Founder Spotlight: Alexandria Pak
Welcome to AAPI Heritage Month! All month long, we'll be featuring some of our favorite AAPI entrepreneurs. This week, it's all about Alexandria Pak, the creator behind sponge.nyc. Using a traditional Korean technique, she hand makes joyful, renewable sponges in Brooklyn. Below, she tells us what AAPI Heritage Month means to her and lets us in on some of her favorite AAPI businesses.
What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you?
A time to reflect on and appreciate my family’s immigration story, experiences, struggles, and celebrate who we are. (And eat a loooot of food.)
How do you bring your heritage into your business?
My sponges aren’t a new idea, they’ve been around for decades and are a staple of Korean households. I took what my grandmother taught me and continued tradition! These 수세미’s are typically crocheted by grandmas - gifted to their children, neighbors, and friends.
How has your approach to incorporating being AAPI into your life changed over time?
When I was younger I just wanted to fit in. I was embarrassed of the accent my parents had, though small. And I remember begging my mom to stop packing me my favorite Korean foods for lunch in fear of being teased again.
Since moving to New York at 18 I’ve grown to embrace my heritage and be proud of who I am and especially who my parents are! Now, I make kimchi for all my friends, love being able to eat really spicy food, and cherish the dialogue I have with friends with the same experiences.
Pass it on: what are some of your favorite AAPI-led small businesses?
Queens in San Francisco is the coolest Korean market/restaurant. Eddo and Clara were some of the first people to approach me about Sponge - I feel really lucky. They have Korean street toast on their *secret menu* that I’d eat everyday if I lived in the Bay Area.
Chen Chen and Kai Williams are incredible designers. Their creative range is incomparable and they make things that no one else could’ve thought up.
Chiaozza creates the most playful and whimsical artwork. Their sculptures are colorful, lively, and from a world that is only their own.
Mission Chinese is one of my favorite restaurants… I’m waiting for the day Danny brings back the garlic fried rice.
Little Beast makes the cutest dog clothes, I got a puppy a few months ago and am obsessed with all the little outfits.