The last year’s surge in anti-Asian hate crimes — which have risen by 179 percent in London alone — may have left you wondering what more you can do to support East and South East Asian (ESEA) communities. You can (health permitting) attend protests. You can challenge racist behaviour and microaggressions amongst your peers. You can also donate to crowdfunds, such as the “#Stop East+Southeast Asian Hate” GoFundMe launched by, amongst others, actress Gemma Chan in May. But on a day-to-day basis, you can simply support ESEA communities by shopping at ESEA-owned businesses.
To show you where to get started, we’re here to help. We’ve spent the past few weeks compiling a list of ESEA-owned U.K.-based businesses, drawing from a wide range of sources. We asked our Instagram followers for their suggestions, and also noted the places that Strategist staffers like to frequent. We also drew from existing resources such as the Chinese-business championing BritishChineseBiz and comprehensive ESEA directories such as SEA + East, Esea Sisters, Besea.n, and a directory compiled by podcast host Mai-kee Tsang. Even more guidance came from independent-championing grassroots movement “Don’t Call Me Oriental” and student-led Dear Asian Youth London (DAYLDN).
Read on for a directory of 38 ESEA-owned businesses to support, whether they be food and drink, health and beauty, interior, fashion, children, or lifestyle-orientated. This list is by no means exhaustive, and we will continue to update and expand our directory as more businesses come to our attention. If you have a suggestion for a business you’d like to see featured here, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOOD AND DRINK
There’s no shortage of great places to eat, and you can find a guide to ESEA restaurants for outdoor dining and takeaway on our sister site Eater London and elsewhere in the U.K., like at Independent Liverpool. But if you’re looking to shop for food and drink online, here’s what we found:
Yok Chan has been making her chilli oil since 1998 from her home in Essex, drawing influences from Chinese, Malaysian, and Sri Lankan cuisines. The batches often sell out fast — Yok Chan only makes them in batches of 25, in order to ensure every jar is perfect — but you can find it stocked in a few places (such as sauce shop Hop Burns & Black, and Bethnal Green community café The Common). — Chris Mandle, staff writer
The Soho-based BAO (you’ll know it by its perennial queue) has been the recipient of the Michelin Bib Gourmand for four consecutive years. As well as innovative flavours when dining in, you can purchase drinks, sauces, merchandise, and DIY BAO kits from its online store. Good news for veggies: In addition to pork and beef, there are delicious meat-free options, too. — Rachael Griffiths, editorial intern
Best known for its shengjian bao (soup dumplings similar to xiao long bao, but with a different dough), Dumpling Shack has two London locations. If you can’t make it to Spitalfields or Canary Wharf, you can also shop online: Its homemade chilli oil and tees are available for shipping. — Ailbhe Malone, senior editor
Once a time-starved Londoner, Rempapa co-founder Shu Han Lee says she used to make large amounts of rempah and freeze them as singular portions. Real rempah is famously difficult to make, and it’s not an easy feat to find a wealth of flavours when going for ready-made options. That’s how Rempapa was eventually born. Inspired by its team’s family recipes, you can shop curated spice pastes, seasoning, and infused, artisanal salts, plus its founders’ guide to combining Southeast Asian flavours with British produce (in the form of Lee’s cookbook, Chicken & Rice). — Rachel Mantock, staff writer
Sister duo Emily and Annabel Lui built this bakery off the back of their obsession with food, with humble beginnings in a small North West London kitchen. With a focus on keeping fat and sugar content to a minimum without compromising flavours and sweetness, their fluffy cupcakes, biscuits, and brownies cater to a large range of dietary needs. They offer vegan and wheat-free options, too. We’re especially keen on their Hello Kitty–themed afternoon tea in a box and their signature Squidge Selection Box of macarons. — R.M.
HEALTH AND BEAUTY
Our finds cover handcrafted bathing products to men’s skin-care essentials. For a broader list of beauty businesses, take a look at ChineseBritishBiz’s dedicated spreadsheet.
