Shortly after the emergence of the Stop Asian Hate movement, Brian Rama and Julie Nong decided to take a stand. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic (and its origin in Wuhan, China), anti-Asian panic mutated into violent hate crimes throughout the United States. In Houston’s Chinatown community, restaurants and businesses that typically relied on word of mouth experienced a series of closures due to fear.
To combat anti-Asian sentiments, Rama and Nong joined forces with Isabel Protomartir and Michael Ma to create Have a Nice Day, a collective and pop-up marketplace that promotes Asian businesses and BIPOC creators.
“The main objective is just highlighting our community and bringing everyone together to show love,” Rama said during a phone conversation. “Exploring different cultures just helps open everyone's eyes to what we have here. Our city is so diverse and [the market] is an opportunity to see so much at once.”
What started as a one-time pop-up with six vendors has blossomed into an average of 30 first-time and some recurring businesses that include Asian foods and baked goods, crafts, drinks and clothing. Popular vendors include Pudgy’s Fine Cookies, Burger Bodega and Ube Co. HTX.
Despite being in its infancy, Have a Nice Day has garnered an impressive venue roster primarily concentrated in the inner loop, such as the Heights House Hotel,, Greenstreet and the Tipping Point in Downtown Houston. Rama cites the significant outpour of encouragement for the market’s success.
“Seeing our community grow and the support is just amazing. I would have never thought we’d be here. I don’t do this for money; it’s about seeing all our friends and family come and meet up. People are really getting back into the swing of things, and we’re much stronger now.”
The Have a Nice Day team is preparing for its first anniversary and is celebrating this Sunday at POST Houston for its fifth and what will undoubtedly be its largest market yet. With a few days left in AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Month and summer on the horizon, the time is ripe for increasing your awareness of small businesses, and it’s a necessary time to discover the best (and tastiest) in Houston.
For more information on Have a Nice Day, becoming a vendor or attending a market, visit here.