- In the early 2010s, Marvel’s comics business focused on a diverse slate of new characters, but by 2017 comic sales had fallen, which resulted in the exit of editor-in-chief Axel Alonso.
- Three former Marvel editors and one current editor told Business Insider that in the years since, Marvel has recommitted to nostalgia and classic, mostly white characters, often at the expense of some of those diverse characters like Miles Morales, a biracial teenage Spider-Man.
- That shift was guided by an editorial department that lacked diversity, particularly in leadership roles. Today, there are no Black staffers on Marvel’s editorial team of about 18 people, and only two people of color, Marvel confirmed.
- “My voice and what I brought to the table wasn’t valued equally,” said Charles Beacham, one of two Black editorial staffers to work at Marvel in the past five years.
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Miles Morales was the character who pulled Charles Beacham into the world of comics.
Beacham was studying journalism at Brigham Young University, in Utah, when he walked into a comics shop in 2011 and picked up a copy of Morales’ first appearance. Beacham, who is Black, said he was amazed to see Morales — a teenage Spider-Man who has a Black father and Puerto Rican mother — in its pages.
“When I was growing up, I always wanted to be the red Power Ranger, and the other kids would say I had to be the black Ranger,” Beacham said. “The same thing happened with Spider-Man. They’d say, ‘You can’t be Spider-Man because Peter Parker’s not a Black dude.’ Seeing Miles Morales made me wish I had that as a kid.”
Morales propelled Beacham into comics and into Marvel itself, where he worked as an assistant editor.
“I didn’t have job prospects when I moved to New York in 2013, but the goal was to work for Marvel because of Miles Morales,” Beacham said. When he landed a job at the company the next year, he loved it.
But Beacham, now 31, was living in New York City with a child on a $38,000 salary. He said that after three years as an assistant editor, from 2014 to 2017, without a promotion, he was ready to leave. It wasn’t about the money as much as the lack of a path forward.
“I thought I’d be at Marvel forever,” he said. “If they had promoted me I’d probably still be there and surviving on ramen.”
Beacham is one of two Black editorial staffers to have worked at Marvel in the past five years, the company confirmed. The second Black staffer, also an assistant editor, left this year after five years without a promotion or raise, a person familiar with the matter said. The editorial team of about 18 people now has two people of color.
“I want to be back there all the time,” Beacham said. “But when it comes down to it, my voice and what I brought to the table wasn’t valued equally.”
Disney-owned Marvel has grown into a cultural force that extends beyond its comic books and into movies, video games, and other media. The comics are the foundation for it all, including the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has become the highest-grossing movie franchise of all time.
The stories that Marvel’s small editorial team helps shape are central to popular culture in the US and around the world.
“Who works on these stories can help broaden them,” said Regine Sawyer, the founder of Women in Comics Collective International, which helps to spotlight the comics work of marginalized people.
That was clear from 2011 to 2017, when Marvel ushered in a new era for its comic books under then editor-in-chief Axel Alonso, who is Mexican American.
New and diverse characters like Morales took center stage instead of Marvel’s decades-old classic characters, who were primarily white. These characters inspired new fans like Beacham, and continue to inspire new fans as they make their way to other media.
But by 2017, Marvel’s comic sales had fallen. Marvel’s president of sales, David Gabriel, publicly blamed it on diversity. Alonso exited the company and was replaced by a white man in the role of top editor. Marvel reversed course.
Now, in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed, Marvel is promising to once again introduce more diversity to its ranks and its stories.
Marvel chairman Ike Perlmutter sent a letter to employees on June 18 saying the company would “support more Black voices.”
And in a memo to staff sent July 6, Marvel’s president, Dan Buckley, outlined three areas of focus for Marvel moving forward:
- broaden Marvel’s creative landscape, which includes identifying “what has traditionally prevented us in the industry from recruiting and fostering more BIPOC talent.”
- build a foundation of lasting growth by “examining our internal culture and rebuilding our long-term process for talent recruitment, retention, and outreach to communities of color.”
- create new initiatives and expansion opportunities by “looking to explore new projects that will enable us to reach and represent an even broader audience.”
In addition to Beacham, Business Insider spoke with two former Marvel editors and a current editor. Aside from Beacham, the Marvel insiders spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their stance at the company or job prospects. They said they weren’t confident in Marvel’s latest initiative.
“The guy who made a commitment to diversity and wanted to try new things was fired,” a former Marvel staffer said, referring to Alonso.
‘Spider-Man with an asterisk’
Alonso led Marvel through a bold era during his time as editor-in-chief starting in 2011, helping to establish a diverse slate of characters.
Jane Foster was the new Thor. Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon, a Black character, replaced Steve Rogers as Captain America. Riri Williams, a Black girl, was introduced as an Iron Man-like character named Ironheart. Kamala Khan, a Pakistani American Muslim teenager, was the new Ms. Marvel.
It wasn’t a new phenomenon in comic books. Characters are regularly passing on their mantles, at least for a while. Dick Grayson, the first Robin, was DC’s Batman for a time in the early 2010s, for instance. Sam Wilson wasn’t the first person to take over as Captain America. This era at Marvel Comics, however, was notable for how it emphasized diversity.
But by 2017 — Alonso’s final year as editor-in-chief — the company’s sales had plummeted.
“What we heard is that people didn’t want any more diversity,” David Gabriel, the vice president of sales at Marvel Entertainment, said that year in an interview with ICv2, a website that covers the comics business.
“I don’t know that that’s really true, but that’s what we saw in sales,” Gabriel said. “Any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up.”
What Gabriel meant by “core Marvel character” were the classic, decades-old characters being sidelined for new, younger, and more diverse characters.
Seven months later, in November 2017, Marvel’s Alonso stepped down from his role and was replaced by C.B. Cebulski, a white man.
“The comics that (Alonso) made me think I could work in comics,” Beacham said. “But when a Latinx guy is scapegoated for diversity and replaced by a white dude, and the sentiment was that Marvel was ‘getting away from its roots,’ what does that mean?”
