With the holidays fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about your shopping list. Instead of opting for a gift card or another pair of socks, why not choose a gift that will show your friends and family how much you care and support the Asian-Canadian community?
In the spirit of shopping with intention, here are over 60 Asian-Canadian brands you can support this season and beyond.
Notice we missed a brand? E-mail us your faves at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Asian Canadian Fashion Brands
ai 아이 (pronounced ah-ee: meaning children/daughters in Korean) is a family-run, female-owned business based in Toronto. This sustainable fashion brand was started by three sisters, Hannah Kim, Rebekah Ma and Joanna Lee, and their mother, Hun Young Lee. Together, the family designs, curates, and produces PETA-Approved vegan leather handbags and accessories made in small batches in Seoul, South Korea.
Apricotton is a Toronto-based bra brand that aims to help young folks feel confident in their first bra, offering bras designed with a tween consumer in mind. It was co-founded by Chloe Beaudoin and Jessica Miao, who both struggled to find bras that fit their body types as tweens. They decided to start the brand after Miao’s 12-year-old sister had similar issues trying to find her first bra at a lingerie store — an uncomfortable and embarrassing experience, given that lingerie and department stores seldom carry age-appropriate options for young consumers.
Apricotton’s current selection includes six styles designed to grow with a young person’s body, lasting through multiple stages of puberty. The bras feature moisture-wicking soft fabric, a stretchy elastic band, adjustable and hideable straps and removable cup padding.
AW by Andrea Wong is a detail-oriented fashion accessories line based in Vancouver. Inspired by the Pacific Northwest, the brand seeks to create a strong cohesion between the quality of materials and craftsmanship, handcrafting durable products with natural materials that will only add character as they age, giving each item its own story and unique charm. Wong and her team in their Vancouver studio produce AW’s accessories in small runs.
Cadette Jewelry is an artisanal jewelry brand ‘for the modern and mindful woman.’ Founded by lifelong creative Allison Asis, the line features heirlooms inspired by the natural world, the journey of womanhood and modern art and design. Each piece is carefully handcrafted in Toronto by Asis and a team of local artisans using traditional metalsmith techniques, eliminating the environmental impact that can otherwise result from mass-produced jewelry.
Since the start of 2021, Cadette has partnered with the non-profit One Tree Planted, so for every Cadette purchase, one tree will be planted in support of reforestation projects in Canada and the United States.
Cambio & Co. is a Filipino jewelry company based out of Toronto and Manila intent on empowering the Filipino diaspora to connect with their heritage and celebrate who they are. The brand’s mission is personal to co-founder Gelaine Santiago: at the age of 22, she took a trip to the Philippines with her husband (and co-founder) Jérôme Gagnon-Voyer — her first time back home after moving to Canada at age 3. While visiting her dad’s hometown in Malolos and reconnecting with family, Santiago realized how much she didn’t know about her culture and herself. So on that trip, she immersed herself in her culture and took a special interest in the local economy.
“We discovered a community of vibrant, innovative, and young Filipino entrepreneurs who were making amazing products while trying to eradicate poverty, combat sex trafficking, or take up the battle against textile waste in the fashion industry,” Santiago told Hella Pinay.
With a mission to support local industries in the Philippines, Cambio & Co. was born. Every piece is designed and handcrafted in the Philippines by local designers, ethical jewelry brands, and artisans designed and handcrafted every element in the Philippines.
By sourcing directly from the Philippines, Cambio & Co. supports local industries producing uniquely Filipino materials, creates sustainable livelihoods and helps preserve pre-colonial craftsmanship.
Cuchara is a Toronto-based jewelry brand created and designed by Filipina-Canadian Edi Canedo, offering easy-to-wear, everyday pieces as well as a fine jewelry collection and custom orders, all handcrafted in Toronto. While living in Victoria, Canedo began using vintage spoons—which could be found in abundance in Victoria thrift stores—as material for new and unique accessories. Her mother dubbed the creations ‘cuchara’ necklaces, the Tagalog word for spoon.
While the brand has grown with time, its commitment to sustainability remains strong. Cuchara continues to use deadstock materials for its pieces and offers a polish and re-plating program to ensure products last for years.
