A multiracial Asian woman in white smiles with a stack of presents in her arms and a Christmas tree in the background.

A Very Merry JoySauce Gift Guide

Ten items—from businesses owned by members of the Asian and Pacific Islander diaspora—that you can feel good about buying this holiday season

It's the season of gift giving.

Elizaveta Starkova

Words by Vandana Pawa

Shopping consciously becomes increasingly important every year, as issues of sustainability and ethical labor continue to be on the forefront of consumers’ thoughts. Also, we’re always thinking of ways to bring money back into our Asian and Pacific Islander diasporic communities and how to best support creatives in their work. With both community and our style in mind, we set out to curate a collection of brands and businesses that sit right at the intersection of what looks good and feels good.

As we enter the biggest gift-giving season of the year, we’ve put together a guide for shopping all things Asian and Pacific Islander diasporic owned and operated. Whether you’re buying for the at-home chef or the skincare lover in your life, JoySauce has you covered—keep scrolling to see what’s on our wishlist this year!

Aerangis Candles - New York

A white candle with a label reading No. 7 Seven Miles sits on a white table against a white wall.

Aerangis Candles' Seven Miles candle.

Courtesy of Aerangis Candles

Aerangis started with a scent memory: founder Alicia Tsai’s connection to a rare orchid flower, which her company is named after, and time spent in greenhouses with her grandfather. With moments and memories at the core of each of the scents she creates, Tsai works to unlock the power of fragrance through cruelty-free, plant-based, and eco-conscious candles. Scent No. 7 Seven Miles has notes of orange jasmine, white gardenia, and citrus blossoms. Described as “velvety and sensual,” the candle is meant to evoke memories of a humid evening in Taiwan. Other bestsellers include musky and woody No. 212 Concrete Jungle, and No. 1 The Beginning which has the fresh and flowery scent of the brand’s namesake.

Seree Jade Jewelry - New York

A closeup of the side of woman's face wearing green jade drop earrings.

Seree's jade drop earrings.

Courtesy of Seree

While jade has long been a coveted stone for jewelry making throughout the Asian continent, it hasn’t quite managed to become a staple on the vanity tables of the West. Co-founders of Seree, Chloe Zhao and Eva Zhang, were lovers of jade since their early childhoods, with mothers and grandmothers passing down their pieces through family lines. With their belief that jade jewelry is timeless, Seree was created around the mission of showcasing the versatility and adaptability of the stone alongside gold and silver. From classic jade bangles to jade drop earrings accented with gold, each piece is ethically sourced and made in the jade capital of Asia, Zhenping, Henan in China.

Kasama Rum - Philippines 

A bottle of Kasama small batch rum against a green leaf with an orange flower in the foreground.

Kasama's small batch rum.

Courtesy of Kasama

While the Philippines may not be the first country that comes to mind when one thinks of liquor, the tropical spirit of rum runs deep in the Southeast Asian island country. With sugarcane being native to the region, and the nation’s history of Spanish colonization, the Philippines is actually the largest producer of rum worldwide. Alexandra Dorda, the Polish Filipina founder of Kasama (which translates to “together”), wanted to put Filipino craft on the map in a way that honors the history of the islands. Made in small batches and aged for seven years, Kasama rum bottles up the Southeast Asian tropics through flavors of sweet pineapple, vanilla, and sea salt.

Three Gems Tea - Los Angeles

Six yellow tea tins by Three Gems Tea with colorful labels sit on a peach hexagonal tray.

Three Gems Tea's set of six Oolong tea mini tins.

Courtesy of Three Gems Tea

Founders of Three Gems Tea, Ayumi Takahashi and Diana Zheng, both come to the United States by way of China, and believe in the “unfussy” way that their families consume tea back home. Three Gems Tea is rooted in the idea that brewing and drinking tea should not be complicated, or all that serious, and that the ability for tea to brighten one’s day comes from bold, vibrant colors and flavors. The brand’s set of Oolong tea mini tins comes with six variations of Oolong tea with different tasting notes, aromas, roasts, and origins, allowing for the drinker to discover their favorite. The bright yellow tins and graphic label design are the perfect pair for the brand’s fun and colorful teaware.

Ghlee Lipcare - Toronto

Five Ghlee lip balms stand in a row in white tubes with a large G on the front of each tube.

