May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. And while these communities deserve support and recognition year-round, AAPI Heritage Month is still a good time to formally honor the contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to this country throughout its history, while also acknowledging that those same communities have endured a number of hardships during this pandemic year. Perhaps most important though, it’s a crucial time to remember that the spirits of the AAPI communities remain resilient and bold. Just ask Patrick Mock, a community advocate and the manager of 46 Mott Bakery in New York’s Chinatown, or Pooja Bavishi, the Brooklyn-based founder and CEO of Malai Ice Cream. Both have recently shifted their entrepreneurial mindsets into community-driven initiatives, showcasing the kind of Asian excellence that deserves to be recognized during AAPI Heritage Month and throughout the year.
That’s also why Macy’s tapped Mock and Bavishi to showcase their businesses, while celebrating AAPI Heritage Month, modeling Asian-owned lifestyle brands that it stocks, in addition to explaining how a little luxury helps them get through their long days. Scroll through to see what these leading business owners have to say about self care, work, and community. Needless to say, the generational legacies they’re passing down are strong.
“I was born and raised in Chinatown, in New York City. I’m your local Chinatown street kid,” Patrick Mock tells us when we first speak to him. As such, Mock was well aware that the residents and business owners of Chinatown were suffering from drops in foot traffic and revenue months before New York went into COVID-19 lockdown last March. So as manager of the beloved 46 Mott Bakery, Patrick Mock quickly shifted his day-to-day operations so that he could provide free meals for Chinatown’s elderly and vulnerable, saving the rest to feed local medical staff. Since then, he’s become a true community leader, masterminding projects like “Light Up Chinatown” to help reignite business and working to make vaccination sites more accessible in his neighborhood. To help celebrate AAPI Heritage Month, Mock was kind enough to tell us a bit about his life, his work, and how he’s helped New York’s Chinatown over the past year.
Mock on Acts of Kindness:
“A quote that I have lived by every day during the pandemic, and even now is, ‘A simple act of kindness creates endless ripples.’ I think the kind of generational legacy that I’m passing down is to step up and use all the resources we have to get the community back on our feet. I believe that the responsibility of being a community leader for Chinatown, that legacy was passed down to me. I don’t take that for granted.”
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Mock on Sleep and Self Care:
“Running the bakery, making sure my meals programs are going smoothly, finding ways to help the community—this is what my typical day looks like, including all the panels and Zoom meetings I have to do every day. I sleep, on average, four or five hours—I take one- or two-hour naps and that’s pretty much it. So when I knock out, I like being comfortable with pillows and bedding. I don’t want to wake up with neck or back pains.”
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Mock On His Skincare Routine:
“I worry about my eye bags a lot, so I like to use an eye cream.”
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Mock Family, Prosperity, and Luck:
“I wear a jade pendant that my mom gave me, so I want to give her a gold necklace back to her as a gift. Gold is the color of prosperity and good luck, and it’s something that Chinese people wish upon each other.”
When Pooja Bavishi launched her Indian spice-infused ice cream company, Malai, in 2015, she did so on her sheer passion for combining the traditional South Indian flavors of her childhood with her love of frozen desserts. Despite not coming from the food world, she had a clear-eyed vision for Malai: to invent unique flavors like Rose with Cinnamon Roasted Almonds, Masala Chai, and Sweet Roti & Ghee. It’s safe to say she’s now an expert, and even won a frozen desserts episode of Chopped Sweets that aired last March. Ahead of this AAPI Heritage Month, Bavishi took some time out from her busy days to tell us about running a business during the COVID-19 pandemic, how her neighborhood has rallied around Malai, and even a bit about her favorite candles and jewelry.
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Bavishi on Her Work Days:
“No two days look alike when you’re leading a small business! Often I work from home to tackle Excel spreadsheets but I still spend most of the week in our Brooklyn scoop shop for three reasons: One, to meet with my team face to face; Two, to make sure that everything is running smoothly; and three, to interact with customers, which is one of my most favorite parts of the job. When I’m not at the scoop shop or focused on my laptop, you can find me bouncing around the city meeting with partners, potential investors, and exploring other avenues to continue to grow Malai. For daily wear, I like wearing necklaces with small pendants and simple chains—something that adds a bit of personality without feeling like the necklace is in my way. I like to show my style in a subtle way.”
Bavishi on Moments of Joy:
“The business has been affected by the pandemic in a variety of different ways, including closing the store through government mandate and losing grocery store accounts because we were not able to sample and demo. But the pandemic also allowed us to adapt and grow in beautiful ways, too. We were able to reach more customers and provide more moments of joy through our nationwide shipping.”
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Bavishi on Her Haircare Routine:
“I’m usually on-the-go, so my hair is up and out of my face on most days! [But when my hair is down] I use hair oil. Growing up, my mom used to massage coconut oil into our hair once a week to make it stronger, so hair oil is something I am very familiar with. Today, I use hair oil to tame the frizziness. I also like the scent of hair oil and to start the day on a calm, soothing note.”
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Bavishi on Candles:
“Candles are not something I use on a daily basis, but whenever I do have them around, I feel a sense of calm—and a sense that I should be using candles more often! Candles feel soothing, even luxurious to me. They represent the epitome of self-care, and, as an entrepreneur, when that seems to be in short supply, lighting nice candles with comforting scents seem to be a quick fix.”
Styling by Weyni Elder, Hair and Makeup by Elyssa Marie, Styling Assistance by Pauline Foo, Line Production by Tiffany Tran, Production by James Bender, Production Coordination by Sahiba Kaur and Wayne Phillips Gelley, Photo Assistance by Ashton Do, and Project Management by Lindi Degrant.