May is AAPI Heritage Month and what better way to commemorate then by supporting and amplifying the Asian and Pacific Islander community. These female entrepreneurs are leaders in the fashion industry and help empower women by creating pieces that’ll make them feel comfortable and confident with everything they wear. Read on to discover the amazing fashion brands they founded.
AAPI Founders in Fashion
Gina Nam, Founder of AMYO
AMYO is a New York based, female founded and operated jewelry line that was launched in 2016 by seasoned Korean American jewelry designer, Gina Nam. Gina, who grew up in a family of jewelers, quickly noticed how wasteful the industry can be trying to keep up with trends, so she set out to make minimalist and evergreen pieces meant to last at an affordable price point. Their rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and anklets are all under $300 and made from Vermeil, 14K Gold and Sterling Silver. The brand utilizes sustainable practices including ethically produced pieces by guaranteeing a fair wage and good working conditions to the artisans who create for them. All of the brand’s supplies and materials are sourced locally in NYC and are handmade, producing far less waste than industrial manufacturing.
Connie Nam, Founder of Astrid & Miyu
Astrid & Miyu was founded in 2012 by Connie Nam. Born in Seoul, Korea she spent much of her life traveling and living in different countries. Inspired by her mother, jewelry had been a part of her life from a very young age. Anytime she traveled she would always pick something up from local markets or small quirky jewelers. However, when she wanted to purchase with intent for family, friends or herself she struggled to find a go-to brand. She felt the experiences in existing brands were stale and impersonal, which she saw as an opportunity to bring something different to the market. She wanted to offer products that were full of sentiment and innovative in design, together with an experience that was personal and engaging, and most importantly to create a brand that is inclusive and empowering.
Maggie Drake, Founder & CEO of Bandolier
Proving that necessity is indeed the mother of invention, Maggie Drake brainstormed the idea of a luxury cross-body iPhone accessory, then was the first to bring it to life. Today, as Co-Founder and CEO of the brand, as well as Chief Designer, she runs the business day-to-day, oversees its divisions, and leads all design and production efforts for the six-year-old wearable technology company. Receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine and Studio Arts from University of California, Irvine, she spent her initial post-college years in freelance graphic design. Her experience in ad sales for music, entertainment and tech led to a position at the Hollywood Reporter, regularly working with record labels and other corporate clients, which soon segued into a similar post soliciting advertising and conference sponsorships for the New York trade magazine, The Silicon Alley Reporter. After marriage and the birth of her first child, she devoted her attention to being a stay-at-home mom. Maggie Drake identified that people frequently misplaced their cell phones and created “a stylish way to attach my phone to my body.” Maggie then embarked on the development of an innovative new product, Bandolier, which would launch in August 2013.
Vivian Lee, Founder of Kinflyte
Kinflyte is a Sustainable, Female and AAPI-Owned brand designed to support your posture and lifestyle, no matter what you do. Offering sizes in XXS-6XL, and A-K Cup, the brand prides themselves on being an inclusive brand that creates sustainable apparel to help everybody move better. The technology in the patented Posture System is in the unique design, patterning, and detailed 3D construction, working in concert to cue a women’s body into better alignment. Created by women for women!
Kulveen Sarna, Founder of KREYA
KREYA was founded by AAPI, female entrepreneur, Kulveen Sarna, when she was a college student as a solution to common problems among working women and students: aching shoulders and a need for a bag that was able to go from work to play. The collection currently features three styles: the AURORA convertible backpack tote, the NEBULA convertible crossbody shoulder bag, and the COMET wallet. As an homage to her maternal grandparents, KREYA’s dust bags feature hand embroidered traditional “shadow” work from West Bengal. 10% of profits from purchases made at KREYA are also donated to various organizations that support women, children and minorities in the spirit of the Sikh pillar of “Vand Chakna” or sharing with others as well as standing up for those who are marginalized.
Ming Wang, Founder of Ming Wang Knits
After moving to the US from Taiwan with her young family over 30 years ago, Ming Wang founded her legendary brand, offering a bold range of luxury knits and distinctive styles designed to help all women feel comfortable and confident. Still family owned and operated, the brand continues to be passionate about the same things: Effortless fashion, the artistry of knitting, and a focus on enduring quality.