Folds Wear Inc. combines design, technology and environmental sustainability to produce modern, recyclable and functional scrubs for medical professionals. Nina Kharey, womenswear designer and engineer, developed the brand as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as she watched her loved ones go to the front lines wearing poorly-designed scrubs made from material that offered no protection. “We want to be the Nike of scrubs,” Kharey told the Calgary Herald.
Folds is on the cutting edge of textile technology, using antiviral fabric with zero microfiber release, making it sterile. And at the end of their life, the scrubs can be returned to Folds to be upcycled into new scrubs.
Frank and Oak is a certified B Corp fashion brand specializing in high-quality, sustainable wardrobe staples and basics. The brand was co-founded by Ethan Song and Hicham Ratnani in 2012 with a mission to ‘create an apparel brand that would speak to a new generation of creatives and entrepreneurs.’ Frank and Oak say they prioritize the planet’s needs as much as its customers, sourcing innovative fabrics to using recyclable packaging to build its stores and offices.
Ginto Studio is a fine jewelry brand founded by Sheila Sy and based in Toronto. Inspired by the rich heritage of Asian cultures and the tastemakers of tomorrow, its designs celebrate the beauty of a dynamic and diverse cultural legacy, made to be worn by all. Sy works alongside three local second-generation Chinese goldsmiths who specialize in 14k solid gold and precious gemstones, and the brand offers a lifetime warranty on all purchases.
The name “Ginto” is the Tagalog word for gold and pays homage to Sy’s Filipino roots. Her mission with Ginto is to promote sustainability and ethical consumerism in the fashion industry by encouraging customers to invest in high-quality timeless pieces.
“Ginto is more than a fine jewelry studio that creates 14k solid gold pieces, we also want to celebrate the individual wearing them — their past, present and future,” says Sy.
Founded by New York-based model (and Brantford, Ont. native) Lauren Chan, Henning is an inclusive, chic womenswear for sizes 12 to 24. Chan started the brand to advocate for plus-size women excluded from fashion because of their size—a frustration she had experienced; for years being limited to wearing cheap fast-fashion while everyone around her wore designer outfits.
“I was writing all this great stuff about plus-size fashion and really pushing for diversity, but I was having a hard time getting dressed for work [because of the lack of inclusive sizing],” Chan, an editor at Glamour at the time, told Elle Canada. So, she decided to create her own line of luxury plus-size staples like wool blazers, silk dresses, and classic coats for women to feel as smart, sharp, and powerful as they truly are.
In 2014, designer Jennifer Le launched an eponymous fashion brand inspired by her personal style, featuring pieces combining leather and hardware as well as fur and feathers. IAMJENNIFERLE is known for its distinct, show-stopping and exclusive apparel and accessories, which have been spotted on celebrities such as Beyoncé, Cardi B, Rihanna, Megan Thee Stallion, Kylie Jenner and more. While the products may not always be easy to find—many drops are limited-edition and by invitation only—a visit to the flagship store in Woodbridge, Ontario, promises a close encounter with luxury.
If you’ve ever struggled with sunglasses sliding down your face, sitting on your cheeks or lifting when you smile, KayTran Eyewear is the sunglasses brand for you. The brand offers Lifted Fit Frames specially-designed for people with low nose bridges across diverse backgrounds. KayTran eyewear was founded in 2012 by Kathy Tran-Riese, who recognized that sunglasses are not one-size-fits-all and sought to make eyewear more inclusive.
“I had been looking for years for eyewear that fit my Asian facial structure—I have a smaller nose bridge,” Tran-Riese told FASHION Magazine. “I decided to design a collection that would offer a different fit. There are endless options for jeans to suit [various] body types—why should eyewear be any different?”
Tran-Riese designs every product herself before having it manufactured in Italy. All sunglasses are made with high-grade cellulose acetate, metals and Polarized or Zeiss CR39 lenses, and are hand-finished by skilled artisans.
KSOON is an upcycled jewelry line designed by Amanda Poh. The name is a clever play on Poh’s Chinese name, Ka-Soon. The character ‘Ka’ is usually used to represent family, household, and everyone, while ‘Soon’ means to go smoothly, with ease, and prosperity.
“Put together, to me, it very much represents this harmonious way of living where you are not only receiving care from your community, but trying to find ways to give back,” says Poh, a digital product designer from Port Coquitlam, B.C.
Poh takes apart unwanted jewelry and accessories and then reuses materials to create new pieces, giving items a chance to be worn and loved and reducing their likelihood of ending up in the landfill. And with every piece, 25 per cent of sales support BIPOC organizations and funds.
