Category: Behind the Design

What is the Nceka cloth?

Close-up of Nceka cloth.

Nceka cloth from our South Africa inspiration trip.

On our trip to the Limpopo Region, our designers were struck by the beautiful beading and embroidery on Nceka cloths.  The Nceka cloth is a traditional cloth worn over the upper body by Tsonga and Shangaan women.  Oftentimes it is an indigo dyed fabric embellished with beads and safety pins by the wearer herself.  Intricately embroidered Nceka cloths are saved for special occasions like weddings.

We loved the colorful and unique detail of Nceka cloths so much that we created the Mtititi Floral Tunic.  You can bring home a piece of South Africa too from our girls’ tops!  The over-dyed floral indigo fabric is embellished to look like the beads from traditional Nceka cloths.

Girl wearing floral tunic

Our Mtititi Floral Tunic inspired by the Nceka cloth.

Watch the Mtititi Magic video to see beading in action and learn about how Mtititi has changed the lives of women in the Limpopo Region. Video courtesy of WatchKubasa via Youtube.

Cultural Connections: Holiday Horses

Horses have played a major role in the development of all cultures, maybe because they proved reliable creatures and friends. For the past three holiday seasons, we have featured horses on our girls’ tees. Take a trip down memory lane with us.

1. Old World Hungary Pony inspired by Hungarian reverse appliqué Christmas ornaments for tea’s Fall 2010 collection

2. Modern Mexico Flying pony inspired by Mexican alebrijes Fall 2011 collection.

3. Motif from Swedish Dala horse for tea’s current Nordic Design Collection. (image credit: ebay) Check out the Folk Sparkle girls’ tee.

We made a printable coloring page so you can create your own holiday horse ornaments!

Chic Cycling in Copenhagen

Biking in Copenhagen

Image courtesy of thecityfix.com

What can you see on every street in Copenhagen?  A bike!  That’s right everywhere our designers looked – right, left, up, down- they spotted bikes.  That’s why our Nordic collection was dotted with bikes on girls tees and boys hoodies.  Cycling is an integral part of Danish life and even has its own blog capturing cycle style, Cycle Chic. For many, it may be their only mode of transportation.   Did you know more people bike to work in the greater Copenhagen area than in the entire United States?  Urban planners in Copenhagen wanted to make cycling easy not an uphill battle for their residents.  Many factors contribute to Copenhagen’s biking success, one being that they have a relatively flat terrain and specialized cycle tracks that criss-cross the city.  Slowly but surely, progressive American cities are becoming more bike friendly like San Francisco where bikes lanes are being widened and free bike valet is offered at major events.

Cycle Chic Tee

Be a fashionista in our Cycle Chic Tee!

Behind the Design: Creating with Leaves and Flowers

lisa-larson-swedish-ceramic-artist

One of the many inspiring artists we discovered in Scandinavia was Swedish ceramicist, Lisa Larson. We loved how Larson, played with flower and leaf shapes to create creatures (pictured above). We wanted to use the same idea of creating a Scandinavian creature out of plant elements. I collected a variety of internet images and actual plant pieces that I scanned into the computer. Then came the fun part, arranging the elements to create an animal. The pieces I had worked nicely to make an owl. I then traced the owl I created with sharpies to make our Blomma Owl Girl’s Graphic Tee.

creating animals with plants activity

We thought it’d be a fun idea to collect leaves and flowers with your children and see what kind of animals they can make out of dry leaves. I found these amazing leaf creations (below) by kokokoKids over on My Barn Owl.

animals made of leaves

Just the other day I found these awesome leaf cut cars on The Art Room Plant.

cars made of leaves

We want to see what you create with your kids? Post them on our facebook page!

 

 

Behind the Design: Fire Brigade Tee

Fire Engine in Helsinki

Inspiration for the Fire Brigade Tee

Ever wonder why our Finnish fire engine tee says sisu?  We didn’t make up that word.  During our inspiration trip, our designers noticed the word sisu on many service trucks.  It turns out that sisu is the name of a Finnish truck company started in 1931, and it has been producing fire engines and armored vehicles ever since.  In Finnish culture, sisu means having resilience, perseverance, and determination- all qualities that I would want in a fire fighter.  Some Fins might describe it as “having guts.”  Parents have grown so fond of sisu that they have started naming their sons this.  Like all cultural phenomenons, it will slowly spread to the rest of the world just like the word sauna has.  I bet you didn’t know that was originally a Finnish word.

Fire Brigade Outfit

Fight fires in your own sisu Fire Brigade Tee.

 

 

Lily at the Emmy’s in Tea!

The following is written by Emily Meyer, Tea Collection’s Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer.

How awesome is Modern Family the TV show?!  It’s so funny and I just love the weave of contemporary themes and some of the most socially relevant story telling. It turns out that the actress that plays Lily, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, is a huge Tea fan!

I met Aubrey’s mother, Amy Anderson Emmons, at the Mom 2.0 bloggers conference in May … she was super friendly and spoke about managing the social media audience for Aubrey’s fan base.  I introduced myself and she said they knew Tea, that Aubrey even had a couple of pieces … I mentioned that we would LOVE to dress Aubrey for any special occasions.

Well … I was travelling overseas just a few weeks ago and received an email from Amy – she says Aubrey is going to the Emmy’s and asked if we would be interested in dressing her?  Of course!!  What an awesome project and it would be an honor for us!

Marjorie, our designer, was traveling with me – we immediately started brainstorming in the courtyard of our hotel at 12:30am!! Marjorie sketched.  We started with our iconic wrap neckline styling and created a bubble in the skirt for fun, matching Aubrey’s playful personality.  Then we added a sash similar to one we had seen on the traditional Korean costume, called a hanbok.

Lily from Modern Family Wears Tea Collection to Emmys

Our amazing Technical Design team drafted the pattern and made a prototype before we returned home from the trip.  We found beautiful silk taffeta fabric at Britex in downtown San Francisco.  And then I went to LA to visit Aubrey in person to try on the dress.  The sash captivated Aubrey and the wrap neckline was gorgeous on her – elegant and youthful.

Lily from Modern Family wears Tea to Emmy's

Ana, Tea's photographer, with Aubrey as she tries on her Emmy's dress for the first time.

Marjorie traveled to LA herself to help Aubrey get dressed, including final touches, for the big event.

Marjorie helping Aubrey pick out the perfect shoe.

I am so proud of our team for making this happen so fast and so beautifully.  It’s literally the art of couture, globally-inspired, made with heart and soul.

 

Activity Printout: Ride the Magic Bike

free coloring page

Download your Ride the Magic Bike Activity Printout.

Once you’re done, submit your creation to blog@teacollection.com for your chance to win a $100 Tea gift certificate! Every month, Tea staff will pick one artistic little citizen to win!  Honorable mentions will also be uploaded into their own featured blog post. Let your creative juices flow and show us your inner artist!

This activity was inspired by the Cycle Chic tee.

Tea's Cycle Chic Tee

Cycle Chic Tee

Cycle in style without a care in world. It’s easy to inspire adventure with a sweet pink tee. Check out the nods to Danish architecture and needlework details that bring Copenhagen to life.