In a statement after his 2017 comments, Gabriel emphasized that “our new heroes are not going anywhere.”
But in the months between that retailer summit and Alonso’s exit, Marvel introduced an initiative for editorial staff that had been discussed internally for some time: Phase out the familiar superhero codenames for some newer, diverse characters and give them their own, two former assistant editors including Beacham said.
Marvel confirmed to Business Insider that it had previously considered stripping Morales of his Spider-Man title and giving him a new name, but has no plans to do so right now. Marvel added that it discusses status quo changes for all of its top characters.
Today, some of the classic characters have been thrust back into the spotlight. Steve Rogers has taken back the mantle of Captain America, and Thor is a man again. Miles Morales shares the Spider-Man title with Peter Parker, the original Spider-Man.
Morales has grown in popularity beyond comic books, having starred in Sony’s Oscar-winning animated “Into the Spider-Verse” movie in 2018 and in a coming PlayStation video game called “Spider-Man: Miles Morales.”
Beacham said he was glad that Morales continued to be a Spider-Man.
“It would have made him less important,” Beacham said of Morales’ losing the Spider-Man title. “He becomes Spider-Man with an asterisk. It takes away the power for kids who relate to this character.”
‘There’s not a lack of people who can do the work’
Now, Marvel’s comic-book slate is once again largely focused on classic characters, though characters like Morales and Khan remain. And there are some comics starring diverse characters from creators of color, like Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Black Panther.” But their stories are in the hands of an editorial department run by an establishment of white male leadership.
“There’s not a lack of people who can do the work,” said Yumy Odom, the founder of the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention, which helps to showcase the talents of creators of color. “But it’s about how receptive the industry is to them. I can think of 20 creators, mostly African Americans, who would be ready to work at Marvel.”
Women faced an uphill battle at Marvel as well, the Marvel editors said. A female former assistant editor told Business Insider that she was never promoted or given a raise from her $30,000 salary in her three years at the company. She said she got promoted within a year at her new company, a different comics publisher.
Marvel declined to discuss employee salaries.
The Marvel insiders said a notable exception was Sana Amanat, who is Pakistani American and a former editor. She is now Marvel’s head of content and character development, a leadership role outside the editorial department.
‘There’s a whole cohort of young readers’
Marvel has significantly bounced back from its 2017 sales decline, which might suggest that the refocus on its classic characters reeled longtime readers back.
Of the top 100 best-selling comics of 2020 so far, 69 belonged to Marvel, as of Wednesday, including four of the top five, and the company has accounted for 41% of comic sales this year, according to industry website Comichron. Three years ago, Marvel was lagging behind DC, its biggest competitor.
An example of the start of this resurgence was the first issue of Marvel’s “Amazing Spider-Man” relaunch — starring the original Spider-Man, Peter Parker — which ranked fifth in 2018 out of all comics, according to data from Comichron. In contrast, when Marvel launched a series called “Miles Morales Spider-Man” in that year, the debut issue didn’t crack the top 200 best-selling comics.
“People of a certain age have a connection with Peter Parker, not Miles Morales,” a former Marvel staffer said. “Years from now, that may be different.”
The current and former Marvel staffers Business Insider spoke with said they were hopeful that readership could broaden, particularly now that characters such as Morales and Khan are being introduced to audiences in other media like movies and TV. Khan is to appear in a Disney Plus TV series and the upcoming “Avengers” video game, for instance.
There are signs that the comics industry is going through a larger shift in how people read and who is reading, which could also spur change.
Last year, comic sales through the “book channel” — which includes chain and independent book stores and online retailers like Amazon — surpassed comic-book stores for the first time, driven by the increased popularity in children’s graphic novels, according to an analysis by ICv2.
Milton Griepp, the chief executive of ICv2, said at the New York Comic Con conference last year that the shift could usher in a new audience for superhero comic books.
“There’s a whole cohort of young readers that are being introduced to this medium and may graduate to other forms of content in the comic format over the course of their lifespans,” Griepp said.
Beacham said: “Marvel needs to figure out the next stage of its core demographic because it could change rapidly.”
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Radius Health Business Update
TYMLOS® new patient adds in April: modest growth vs. previous 4-month trailing averages
~67% of new patients in April were initiated by a fracture focused bone health account
Meaningful FDA guidance on generic peptide requirements published on May 19, 2021
Anticipate abaloparatide depot formulation technical development work to commence 2H, 2021
RAD011 Type C meeting with the FDA on Prader Willi Syndrome (“PWS”) the week of June 14
BOSTON, June 02, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Radius Health, Inc. (“Radius” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ: RDUS), provided a business update covering continued progress for the Company. Additional business updates will be provided as progress is achieved.
U.S. TYMLOS Commercial Performance:
TYMLOS added ~1,650 new patients in April; 1% growth vs. trailing 4-month average
New patients: defined as those who have been prescribed TYMLOS and received their first dose
~67% of new patients in April were initiated by a fracture focused bone health account
Added 45 new fracture / bone health focused prescribers during the month of April
ATOM (Male) Phase 3 pivotal study on schedule for readout: 2H, 2021
wearABLe (Transdermal System) Phase 3 pivotal study on schedule for readout: 2H, 2021
Anticipate abaloparatide depot formulation technical development work to commence 2H, 2021
Europe: re-submission expected for abaloparatide SC to EMA in 2H, 2021
Canada: abaloparatide SC submission – by our partner – expected in January, 2022
Japan: ‘planning discussions’ with PMDA, a precursor to potential abaloparatide-TD agreement with Teijin
Rest of world: multiple discussions ongoing with variety of counterparties
Intellectual Property Portfolio Advancement:
Three U.S. patents are presently listed in the Orange Book for TYMLOS: U.S. Patent No. 7,803,770 which expires on April 28, 2031 and U.S. Patent Nos. 8,148,333 and 8,748,382 which each expire on October 30, 2027
A fourth U.S. patent, U.S. Patent No. 10,996,208 directed to certain methods of analyzing abaloparatide to detect and quantify presence of beta Asp10, was issued on May 4, 2021 and will be added to the Orange book listing shortly; this patent expires on April 30, 2038
A new Japanese patent covering the abaloparatide transdermal system and its use in treating osteoporosis was granted in April, 2021 and will expire October 8, 2036
FDA Guidance on Synthetic Peptides:
On May 19, 2021 the FDA published updated guidance and requirements for synthetic peptides and what would be required in any generic filings and advancement. Radius views this new guidance as meaningful in assessing the probability of a generic synthetic peptide being filed and gaining market entry.