Lezé the Label (pronounced LEH-ZAY; ‘lazy’ but fancy) is a Vancouver-based, pyjama-inspired “work leisure” clothing line. Co-founded by friends Tanya Lee and Karen Lee, the brand was born out of the desire to create a clothing line that was comfortable and flexible but presentable, well-suited to a hectic lifestyle.
The duo launched their first product—The World’s Most Comfortable Pants— on Kickstarter and raised $255,000 in 12 hours. Now, the line boasts styles like jumpsuits, sets, reversible tops, shirt dresses and “cardicoats”, all made from recycled materials like fishing nets, coffee grounds, plastic bottles and renewable raw beech wood.
In 2014, designer Mani Jassal launched her eponymous brand focusing on luxury evening wear and bridal fashion that blurs the line between ethnic and everyday clothing, designing for ‘women who wish to dress in comfort and modernity, without abandoning their cultural identities.’ Jassal’s pieces showcase Indian design influences but can be worn for multiple occasions that aren’t culturally specific, and incorporate her unique approach to South Asian attire, including lightweight silhouettes and unorthodox cuts.
“The collection is an embodiment of who I am and my upbringing,” Jassal told Nuvo. “My background is Indian, but I was raised here in Canada, and the clothes perfectly embody that [duality].”
Mani Jassal has collaborated with many social media influencers and celebrities, including Rupi Kaur, Hannah Simone, Sangita Patel, Ashanti, Bebe Rexha, Gigi Gorgeous and Madison Beer.
Founded in 2007 by brothers Kevin and Norman Au-Yeung alongside Robin Yates, Nobis is a premium outerwear brand designed for ever-changing global winters, unpredictable seasonal conditions and the growing need for fashionable and functional outerwear. Nobis’ mission is never to sacrifice style for functionality, creating pieces just as easily worn in the mountains as on the city streets. Nobis is also making strides in sustainability, using ethically sourced fur and down and recently launching NEXT by Nobis, a program that allows customers in North America to resell Nobis jackets they no longer want directly to new buyers.
Noren Studio is a fine jewelry brand created by husband and wife duo, Keith Lau and Josephine Liu. Based in Vancouver, its designs ‘celebrate the intersection of tradition and invention,’ using production techniques honed over centuries and passed down from generation to generation. Liu is a formally trained goldsmith, while Lau grew up in his father’s workshop. Her father was a master goldsmith who apprenticed under a Shanghainese master in 1960s Hong Kong, Lau told The Globe and Mail. Each ring is minimal but designed with functionality and longevity in mind, handmade to order in Noren’s Vancouver warehouse using precious metals.
Novel Supply Co. is a sustainable apparel company based in Vancouver. Founded by Kaya Carnovale, Novel’s appealing apparel proves you don’t have to sacrifice style to make a sustainable choice. The commitment to sustainability doesn’t end at the point of purchase: Novel Supply Co. aims to close the loop through its AFRESH take-back program, which encourages customers to send their old apparel back to Novel Supply to be upcycled into stuffing for pillows, kids’ apparel and other small accessories.
OAK + FORT is a woman-founded and led contemporary fashion and lifestyle brand based in Vancouver, founded by Min Kang in 2010. Under the motto of ‘thoughtful design for a modern lifestyle,’ OAK + FORT produces apparel and homeware with a sleek, unified aesthetic vision and a cost-conscious price tag. A favourite among minimalist dressers, OAK + FORT apparel is designed to be versatile and functional, complimenting rather than defining the consumer’s personal style.
Created in 2018 by lifelong swimmer Courtney Chew, OCIN is a Vancouver-based lifestyle brand and eco-swim label driven by a desire to celebrate and protect the world’s oceans. Their products are versatile and functional: designed to be worn not just in but out of the water, using comfortable quick-dry fabrics, pockets and easy claps. OCIN uses 100 per cent recycled polyesters from plastic bottles and recycled nylon in their fabrics and ensures products are adequately recycled, encouraging customers to return their old suits at the end of their use.
OCIN also focuses on community-building and connection, highlighting inspiring individuals, artists, organizations and like-minded brands on the OCIN Collective platform. These stories are also shared in OCIN’s online magazine.
