business world for years. Prior to co-founding Dagne Dover, she transformed operations for Coach. This experience led to the realization that buyers were hungry for high-quality products with innovative design at accessible price points. With this seed planted, Shin Mash and two fellow amazing women, Deepa Gandhi and Jessy Dover, Dagne Dover was born with the goal to create functional, fashionable bags that follow ethical, vegan and eco-friendly standards. From fanny packs to diaper bags, Dagne Dover caters to all lifestyles for both women and men.

Now, as a mom and CEO, Shin Mash continues to champion products that make people’s lives easier, as well as doing her part to champion sustainable business practices. Dagne Dover is committed to minimizing waste, recycling, using non-toxic chemicals and making the majority of their products vegan.

Marie Kondo

Marie Kondo, founder of KonMari Media, Inc., started her life-changing business in Japan before bringing her approach to American homes via several award-nominated shows on Netflix, as well as releasing an internationally bestselling book. Kondo focuses on helping others find joy through tidying and simplifying their lives. Her methods have transformed the way people around the world approach clutter in an increasingly overcrowded, overscheduled world.

Now, as a mom of three, Kondo’s views on tidying have transitioned with the flow of her life. The same foundational principles stand, but now, her focus is more on maximizing the time she spends with her family — something that her KonMari Method wholly supports. 

Ally Maki - Asian American Girl Club

Actress Ally Maki knows what it feels like to be excluded. Growing up, she loved to join any and all types of clubs, only to quickly realize that she was often the only female Asian American in the group. What should have felt like a place of inclusion and belonging turned into an isolating and heartbreaking experience. Maki resolved that she never wanted anyone else to feel that way, and so she began the Asian American Girl Club to honor girls that look like her and inspire them to reach their goals and aspirations. Asian American Girl Club is an apparel company that seeks to “redefine what it means to be a modern Asian American woman.” The brand is bold, fun, comfortable and inclusive.

As a fourth generation Japanese American, Maki understands the power of representation and seeing yourself in the world. Her grandmother survived the Japanese American internment camps of WWII, and it was her advice that helped shape the person Maki is today: “say what you want to say, don’t be afraid of what people think and be strong.”

These are just a few of the millions of AAPI women who are making an impact in our world. We hope you’ll join us in supporting and amplifying diverse voices and companies such as these. As we like to say, we all move forward when we move together.

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