In sum, the Company views these newly communicated FDA requirements as making it significantly more challenging to advance and develop a generic version of abaloparatide.
The key components of the new FDA guidelines include:
Recombinantly sourced peptides cannot be approved in an ANDA and must be submitted in a 505(b)(2) NDA
Explicit references to the potential for significant consequences if anti-drug antibodies cross-react against endogenous peptides
New impurities must be within the FDA’s threshold; if greater, must be submitted as a 505(b)(2)
Explicit expectation: ANDA with new impurity must evaluate immunogenicity risks prior to filing
FDA Type C meeting for PWS will take place the week of June 14
Written minutes from the FDA meeting expected by the end of July
Post FDA discussion, expectation is to initiate a pivotal PWS trial before year end
Additional orphan indications being assessed in parallel – decisions and clarity in 2H, 2021
Multiple Advisory Board meetings completed: U.S., UK, EU for PWS plus a Psychiatry meeting
Internal team formed: clinical, pharm. science, regulatory, bio-stats, CMC, global franchise
External team established: manufacturing & supply chain, development, regulatory, advocacy
Radius is a commercialized biopharmaceutical company committed to serving patients with unmet medical needs in endocrinology and other therapeutic areas. Radius’ lead product, TYMLOS® (abaloparatide) injection, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis at high risk for fracture. The Radius clinical pipeline includes investigational abaloparatide injection for potential use in the treatment of men with osteoporosis; an investigational abaloparatide transdermal system for potential use in the treatment of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis; the investigational drug, elacestrant (RAD1901), for potential use in the treatment of hormone-receptor positive breast cancer out-licensed to Menarini Group; and the investigational drug RAD011, a synthetic cannabidiol oral solution with potential utilization in multiple endocrine and metabolic orphan diseases, initially targeting Prader-Willi syndrome.
About TYMLOS (abaloparatide) injection
TYMLOS (abaloparatide) injection was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis at high risk for fracture defined as history of osteoporotic fracture, multiple risk factors for fracture, or patients who have failed or are intolerant to other available osteoporosis therapy.
About ATOM Phase 3 Study
The ATOM Phase 3 study is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to assess efficacy and safety of abaloparatide injection in 228 men with osteoporosis. The primary endpoint is change in lumbar spine BMD at 12 months compared with placebo, and if successful, will form the basis of a supplemental NDA seeking to expand the use of TYMLOS to treat men with osteoporosis at high risk for fracture.
About the Abaloparatide Transdermal System and wearABLe Phase 3 Study
The abaloparatide transdermal system was developed in a collaboration between Radius and Kindeva Drug Delivery (“Kindeva”) (formerly 3M Drug Delivery Systems) with the application of Kindeva’s innovative microstructured transdermal system technology. The Phase 3 wearABLe study is the first pivotal study to evaluate treatment using a novel non-injectable delivery of an anabolic therapy. The wearABLe study is a pivotal, randomized, open label, active-controlled, bone mineral density (“BMD”) non-inferiority bridging study that will evaluate the efficacy and safety of abaloparatide transdermal system versus TYMLOS (abaloparatide) injection in approximately 500 patients with postmenopausal osteoporosis at high risk for fracture. The primary endpoint of the study is the percentage change in lumbar spine BMD at 12 months.
About Elacestrant (RAD1901) and EMERALD Phase 3 Study
Elacestrant is a selective estrogen receptor degrader (SERD), out-licensed to Menarini Group, which is being evaluated for potential use as a once daily oral treatment in patients with ER+/ HER2- advanced breast cancer. Studies completed to date indicate that the compound has the potential for use as a single agent or in combination with other therapies for the treatment of breast cancer. The EMERALD Phase 3 trial is a randomized, open label, active-controlled study evaluating elacestrant as second- or third-line monotherapy in ER+/HER2- advanced/metastatic breast cancer patients. The study has enrolled 466 patients who have received prior treatment with one or two lines of endocrine therapy, including a cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) 4/6 inhibitor. Patients in the study were randomized to receive either elacestrant or the investigator’s choice of an approved hormonal agent. The primary endpoint of the study is progression-free survival (PFS) in the overall patient population and in patients with estrogen receptor 1 gene (ESR1) mutations. Secondary endpoints include evaluation of overall survival (OS), objective response rate (ORR), and duration of response (DOR).
Investigational drug RAD011 is a pharmaceutical-grade synthetic cannabidiol oral solution, manufactured utilizing traditional pharmaceutical manufacturing processes. The product has purity specifications that meet standardized regulatory and quality control requirements and, compared to the process of developing a plant-derived product, the synthetic manufacturing process usually enables increased consistency and greater precision in the product supply. RAD011 has been assessed in over 150 patients across multiple indications and has potential utilization in multiple endocrine and metabolic orphan diseases. Radius is initially targeting Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) and anticipates initiating a pivotal Phase 2/3 study for patients with PWS in the second half of 2021 pending regulatory discussion with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements contained in this press release that do not relate to matters of historical fact should be considered forward-looking statements, including without limitation statements regarding our expectations regarding continued commercialization of TYMLOS in the U.S.; our expectations regarding our clinical trials, studies and other regulatory initiatives, including our wearABLe and ATOM Phase 3 clinical trials; and the progress in the development of our product candidates, including RAD011.