Olive + Splash is a luxurious athletic line for the whole family—creating unisex clothes for everyone, including parents, children and even the dog—created by Melanie Wong. It features athleisure handcrafted from ethically-sourced bamboo, a material known for its thermal regulating properties that are also hypoallergenic, UV protectant, odour resistant, moisture wicking, almost 99 per cent anti-bacterial, breathable and soft. Olive + Splash offers an array of products built to last multiple washes, including hoodies, joggers, shirts, accessories and face masks.
Paris Jewellers is a family-owned business that opened in 1987 after Thu Nguyen and her husband apprenticed as goldsmiths shortly after immigrating to Canada from Vietnam. Fast forward almost 40 years, and the company is now spearheaded by Chau Lui and Trang Wong—the young daughters of the family—and operates in 23 locations across four provinces, with its headquarters in Edmonton. They have also designed engagement rings for celebrities such as Bachelorette star Kaitlyn Bristowe, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before star Lana Condor and Dancing with the Stars‘ Derek Hough. In May 2022, Paris Jewellers released a special Asian Heritage Lotus Necklace in honour of Asian Heritage Month, donating 100 per cent of the proceeds to the Asian Solidarity Fund and Stop AAPI Hate. In Vietnam, the lotus is known to be a symbol of optimism.
“We dreamt up this necklace in honour of our mom and her journey as a young mother who emigrated from Vietnam with her family,” Liu told InStore Magazine. “The lotus flower is our mom’s favourite flower (and Vietnam’s national flower). This necklace honours her courage to make her own way in the world.”
Sunday Catalogue is a women’s collection thoughtfully designed for everyday wear, so comfortable that you won’t mind being an outfit repeater. Guided by the principle of slowing things down, pieces are made-to-order or ethically produced in small batches by a local female-owned production company. Launched by Carly Fung as a pandemic passion project, the Vancouver-based brand is best known for its trendy bucket hats and cozy raw silk sets.
TKC Design Inc. is a fashion brand based out of Vancouver, best known for merging Indian textiles and South Asian design elements with Western silhouettes. Founded in 2016 by designer Taran Cheema, TKC showcases vibrant colour and rich textures in its bold pieces, as well as embroidery and beadwork.
Innovative, Vancouver-based brand Vessi is best known for inventing the world’s first 100 per cent waterproof knit shoe. Finished with a water-repellant layer that allows dirt and water to roll off easily, these shoes are suitable for rain, snow, slush, mud and more—keeping your feet dry by protecting them from the elements while still allowing them to breathe. And unlike the rain or snow boots many rely on for Canadian weather, Vessi shoes are incredibly light and can easily transition from a day in the office to a hike.
The brand was launched in 2018 by Vancouverites Andy Wang, Tony Yu and Mikaella Go, who were fed up with the city’s constant rain. The three have since patented their Dyma-tex knit technology, which is waterproof, breathable, and capable of keeping feet cool in the summer and warm in the winter using micro air pockets. Vessi now offers seven shoe styles, ranging from classic sneakers to casual slip-ons to Chelsea boots.
Vieren is a luxury watch brand based in Toronto. It was founded in 2020 by management consultant-turned-CEO Jess Chow and Project Runway Canada winner Sunny Fong, two people with deep personal connections to watches. Chow’s family had worked in luxury watchmaking for over 40 years, while Fong developed his passion for watches when he started wearing his father’s automatic timepiece.
“Family and heritage are core to everything we do,” Chow told Watchonista. “Timepieces are more than just for timekeeping to us. It’s an extension of who we are.”
Inspired by modernist architecture, the OG Automatic Collection features ultra-thin, gender-neutral rectangular watches that are certified Swiss Made to tell time forever without a battery. The design also honours Chow and Fong’s heritage, subtly incorporating auspicious Chinese elements: the logo is a bat, which brings good fortune to the family; the octagonal crown resembles the Bagua in feng shui that helps achieve balance in life; and gold, which is featured on every watch, brings prosperity and is said to have healing properties. In this sense, the watch is just as much a lucky charm as a timekeeper, Fong told Watchonista.
Asian Canadian Beauty Brands
Specializing in facial essences, oils and eye serums, BAO Laboratory is an organic skincare brand taking a scientific approach to skincare. Founded by Dr. Julia Bao, who has a Ph.D. in chemistry and small-molecule development, the brand uses cruelty-free, vegan and 100 per cent natural ingredients in small-molecule formulas to target a myriad of different skin concerns and suit different skin types. These formulas are a game-changer in the skincare industry: small molecules are much more easily absorbed by the skin, making the products more potent.
