SEATTLE – Throughout the month of May, Seattle is joining the celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage. In order to truly celebrate the AAPI community in Seattle, you have to get to know the people. Seattle’s AAPI community is made up of longtime Seattle natives, recent transplants to the Pacific Northwest, and brand-new immigrants to the United States. It is a community full of individuals with unique stories, histories, hopes and dreams. Their stories make up the fabric of their community – with family, hard work, creativity and passion at the center. Here are a few of those stories:
Suzanne Vetillart, CEO, Boma Jewelry
Suzanne Vetillart, the second-generation owner of sustainable jewelry brand, Boma, honors her cultural heritage through her work. In honor of Asian American Heritage Month, Boma is launching a new collection designed to celebrate and advocate for underrepresented voices in the AAPI community. The 10-piece Treasured Collection will debut on May 1, 2021 and 100% of the profits through the end of May will be donated to the AAPI Community Fund. As a self-identified “third culture kid” (Suzanne’s mother is Japanese, her father is Thai-Chinese, and she was raised in Seattle), Suzanne’s understanding of her rich cultural heritage shines through in her designs and her sustainable business model.
Chef Shota Nakajima, Taku Seattle
Born in Japan and raised in Seattle, three-time James Beard Award semi-finalist Chef Shota Nakajima has spent his life in the culinary world. His mother came from a professional baking background, and his father’s family owns Hyotei, a Michelin 3-star restaurant in Kyoto, Japan. After moving to Japan at eighteen to train in Japanese cuisine, Chef Shota returned to Seattle to work in the restaurant industry. After exploring various types of Japanese cuisine through his former restaurants Naka, Adana and Taku, Chef Shota is now about to reopen casual dining hotspot Taku with a simplified menu – twice-fried chicken and sides. Taku reopens May 5, and will be open Wed.-Sun. for to-go orders only. Chef Shota is also on the current season of Top Chef, based in Portland.
Kiko Eisner-Waters, CEO, The Cura Co.
After years in the fashion industry, Kiko Eisner-Waters became inspired to curate her own collection of ethically-sourced items that make a difference for good. The Cura Co. features an edited selection of globally-inspired pieces, under the aesthetic umbrella of what Kiko calls “Wabi-Sabi Glam.” All of the brands and artists featured in her shop are women-owned or actively support women through their work. While her products are sourced from all over the globe, Kiko’s focus is also local – Kiko opened her first brick and mortar store in Seattle’s Central District, where she also lives.
The rich cultural heritage of the AAPI community is on full display throughout the month of May with virtual and in-person events, business promotions and more. Check out the below list for additional ways to engage with the AAPI community in Seattle in May and beyond.
Seattle’s Chinatown-International District is one of Seattle’s most vibrant and diverse areas, featuring Asian-owned businesses, restaurants, museums and cultural institutions.
After being closed for a year due to the pandemic, Seattle Asian Art Museum will reopen to the public May 28. The Museum recently underwent a major renovation and redesign in 2019. Current exhibits include Boundless: Stories of Asian Art, and Be/longing: Contemporary Asian Art.
Seattle Center is kicking off AAPI Heritage Month with a virtual celebration on May 2 featuring performances from Filipino Youth Activities Drill Team, Huraiti Mana, International Lion Dance Team, and more, plus community conversations, a food demo and other engaging family-friendly activities! This event is presented by the Asian Pacific Directors Coalition in partnership with Seattle Center Festál and is free to join.
The below is a curated list of local Seattle businesses and restaurants, AAPI-owned and operated:
Want to learn more about the AAPI experience and history in Seattle? Check out the below resources for more information.
About Visit Seattle:
Visit Seattle has served as the official destination marketing organization (DMO) for Seattle and King County for more than 50 years. A 501(c)(6) organization, Visit Seattle enhances the economic prosperity of the region through global destination branding along with competitive programs and campaigns in leisure travel marketing, convention sales and overseas tourism development. Visit visitseattle.org.
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