These forward-looking statements are based on management’s current expectations. These statements are neither promises nor guarantees, but involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, the following: the adverse impact the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is having and is expected to continue to have on our business, financial condition and results of operations, including our commercial operations and sales, clinical trials, preclinical studies, and employees; quarterly fluctuation in our financial results; our dependence on the success of TYMLOS, and our inability to ensure that TYMLOS will obtain regulatory approval outside the U.S. or be successfully commercialized in any market in which it is approved, including as a result of risk related to coverage, pricing and reimbursement; risks related to competitive products; risks related to our ability to successfully enter into collaboration, partnership, license or similar agreements; risks related to clinical trials, including our reliance on third parties to conduct key portions of our clinical trials and uncertainty that the results of those trials will support our product candidate claims; the risk that adverse side effects will be identified during the development of our product candidates or during commercialization, if approved; risks related to manufacturing, supply and distribution; and the risk of litigation or other challenges regarding our intellectual property rights. These and other important risks and uncertainties discussed in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, including under the caption “Risk Factors” in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ending December 31, 2020 and subsequent filings with the SEC, could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the forward-looking statements made in this press release. Any such forward-looking statements represent management’s estimates as of the date of this press release. While we may elect to update such forward-looking statements at some point in the future, we disclaim any obligation to do so, even if subsequent events cause our views to change. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing our views as of any date subsequent to the date of this press release.
Investor & Media Relations Contact:
Phone: (617) 583-2017
Central Maine business briefs: UMA vice president receives award
Jonathan Henry, University of Maine at Augusta vice president of enrollment management and marketing, received the Martin Gallant Distinguished Counseling Professional Award from the Maine Counseling Association recognizing his distinguished career in the field. Jeremy Bouford, UMA coordinator of recruitment and outgoing president of the counseling association, presented him the award at the organization’s annual meeting this May.
“It was my distinct pleasure to present this award to Jon Henry not only on behalf of the Maine Counseling Association but also as a trusted and valued colleague,” said Bouford, according to a news release from UMA.
“I am honored to receive this award from the Maine Counseling Association,” said Henry. “Over 36 years in the admissions counseling and enrollment profession, I recognize now more than ever the role that having a counseling background has played in helping me succeed in my work with students, and helping to administer a university.”
Henry has worked in college admissions counseling and enrollment management for 36 years, the last 22 in Maine.
“Marty” Gallant was a long-serving school counselor in Caribou, who was actively involved with and dedicated to the Maine Counseling Association and the profession of school counseling. Maine Counseling Association established this award to honor him upon his retirement in 2016.
Association members work in a variety of settings across the profession including K-12 schools, colleges and universities, community-based agencies, clinical facilities and private practice.
Benton company names director of programs
BENTON — Assistance Plus, a 29-year-old home health care, behavioral health and intellectual disability agency headquartered in Benton, has promoted Natalie Childs to director of programs.
Childs has been employed by Assistance Plus since June 2010, starting as a daily living support specialist, and most recently serving as the organization’s BH/DD program manager. According to Crystal Bailey, the agency’s human resources director, the promotion is a result of her hard work and dedication. Natalie will remain in her current office location at the company’s headquarters in Benton.
Childs graduated from Erskine Academy and holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Thomas College. She is completing a master’s degree in health care administration from Fitchburg State University.
Assistance Plus has offices in Benton, Waterville and Wilton.
2021 Mainebiz Woman to Watch nominees sought
PORTLAND — Mainebiz seeks nominations for female business owners, CEOs, presidents and top executives with established track records of success and who have been trailblazers and mentors to be its 2021 Women to Watch.
• The nominee must be the president, CEO or executive director at her company or organization.
• The nominee should have an established track record of business success.
• The nominee and her company must have made outstanding contributions to their company, industry and community.
Nominate a 2021 Mainebiz Woman to Watch by June 28. Visit mainebiz.biz/nominations and complete the short form.
The Women to Watch awards program is sponsored by Drummond Woodsum, Northeast Delta Dental, TD Bank and Vistage. Chosen nominees will be featured in the Aug. 9 issue of Mainebiz and will be honored at the annual Women to Watch reception in person during the middle of September. The date and location will be announced soon.
Kennebec Savings Bank announces new hires
AUGUSTA – Kennebec Savings Bank President and CEO Andrew Silsby recently announced two new hires, each of whom come with strong backgrounds in banking and customer service.
Paige O’Donnell, who has joined Kennebec Savings Bank as vice president of retail banking, brings more than eight years of banking experience. Her most recent position was on TD Bank’s Small Business Banking Team as their team manager.
“Paige brings new insight and energy to our retail team,” said Silsby, according to a news release from the bank. “We are fortunate to have her join Kennebec Savings Bank at such an exciting time in our history. The bank is growing, and Paige will help us continue to offer competitive and quality products to our customers.”
Amanda Dyer joins the bank with 12 years of experience. Prior to joining the bank, Dyer served as branch manager and loan officer for Norway Savings Bank at their Topsham location. Dyer is originally from the Freeport area and graduated from Freeport High School.
“Amanda will be a great asset to our Freeport Team,” said Silsby. “She is familiar with the Freeport area, and will bring valuable knowledge and expertise to our team. We look forward to her leadership.”
Kennebec Behavioral Health leaders recognized
AUGUSTA — At the 2021 Maine Prevention Professionals Conference held on May 19, KBH’s Robert Rogers was recognized with the 2021 Neill E. Miner Memorial Prevention Award. This award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution in the field of prevention. He has been at the forefront of so many initiatives and approaches to evidence-based prevention in Maine. He has been able to forge a unique bridge between the prevention and treatment disciplines. “Rob is an extraordinary prevention professional who has made significant contributions to the field and positively impacted the lives of countless youth and adults throughout central Maine,” said Tom McAdam, KBH chief executive officer, according to a news release from KBH. A surprise guest, McKenna Rogers, Rob’s daughter who also works in behavioral health, presented him with the award.
