Building off the success of my 2022 collaboration with Zen Lion Design, I’m so excited to unveil the updated 2023 Asian Heritage Month Collection!
With this clothing collection, and wearing these designs proudly, we are celebrating Asian culture, visibility and representation while tackling anti-Asian racism and supporting Asian mental health initiatives.
20% proceeds from sales of the 2023 Asian Heritage Month collection will be donated to Asian Gold Ribbon.
Asian Gold Ribbon is an Edmonton-founded organization that supports Asian mental health initiatives working to destigmatize Asian mental health and to advance integrated mental health programs and services for Asian youth, seniors, and community members while initiating wide-spread visibility against anti-Asian racism through representation, visibility, voice, and education.
There’s also a special #ProudlyAsian piece within this collection too, designed by Serena Tang in collaboration with Serena Mah.
(I call them the Serenas! lol). 20% of proceeds from that special piece will be donated to Indigenous-led Bear Clan, which supports the houseless in Edmonton and Winnipeg.
This year we are accepting pre-orders so you can receive and use the apparel during Asian Heritage Month! Pre-orders made between April 21, 2023 @ 7 p.m. – April 30, 2023 @ 7 p.m. will be fulfilled (ready for pick-up/delivery) the week of May 8-12, 2023. Orders placed after preorder period will have 3 week turn around time.
These are limited time items so if you think you want one, get one as they may not come back after May. Thank you for your support!!
About Asian Heritage Month
May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada and AAPI (Asian Pacific American / Pacific Islander) Month in the United States. Asian Heritage Month has been celebrated in Canada since the 1990s, as a specific time to reflect and recognize contributions of Asian Canadians and in recent years—with the significant rise in Anti-Asian hate crimes in North America since the pandemic began in 2020—and opportunity to be extra loud about anti-Asian racism.
About Zen Lion Design
Zen Lion Design is an Edmonton-based, Black, woman-owned business focused on “Clothes that create a Conversation” (or “comfy statement apparel”) that’s diverse and inclusive. Owner/designer Sherrell is incredible! And her designs are so good.
About the #ProudlyAsian Design by The Serenas
Serena Tang is an Edmonton-based illustrator / designer. Serena Mah is an Edmonton-based public relations consultant and former journalist. The two Serenas have been working together for some time and have shared experiences as first-generation Chinese Canadians. Their special piece within this collection is designed to lift and collaborate to raise awareness, create conversation and build allyship during Asian Heritage Month.
The 2023 Asian Heritage Month Collection features 11 statements/designs in total (10 from myself + Zen Lion Design plus the 1 #ProudlyAsian piece from The Serenas).
The majority of statements are meant to be worn by the Asian community, however we did intentionally include statements that anyone / anti-racist allies could wear as well, and we brought back some best-selling designs from 2022.
Sherrell did an amazing job bringing the statements to life with her designs and I’m also so thrilled she launched two new hot pink and yellow colours to go with this collection (readers will know—I’m a big fan of the bright and vibrant colours!)
I love that these clothing pieces can help start some important conversations—or be important reminders—for those who wear and see it.
NEW Designs for 2023:
Support your local Chinatown
Chinatowns across Canada are going through some growing pains. And unfortunately that adage if you don’t use it you’ll lose it really feels true in the case of our Chinatowns.
Chinatowns are vital to cities. In many cases, Chinatowns have existed as long as cities have been around—many Chinese immigrants playing a huge role in city development. From a historic perspective, Chinatowns represent the earliest contributions—and struggles—of Chinese Canadians. In more recent times, they represent a mosaic of cultures and communities, a welcoming district for immigrants, and oftentimes a tourist destination, home to countless shops and restaurants. Chinatowns are important. We can’t lose ours.
As a born and raised Edmontonian, much of my life was spent in Edmonton’s Chinatown. Eating. Shopping. Playing. Working. An active participant in a once-vibrant and bustling neighbourhood of the city. Edmonton’s Chinatown was the location of my part-time job, and what felt like my part-time home, for more than two decades. Even now in my early 30s, I head into Chinatown at least once a week. My parents’ home and Vietnamese restaurant King Noodle House Pho Hoang, which has been operating for nearly 30 years, is still located in Chinatown.
