From Collaboration to Celebration: AAPI Heritage Month
- June 07, 2023
Last month, we honored and celebrated the vibrant tapestry of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) cultures during AAPI Heritage Month. Beyond being a month of colorful festivities and tasty cuisine, it is a valuable opportunity for brands to authentically participate in the celebration.
Bringing together two significant pieces of my identity – my role as VP of Strategic Partnerships and my background as an Asian American – I was particularly proud of a collaboration I spearheaded between two of my favorite brands: Panda Express and Family Style Fest.
Let’s begin with a bit of history. Panda Express is a family-owned business to this day. It started in 1983 in a California mall by Asian immigrants, and has now grown to over 2,500 stores around the world. Being the largest Asian dining concept in the US, Panda Express has become an ambassador for Chinese food in American culture.
With Family Style Fest, they started as a true streetwear food festival, the first of its kind. The AAPI founders are known for pairing world-class chefs with some of the most iconic streetwear brands to create one-of-a-kind collaborations that include inventive menu items and merchandise.
Identifying the opportunity for synergy between these two entities, and developing a meaningful relationship between the two brands and their audience, was a keystone in this (and in all) strategic partnerships.
I was honored to bring these revolutionary brands together at Family Style Fest’s inaugural AAPI celebration, “As I Am,” celebrating the ever-growing definition of what it is to be Asian American – refuting any one standard and recognizing the infinite nuances.
We wanted attendees to walk away with a unique reminder of the experience, so to commemorate this moment, über exclusive Panda Express x FSF co-branded merch was distributed strictly to event guests. Beyond the merch, guests enjoyed a panel about the AAPI experience, hosted by Family Style Fest’s co-founder, Bobby Hundreds, and featuring Greta Lee (Past Lives), Brandun Lee (professional boxer), and Joseph Lee (Beef).
Between the ethos of “As I Am,” the heart-felt panel, and the Panda Express memento hanging in my closet to remind me of all the above – it serves as a simple, but effective reminder that brands truly can come together to embrace, showcase, and champion the diversity and richness of the AAPI community in an authentic and meaningful way.