At the Co-Occurring Collaborative Serving Maine Annual Summit held on May 6, the Visionary Leadership award was presented to Dr. Alane O’Connor. O’Connor is the first director of perinatal addiction treatment at Maine Medical Center, serving pregnant women in the Portland area. O’Connor also provides addiction medicine through Kennebec Behavioral Health’s Opioid Health Home in Skowhegan and is chairperson of Maine’s Opioid Response Clinical Advisory Committee. The collaborative’s Visionary Leadership Award recognizes an individual, organization or an initiative in the behavioral health care field that has demonstrated outstanding leadership in improving the lives of individuals with mental illnesses and substance use disorders and/or their communities. “For her dedication to advance the quality of substance use treatment and raising awareness to the needs of pregnant and parenting women living with this disease,” said Liam Shaw, CCSME Board Member, in the release.
Kennebec Behavioral Health was founded in 1960 and operates clinics in Waterville, Skowhegan, Winthrop, Augusta and Farmington.
Northern Light Health announces finance leadership changes
Chris Frauenhofer, vice president of finance of Northern Light Inland Hospital and interim administrator of Northern Light Continuing Care, Lakewood in Waterville, has been named as the new vice president of finance for Northern Light Health’s system Medical Group.
Frauenhofer joined Northern Light Health in 2013, starting at Maine Coast Memorial Hospital before moving to Inland Hospital in 2017. Before joining Northern Light Health, he served in senior finance roles for more than 20 years at hospitals in New York, including Alice Hyde Medical Center and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.
Frauenhofer received a master’s in business administration degree from Niagara University (New York) and a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration/registered accounting (program from State University of New York at Buffalo).
Frauenhofer lives in Mariaville. He will remain in the interim role at Lakewood until a new administrator is recruited.
Randy Clark, vice president of finance and operations at Northern Light Sebasticook Valley Hospital in Pittsfield, will expand his duties to include Inland Hospital and Lakewood, becoming vice president of finance for both hospitals and the continuing care facility.
A resident of Vassalboro, Clark just celebrated 25 years with Northern Light Health. He started as a controller at Sebasticook Valley Hospital in 1996 and became vice president of finance in 2005. In 2016, operations was added to his leadership role. For a few years, he oversaw finance as vice president for both CA Dean Hospital in Greenville and Sebasticook Valley Hospital.
Clark earned his Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of Maine (Orono) and his Master of Business Administration degree from Thomas College (Waterville).
“Chris and Randy have been vital to our local leadership teams, and integral to system finance work. We know they will continue to help our system and member organizations succeed in their new and expanded roles — not only when it comes to finance, but with all aspects of our mission to improve the health of the people and communities we serve. Both Chris and Randy have a passion for excellent service and finding new ways to deliver on our brand promise,” said Terri Vieira, president of Inland Hospital, Continuing Care, Lakewood, and Sebasticook Valley Hospital, according to a news release from Northern Light Health.
Maine Dental Association partners with Maine Needs
The Maine Dental Association recently partnered with nonprofit organization Maine Needs to assemble and distribute 200 cleaning and hygiene kits to four sites.
The association, though its donation campaign called Maine Needs a Smile, collected personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, deodorant and shampoo, and basic cleaning supplies, such as laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaner and trash bags, to help Maine families in need.
The initiative was started by three MDA member dentists, Dr. Meg Dombroski, Dr. Kathryn Horutz and Dr. Nicole Kimmes, along with MDA Executive Director Angela Westhoff. The group was familiar with the Maine Needs nonprofit organization, which strives to help individuals and families in Maine meet basic, material needs by providing donated clothing and essential products and household items, and which partners with schools, caseworkers, nurses and nonprofits throughout the state to provide those material resources.
“One of the most rewarding aspects of dentistry is the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives every day. The Maine Needs A Smile community effort made it possible for dental professionals across Maine to join together to have a positive impact beyond our chairs,” said Kimmes, according to a news release from the association
One of the ways Maine Needs provides for individuals and families is through different “kits” that the public can put together and donate.
The Maine Needs a Smile initiative originally had a goal of assembling 100 cleaning and hygiene kits. Because of the support of MDA member dentists, dental staff, and the general public, 200 kits were put together and were distributed between four sites. Kits were distributed at the Community Concepts Early Learning Center in Farmington, River Valley Free Store in Mexico, Kaydenz Kitchen Food Pantry in Lewiston, and Penney Memorial United Baptist Church in Augusta.
Gardiner FCU gives to local food pantries, organizations
Gardiner Federal Credit Union recently hosted a small reception to distribute the funds raised in 2020. The guests were representatives of area food pantries and organizations that help local people with food insecurities. There are eight organizations, each receiving a check in the amount of $2,482.38.
When the pandemic hit the number of people in need of these services grew. There were many new faces. Initially, some pantries were overwhelmed. Thankfully, those able to give dug deep and helped them make certain no one was turned away empty-handed. Individuals, grocers and businesses helped keep them afloat.
The Tanzanian proverb, “Little by little, a little becomes a lot.” In most cases, GFCU raises its Ending Hunger funds, one dollar at a time. So, to the staff and the members, they may think that dollar won’t make a difference, but it does. In this case it added up to almost 20,000 of those dollars. Their efforts and the generosity of many, do make a difference and the funds add up to a lot.
Throughout the months of June and July, GFCU will sell Cash Calendars for Ending Hunger. The calendars are $10 each. A total of $2,400 in prizes, will be drawn each weekday in August. Winners will receive either $100 or $200, depending on which day(s) they win. Anyone with $10 can purchase a calendar. It is not necessary to be a member to support any of its fundraisers.
For more business news, visit CentralMaine.com.