Many Chinatowns—including Edmonton’s—is going through revitalization, and we need support from the community to ensure these special pieces of our cities don’t get forgotten.
We don’t all look the same
This is one of my pet peeves and I think many Asian people can relate. The amount of times I’ve been mistaken for another Asian woman, I can’t count. Listen, we don’t all look the same. I mean, there’s definitely similarities (lol), but please learn how to distinguish us.
When I was growing up I rarely saw anyone who looked like me, or lived like me, in books, TV, movies, news, any mainstream media / pop culture, certain industries / careers.
Thankfully, today we are seeing SO much more representation and there are many more platforms (often digital) that help spotlight and grow that visibility.
That’s why Represent Asian Project was our 2022 Asian Heritage Month Collection donation recipient (we raised $1,595 for them thanks to your purchases!)
The more people see themselves in life the more likely they will go down that path, and believe that space—whatever it is—could be a welcoming one for them.
Representation matters. And that’s why it’s been absolutely beautiful to see more diversity in so many facets of life these days and I hope we continue to see that diversity celebrated and all sorts of different communities included in all spaces as it historically hasn’t been.
“It’s an honour just to be Asian” – Sandra Oh
I think this line by Canadian actress Sandra Oh, during her Golden Globe Awards speech back in 2019, “It’s an honour just to be Asian” is iconic—as she is. At the time, Sandra Oh was the first person of Asian descent to host a major awards ceremony and just the second Asian actress to win the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Drama Series. In 2019. That was history-making.
This year 2023 Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan were recognized at the Oscars as Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. This also made history as firsts—Michelle Yeoh as the first Asian Lead Actress winner and Ke Huy Quan as one of two actors of Asian descent to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (and first Vietnam-born actor to win!)
There’s a lot to be proud of as someone of Asian descent, and it’s nice when Sandra shares that sentiment so succinctly on a major stage. Although this is an older quote, it felt like a sentiment I wanted to bring back for Asian Heritage Month.
In the mood for noods
Actually some of the most popular designs from the 2022 Asian Heritage Month collection were related to Asian food—understandably, Asian food is awesome lol.
I am literally always eating it! And in particular, I am always in the mood for noods. Vietnamese noodle soup (pho), Japanese ramen, any number of Chinese noodle dishes (particularly a fan of the Crossing the Bridge noodle soup!)
Actually, see my blog post about Asian Soups in the City. As I wrote in that post, often soup is a go-to when I’m feeling down or sick. Or I literally cannot function without a splash of broth hitting my tongue. Sometimes the star of the soup is the broth. Sometimes it takes just one spice or ingredient to make the soup *the soup.* Sometimes it’s that a broth simmers for over 14 hours to get the flavour it’s supposed to be (like my parent’s soup!) Other times it’s the noodles. (For the purpose of this design and this post—oftentimes it’s the noodles! lol).
If you are always in the mood for noods too—this design is definitely for you!
This beautiful #ProudlyAsian design incorporates many national flowers from East Asian and South East Asian countries, all loosely connected by an abstract swirl reminiscent of waves.
(I like to think it’s a symbol of Asian communities making waves!! lol).
The #ProudlyAsian piece is designed by Serena Tang in collaboration with Serena Mah and is only printed in blue on white or black, with 100% proceeds for this particular piece going to Indigenous-led Bear Clan, which supports the houseless in Edmonton and Winnipeg.
It’s a lovely design and I was thrilled The Serenas could be involved in this collection!
Popular Designs in 2022 we’ve brought back for 2023:
Rice is Life
My mother told me from a young age (and still reminds me of it to this very day), that if you don’t have rice with your meal, you won’t be full. lol. This is engrained (lol grain) in me!!
