Asian Pacific American Heritage Month recognizes and celebrates the contributions of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans to the United States’ history, culture, and achievements.
Rubicon is proud to support our Asian and Pacific American Islander colleagues, partners, and customers. Join us as we celebrate notable and up-and-coming Asian American business owners and entrepreneurs who have reshaped the culture of America, and the world at large.
Sarah Lee and Christine Chang
Korea has become a leader in exporting culture worldwide, especially in America. K-Pop, Korean films and television, Korean food, and online personalities from Korea are now mainstays in American pop culture. With these sensations flooding the United States, it was only a matter of time before Korean beauty trends made their way here.
Korean American beauty experts Sarah Lee and Christine Chang both started in the beauty industry at L’Oréal. With backgrounds in skincare and marketing, Lee and Chang quickly rose through the L’Oréal ranks until they were in positions that had them regularly traveling to Korea for business.
Enamored with South Korean beauty trends, Lee and Chang co-founded Glow Recipe, a skincare company that curates a vast collection of Korean beauty products for sale in America. They brought Glow Recipe to Shark Tank and were offered a deal of $425,000 for 25 percent of their business. While the deal never officially closed, through this television appearance Glow Recipe had found an audience.
Sephora, a popular chain of beauty stores, currently features Glow Recipe products in their 2,700 storefronts. In 2021, Glow Recipe reported $100 million in sales for the year.
Known today as one of the most prominent wedding dress designers in the world, Vera Wang almost embarked on a very different career path in an equally glamorous industry: figure skating. Wang began skating when she was 8 and was even featured in a January 1968 edition of Sports Illustrated, however, her skating ambitions glided by when she failed to make the U.S. Olympic team.
Vera Wang graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1971 and immediately joined Vogue magazine. After just one year with Vogue at the age of 23, Wang was promoted to Senior Fashion Editor, a title she would hold for the next 15 years. She left Vogue in 1987 to join Ralph Lauren, where she worked for two years.
As she planned her wedding to longtime boyfriend Arthur Becker in 1989, Wang was frustrated by the lack of available exciting bridal wear, so she designed and commissioned the construction of her own dress. A year later, Vera Wang opened her first bridal boutique in New York City, and the rest is history.
Wang has designed bridal wear for many celebrities, including Ariana Grande, Mariah Carey, and Victoria Beckham. Although she didn’t pursue figure skating, Wang never forgot her love of the sport—Nancy Kerrigan, Michelle Kwan, Evan Lysacek, and Nathan Chen have all worn Vera Wang costumes during the Winter Olympics, earning Wang a spot in the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame for her contributions.
James Park is a Korean American entrepreneur whose parents moved to America in the early 1970s. James was accepted into Harvard to study computer science but, like a number of well-known entrepreneurs, he dropped out during his junior year to pursue his own business interests.
James had some wins during the early eCommerce years with two different startups, but his true success came shortly after purchasing the new Nintendo Wii video game console in 2006. The Wii introduced an innovative control system that used motion sensors and accelerometers inside the controller to precisely control what was happening in the game. Park was immediately infatuated with the controls but wanted a way to bring the exciting technology outside the living room.
With his business partner Eric Friedman, Park invented a wearable device that would revolutionize the fitness industry: Fitbit. First unveiled at the TechCrunch50 conference in 2008, Fitbit introduced a new stylish way to track your fitness progression through a wearable device on your wrist. Park had hoped for a couple dozen pre-orders after their presentation—he received over 2,000 by the end of the day and over 25,000 by the time Fitbit was officially released to the public.
Wearable fitness trackers are now must-have accessories in the exercise community, but James Park was the first person to recognize how beneficial these devices could be. After many years at the helm of Fitbit, James Park sold the company to Google in 2019 for $2.1 billion.
Jensen Huang was born in Taiwan in 1963 and came to America with his parents when he was nine years old. He earned his electrical engineering degree from Oregon State University in 1998 and his master’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1992.
On his thirtieth birthday in 1993, Jensen Huang co-founded Nvidia, a technology company that produces software and graphics processing units (GPUs) for high-performance computing. With only $40,000 in the bank at its inception, Nvidia’s GPUs helped video games become the largest entertainment industry in the world.
Already at the forefront of one era of computing, Huang has his eyes on creating the next new era: modern artificial intelligence. Thanks to Huang’s GPUs, it’s possible to build more extensive neural networks that enhance the knowledge of AIs. In 2016, Nvidia GPUs helped cut Apple’s Siri AI error rate by half.
Some of Jensen Huang’s many honors and awards for computing include:
- The Robert N. Noyce Award (Semiconductor Industry Association’s highest honor)
- Dr. Morris Chang Exemplary Leadership Award
- One of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2021
- Ranked #1 on Harvard Business Review’s 100 Best-Performing CEOs
When Ann McFerran moved from Thailand to America at seven years of age, she had no idea that she would soon be running a beauty empire. The first person in her family to attend college, McFerran earned her psychobiology degree from UCLA, where she also dabbled in art. After following her artistic dreams for a few years, she decided to test her entrepreneurial skills.
McFerran was teased as a child in Thailand for her looks, and turned toward makeup as a creative outlet that made her feel more confident. One of her biggest frustrations with the beauty industry was how difficult fake eyelashes with glue are to put on and maintain throughout the day. Magnetic lashes had existed for some time, but they, too, were difficult to use. Ann saw an opportunity to create a new magnetic eyelash that actually worked, one that would simplify beauty routines and be accessible to all. Thus, Glamnetic was born.
Since its humble beginnings, Glamnetic has taken the beauty world by storm. In its first year of existence, Glamnetic was approached by ULTA Beauty for a partnership that would put Glamnetic eyelashes in countless stores across the country. In 2020, Glamnetic brought in more than $50 million in sales.
Ann McFerran continues to run Glamnetic, which now focuses on creating sustainable products for a truly DIY beauty routine that anyone can use at home.
Editor’s Note: References made to businesses/companies in this post are not meant to convey affiliation with or endorsement of Rubicon by those companies in any way.
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