Here are 100+ AAPI-owned businesses to shop in 2021
As it did for companies across the globe, pandemic-related freight issues increasingly complicated the supply chain for Sahra Nguyen, founder and CEO of Nguyen Coffee Supply — and made it much more expensive to manage. And the spike in anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander violence increasingly strained an already difficult year:
“The biggest challenge is staying mentally, emotionally and physically safe so that I can continue to show up for my business, family and community,” said Nguyen.
AAPI-owned businesses have suffered tremendously since the onset Covid, according to a survey from the Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ACE). Of the approximately 900 AAPI small business owners surveyed…
- More than 80 percent reported negative effects
- 10 percent have closed their business
- And 45 percent have lost or let go of employees
In general, there’s been a 169-percent increase in hate crimes in major cities — nonprofit advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate received more than 6,600 reports of anti-AAPI violence since it launched in March 2020 — unemployment rates rose disproportionately and solutions have made headway, such as the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act. All of it has added to an increased national focus on the challenges and realities that AAPI communities face.
Within the past year, the visibility of anti-AAPI violence in the U.S. — which goes back centuries — caused a large mobilization of people, organizations and retailers to up their support of the AAPI community through advocacy, donations and awareness in light of AAPI Heritage Month. Multiple online retailers and brands have been increasing efforts to highlight AAPI-owned businesses.
- Amazon and Etsy launched storefronts highlighting AAPI small businesses.
- Reviews site Yelp announced a new feature last month by which businesses can self-identify as “Asian-owned,” making it easier for shoppers to find them.
- Shop by Shopify, a free app to navigate small businesses, unveiled a directory of Asian-owned businesses in March.
- Food delivery giant Grubhub began its Donate the Change program this month, giving all proceeds to National ACE and AAPI-owned restaurants across the nation.
Jan Lo, CEO of travel brand Lo & Sons, said reports of attacks on members of the AAPI community this year — specifically involving anyone around his mom’s age — brought his family’s heritage a lot more personal. “We’re extremely proud of our AAPI heritage, but we have also tried to build an ethos around inclusivity,” he said. The challenges “can also be viewed as opportunities, as I think many people can connect to our story of our mom inspiring her sons to help her achieve her professional dreams — not just because we’re Asian.”
AAPI Heritage Month “gives us an opportunity to lift each other up, to celebrate and express pride in different parts of our community,” explained Ian Shin, assistant professor of history and American culture at the University of Michigan, adding that it also offers an “opportunity to revisit history and remind people that, in fact, anti-AAPI violence is not un-American — it’s woven into the fabric of American society from the mid 19th century onward.”
AAPI-owned businesses in 2021
AAPI-owned businesses nationwide were the most negatively impacted throughout the pandemic, demographically speaking, according to CNBC: The number of working AAPI business owners fell by 20 percent last year. Among the most affected areas was San Francisco’s Chinatown, which saw 75 percent of its storefronts become nonoperational at some point last year.
But what is an AAPI-owned business in the first place? The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) told us that it doesn’t specifically define what constitutes an AAPI-owned business. The U.S. Census Bureau does, however: having persons of Asian or Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander origin owning 51 percent or more of the business — akin to its definitions of Black-owned businesses and women-owned businesses. This definition covers East Asia (like China, Japan and more), Southeast Asia (including the Philippines, Vietnam and more) and the Indian subcontinent (Pakistan, Bangladesh and more) — the three comprise more than 19 countries and 20 million citizens in the U.S. can trace their origins to here — as well as the Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia subregions, which include Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Fijian and Tahitian people, among others.
Despite these definitions, or lack thereof, the two agencies do provide some noteworthy insights. Based on the most recent data released by the Census Bureau, here’s what we know:
- In 2012, there were roughly 2 million AAPI-owned businesses in the U.S. (2016 data)
- In 2018, there were more than 577,000 Asian-owned and over 6,600 Pacific Islander-owned employer businesses in the U.S. (2021 data)
Sarah Paiji Yoo, co-founder and CEO of eco-friendly cleaning brand Blueland, said she’s “incredibly proud” to be an Asian American running a business but is often subject to racism, especially on social media — people comment assumptions regarding where Blueland manufactures its products, for example. Then there’s the “model minority myth,” a harmful argument that typically praises Asian Americans for economic, academic and cultural success based entirely on stereotypes. It’s yet another challenge for Lin Chen, founder and CEO of wellness brand Pink Moon. “People continue to generalize, stereotype and be selective in who they want to listen to, invest in [and] purchase from,” she told us.
In our guide to women-owned brands, owner and founder of Hero Cosmetics Ju Rhyu told us that running a business is accompanied by “a lot of responsibility” to support her community, “especially as a business owner, since there is privilege and influence in being in this position.” That privilege comes at a time when 44 percent of unemployed Asian American women have been out of work for at least six months. This year, over 1,000 AAPI executives like DoorDash founder Tony Xu and Zoom CEO Eric Yuan donated $10 million to groups supporting the AAPI community, including nonprofit Asian Pacific Fund and the Asian-Americans Advancing Justice, a legal advocacy group for hate crime victims. Other business leaders pledged $125 million to launch the Asian American Foundation, which will support AAPI organizations and causes over the next five years — the largest philanthropic commitment in history fully focused on the AAPI community. The foundation raised another $125 million from organizations like Walmart, Bank of America and the Ford Foundation.
While noteworthy efforts, the AAPI community receives less than 1 percent of philanthropic funds despite making up 7 percent of the population and the country’s fastest growing racial group, according to the Pew Research Center.
Being a South Asian founder, Silk + Sonder’s Meha Agrawal said “it often feels like all the odds are stacked up against us: We have to work harder [and] prove ourselves every step of the way.” But throughout her career, she’s learned that “the most important thing a female founder or woman of color can do is make sure that people in seats of privilege are brought along on our journey” to have transparent conversations while building a business.
