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American Express Honors Asian Pacific American Small Business Owners and Grant Recipients

Photo: Courtesy of American Express
Photo: Courtesy of American Express

As we recognize Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in the U.S., we want to share the stories of some of the Asian and Pacific Islander-owned small business owners who have grown their businesses with the help of grants from American Express’ Backing Small grant initiative in 2022.  

Spotless Dry Cleaners, Millburn, New Jersey 

When you walk into Rupali More’s business, you might hear her say, “Tumhi kase aahat? Mi Tumhala kay madat karu Shakate?” Translated from Marathi, More’s native language, that’s “How are you and how can I help you?” For years she was a businessperson in Mumbai, India. Today, she’s the proud owner of  Spotless Dry Cleaners. More said she feels she is “living the American dream,” the result of her dedication and perseverance.  

How did you become the owner of this small business? 

More: In Mumbai, I owned a jewelry company that I ran part-time. When I arrived in America in the late 2000s, I felt limited by so much: residency status, fashion differences, language barriers, and more. Thankfully, I met another Indian family who allowed me to learn the cleaning business from them at their store. Eventually, I got my green card, came on as a partner, and am now the full-time owner of that same location.  

COVID-19 and how the world has changed in its aftermath slowed down business a lot, but the perseverance that I embodied when I first arrived is the same energy I put into my business today. 

How did the Amex Backing Small grant help you? 

More: To help with COVID-19 costs, we outsourced some of our work. With the grant, we did maintenance on outdated machines that allow us to perform our duties in-house again. The grant also helped build our website.

LT Sue Tearoom & Emporium, Hanford California 

The LT Sue Tearoom & Emporium preserves the history and culture of the community of the historic Hanford China Alley. Founded by Arianne Wing in 2012, it was the first tearoom of its kind in the area. Today it offers in-person and virtual experiences. Wing also recently launched a book that highlights the area’s culture, food and community. 

You consider preservation to be storytelling. Why? 

Wing: I’m sitting in a booth that is from a 1950s restaurant. Across from me is a stool that is maybe one hundred years old, and maybe my grandfather or great grandfather sat on it. I feel like when I’m in China Alley perhaps my handprints and footprints are exactly where my ancestors stood or touched. You realize in life that simple objects become important because they have a story behind them. We preserve these stories so they can be shared for generations to come, and that’s what our tea business and book are all about. Now this history and these stories will never be lost. 

How did the Amex Backing Small grant help your business? 

Wing: It helped us with our book production, and I’m grateful for it. Twenty percent of our profits go to the restoration projects in China Alley. The grant and this recognition help not only us, but also our entire community.  

post.script., San Francisco, California

post.script. was founded by Chandler Tang in late-2019. It is a gift shop that sells a range of stationery, home goods, and accessories. Following a career in corporate beauty and fashion, Tang says she had a late-night dream to open a business in her hometown. Her dream gave life to a bright, colorful, and whimsical – as she describes it – store that she hopes inspires her community to shop small. 

How did you choose your business name? 

Tang: Postscript is the longform of “P.S.,” that little note at the end of the letter, for example: “P.S. I miss you.” I loved the idea of spelling it out completely. Postscripts are the most charming parts of a letter to me. The dots in our logo are a nod to the dots of “P.S.”. 

How did the Amex Backing Small grant help your business? 

Tang: We used the grant to support store operations, such as paying portions of our rent, shipping fees, shipping supplies, and COVID-19 supplies (masks, alcohol wipes, and hand sanitizers). We also used portions of the grant money to improve our online business and raise brand awareness. We were also able to upgrade our online site plan, invest in digital marketing ads, and program new email newsletters. 

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