Malaysian British mother and daughter duo Linda and Suyin are behind The Caring Touch, which makes natural skin-care products and hand-poured soya wax candles in South East London. They make their products, such as their peppermint bar soap, with plant-based ingredients, and use recycled, recyclable, or reusable materials in their packaging. — C.M.
Verdant’s line of bath products is all-natural, all-vegan, and centered around aromatherapy. Choose from combinations such as eucalyptus, lemon, and thyme, or lavender, mandarin, and vetiver bath salts, pair them with their complementing bath and shower oils (pairings are suggested on the site), and drift away. — A.M.
Challenging the misconception that cis women’s skin is more sensitive to environmental triggers than cis men’s, the team behind Vitruvian Man create products that address skin concerns more likely to impact male skin. They avoid parabens, phthalates, synthetic colours and fragrances, petrochemicals, silicone, and ethanol, only using organic ingredients. Plus, 2 percent of all profits is donated to charities with a focus on mental health for all genders. — R.M.
Ting Ly founded Lengbox to share her passion for Korean skin care with the world, and now stocks hundreds of hard-to-find products, from snail-mucin eye creams to rice-powder face masks. Lengbox’s K-beauty box can be ordered as a one-off or recurring every 3, 6, or 12 months, and every product is tested by Ly herself (the contents of the box change each month, too). It also stocks a highly popular ten-step Korean skin-care beauty box, but you can also shop its wares individually. — C.M.
These ecofriendly deodorant sticks are available in four gender-neutral scents. The scents are fresh, but not overpowering (options include Earl Grey and jasmine), and you can opt in for a subscription-refill service. — A.M.
Whether it be a custom ceramic dish or an original art print, read on for some home-décor must-haves or a fancy-schmancy gift.
Self-taught, Southeast Asian graphic designer Tarnjit Dosanjh creates vibrant and inclusive greeting cards that span wider than just Western-focused holidays, including Eid, Diwali, Ramadan, and others. Kushiya Designs also offers comical prints with cultural relevance to minority communities, as well as branded mugs, T-shirts, and photo-booth props. — R.M.
Su Che Design’s Indian pop-art offerings have proven immensely popular over on Etsy, earning them a “top shop for gifts” badge. Bhavin (the designer) champions a delightful range across his crafted prints, from spiritual masters and Swahili phrases to his own “lovely wife.” All designs are printed on premium-quality paper, and are available in a range of six sizes. — R.G.
Now living in the U.K., Chinese illustrator Zhang creates busy, whimsical-style prints that feel happy and bright. She says that “if you are after simplicity or minimalism, you should probably go elsewhere,” but for everyone else, her prints will add cityscape snapshots to your walls in a way you’ve rarely seen before. With a portfolio of advertising campaigns under her belt, you might have spotted her designs commuting in London, Paris, Dubai, or Canada, on suitcases, the Tube, buses, or even theme parks in Australia and Florida. — R.M.
From an orgy take on Rapunzel, to half-woman half-insect reimaginings of Lilith, to dark play on the human form and fancy dinner spreads, Chung’s illustrations are magically and mystically distinctive. Born in Taiwan, raised in Shanghai, and educated in the U.S. and U.K., she got into ink drawing at university, inspired by Sam Weber, Bill Donovan, and Thomas Woodruff. Now, her signature style includes bold lines and “peculiar portraits” of fictional characters. — R.M.
Artist Karlie Wu, who helped compile Besea.n (Britain’s East and Southeast Asian Network), has her own business selling her art, illustrations, and Risograph prints. You can order via the contact details on her website, and 30 percent of all profits will be donated back into Besea.n in order to support its work. — C.M.
Concept store Alkemi has two locations in South London, showcasing “beautiful objects for everyday life.” Visit its shops in Nunhead and Forest Hill (which just opened in April 2021) to peruse items from makers based in Korea, Japan, and Denmark, as well as South London artisans. — A.M.
