South Park store specializes in sustainable fashion and m

AYI, a new retail store and art gallery in South Park, is shining a light on sustainable, unique and minority-owned brands designed to make life more beautiful.

Carly Miller-Chen, a former creative executive for a retail media agency, always dreamed of owning her own business and decided to take a leap of faith by opening the shop at 2234 30th Street.

Meaning “auntie” in Mandarin, AYI offers products by slow-fashion designers and woman- and BIPO (black, indigenous and people of color) –owned brands from across the globe.

From apparel to home goods and accessories, Miller-Chen hand-picks each item, often asking her community for feedback and suggestions.

Through a combination of ideas from friends, colleagues and others in her network of creatives, Miller-Chen shapes her inventory by looking for unique pieces that you wouldn’t find in “big box stores.”

The space also serves as an art gallery with exhibitions from underrepresented artists. Each artist selects a philanthropic organization to donate proceeds to, including Border Kindness and AAPI Women Lead.

In late January, AYI’s next exhibition will feature the work of Dominic James, a San Diego-based artist and owner of Silk and Bone tattoo studio. The exhibit will be on display for three months.

Miller-Chen said her art gallery has turned into a community space where locals are becoming more involved in the store’s process.

“I’m most excited for more community and more co-creation,” said Miller-Chen. “This community really shows up for each other. So, I’m really, really grateful to live and work amongst some of San Diego’s most vibrant (people.)”

AYI is open Wednesday through Sunday.

Visit shop-ayi.com and follow @shop.ayi on Instagram.

Roxana Becerril is a freelance writer.

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