“They’re so small that they can penetrate into the skin more rapidly, while larger molecules from popular creams or lotions often sit on top and create a barrier,” Bao told Fashion Magazine.
BINU BINU is a unique brand specializing in soaps, incense and bath accessories that pay reverence to the culture of Jimjilbang, also known as the Korean Bathhouse. Founder Karen Kim describes Korean bath culture, which she first experienced on a trip to Korea in her 20s, as relaxing, non-judgemental and centred in community: ‘generations brought together in the simple act of cleansing,’ according to BINU BINU’s website.
“North American spas are about pampering and luxury and ‘me time,’” Kim told Best Health Magazine. “To me, the bathhouse wasn’t me time but ‘us time,’ which is, of course, a form of self-care too, but it’s community care. I love that.”
These elegant, column-shaped soaps are made with 100% natural ingredients, essential oils and a base of boricha (Korean roasted barley tea often interchangeably referred to us water). Each formulation reflects a different element of Korean culture, from the Seshin Korean Scrub Soap, inspired by Korea’s infamously cleaner-than-clean exfoliation treatment, to the Shaman Charcoal Soap, an homage to the female shamans of Korea known as Mudang, containing essential oils of sandalwood (the “cosmic tree” of Korean lore.)
From the sisters behind the wellbe family wellness clinic in Toronto comes bloom balance: a holistic wellness brand empowering busy individuals to infuse easy and accessible self-care into their everyday lives. Co-founded by sisters Dr. Aliya Visram and Sarina Visram, bloom balance designs products backed by research and based in ancient medicine, drawing on Aliya’s background in healthcare and Sarina’s passion for finding better work-life balance. Products include a facial cupping kit, healing ear seeds, gua sha stones and moxibustion sticks.
Deja Vu Beauty is a transgender-owned small business specializing in vegan, cruelty-free and paraben-free makeup for everyone. It was founded by beauty vlogger Julie Vu, who has over 560,000 subscribers on her channel PRINCESSJOULES where she films makeup tutorials and talks candidly about her transition and life as a trans woman. Products include high shine and nourishing lip gloss infused with Vitamin E, professional brushes and lashes wearable up to 20 times.
Emboss Beauty is a Toronto-based faux mink lash brand founded by makeup artist Julia Vuong whose clients include Never Have I Ever star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan. Emboss’ selection includes individual clusters (which went viral on TikTok) and strip lashes, all of which have an extremely thin comfortable band with a barely-there feel. Each lash is designed with a specific style in mind to suit different looks and the strip lashes can be worn up to 20 times, while the clusters can be worn up to 15 times with proper care.
Ghlee is a modern-day beauty brand guided by the tradition and wisdom of their ancestors. Ghlee produces lip balms made from ghee—clarified butter, a staple of South Asian kitchens, and also acts as a natural moisturizer. Ghlee is truly a family affair: the company was founded by siblings Arati and Varun Sharma, who first got the idea when he finally listened to his mother and used ghee to aid chapped winter lips. The ultra-clean formula used in ghlee products was then developed by Varun in collaboration with his father, who manages ghee production. Deepika Sharma manages their content while their mother fills orders.
Hymnologie is a natural, plant-based skincare brand launched by Jigyasa Sharma, a dentist who moved to Canada from India in 2020. The brand is rooted in Ayurvedic formulas—derived from the Ayurveda health and lifestyle system, which ‘preaches the importance of a strong internal and external bond to achieve holistic harmony,’ according to Hymnologie’s website—using only the most natural, pure and ethically sourced plant extracts in its products with minimal processing.
Sharma took inspiration for the brand from the natural skincare her mother has been cooking in her kitchen for years.
“Throughout my teenage years, I struggled with really bad acne and my mom was always making these Ayurvedic recipes for me: picking fresh flowers and turning them into pastes and getting me to apply it on my skin,” she told Fashion Magazine.
Five per cent of all Hymnologie profits go to The Legacy of Hope Foundation, an Indigenous-led organization that promotes healing and reconciliation in Canada.