Ghlee's five-pack of lip balms.

Courtesy of Ghlee

Ayurvedic remedies have long been a staple in South Asian homes, and companies like Ghlee are bringing these practices to skincare lovers everywhere. For Ghlee, it started with the combination of harsh North American winters and a South Asian mother who believes in the power of ghee—a product that is created by clarifying butter, and cooking it until there is a separation between liquid fats and milk solids. Founded by sibling pair Varun and Arati Sharma, Ghlee uses tradition to create effective skincare solutions. The brand offers the perfect bundle of lip balms in multiple scents, all packed with the nourishing effects of ghee, mango seed butter, and vitamin E. Lip scrubs and masks are among the other offerings from the company.

Illustrations by Felicia Chao - San Francisco

An illustrated man stands in a window holding a black animal and mug, surrounded by flowers.

Flower Garden print by Felicia Chao.

Courtesy of Society6

Self-described former industrial designer and full-time illustrator Felicia Chao is a Taiwanese American artist with a uniquely relatable, yet surrealist style. From illustrations surrounding food product design, to an original character who appears often in her work, Chao’s artwork usually features a warm color palette, and sketches that attempt to slightly distort reality while still being grounded in everyday life. Prints of her original work are available for purchase, with the works “Blue Fish” and “Flower Garden” as favorites.

Lanshin Wellness Tools - Brooklyn, New York

A jade gua sha tool sits on a jade green rock.

Lanshin's jade intro gua sha tool.

Courtesy of Lanshin

Wellness practices of the Eastern world have recently become especially trendy on social media, with gua-sha and jade rolling practices taking over TikTok feeds. Founder of Lanshin, Sandra Lanshin Chiu, has pioneered the field of Traditional Chinese Medicine Dermatology for decades now, with the name of her company serving as a reclamation of her family name, as well as a celebration of the Chinese roots of the wellness practices she promotes with her brand. With beginner-friendly tools like the Jade Intro Gua Sha Tool, Chiu shares the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine with YouTube tutorials that pair with each product. Also of note is the Lanshin Massager, which functions as a personal hot stone massager for the body and scalp.

Gucha Gucha Homewares - Chicago

A set of four wooden coasters printed with colorful geometric shapes with an empty glass on one, against an orange background.

Gucha Gucha's DACHA coaster set.

Courtesy of Gucha Gucha

Gucha Gucha creative studio was founded by a duo of artists crafting original screen printed art that connects them to their cultures. The shop’s name, Gucha Gucha, comes from a Japanese onomatopoeia meaning “messy,” which lends to the brand’s desire to reclaim the messiness of immigrant diasporas. Eccentric, bold, and colorful pieces are found throughout the store, like geometric screen-printed coasters, and a series of tote bags printed with designs inspired by vintage candy packaging.

From, Mila Block Printed Textiles - Laguna Hills, California

A woman in a white sweater and blue jeans holds up a scarf featuring a red and black block-printed pattern.

The Alia Georgette scarf by From, Mila.

Courtesy of From, Mila

India has a history of many heritage textiles crafts, with block printing being at the center of From, Mila, a California-based mother-daughter brand. Designed, printed, and hand-sewn in collaboration with artisans in India, From, Mila utilizes the ancient and traditional printing process to create one-of-a-kind pieces that can be worn, displayed, or used in one’s home. Scarves with intricate prints and velvet blankets with reversible designs are especially warm and vibrant this season.

Earlywood Wok Spatula - Red Lodge, Montana

A hand stirs a wok full of vegetables and meat with a wooden wok spatula by Earlywood.

The wok spatula designed by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.

Courtesy of Earlywood

In partnership with Earlywood woodworks, acclaimed food writer and YouTube star J. Kenji Lopez-Alt designed a tool specifically for wok cooking. After five months of designing and refining, the light and agile Wood Wok Spatula came to life, made with hard maple and created to allow the user to easily maneuver large amounts of food with little effort. The pair truly thought of everything, with a left-handed variation of the tool available as well. And, for fans of wok cooking, Earlywood will also throw in a signed copy of Lopez-Alt’s latest book, The Wok.

Published on November 28, 2023

Words by Vandana Pawa

Vandana Pawa is a Bangkok-born, Brooklyn-based culture and fashion writer. You can find her on Twitter or Instagram @vandanaiscool.