I started my first business when I was about 9 or 10 years old. It was a retail business. Well, I’m not sure you would call it retail. Or even a business. But I sold stuff. Sometimes I would convince my neighborhood friends to raid their family pantries for ingredients that we could somehow turn into a baked good. Then we would go door-to-door. Who needs Thin Mints or a good cause! We had sugar, flour, and social networking. (Although I’m pretty sure I didn’t track my cost of goods sold very accurately — or at all.)
My first real business was also in retail. When I was 15, I started a delivery business for helium-filled balloons. Keep in mind that even in Tennessee you can’t drive when you are 15. So I guess that means that I co-founded my first legitimate business with my parents. They were the drivers, the landlords, and my board of directors. I had marketing collateral and financial statements — all hand-written on bright yellow paper and kept in a turquoise 3-ring binder that held my official business license tucked in the side pocket.
Tea works with 300 local boutiques around the country. These boutiques provide a service, human connection, and meaningful work for local communities.
A post from Tea Collection CEO and co-founder, Leigh Rawdon.
This is Rudi. Age 11. Loves reading. Loves music, especially listening to his parents and their friends singing and playing piano or violin or bass. He generally gets along with his brother, and he appreciates the home his parents have made for their family.
Rudi Friedrichs, Age 10. Berlin, 1937 or 1938
Rudi is proud of his dad, a doctor, who served in the first World War as a medic, taking care of fellow Germans. He enjoys the family’s traditions such as the humor from the annual search for matzah at Passover. He has a lot in common with most kids we know.
I’ve seen this picture and heard these stories, and I always put myself in Rudi’s shoes. But now, as a mother of a ten-year-old, I see myself in Rudi’s mom.
Here at Tea, we’re always reinventing ourselves. Each season, we create completely new designs featuring one-of-a kinds prints and patterns inspired by a new destination. Throughout the year we analyze, discuss and research ways to better connect with our customers. We’re always evolving our processes, with the hopes of creating a lasting connection with our customers. Innovation is always top of mind for us, whether its brainstorming or making business decisions. Innovation is what led us to take Tea on the road to Austin this past summer to host a back-to-school pop up shop. It’s also what led us to open Neighborhood Tea at Kid Dynamo, a shop-in-shop experience at our longtime partner store in Berkeley, CA. And it’s what drove us to open Studio Tea, a first of it’s kind refuge for makers, new moms + dads, babies, friends and local Bay Area people to connect and engage with the brand and with each other.
Every time we travel, whether it’s across the street or across the globe, we strive to step outside of our comfort zone, meet new people and learn new things. When our designers travel to gather inspiration for next season’s styles, they go off the beaten path, meet with local craftsmen and eat the local cuisine. When they come back to San Francisco to design, their experiences are translated into beautifully designed prints and graphics. Take a look at our style descriptions and you’ll learn the inspiration behind the design of each piece.
We are local. In 2002, Tea Collection was founded here in the Bay Area at our co-founder Emily’s dining room table (which we still have in our office today!). We are proud of our city and love meeting our neighbors. With Studio Tea just across the street from our home at 1 Arkansas, we’re excited to invite you into our space to have the chance to connect. Bring a friend or two, the more the merrier!
We are makers. Twice a year, Tea designers go out into the world in search of inspiration for our children’s clothing collection. We discover new places and faces, time-honored traditions and handmade creations. We study indigenous art and style, and immerse ourselves in the customs of the host country. We make friends with local craftspeople, learning about their process and traditions. Then we bring the world home and translate it into a twirly floral dress, a vibrant graphic tee, a sweet baby romper… We create globally inspired, well-made, beautiful clothing. Every one of our textiles is designed here in our San Francisco headquarters. Using an array of techniques, from sketching to hand carving stamps and even painting on plexiglass, our design team creates our one-of-a-kind prints and patterns, infused with the spirit of the destination. Come on a journey with us to see how a style goes from an idea to a final design.