Iremia Skincare is a small-batch natural, minimalist skincare line made especially for people with sensitive skin. Iremia’s philosophy is to keep it simple, using oils, plants and other natural ingredients to provide an effective, ultra-soothing routine. The products are tested firsthand by Elaine Li, who founded the company after struggling for years to find an effective treatment for her eczema and rosacea and becoming increasingly weary of how transparent skincare companies were about their ingredients. Li says she creates her products with intent and carefully researches the purity and benefits of all ingredients she uses, giving her customers and herself peace of mind.
Founded by leading Canadian hairstylist and colourist Jason Lee, Mela & Kera is a 100 per cent vegan haircare brand. It offers two signature collections: Balayage Exceptionnel, formulated with green caviar, ricinus plant and quinoa to hydrate, protect and enhance colour retention colour-treated hair; and Touche Velours, formulated with Rose of Jericho—a plant best known for its ability to rehydrate thanks to an exceptional moisture retention complex—to restore hair’s shine, vitality and soft texture.
This Toronto-based brand is best known for its Obsidian gua sha stone, a tool for the traditional eastern healing method that can relieve muscle tension, promote lymphatic drainage and calm the nervous system. Tanya Riz Tan founded Métange after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and re-acquainted with gua sha as a natural remedy for the facial swelling she experienced. When she couldn’t find a gua sha tool to suit her specific needs, she made one herself. Now, Riz Tan’s goal is to transform the at-home self-massage experience into an act of healing, promoting both physical and mental wellness.
Sahajan—derived from the Hindu word for ‘intuitive’—is a natural skincare line rooted in Ayurveda: a mind-body science grounded in balance. This balance can be achieved through plant-based remedies, yoga, meditation and other practices based on each person’s unique needs. Founded by Lisa Mattam, Sahajan produces natural and organic skincare products grounded in both ancient science and modern evidence.
“I wanted to share [Ayurveda] with people in a meaningful way: leaning on the ancient texts, working with Ayurvedic doctors in India and marrying that with my previous background in pharmaceuticals to demonstrate clinically that Ayurveda delivers unparalleled results,” Mattam told Fashion Magazine.
Sahajan has since expanded past skincare, creating products targeted toward the lips, eyes, body and hair.
Laura Burget and Connie Lo launched their vegan, natural skincare brand, Three Ships Beauty, from a humble apartment kitchen, with the not-so-modest goal of creating the most effective natural beauty brand in the world. Three Ships challenges the idea that a 12-step routine is the only route to glowing skin, making products formulated by chemists to solve multiple skin problems. The brand also promotes transparency in its practice, allowing customers to see every step of the supply chain for every product using SourceMap and providing an ingredient glossary on its website.
Vasanti—derived from the Sanskrit word signifying springtime—is a longstanding, inclusive makeup brand that strives to use the most natural ingredients possible without compromising performance or safety. Over 20 years ago, the brand was founded by three South Asian sisters, Monal Patel, Priti Patel and Gargi Pateland, and their family friend, Pinki Gosal, who struggled to find products that worked on their skin tones, thereby deciding to carve their own space in the beauty industry. Vasanti is clean and cruelty-free, using non-toxic, natural ingredients in high-performing formulas. Their ultimate goal: to empower women to look and feel beautiful in their own skin.
Founded by Mabel Lee, Velour Beauty’s philosophy is simple: everyone can get into lashes. Velour produces false eyelashes that are lightweight, ethically sourced and suitable for all experience levels. Their magnetic lashes are especially easy to apply, with mini-magnets along the lash band that adhere to magnetic Lash & Go liner. Velour also offers plant fibre lashes, an entirely plant-based lash collection featuring a cotton thread lash band and hemp-derived fibres.
Wyld is a Toronto-based natural skincare brand launched by Malaysian-Canadian Joy Yap. In her early 30s, Yap went on a journey to find the proper skincare for her sensitive skin and ichthyosis condition. Seeing a gap in the market, Yap decided to start her own clean beauty brand. Wyld stands for ‘what you love doing’ — sending a message of freedom, confidence and courage to chase your dreams. All products are ethically sourced using all-natural and plant-based ingredients that are non-toxic, gentle and good for you—as well as the environment. Proceeds from every product sold are donated to ocean conservation.
