ICYMI: Our AAPI Beauty & Fashion Fest Recap

In Case You Missed It…

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we brought together iconic leaders in beauty and fashion for a virtual event: AAPI Beauty & Fashion Fest!  This was a day of conversation and celebration of AAPI cultures with proceeds from the event benefiting Act to Change, a nonprofit organization addressing bullying against AAPI youth.

Here’s a recap of what went down!

We kicked off the day with a word from one of our Co-Founders, Sarah Lee, and a greeting from Tan France — international stylist, host of Queer Eye & Next in Fashion, and a member of Act to Change’s Advisory Council — who gave us some insight into what sparked his career in fashion. 

“As someone of South Asian descent, I was first introduced to fashion by my grandfather who owned a factory that made garments that I simply loved. These past experiences have helped me become the fashion designer I am today.”

– Tan France 

Then, we brought on Michelle Lee (editor-in-chief of Allure), Deborah Yeh (chief marketing officer at Sephora), Ally Maki (actress & founder of Asian American Girl Club), Priyanka Ganjoo (founder at Kulfi Beauty), and Jenny Jin (beauty director at Purewow) alongside Sarah for our first panel: AAPI Roundtable – Leaderships & Lived Experiences. 

The panelists got candid about their upbringing, their experiences with racism, and how their cultures have shaped their careers. 

“Growing up I thought I wasn’t beautiful and that something was wrong with me, but I realized it’s systemic and we didn’t see ourselves represented.”

– Priyanka Ganjoo, Founder of Kulfi Beauty

“As soon as I moved to LA, all of these boxes were put around me and I wasn’t the California girl anymore, I was the sidekick. My work is trying to find roles that are outside of the box or move the narrative forward for Asian American women.”

– Ally Maki, Actress & Founder of Asian American Girl Club

I’ve faced so much racism in my life that it helped me become more empathetic to other people.”

– Michelle Lee, Editor-in-Chief of Allure

“As leaders, you don’t always have answers. What I have learned being a founder over the past few years is just being very open with your team and your community about the fact that there is opportunity for everyone to learn about diversity and inclusion. Everyone has a different story and a different history, and it’s all about sharing and learning, and that’s the perspective I try to incorporate with all the conversations we have.”

– Sarah Lee, Co-Founder of Glow Recipe

When asked by our moderator Jenny Jin, “What is the one thing that you hope people will remember from this conversation?”, Deborah replied: 

“Own the power of your own story. Your real story, your true story, the unvarnished one, has power and frankly is worthy.”

– Deborah Yeh, Chief Marketing Officer at Sephora

Following the inspiring panel, our co-founders Sarah and Christine walked through the ins and outs of the K-Beauty routine in their Korean Beauty Masterclass. They spoke to the benefits of each step and shared tips and tricks (pro-tip: use your eye cream on your 11s between the brows and your smile lines!) They wrapped up their session by reminding viewers to listen to their skin each day to see what it needs. No day is the same, so your routine doesn’t have to be either! The K-Beauty routine is customizable to your skin’s needs.

“You want to use opthamologist-tested eye products before piling on other serums and moisturizers that could have levels of actives or formulation blends that are not right for the eye area.”

– Christine Chang, Co-Founder of Glow Recipe

Next up on stage were Akash and Nikita Mehta of Fable & Mane. The siblings talked through Indian Hair Secrets & Storytelling and how the inspiration behind the brand came from their childhood memories of their grandmother telling them fables about animals that could speak while she massaged oil through their hair. This haircare ritual has been Indian women’s secret for centuries for long, beautiful hair that we all celebrate. We’ll definitely be practicing those hair massaging techniques every day!

“I love that you take care of your roots by massaging oil and that’s a secret that Indian women have done for centuries to grow long, thick, beautiful hair that we all celebrate and envy. We wanted to take this Ayurvedic tradition but make it for all hair types and modernize it with Western science.”

-Nikita Mehta, Co-Founder of Fable and Mane

Following the masterclass, Chriselle Lim (digital influencer and entrepreneur), Nabela Noor (creator and entrepreneur), Daniel Martin (global director of Artistry & Education at Tatcha), Glow Recipe co-founder Christine Chang, and Kristin Rodulfo (beauty director at Women’s Health) took the stage.

They chatted about their experiences growing up, traditions passed down through generations, and what fueled their careers in beauty and fashion.

“I struggled a lot with my identity because I wasn’t American enough and I wasn’t Asian enough. I was always living in between, but I think that’s the Asian-American story for a lot of us.”

– Chriselle Lim, Digital Influencer & Founder of BUMO

When asked by our moderator Kristina, “How did you come into your own power and being able to speak up and be proud of your background and who you are?”, Nabela replied:

“I started making videos of myself doing makeup on my own skin and talking about body positivity and talking about loving your skin. And as I did it, I learned that there were so many girls like me, so many brown girls like me that had never seen themselves represented before. And I wasn’t alone and what made me different, I discovered through social media, is what makes me beautiful. When I learned that, I became unstoppable.”

– Nabela Noor, Creator and Entrepreneur

“My point of difference with what I do goes back to what I learned from my stepsisters or my stepmother — and that was the whole ritual of taking care of the skin before makeup. Understanding the skin flat-out determines how your makeup is going to look.”

– Daniel Martin, Global Director of Artistry & Education at Tatcha

“[Going to the bathhouse with aunts and grandmother] really became an inspiration because you could see the women in your life really enjoy that time. I saw them prioritizing self-care and skincare and I think that has always carried with me.”

– Christine Chang, Co-Founder of Glow Recipe

Last but not least, Maulik Pancholy, the actor, author, and co-founder of Act to Change, joined Sarah and Christine on stage to close out the day. 

“One of the reasons I’m so passionate about the work we do to end bullying and hate is because I know what it’s like to feel different, or to be made to feel different. Growing up South Asian American, as a gay man, I was often made to feel less than. And the images that defined beauty and fashion around me — the covers of magazines, billboards, the faces on TV shows — all reinforced this idea. But today was a day where we got to redefine that, to break the mold of what beauty is, what fashion is…not only on the outside, but most importantly how it makes you feel on the inside.”

– Maulik Pancholy

Thank you to our community for tuning in on such important, inspiring conversations!