Summer is time to live in shorts and a t-shirt, and I’ve been meaning to share some wonderful small businesses that make it easy to wear your heart on your sleeve. Read on to learn more about four companies that are creating Hapa t-shirts and other items to celebrate the Asian mixed-race experience.
6 Degrees of Hapa
I had the pleasure of meeting Naomi, a young filmmaker and artist who created the line 6 Degrees of Hapa and gave us the shirts my boys are wearing above. She silkscreens her t-shirts, which include familiar imagery such as this shave ice logo, SPAM musubi, and her cute Hapa girl design. Naomi also hand makes tote bags and jewelry. On her website, Naomi why she’s focusing her designs on the Hapa identity:
…like many words, it has evolved. And it will continue to evolve. And as long as I don’t forget the history of the word Hapa and I make an effort to explain it to people who aren’t familiar with it, then I’m doing the best that I can.
Create in Me
Another family-owned business, Create in Me was started by Julie Fujii in 1986. Along with her Hapa tees and onesies, there are also Little Sister, Big Sister, Little Brother and Big Brother graphics featuring multicultural kids. Create in Me also offers other decor and gift items, such as notecards, banners, and jewelry. Julie’s son Daniel says,
‘Hapa’, is one specific group that is definitely something that we have found that is growing in popularity! We have a ‘Hapa Best of Both Worlds’ t-shirt that sells quite well. In fact, we even had someone from New Zealand who wanted a Hapa t-shirt!
I first saw Blacklava’s shirts for sale in the Japanese American National Museum gift shop. Blacklava has several Hapa shirts for men, women and children, including one for Hapa Papas. There are also Mixedwell logos, as well as graphics reflecting Filipino, Laotian, and other Asian American themes.
We put Blacklava and ourselves out in the open in order to improve, learn, teach, challenge, and to be challenged. A lot of people feel that unity is achieved by ignoring the problems. Well, ignorance is not bliss. It’s laziness. Unity is a learning process. It’s a struggle.
Mixed Up Clothing
Sonia Kang is the mother of multiracial (Mexican, Black and Korean) kids who created Mixed Up Clothing, a line of kids’ shirts, dresses, and rompers made of fabrics inspired by different cultures, including Asian and Latin American. On her blog, Sonia explains why talking about race and cultural diversity is important:
Growing up mixed Latina and Black, the first thing folks ask me is ‘what are you?’ It used to bother me but it doesn’t anymore. I take it as a challenge to teach another person. I’m like the ambassador, if you will, of mixdom. I mean, it’s like when you walk into a business and the person sitting at the front desk is the first person you meet and they will either reflect the business in a positive or negative light. If I am the first mixed person you meet, I want it to be a positive one.
What do you think of these designs? Would you wear a shirt proclaiming your heritage or would that feel uncomfortable? Which ones do you like best?