People • Community
6 AAPI Self-Care Businesses Worth Celebrating in May and Beyond
May.02,2023By Boulevard Staff
These AAPI-owned salons offer a variety of elevated self-care services
Another May is upon us, which means summer is almost here. But this month isn’t just about finding a flattering swimsuit or getting the perfect poolside pedicure; it’s also Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, also called Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. That means it’s a time to celebrate AAPI culture and pay tribute to the generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history.
For Boulevard, that means highlighting some of our AAPI customers, all of whom are making an impact on the self-care industry. From luxe brow treatments to natural nail health to men’s grooming and beyond, these businesses are worth your attention all year long.
Alchemy Beauty Lab: The artistry of beauty
Los Angeles native Linda Cho grew up in her mother’s beauty salon and carried that experience with her when she founded Alchemy Beauty Lab in Santa Monica. Built on the principles of balance, beauty, love, and creativity, Cho and the rest of the Alchemy team “take pride in designing styles that are specifically customized to match your individual needs and preferences.” Alchemy’s menu of services includes haircuts, coloring, extensions, and makeup applications.
Cho designed the salon to be a warm, welcoming place that allows Angelenos to step out of their busy city life and literally let their hair down. All of the stylists at Alchemy Beauty Lab take an artistic approach to self-care, deriving inspiration from nature and Southern California.
Greenhouse Nail Spa: Balancing wellness and beauty
The Seattle, WA-based Greenhouse Nail Spa is all about providing luxurious, environmentally friendly services that don’t compromise wellness for beauty (or vice versa). Greenhouse has a thoughtfully selected menu of services for hands and feet — there’s the minimalist approach, which involves a nail trim, cuticle care, and moisturizer, and the Gardener option “for hard-working hands,” which incorporates hand or foot massage into the service.
Owner Kelly Huynh and her team are “firm believers in the healing power of nature,” and source many of their natural ingredients — like essential oils, salts, herbs, and flowers — from local cruelty-free brands. In fact, some even come from Huynh’s own garden in Mount Vernon, WA.
Sit Still: The modern kids’ salon
Any parent will tell you that getting their kids through a haircut can be a challenge. Sit Still aims to make the experience more fun for children, and therefore more relaxing for parents. Offering age-appropriate services in a friendly environment, Sit Still’s stylists are kid-friendly, experienced, and patient, allowing them to get to know each little client and craft a look that suits their personality.
Owner Nhu Vo opened the first Sit Still salon in 2007 to fill a gap in the marketplace and has since franchised the brand so that other salon owners can serve their own communities. Its dozen-and-counting locations across the United States stand out “as a modern, curated, and colorful lighthouse against a sea of dated kids’ salons.”
Refine: Elevating the art of men’s grooming
While the use of self-care services is growing among young men, many salons still primarily serve feminine-presenting clients. Refine, a men’s salon with individually owned locations throughout California and Arizona, was created “for gentlemen of refined taste” who also want to feel rejuvenated, refreshed, and recharged. The brand was originally founded by Jeremy Shieh, who was inspired to create Refine after years in the tech industry. He realized that most barbershops were “stuck in some type of status quo,” running “the same way our parents and grandparents” did — in other words, everything on paper. Shieh also didn’t feel comfortable in either the “boys’ club” atmosphere that permeated these spaces or traditional female-centric salons, so he decided to create a new kind of men’s grooming experience.
According to Shieh, each location serves 500 to 2,000 clients a month, of which the overwhelming majority are men. Refine aims to “revolutionize the way that men in the modern age get haircuts,” and also offers services like coloring, shaves, facials, waxes, and more.
Etude W Salon: Luxury in the Heart of K-Town
Luxury self-care business Etude W Salon “is designed to offer the best hospitality imaginable.” The interior of the salon is carefully designed to feel inviting and lavish, with services ranging from a multitude of color options, scalp treatments and perms to stylish cuts and bang trims. Etude’s bold color transformations and of the moment styles are on full display on their Instagram. They also have a permanent makeup artist on staff, who creates masterful brows and addresses issues like hairline loss.
Located in the heart of Los Angeles’ Koreatown, Etude’s co-directors Jay and Olivia have deep ties to the K-Town community. And while their Asian American stylists specialize in Asian hair, they attract clients from throughout K-Town, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in L.A.
Lunula: A no-fuss natural nail experience
Husband-and-wife team Justin and Tina Wang founded Lunula Salon in Brooklyn on the belief that manicures shouldn’t just look good — they should also feel good and be good for you. Lunula’s approach to healthy nails starts with organic skin care and ends with non-toxic polish, with a limited menu of services that promote nail strength and stress relief.
As a result, Lunula is often listed among the best nail salons in the area. Meanwhile, co-owner Tina Wang has developed a reputation as an expert in the nail care industry, often providing advice to outlets like Byrdie and Makeup.com. With each service tailored to the client’s specific needs and preferences, it’s no surprise that reviewers have described Lunula as “a perfect little oasis in the city” that’s “super clean, friendly, and attentive.”