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Inside The All-Star Collective Of AAPI Founders And Creatives

To ensure momentum continues for Asian American Pacific Islander rights, fashion designer Prabal Gurung is leaning further into his leading role in the #StopAsianHate movement by joining Gold House as an executive board member. Bing Chen—who made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2014 when he was the global head of creator development at YouTube—launched Gold House in 2018 as a nonprofit collective of Asian founders, artists, and leaders.

“Gold House does the work to recognize the right partners and activists are on the ground with partnerships across music, art, fashion and tech,” says Gurung. “I trust them to move the needle to make sustainable changes that have to be made on every level.”

Chen says one reason why the AAPI movement was initially slow to start or gain recognition in the mainstream media is because in contrast to every major diaspora, Asians lack a cohesive culture of mutual support. “Our fifty ethnicities, hundreds of dialects, and distributed density across the globe have only extended this fracture,” says Chen. So his organization takes a multifaceted approach to unity, starting with fundraising millions for AAPI victims via GoFundMe, and grants for grassroots organizations. Gold House is also working with the Biden administration to provide a legal structure for safety, particularly for the elderly and women.

In addition to style icons like Gurung, Phillip Lim and Dao-Yi Chow, beauty industry leaders like Allure editor-in-chief Michelle Lee, influencer and entrepreneur Michelle Phan, Sephora CMO Deborah Yeh and Glow Recipe founders Christine Chang and Sarah Lee are active members. “You’ll see a ton of beauty, fashion, and wellness in our leadership and accelerator because these industries are so critical to our culture,” says Chen.

Writers like Lisa Ling and Antonio Jose Vargas as well as athletes like Taylor Rapp are supporters. Hollywood also has a strong presence in Gold House, with advocates like Olivia Munn, Eugene Lee Yang, Brian Tee, Awkwafina and Daniel Dae Kim, among many others.

Gold House also focuses on addressing the issue of media portrayals as well as small business empowerment, which he says are interconnected. 

“If people see you the right way and buy from you, safety and stability come with it,” says Chen. To that end, Gold House works with every major Hollywood distributor to make sure Asian-Americans are being rightly portrayed and their stories are being told. Gold House has served as a marketing vehicle for hit movies like The Farewell starring Awkwafina, an independent film that grossed nearly $20 million, as well as Parasite, which grossed more than $250 million worldwide. 

“No one knew what [Parasite] was until we touched it and gave it a ‘Gold Open,’” says Chen, “after that it was sold out in New York City. We make sure our stories are told by us accurately.” Bing adds Gurung has been fighting for years for better AAPI representation on the big screen. “Prabal has been working behind the scenes supporting these films,  he’s rallied Asian fashion designers for Crazy Rich Asians.”

As a board member, Gurung will serve as a judge and mentor for Gold Rush, the organization’s accelerator program which helps to mentor and identify emerging AAPI entrepreneurs. 

Although Asian-owned businesses were hardest hit by the pandemic, the 2020 Gold Rush cohorts were able to create nearly 2,000 new jobs and collectively raise an additional $20 million in funding after completing the accelerator. For its second year, the program will include a new women’s track featuring curated workshops and direct matchmaking with top venture capitalists for investment and mentorship.

Gold House has enlisted its female celebrity supporters to call for better protection of Asian women, who have been hit hardest as business owners, as well as the target of hate crimes. “The first objective of the movement is to stop the violence and degradation of our Asian American community,” says member and journalist Lisa Ling. “But we need to continue to press for greater representation of Asian Americans in politics, media and education—we are the fastest growing demographic in the United States. It is imperative that our stories be told to understand our well-earned place in this country.”

That’s why women make up 50% of Gold House’s board—and its overall makeup is ethnically diverse in that it reflects every facet of the Asian diaspora. Meanwhile its 2021 Gold Rush cohort is the most diverse yet, with 60% of founders identifying as female, 60% as East Asian, 13% as Southeast Asian, and 27% as South Asian.

The companies selected for the Spring 2021 cohort include:

Brightland is a modern pantry essentials brand championing traceability, design and simple everyday moments at home.

Clipboard Health is an online marketplace offering no-commitment staffing for healthcare facilities and on-demand shifts for healthcare professionals.

Cresicor is a cloud-based software platform and data analytics engine that understands the world of trade management for indirect-heavy businesses. builds a data labeling workforce management platform for Natural Language Processing.

Ettitude is a purpose-driven lifestyle brand offering home essentials that are soft on your skin and gentle on our planet.

Haldi creates 100% personalized stores for customers and layers on the social proof of their micro-community.

Jemi is a platform that helps content creators generate new revenue streams through memberships and an all-in-one digital store.

Kulfi Beauty is a premium beauty brand and digital platform celebrating South Asian beauty.

Lunar is the first and only Asian-American craft hard seltzer.

Meadow is an all-in-one cannabis point-of-sale, eCommerce, and CRM suite of software.

Moonship is a social ecommerce software platform that aims to help ecommerce products go viral via word of mouth.

Rosebud AI is an easy to use AI generated media to enable storytelling at the speed of thought.

Searchlight is a Quality of Hire platform that reduces bias in performance-driven hiring.

The Juggernaut is a media company and community for global South Asians and the South Asia-curious.

Umamicart is an Online Asian grocer offering a curated selection that highlights the diversity of Asian American cuisine.

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