This is also now an inside joke with friends and family who I’ve shared this too—if we’re eating something and it doesn’t include rice, someone inevitably says—well, I guess we’re not going to be full then. Ha ha!
Growing up, my parents would get home from work late and we would always gather for a really late dinner. Every dinner included rice (this is just a general Vietnamese family rule lol).
I have some pretty fond memories of these late night meals over rice with my family, so not only is the Rice is Life design a nod to my mother and her very true statement that you need rice to fill your tummy, but it also is an ode to all the Asian family dinners that would be incomplete without that bowl of rice.
Stop Asian Hate
This statement is really the thing that propelled me into taking more action against anti-Asian racism, specifically, but really the commitment to be vocal about and eliminate all race-based hate. After the horrific 2021 Atlanta spa shootings, where eight people including six Asian women were murdered, my friends and I felt compelled to *do something.*
At the time, it was a social media solidarity message among Asian Albertans in the food community—Stop Asian Hate. Stop All Race Based Hate.
Since that time, even more attacks on Asian people have occurred across North America. Hate crimes on Asians of all ages—young to old. This statement rings true even when there isn’t an attack that has made the news. It’s something that (apparently) needs to be reminded.
Bubble Tea is Life
Okay, it’s not *all* intense statements lol although there is nothing casual about my passion for bubble tea. Ha! I wanted to include a few statements in this collection that are truly universal and what’s closer to that than loving bubble tea? lol
If you are a bubble tea lover, this was made for you. I love the adorable little faces Sherrell added to her bubble tea cup designs!! * The 2023 edition of the bubble tea is slightly updated *
Always Craving Asian Food
This piece is another one intended to celebrate some of the best things about Asian culture and heritage—our food! I love these dishes Sherrell captured to illustrate that constant craving of Asian food, whether it’s any number of soups to of course bubble tea and drinks, sushi or dumplings—I’d be a happy camper eating this every day (I basically do already lol).
I think my love of Asian food especially stems from the fact that I grew up at my parents Vietnamese restaurant (King Noodle House Pho Hoang if you’d like to give our three-generations old soup recipe a try!) Show your love of Asian food with this design!
Stop Race Based Hate
Stop Race Based Hate is a free, online, anti-racist education tool I co-created and launched in Feb 2022 with my friends Jessie and Carmen, with the talented team at Edmonton digital marketing agency Kick Point. The idea behind the tool is that if we are able to give people the words and confidence to properly articulate why something is wrong / racist, they’d be more likely to call it out in their everyday life and within their networks, ultimately working to reduce and eliminate racism in our communities.
I’ve been using my platform increasingly to speak out on social issues and highlight racial injustices, and it really was feedback from others on how they appreciated when anti-racist education was articulated in simple ways, that drove the idea behind this tool.
This 2023 we’ve added a new message generator to help people articulate their anti-racism to others and watch for new statement + response responses coming soon!
While most of this collection is Asian-specific, ultimately, we should all want to Stop All Race Based Hatred. Click to can learn more about Stop Race Based Hate.
Personally, I’ve never experienced more overt racism than I have since I started using social media as a platform to call out racism and raise awareness about social issues. It’s been a truly disgusting experience, particularly over the last few years. My entire life I’ve dealt with subtle racism and harmful stereotypes, and for too long I’ve been quiet about it.
But ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away.
So I hope you’ll join me in being loud about anti-racism in all areas of your life—and to help celebrate Asian culture and representation—with a little extra help from this statement apparel!
Remember for 2023 we are accepting pre-orders so you can receive and use the apparel during Asian Heritage Month! Pre-orders made between April 21, 2023 @ 7 p.m. – April 30, 2023 @ 7 p.m. will be fulfilled (ready for pick-up/delivery) the week of May 8-12, 2023. Orders placed after preorder period will have 3 week turn around time.
These are limited time items so if you think you want one, get one as they may not come back after May.
Thanks again to Sherrell of Zen Lion Design for collaborating with me on this collection!
And shout out to The Serenas for including their special #ProudlyAsian piece in this collection.
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