9 AAPI-Owned Pet Brands to Shop This Month · The Wildest

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9 Asian American and Pacific Islander-Owned Pet Brands to Shop This AAPI Heritage Month

Support AAPI innovators and spoil your pet at the same time—it’s a win-win.

by Sio Hornbuckle
May 16, 2024
Woman kisses her pitbull dog outside.
Courtesy of @thevelvethippo

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the lives, histories, and contributions of the AAPI community — and you might not know that some of your favorite pet care brands are helmed by AAPI creators and entrepreneurs. Any time’s a great time to spoil your pet, and this month, it’s especially worth clicking “add to cart” from an AAPI-led company to support the AAPI innovators who are improving our animals’ lives.

From eco-friendly plush toys to protective puppy sneakers to sleek leather leashes, these stores have something for every pet. Below are some of the brands we’re supporting this AAPI Heritage Month (and every month).

jax & bones top tugger

Jax & Bones founder Tinya Nyugen reimagines soda bottles and fabric scraps into plush dog beds, durable toys, and other accessories — all produced locally in Los Angeles. “Our dogs are really like our children, so every type of fabric, every dye, every raw material we give to them needs to be really closely inspected,”  she told us. “When I’m trying out a new material, I actually scratch it — kind of like a dog! — and smell everything. I’m a little bit obsessive — but I think we’re all obsessed with our animals.” And for each sale, Jax & Bones donates 10 percent of the proceeds to rescue and animal welfare groups.

The B-Corp certified San Francisco-based P.L.A.Y. makes some of the most adorable and fun pet toys out there — and the brand is also deeply committed to environmental ethics. The P.L.A.Y. headquarters run entirely on renewable energy, and their products are stuffed with an eco-friendly filler called PlanetFill, which is made from recycled plastic bottles.

“Now that I am a father of two, I am even more cognizant of the importance of leaving a better world behind for our future generation,” founder Will Chen told us. “That’s a strong enough motivation for me to look at business decisions, not just from a profit standpoint but from an environmental and social responsibility perspective.”

Little Beast strawberry sweater

A first purchase from Little Beast is pretty much a rite of passage for stylish pet parents. The Gen-Z/millennial favorite brand makes adorable sweaters, fleeces, onesies, and parkas for trendsetting dogs and cats. And they don’t sacrifice ethics in the name of fashion, either. “I’m super conscious of where the products I purchase are coming from,” founder Jisu Kim told us. “I try to only buy from small and local businesses since I know there is more care, and that personal touch goes into each product they make.”

furryfolks egg toy

Toys by the furryfolks are some of the most cleverly designed on the market. Not only are they fun to look at, but they’re also mentally stimulating for your pup and expertly designed to be enriching and interactive.

“We aim to make toys that encourage interactive play between dogs and their owners, strengthening their bond and creating happy memories,” co-founder Hye Min told us. “We add practical features, like treat pockets and squeakers, to make playtime more fun and beneficial for the dogs, ensuring that both pets and their owners have a fulfilling experience.”

rifruf caesar 1

When founder Peter Liu was walking his pup, Caesar, in their New York City neighborhood, Caesar stepped on broken glass and injured his paw. Liu decided Caesar needed a good pair of shoes — but he couldn’t find any options that were both cute and functional.

So, RIFRUF, the coolest pet-wear brand on the block, was born. Made with breathable mesh, a protective rubber insole, and an adjustable strap, the shoes look and feel a lot like your favorite human pair. RIFRUF regularly partners with organizations promoting important social causes including The Trevor Project, Stop AAPI Hate, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Act to Change.

Velvet Hippo pet bed

Shalina Chen co-founded Velvet Hippo alongside her partner Jason Horvath. When they grew frustrated trying to find a cozy bed for their rescue Pitties that wouldn’t sacrifice their interior design, they decided to create their own brand. Velvet Hippo makes stylish canvas dog beds filled with recycled poly-fil. The beds are chic, eco-friendly, durable, and super comfortable for dogs of all sizes.

“We wanted it to be minimal but also functional. Like, it’s important that it fits in our home, but it also needs to work for the dog,” Chen told us. “That’s why washability was a big aspect that we were designing into. We wanted it to be reusable and not something you’d have to rebuy every six months.” 

Sio Hornbuckle

Sio Hornbuckle is a writer living in New York City with their cat, Toni Collette.

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