Each Fall and Spring, AAPI nonprofit Gold House hosts the Gold Rush cohort of Founders — Sahra Nguyen participated last year — wherein founders attend weekly master classes and panels led by advisors, expose their brands to potential investors and influencers, and join a network of founders that meet regularly to share insights and build partnerships. ACE National also provides guidance for starting and maintaining a business, including how to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic, loans, government programs and health and wellness matters.
Business owners said messaging and connecting with other founders on social media, from Twitter to LinkedIn, helped them network. Founders “will be extremely helpful and crucial as you build [your business] and oftentimes they’ll be the only ones who can empathize and understand what you are going through in successes and failures,” noted Rhyu.
Pink Moon’s Lin Chen said she’s part of multiple networking groups on Facebook for Asian creatives and entrepreneurs, including Asian Hustle Network and Asian Creative Network.
Notable AAPI-owned products in 2021
Here are 14 items from AAPI-owned brands that stood out to us, from travel essentials and skincare products to eco-friendly tools and home goods. Since there is no central directory of AAPI-owned businesses, as defined by the Census Bureau’s 51-percent edict, we asked each business below to confirm that it meets the criteria: having persons of Asian or Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander origin owning 51 percent or more of the business.
Pink Moon allows users to filter wellness and skincare products they see by skin type, age and goals.
One of their bestsellers includes this rose quartz gua sha that stimulates lymphatic drainage to reduce puffiness and increase elasticity in the skin, according to the brand. In including this product in their line, Chen initially wanted to celebrate Traditional Chinese Medicine and her heritage, “I want to contribute to the diverse voices in this industry and push for more inclusivity and positive change,” she said. For maximum results, the brand suggests users of the gua sha pair it with the Over the Moon Gua Sha Facial Oil, which is made from a sunflower-moringa oil blend that soothes skin inflammation.
Amy Liu originally started the company to deal with her own eczema and now Tower 28 is the “first and only makeup brand to 100-percent follow the National Eczema Association’s ingredient guidelines and avoid every known skin irritant and allergen for all skin sensitivities,” she shared. This AAPI month, Liu wants consumers to realize AAPI heritage “is about recognizing the incredible people in our community who are pushing the boundaries and speaking up about racism and the need for more Asian representation.”
Made with apricot and raspberry seed oil, this lip gloss is one of the most popular products. Designed to hydrate your lips without drying them out, according to the brand, the gloss comes in four shades: Coconut, Cashew, Oat and Almond.
Frustrated with the fit of his dress shirts, Taiwanese-American Wesley Kang founded Nimble Made “to bring more representation and inclusion in sizing standards, starting with a slim fit that actually fits,” he elaborated.
Made from 100-percent cotton, the brand’s machine-washable dress shirts feature 2-button adjustable rounded cuffs and a Franklin semi-spread collar.
Terrence Santos founded his company in 2015 when he was expecting his first child. Originally, he started looking for toys that would teach the Filipino language to his child, but found nothing — so he created a toy company that provided options. Now his company sells toys that teach Tagalog, Ilocano, Bisaya and Hawaiian. On each of the ten blocks, the company has engraved the Roman number, Tagalog translation, Mahjong character and an English translation.
Eunice Byun and Dave Nguyen are challenging the notion that we need dozens of gadgets to cook delicious meals. A few years ago, the ex Chanel and Revlon executives founded Material Kitchen, a direct-to-consumer company that offers a simplified kitchen starter set at an affordable price. This seven-piece set, which has a 5.0-star average rating from almost 100 consumers, features an 8” knife, 4” knife, tongs, wooden spoon, metal spoon, slotted spatula and wooden holder. What’s more is you can customize the set’s wood type and handle color.
Private Policy is a “genderless” clothing company founded by Haoran Li and Siying Qu, two former Parsons graduates. Inspired by the youth culture in New York City, the pair design clothes without the traditional menswear and womenswear labels. Made from 100-percent Rayon, this jacket can be worn with the sleeves on or off, serving multiple purposes. You can also shop their collection at Selfridges.
Nearly two decades ago, Taiwanese American Melinda Hwang’s father worked with a scientist (and family friend) to come up with a nanofiber membrane mask during the 2003 SARs epidemic. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the U.S., Hwang’s family sent her those masks from Taiwan and, thus, Happy Masks was born.
The brand’s Pro Series offers a range of sizes — with the small size fitting ages three to 10 — and can withstand at least 50 washes by hand. It has adjustable ear straps and a nose wire to fit different face shapes, while its “parrot beak” design leaves enough room between the mask and the mouth and nose in order to breathe comfortably for long-term wear.
Nguyen Coffee Supply imports Vietnamese coffee beans from its partner farms in Vietnam and roasts them fresh weekly in Brooklyn. The Original Vietnamese Coffee Trio features three different coffee blends: Moxy, Truegrit and Loyalty Arabica-Robusta. The coffee comes finely ground, and you can brew it using the brand’s Phin Filter.
CEO and founder Sahra Nguyen said AAPI month is an important time for the community to share their stories. “Many people don’t understand our community because we’ve been erased and ignored for so long,” Nguyen said. “Taking the time to learn about our community’s unique experiences will deepen our connection and sense of shared humanity. From here, we can effectively work together to build a better world.”
CEO Jan Lo said the brand was inspired by his mom’s need for a lightweight, stylish and functional carry-on bag to take with her while traveling. While designing the brand’s first bag — The O.G. — Lo said he “quickly found that it wasn’t just my mother in need of a travel bag that didn’t sacrifice style for functionality.” Lo & Sons, which was co-founded by Lo, his mother and his brother, sells a variety of bags for men and women, including The Catalina Deluxe, which is featured in our roundup of the best weekender bags. The company sells apparel and face masks, too.
