May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and as an Asian American I’m so proud to celebrate our culture and heritage. I thought I’d kick of the month with some of my favorite businesses, books and movies.
Alexandra Chang’s debut novel insightfully explores the complexities of modern day life: from institutional racism to the gender wage gap. The result is an unputdownable modern coming of age story that the New York times calls quietly funny and thunderingly wise.
Breathing new life into the age-old “odd couple” narrative, Room For A Stranger invites a 21-year-old medical student from Hong Kong into the home of an aging Australian woman and gives them enough space to reconsider their notions of past and future. Cheng thoughtfully writes from both perspectives, letting the reader step into two pairs of vastly different shoes.
A sheltered performing arts high school, fraught romance, and the threat of an unreliable narrator. Susan Choi’s surprising, twisty story is the teen romance the #MeToo era deserves.
This debut novel by Vietnamese-American poet Ocean Vuong is told through a letter from a son to his illiterate mother. A compelling coming of age story that explores such issues as race, love and class. Gorgeous in every way.
The movie of 2018, I recently rewatched Crazy Rich Asians and found it to be the perfect antidote to a year spent sequestered at home in sweatpants. Funny, heartwarming and above all entertaining, this fabulous romp will make you want to book a trip to Singapore pronto.
I loved Alice Wu’s debut movie Saving Face and found her movie The Half of It just as funny and heartwarming. This modern interpretation of Cyrano de Bergerac follows student Ellie Chu as she helps the high school jock write love letters to his crush.
A Chinese family finds out their grandmother only has a few months to live and goes out of their way to keep the truth from her. Watch it for Awkwafina’s nuanced performance alone.
For quality lingerie and sleepwear I can always count on Natori. Ever since Josie Natori launched her first collection of embroidered sleepwear in 1973 the company has continued to produce beautiful lingerie with an East/West sensibility. I especially like her silk kimonos.
For wardrobe staples which are anything but basic I find myself reaching again and again for my Alex Mill tees and shirts. Co-founded by Somsack Sikhounmuong (who headed both Madewell and J.Crew), this New York based line also makes cult worthy jumpsuits and cotton twill pants that go with everything.
This San Francisco atelier makes the softest cashmere coats and pants. Janicke only uses woven cashmere which is incredibly warm and doesn’t pill like knitted cashmere does. Don’t forget to check out her signature perfume inspired by Chinese calligraphy.
Health & Beauty
Tatcha was created by Vicki Tsai who suffered from acute dermatitis and eczema. A chance meeting with a geisha in Japan sparked Tsai’s journey into the world of traditional Japanese skin care and Tatcha was born. I use almost everything from their line and find their products gentle yet highly effective.
Li Organics skincare line goes beyond clean and is formulated with organically and responsibly farmed plant ingredients largely from Southeast Asia, due to the fertile, alluvial, and nutrient rich soil availability in this region. My personal favorite is the Obsidian Renewal Scrub which is made from Coconut derived charcoal and will leave your skin feeling silky and renewed.
When Cat Chen discovered her newborn daughter was allergic to perfume, she set out to find fragrances free from allergens and harmful chemicals. Unable to find any she launched Skylar. Skylar scents are formulated with strict standards and exclude thousands of ingredients including those commonly found in other beauty brands.