Our favourite Asian-owned businesses in Toronto

Our favourite Asian-owned businesses in Toronto

May is Asian Heritage Month, a time to recognize and celebrate all the contributions made by Canadians of Asian descent. And what better way to do that than by sending a shout-out to a few amazing local Asian-owned businesses? From Japanese stationery to Korean skincare products, locally made furniture to bubble tea t-shirts, these entrepreneurs have unique products you’ll love. We asked our agents and employees for some of their favourites, and here’s what they shared:

Photo credit: instagram.com/__ai.co

ai

Online

Love a great bag but aren’t into leather? Check out ai. Pronounced ah-ee, it means “child” in Korean, and it’s a female-founded, female-led fashion brand run by a mom and her three daughters. They sell beautiful vegan leather bags and accessories produced by artisans in Seoul, South Korea.

Boba Love

Online

Veronica Wong, founder of Boba Love, is obsessed with the popular Taiwanese bubble tea. She started her business to help other fans celebrate their own love for the drink. Her online shop sells clothing and accessories, with everything from cute t-shirts to stickers, dad hats to totes, all declaring the boba love. Her goal for the shop is to create a culture around boba (like coffee culture, but with more tapioca) – and you can head to her site to source the best boba in the city

Buk Chang Dong Tofu

691 Bloor St. W. and other locations 

This unassuming Koreatown spot is always busy – and always finding itself on best-of lists. And there’s a reason for that: everything they serve is invariably delicious. Our go-to is their bibimbap, a rice, beef and veggie dish served in a hot stone bowl, but you can’t go wrong with whatever you order.

Cadette Jewelry

Online 

Founder Allison Asis loves modern art and design – and designs and creates each piece of her exquisite, nature-inspired jewellery in her Toronto studio. You’ll find a variety of lovely gold and sterling silver pieces inspired by nature – we love the butterfly necklace, which she created as an ode to every wearer’s personal evolution and transformation.

Design Republic 

190 Norseman Street, Unit 400

This South Etobicoke store has an amazing collection of quality mid-century modern and contemporary furniture, much of which is designed and manufactured locally. From beautiful wood tables and desks to cozy, customized couches, this shop is Toronto’s go-to for great-looking home design.

Do Day

461 Adelaide St W

Hey design fans, you’ll love the colourful, minimalist home accessories this shop sells. From super-cute stackable storage boxes to the prettiest clothes hangers you’ve ever seen, this curated line of stylish stuff is the work of two creative types who came to Canada as international students and started their business together in Toronto. They operate sustainably, avoiding leather and donating a percentage of sales to the Jarí Para Forest Conservation Project in the Amazon Rainforest.

I Miss You Vintage

63 Ossington Ave

This luxury consignment shop owned by Julie Yoo is a fixture on the Ossington strip – and the best place to pick up pre-loved items by your favourite designers. Who knows, you might even run into a celeb while you’re there: Lady Gaga and Alexander Wang are fans of the designer resale and vintage couture items. And if you’re looking for men’s clothes, I Miss You MAN is located right next door.

Little Coco Studio 

Online

This small shop is all about handmade goodness – soy candles in hand-painted containers, macrame items, beautiful wall art and other unique home decor. The name is inspired by the owner’s rescue dog, Coconut – and $1 from every purchase is donated to Save our Scruffs, an organization that saves and rehomes dogs.

Little Kozzi

Online 

Founded by two Canadian moms living in Toronto and Vancouver, Little Kozzi is a Chinese bookshop for multilingual families, with children’s books featuring Asian authors, characters, culture and content. They started off helping other moms buy books from overseas, and quickly turned that popular service into a thriving online business.

Paper Plus Cloth

1340 Queen St. West and online 

This cozy Japanese stationery store sells unique paper goods and art supplies from around the world, and offers a community space with workshops and meetups to inspire your creativity (think calligraphy, journaling, watercolour painting). If you’re into stickers and washi tape, this is a great source for beautiful items.

Rol San Restaurant 

323 Spadina Ave. 

This all-day dim sum spotis a local favourite. Property.ca agent Daaron Johnston’s sister is from China, and the whole family loves visiting the restaurant as a way to incorporate her heritage into their lives.

SANKO Trading Co.

730 Queen St. W. 

If you’re looking for Japanese groceries, snacks, kitchenware and gifts, this Queen Street stalwart has been around since 1968. It’s got everything you need to create a Japanese meal – the friendly staff are always on hand to help you pick out the right ingredients. And if you’re walking along Queen and feeling peckish, we love the homemade onigiri – little triangles of rice and sushi–type filling wrapped in seaweed. Very yummy!

Photo credit: instagram.com/skin.to

SKIN.TO

Online 

SKIN.TO owner Grace started her company as a side hustle – she loved Japanese and Korean beauty products, but found they took too long to arrive, were marked up too much, or had questionable authenticity. So she launched her business on Instagram, selling quality products from reputable suppliers, and giving skin care lovers better access to the products she loves.

Wonderpens

52 Clinton St. 

Love pens and stationery? This is the place for you.Jon and Liz Chan opened their family-fun Little Italy pen shop in 2013, and have built a cult following of stationery geeks from Toronto and Canada-wide, which stocks the best (and hardest to find) products from Japan and around the world. They have an awesome blog featuring products, their kids – and the adventures of their two cats, Chicken and Tuna.

Happy Asian Heritage Month to all our Asian clients and agents – we’re celebrating your heritage and your success!

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