If you're looking for unique and creative items for home decor as well as ways to support Asian-American-owned businesses, you've come to the right place. Talented Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) artist entrepreneurs have been making their mark in the Etsy marketplace with fresh, innovative products for the home space. Here are five of our favorite AAPI creators, each with personal stories as compelling as their products.
1. Homme Sur La Lune
For all you pet lovers out there, this Etsy shop will immortalize your fur baby in a delightful custom portrait dressed in fantastical garb, such as royalty, an astronaut or even Elvis. After a span of designing packaging for retail companies, graphic designer and illustrator Gerard Soratorio started on Etsy with various art prints, but it wasn't until his wife suggested he shift to pet portraits that he found a niche that has gained him a considerable following. One of his pet portraits was even featured in a nationwide Etsy commercial. Gerard works to make sure every portrait is perfect for each client, especially because many of the orders are memorial pieces for pets who have crossed the rainbow bridge.
As a second-generation Filipino American, Gerard says the idea that he can offer some representation among Asian American artists is well worth the dedication: "It's impactful to contribute to the artistic works Asian Americans produce nationwide, especially in a time when pride in who we are is so greatly needed."
With this portrait, your pet wears all the finery of a king, including a gilded crown, because he deserves nothing less. Portraits featuring your pet as queens and various nobility are also available.
Even if your pet ain't nothin' but a hound dog, you'll love this portrait of him wearing a white, rhinestone-embedded outfit. There are even gold chains across the chest to rile up the fans.
For those who feel their pets judge them all the time, this portrait is very appropriate. As with all of this Etsy shop's portraits, you will have a choice of paper or canvas in a variety of sizes.
2. Aki Company
The slogan for this Etsy shop is "Grow On and Plant a Smile" — and smiles are just what you're going to get with one of these plant pots featuring whimsical and often punny phrases. Aki Company's founder, Leeza Oyoung, comes from a long line of Asian American entrepreneurs. Aki Company was actually the name of her grandfather's hardware store. After World War II, Leeza's grandfather had planned on going to graduate school, but instead, he had to take over the family hardware store when his father (Leeza's great grandfather) passed away shortly upon returning from the Japanese internment camps. Leeza named her shop after the hardware store as a tribute.
As a half-Japanese and half-Chinese American business owner, she was heartbroken to hear about recent hate crimes against the AAPI community. "I had begun Aki Co to create and spread moments of happiness and optimism, so I felt it was only right to donate a portion of my company's proceeds to the Stop AAPI Hate Fund." In her mission to spread smiles, one of her plant pots even says "Don't Hate. Propagate!"
The famous line from the movie "Scarface" gets a humorous twist with this set of two planters: one for the aloe and one for the little friend. These pots are painted with eco-friendly paint.
The perfect gift for a BFF, this plant pot exudes cheer. It's available in both a 3-inch and 5-inch size.
Those of us with not-so-green thumbs can relate, but with this funny, motivational phrase on the pot, your plant may not just survive but thrive. Just remember to water it and maybe play it some disco music.
3. Santos Candles
Russell Santos made the leap to Etsy entrepreneur and candle guru after being furloughed in the early days of the COVID pandemic. "I think after years of burning candles to relax, I wanted to create my own and share that passion with others," he says. Santos Candles makes small batch, handcrafted candles with materials that ensure sustainability. The wax is all-natural, vegan, biodegradable and paraffin-free soy wax made in the U.S., but it's the clean, fresh scents, like grapefruit & mangosteen and white tea, that set these candles apart. "Our jasmine & orange blossom scent reminds me of the jasmine flower that's so popular in the Philippines. It reminds me a lot of my uncle's garden growing up."
Russell's family immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines to pursue a better life, and knowing about their struggles and sacrifices has instilled in him a strong work ethic. "My family's background really shapes me into the person I am today. I've learned from them that you can really start over and try something new as long as you work hard and stay committed."
White tea opens with sparkling mandarin and bergamot citrus notes and then develops with herbaceous and floral notes of thyme, ginger and jasmine sambac. It finally finishes with prominent base notes of white tea buds and chrysanthemum petals.
As explained in the Etsy description, jasmine & orange blossom is a euphoric reminder of Russell's aunt and uncle's jasmine flowers that bloom every spring. This vibrant and subtle floral scent always brings him back in time to their backyard, where annual Easter egg hunts on warm spring afternoons took place.
Mangosteen is an exotic fruit found in southeast Asia, with a citrus and peachlike scent. Combined with grapefruit, it creates a playful and lively scent that brightens any mood instantly.
4. My Darlin' BK
My Darlin' is a Brooklyn-based design and paper studio founded by Priyanka Batra, an Iowan by way of the U.K. and India. Her studio specializes in greeting cards and art prints that are colorful and bold, with abstract patterns and whimsical typography. "My visual education started with fashion and textiles studies at age 5 in my mom's vibrant pattern-filled closet in the '80s," she says. She received a B.A. in journalism from the University of Iowa, an MFA from Parsons School of Design, including a year at Parsons Paris, and studied typeface design at The Cooper Union. Her globe-spanning background has resulted in a collection that is both inspiring and inspired.
Also titled "Oeufs Postmoderne," Priyanka describes this print as "slightly French, potentially post modern, rather abstract, quite squiggly and indubitably eggy." By the way, eggs are her favorite food.
This rainbow print is perfect for your dream girl, whether she's a baby or all grown up. Printed in-house at the Brooklyn studio, it's available in three sizes.
Doesn't this whimsical abstract piece just look like a pool party? Giclée-printed with vibrant fade-resistant inks on cotton archival paper, it will look striking in any home, whether you have a pool or not.
5. Studio KMO
Maps are a popular home decor item, often reflecting a person's roots or a destination of sentimental value, but you've never seen maps like the ones offered by Studio KMO. Licensed architect turned Etsy artist Karen O'Leary meticulously hand draws and cuts maps from a single piece of white watercolor paper to create minimalist, striking art. Yes, you read that correctly — she cuts these maps by hand, spending hours on a single piece. Because they're hand cut rather than laser cut from a machine, the lines are beautifully imperfect, adding an emotional element that wouldn't exist in a precision-cut map. Despite the detailed work, Karen loves the process: "I am fortunate to spend my days (and most nights) at the drafting table. As I'm working on a piece, I get to study the streets and learn all of the features of each city."
Born in South Korea, her childhood was spent in Pennsylvania until she moved to Virginia to study architecture. Now based in North Carolina, it makes sense that her well-traveled life would translate into an artistic endeavor based on locations, bringing the places we love into the places we live.
Is there a special corner where you met the love of your life? Or perhaps you want to remember a childhood home. Karen will create a custom miniature 2 1/4-inch by 3-inch map featuring the address of your choice, framed in a gold tabletop frame.
Paris, je t'aime! If you're a Francophile, pick a location in Paris that makes your heart skip a beat, like the Eiffel Tower, the Marais or Notre Dame, and you'll have a custom made 10 by 10-inch map that is hand titled, numbered and signed by the artist.
For a real statement piece, go for the large custom map. This gallery-worthy, hand-cut artwork would make a treasured gift indeed.
When it comes to home decor, there seems to be an Etsy shop for every taste. These Asian American artisans are creating work that is getting noticed among home enthusiasts and decorators alike. So, fill your space with things you love while supporting the AAPI community.