For artwork that’s wonderfully unique, you’ll want a block print or two from Jessica Yeong. All the prints carry a sense of Yeong’s cultural background, with parents that emigrated from Hong Kong to the U.K. They also have overtones of what she calls “the domestic everyday,” with prints of kitchens, fruit baskets, and traditional dinner setups. There’s also a good selection of formats to pick from, including block prints, miniature versions, illustrated prints, cards, envelopes, and postcards. — R.M.
London-based potter Vivian Xu’s pieces are crafted to be beloved. A gorgeous spectrum of colours and textures is explored across the bowls, cups, plates, and planters available to order from her shop. If you are after something bespoke, however, Xu is open for tailor-made commissions. — R.G.
Architect, designer, and maker Michelle Wong specialises in handcrafted leather goods. From monogram-able leather bookmarks in sumptuous shades (we like the sold-out slate) to a collection of tote bags inspired by the Barbican, it’s all very covetable. — A.M.
Hazel Mead creates quirky, comical prints and calendars to do with health, porn, and yoga, all through a strong sex- and body-positive lens that’s also skin-colour inclusive. She’s known for her work with the Bloody Good Period initiative, which helps those experiencing period poverty, as well as a string of other campaigns for social causes. — R.M.
Including handmade jewellery, luxury upcycles, and “the world’s most trusted premium shoe-care brand.”
Sadeo’s curated platform helps you shop conscious quality every time. From clothing to homeware and officeware, you can easily spend a few hours getting lost in its wealth of products, from retro-style candleholders to Art Deco perfume decanters. It’s a go-to resource for discovering new designers with a sustainable focus. — R.M.
In addition to being featured in Vogue and collaborating with Fenty by Rihanna, A Sai Ta was awarded the British Fashion Award in 2020. By “interweaving Asian iconography with recognisably Asian tropes,” ASAI produces garments that invite an equal measure of contemplation as they do compliments. — R.G.
In an industry where false claims of “sustainability” are rife, House of Bilimoria is committed to integrity. Through the “luxcycling” — luxury upcycling — of vintage fabrics and heirloom textiles, its pieces sustain immigrant heritage through ecofriendly fashion. Learn more about its bespoke process whilst browsing its vibrant collections of clothing and linens. — R.G.
From sapphire-focused rings (that give us Kate Middleton engagement-ring vibes) to emerald- and yellow-stone numbers, browsing the Michelle Oh website feels like playing in your rich aunt with impeccable taste’s jewellery box. And if you want something no one else has, you can commission a bespoke piece by starting the process via its online form. — R.M.
Influenced by her mother’s career in architecture, Loveness Lee’s contemporary jewellery fuses her passion for fine art and sculpture. Loveness’s collections range from pieces that take inspiration from the Chinese zodiac to pieces emulating skeletal structures with diamonds and pearls. Loveness is also in the process of sourcing all of her material from sustainable recycled silver, so if you’re after something intricately designed and eco-conscious, shop her range here.
Misho’s collection of clean and simple yet decadent accessories has caught our attention. It’s also caught the attention of Forbes, which awarded it a spot in its 30 under 30 Asia class of 2021, and of A-listers such as Jada Pinkett Smith, who sports its handcrafted earrings on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. — R.G.
This unisex jewellery brand offers lifetime durability, and 5 percent of every sale goes to support YoungMinds, the U.K.’s leading mental-health charity for children, teens, and young adults. Its collection includes highly covetable pieces, such as Cuban-link gold chains, rope-chain necklaces, and identity tags, and all its items are under £50 (so they’d make excellent gifts). — C.M.
From a nifty little box that makes playtime more ecofriendly to a guide on sparking the joy of languages at a young age.
Started by mum Helena Zhang and adorably run alongside her 2-year-old daughter (for inspiration) and her mother (for an endless supply of Chinese dumplings), Hantastic Kids offers educational tools for developing Mandarain Chinese and English bilingualism in children who are 5 and under. The books, toys, and craft games on offer are all about being engaging while having fun at the same time, to keep little ones stimulated while learning. Its offerings also include access to offline events to keep screen time to a minimum while adding a social element. Plus, one percent of all profits is donated to Home Start. — R.M.