Asian Canadian Lifestyle Brands
Akai Ceramic Studio is a small, family-owned studio operated by Japanese husband and wife duo Yusuke and Naomi Akai. Yusuke threw his first tea bowl on the wheel at age 13 and has been creating since, focusing on traditional Japanese and Chinese ceramics before becoming interested in American industrial design. After moving to Canada, pottery wasn’t a viable source of income. Still, in 2012 Yusuke was able to return to pottery, with Naomi adding ‘flavour’ to his work with her eye for design and architecture experience. Their ceramics are simple, timeless, and easy to use, celebrating the beauty of functional design.
YouTuber Amanda Rach Lee has over 2 million followers, with her most popular videos focusing on bullet journal setup, stationary and doodling. In 2019, she launched her own line of planners and stationery, allowing fans to take inspiration and get organized. The dated planners feature 12 monthly themes with hand-drawn illustrations by Lee, monthly and weekly spreads, mood trackers, habit trackers and goal-setting spreads, yearly reflections and more. Her shop also offers dotted notebooks for a fully customizable bullet journal, washi tape and accessories.
Founded by Geri Coria, Apothegeri is named after Coria’s father, also called Geri, whose birthday and holiday wishlist only ever consisted of one thing: a candle in memory of his grandmother.
Inspired by Geri’s nightly ritual of lighting a candle to relax and create a safe space, Aopthegeri hopes to remind customers to take time for themselves to smell the candles. The candles are hand-poured in Toronto in small batches, produced with locally and ethically sourced ingredients: plant-based soy way, lead-free cotton wick and recyclable glassware. Products include bubble candles, Philippines-inspired collections (with scents including peach mango pie, leche flan, turon and ube) as well as body oils and accessories.
Artket Goods is a Toronto-based lifestyle brand that creates adorable home goods—many of which pay tribute to founder Francesca Chan’s Asian heritage. Her items include Lucky Cat and and dumpling candles (which come in mini dimsum steam baskets), tumbler and beer can glass mugs and Asian-inspired scented candles such as White Rabbit Candy, Peach Soju and Pineapple Bun.
Blue Moon Paper is a stationery brand specializing in stickers, printables and stationery perfect for elevating any journal spread or planner. The stickers come in many themes and colours to suit every customer’s self-expression. Blue Moon was founded by Jordine De Guzman, who started out producing scrunchies and masks as a pandemic lockdown hobby before pivoting to her passion for all things stationery.
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, husband and wife duo Saad Khan and Seher Shafiq decided they wanted to do something more productive than watching Netflix. Their solution: starting their own tea and spice delivery service, an act of compassion allowing people to send care packages to their loved ones, bringing them comfort through a warm cup of tea during isolating and uncertain times.
“COVID kind of forced us to think ‘what is it that we can contribute?’” Shafiq told the Toronto Star. “Maybe this is the time that forces you to slow down and think of what you’ve always enjoyed.”
Cardamom and Co. produces premium loose-leaf teas, care packages and chai kits packed by hand by Shafiq and Khan in their North York apartment. As pandemic restrictions eased up, the company began focusing on fulfilling corporate orders for staff/client appreciation, packages for conference participants, and even wedding favours.
Dandylion describes itself as the “next-generation of dog care with a skin-first focus in product development.” Founded by Carolyn Chen, the brand is on a mission to change the dog care industry by creating products that puts dogs’ health first. Dandylion’s hero product is a no-rinse foaming paw cleanser which features soft silicone bristles which allows dog owners to get into hard-to-reach areas and perform a gentle deep clean without stripping the dog’s paws of its natural oils. They also carry a dog shampoo and conditioner. All of Dandylions products are developed with board-certified vet dermatologists and dog parents and are designed with the most sensitive of skin in mind. Their formulations are fragrance-free, gentle on the skin, plant-powered, made with good-for-the-skin ingredients and free from potentially irritating ingredients such as sulfates, drying alcohols, artificial fragrances and dyes, and essential oils.
The Give and Grow sells one-of-a-kind basketball planters for a good cause. Founded by Olivia Ho, the purpose of the brand is to help empower the growth of everything and everyone around us. Not only does Ho make and sell planters, but she also hosts workshops for young women in the Toronto community, planting the seeds for the next generation of youth. Additionally, a portion of proceeds from each planter purchase goes towards their youth programming in Toronto.