Edward and Judy Kwon founded the family-owned CALPAK in 1989 with the mission of making quality bags at an accessible price. Their daughter Jennifer Kwon has run the company since 2013. CALPAK’s bags range in size, style and color from the Kaya Laptop Backpack to the Hue Duffel Bag, which was also featured in our roundup of the best weekender bags. Beyond bags, luggage and organizers, CALPACK also sells men’s and women’s apparel, as well as wellness items like face masks, hand sanitizer and linen and room spray.
After five years of running gr8nola as a side hustle, founder Erica Liu Williams left her 10 year tech career to pursue the brand full time. gr8nola sells granola that’s free from refined sugar, dairy, soy and GMOs in a variety of flavors, from Peanut Butter and Matcha to Cacao and Cinnamon Chai. Williams said she feels it’s her responsibility to use her platform to share her perspective and the voices of others in the AAPI community. “I feel socially responsible to myself, family and broader community to be a role model for others by leading by example and showing other young girls and people who look like me that you can achieve success on your own terms, without succumbing to becoming a “model minority” stereotype,” Williams said.
Silk + Sonder is a subscription service that sends members guided monthly journals with prompts inspired by positive psychology, as well as gives them access to virtual programming for peer-to-peer support. “Silk + Sonder’s mission is to solve the emotional health epidemic for customers versus being a band-aid fix,” said Meha Agrawal, the company’s founder. “At its core, Silk + Sonder is a space for mindfulness, journaling, planning, tracking and creative expression all in one.”
When Sarah Paiji Yoo, Blueland’s CEO, decided to reduce her personal plastic consumption, she quickly realized how difficult it was to do. “Many household items use single-use plastic in their packaging,” said Yoo. “This ultimately is what led me to found Blueland, as no one should have to sacrifice a clean home and clean clothes for a clean planet.” Blueland sells refillable cleaning products like Glass + Mirror, Multi-Surface and Bathroom sprays — included in The Clean Up Kit — all of which are certified by the EPA’s Safer Choice program, as we previously reported in our guide to eco-friendly cleaning supplies.
Stephanie Hon launched Cadence with the mission to eliminate single-use travel-sized plastic in February of last year — a month before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the U.S. “We definitely put a pause on talking about air-travel, going to the gym before work, date nights, etcetera,” said Hon. But despite launching in the midst of the pandemic, the brand’s sustainable capsules repeatedly sold out. Cadence specializes in magnetic and refillable containers made from recycled ocean bound plastic that snap together and can keep your small travel essentials and daily items organized. You can buy the capsules individually or get them a bundle of six, and they come in a variety of colors including Lavender and Terracotta. Hon said one of her biggest challenges as an AAPI business owner was being “bullish” and retraining her inclinations. “To say I think we’re going to be a $XM company, to say it’s a great opportunity for people to be involved. There’s a perfect balance of humility and confidence that comes to light,” she said.
109 AAPI-owned brands to support in 2021
In addition to our favorite products from AAPI-owned brands, we’ve rounded up some businesses across various Shopping reader interests, including home, food, beauty and wellness. We asked each business below to confirm it meets the Census Bureau’s criteria of at least 51 percent AAPI ownership. While this list of AAPI-owned companies and products isn’t exhaustive, we aim to actively update this feature to help keep you informed about AAPI-owned companies worth considering.
AAPI-owned home and kitchen brands
Revamp your kitchen decor with a new apron or oven mitts from The Homebodies or treat yourself or your favorite friend to a new indoor plant from Bark & Vine.
- Anak Toy Kompany
- Bark & Vine
- The Homebodies
- ILHA Candles
- Material Kitchen
- O-M Ceramics
- Pawena Studio
- Woo Ceramics
AAPI-owned beauty and skincare brands
Update your skincare regime by shopping for a Gua Sha facial tool from Mount Lai or combat maskne with Soko Glam’s Pimple Patch. You can also shop from dozens of AAPI-owned makeup brands, fragrance shops like Ellis Brooklyn or nail care brands like Sundays.
- AVYA Skincare
- Cle Cosmetics
- Caire Beauty
- Ellis Brooklyn
- EM Cosmetics
- Essance Skincare
- Glow Recipe
- Happy 2nd Birthday
- Hero Cosmetics
- Krave Beauty
- Mount Lai
- Peach & Lily
- Pink Moon
- Soko Glam
- Tower 28 Beauty
AAPI-owned food and beverages brands
These 17 standout food and beverage options are worth a try, especially if you’re looking to try out some spiced ice cream or a side of kimchi.
- Fly By Jing
- Malai Ice Cream
- Nguyen Coffee Supply
- One Stripe Chai
- The Qi
- Red Boat Fish Sauce
- Wing on Wo & Co.
Looking to expand your at-home library but don’t know where to start? These AAPI-owned bookstores from across the country have a wide variety of options, from used to brand new.
- A Good Used Book
- Arkipelago Books
- Bel Canto Books
- Eastwind Books
- Femme Fire Books
- Maomi Bookstore
- Orphan Books
- Philippine Expressions Bookshop
- Townie Books
AAPI-owned fashion and accessories brands
These 26 fashion and accessory brands can help you update your wardrobe going into the summer. They include everything from on-trend chunky rings at BONBONWHIMS to Gentle Monster’s chic sunglasses.
- Bellemere NY
- Gentle Monster
- Hey Maeve
- Jason Wu
- JW Pei
- Kahili Creations
- Nimble Made
- NOTTE Jewelry
- Paper Project
- Private Policy
- Rue Saint Paul
- Sonia Hou Jewelry
AAPI-owned wellness and fitness brands
You can shop for face masks at Airpop and Happy Masks, get a good night’s sleep with Pluto Pillow or enhance your workout routine with Blogilates.
- Happy Masks
- L’Oeuf Poche
- Mono B
- Pluto Pillow
- Silk + Sonder
AAPI-owned travel brands
If you’re planning a few summer trips, you can get your hands on multiple AAPI-owned travel essentials, including a travel backpack from Brevitē or a versatile carry-on bag from Planeket.
- Lo and Sons
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