Lantern Books aims to “light up our world together, one Lantern book at a time.” Its charmingly illustrated books teach kids about ESEA culture, whilst its extensive bilingual resources aim to spark the passion of learning a language within little ones. — R.G.
Whirli merges sustainability with the joy of playtime via its toy-swap subscription-box service. The concept is simple: Choose from 1,000 top toys, let your kids play away to their hearts’ content, and then swap them for a new box next month. Its catalogue is comprehensive, catering for children from under 1 to above 10, and its prices are reasonable, starting from £15 per month. — R.G.
With bespoke resin, vibrant tote bags, and crocheted boba, there’s something for everyone.
This zine is made by and for Southeast and East Asian people, and the founders say it was created “as a platform to build community, provide space for underrepresented voices and narratives, critically examine and respond to structural inequality, and build radical and educational resources”. Five issues of the zine have been published so far; recent issues have focused on subjects like migration and queerness, and daikon is stocked at places like the Tate Modern Shop and the CLF Art Café in Peckham. It’s also available to read for free at a number of places, like Glasgow School of Art’s library and the Manchester LGBT Zine Library. — C.M.
21-year-old student Sophia launched her own logo-design business alongside studying for her graphic-design degree. Phia’s branding packages — including logo designs, business cards, and flyers — express a company’s essence via eye-catching aesthetics. In addition to logos, Phia designs cute and funky cards that you’d be equally as thrilled to gift as you would to receive. — R.G.
Co-founded by Stephanie Hui Hannington-Suen, with nature and traditional Chinese medicine at the core of its creative direction, this lifestyle shop brings together beautiful and intricately designed homeware, lifestyle, and fragrance products. Think coconut-soy candles hand-poured into steel tins that look like mini paint pots, soaps that look good enough to eat, and thoughtful accessories, all with an earthy but premium feel. — R.M.
The gorgeous trinkets from Craft Tree by Sabina have, according to Etsy, gotten people talking (five stars across the board). Sabina’s collection includes decadent gold-leaf torso figurines and dreamy pressed-petal bookmarks, as well as mugs, pens, and organisers, to name a few. Reviewers love the individuality of each piece, their handcrafted nature guaranteeing them as a one-of-a-kind gift or addition to the coffee table. — R.G.
If you can’t manage to catch an appointment with immensely popular tattoo artist Georgina Leung, you can always have a mooch on her online store. Each of her vibrant prints represents a story, many of them odes to her upbringing and trips to Hong Kong as a child. You can also find eye-catching totes, dreamy jewellery, and more stickers perfect for graffitiing your MacBook over on Georgina’s site. — R.G.
These crochet crafts come from two best friends; recent collections include a Year of the Ox drop and a range inspired by pearl-milk tea. All items are handmade to order, and most of its creations can be found on its Instagram, from a crochet cactus (perfect for a friend who can’t keep their plants alive) to, most intriguingly, crocheted cardigans that come in actual-people sizes. — C.M.
Nagaoka is Japanese ceramicist inspired by nature, based in North London. Her handmade tableware is stocked at the V&A Shop (amongst other places), but you can also pick up pieces at her Etsy store. We particularly like the stout stoneware mugs (in a lovely spackled glaze). — A.M.
Homeware with a heavy kitchen focus, this Japanese and Taiwanese–inspired product range is simple yet seamless, and very aesthetically pleasing. It’s also a carefully curated collection, too, with founders Chris Yoshiro Green and Sharon Jo-Yun Hung selecting special bits from solo craftsmen and specialist workshops across Japan. From patio barbecues and proper, grown-up knives, to miniature ceramics and barista kettles, they’ve covered quite a broad range. So it’s probably impossible to check out with just a few items, because of course you’ll need a porcelain lemon juicer and a pair of Japanese Geta wooden sandals, too. — R.M.
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