I’ll Know It When I See It produces ‘sweet + slightly snarky paper goods and gifts,’ including greeting cards, red pockets, stickers, magnets, calendars, puzzles, notebooks and more. The brand is an homage to founders Cassie Leung and Christine Chee’s Chinese-Canadian experience, featuring Asian-inspired designs like a Durian magnet stating ‘I am not for everyone’ and a 2023 calendar dedicated to Asian Sweets and Snacks. One of the brand’s core values is supporting local businesses—their products are designed and produced in Vancouver and in collaboration with other small businesses across Canada, and all supplies are sourced from Canadian companies.
Kopi Thyme sells gourmet Southeast Asian sauces based on traditional recipes. It all began in 2016 while Sara Tang ate a bowl of instant Laksa noodles. This sparked the concept of bringing her family’s Laksa paste into everyone’s pantry in a way that would make the food prep more time-efficient and convenient. Fuelled with the love of food and knowledge of working as a product developer in the food science industry, Tang teamed up with her friend Tao Yee Lim (also a product developer in the same industry) to create “Kopi Thyme” saucery which allows busy individuals to enjoy authentic flavours as though they were in Southeast Asia.
Lack of Threads is a Toronto-based brand by Anna Doan which features hand-made rugs and other tufted goods such as coasters, keychains and even vases. Lack of Threads specializes custom orders and all things related to the Asian culture and her designs include Sriracha bottles, White Rabbit Candy, Soju bottles and more.
Organika is a natural wellness brand founded in British Columbia, aiming to make healthy living simple and accessible, meeting customers where they’re at in their health journey. Starting out in 1990 as a line of supplements sold out of founder Thomas Chin’s van, Organika has grown into a business with over 200 health products, all certified non-GMO. The company is still a family business with Thomas’ sons Aaron Chin and Jordan Chin at the helm as CEO and president and COO, respectively.
Paper and Rice Co. is a Montreal-based stationery goods and accessories brand founded by Vivian Yu, a second-generation Cantonese-Toishanese Canadian, in May 2020. Inspired by family roots, home and personal memories, Vivian creates greeting cards that feel like a warm embrace, and nostalgic art prints showcasing aspects of her heritage.
Midblume is a collection of colourful clay goods and art created by visual artist and designer Chinda Le. Working out of her home studio in Toronto, Le is inspired by organic shapes and textures, vintage ware, nature and the world around her. Products include stickers, jewelry, ceramics, totes and more, all handcrafted in small batches or made-to-order to reduce waste.
Toronto ice cream brand Ruru Baked is a staple of the city’s dessert scene. Owner and pastry chef Luanne Ronquillo uses egg whites in her small batch custard ice cream recipe, making Ruru Baked products denser and creamier than your standard treat. The brand is also well-known for its diverse range of flavours, including many nostalgic Asian-inspired flavours like Chè Ba Màu (a Vietnamese dessert), Mais Con Yelo (a Filipino dessert), milk tea, pandan, Calamansi Crunch (containing coconut pulvoron, a Filipino shortbread), Viet Coffee and more. Ruru Baked offers a close-looped system to reduce its environmental impact, allowing customers to drop off clean pints and lids to be washed, sanitized and reused.
Saigon Drip is a Toronto-based brand trying to take Vietnamese slow-drip coffee to the mainstream. Founded by Vietnamese-Canadian Sang Nguyen, Saigon Drip sources robusta beans directly from the Dak Lak province of central Vietnam, where they’re handpicked and roasted by multi-generational coffee farmers using traditional Vietnamese techniques. Saigon’s Drip Kit offers everything you need to make a traditional cup of Vietnamese-style coffee: a can of condensed milk, a phin filter and, of course, coffee beans.
Spice Girl Eats is a Toronto-based food brand by Becca Pereira. The brand started out as an Indian home-cooking pop-up as a result of the pandemic hindering Pereira’s plan to enrol in culinary school. She decided to open her own food venture with her mother, a professional chef, that specialized in true Indian home-cooking, specifically Goan cuisine.
In October 2021, Pereira launched a line of chai latte concentrates that was nine months in the making. The concentrate is adapted from an old family recipe and includes cardamom, cinnamon, clove, peppercorn and lots of fresh ginger. It’s steeped in Indian Assam Tea and sweetened with unrefined cane sugar.
“It can then be easily mixed with any type of milk or even water, plus it can also be enjoyed hot or cold! It’s easy, mess-free and you can have a proper cup of chai within minutes. It’s really a cool product,” Pereira told Taste Toronto.
With files from Madelyn Chung.