Category: Two Minutes with Tea

Two Minutes With Tea: Kristin Lindsey, CEO of The Global Fund for Children

The mission of The Global Fund for Children is to advance the dignity of children and youth around the world. Since 1997, GFC has given more than $25.6 million in grants to 500 community-based organizations in 78 countries worldwide. Their impact means thousands of children are going to school instead of to work. Thousands more are protecting themselves from HIV, escaping the bonds of slavery, and getting the childhood they deserve.

Since partnering with The Global Fund for Children in 2006, we’ve raised more than $240,000 to support vulnerable children worldwide. Our support for GFC takes many forms. Each fall we design the Little Citizens Give Back Collection-donating all proceeds directly to GFC and three times a year, we hold GFC days, donating a portion of all online sales to the organization. In honor of today’s GFC giveback initiative on teacollection.com ($5 per order!), we have CEO Kristin Lindsey, here on Studio T answering a few questions.

What does it mean to “advance the dignity of children and youth around the world”?

Advancing dignity is about breaking down barriers for all children.  We think all children come into this world with talent, with something important to do with their life.   Dignity means every child gets the opportunity to strive for their potential, no matter their circumstances, economics, gender, nationality, etc.  It means no limits!

How do you find and choose which grassroots organizations to work with?

Our program officers are regional experts who spend countless hours networking and searching for innovative organizations that serve the most marginalized children in the world. We select true grassroots groups with local leadership, community and youth involvement, creativity, and sustainability.

How do you ensure that your investment is wisely spent?

Our program team visits about 150 promising organizations each year, then selects 50 new partners to work with.  Over the course of three to six years, we help them grow and thrive using flexible, strategic investments of money and technical expertise.  We stay in touch, closely tracking their development.  Our giving goes way beyond grants – we hold regional conferences to build networks, we leverage other funding, awards and news coverage, and we aim to be a true partner.  All this means that their work and our investments can grow and last.

Is there one partner organization that touches you in particular?

Kliptown Youth Program (KYP) in Soweto, South Africa is a great example of the power and potential grassroots groups have to transform communities. KYP provides academic support, recreational activities, meals, as well as financial support for school fees and materials, for more than 400 children.  Nearly 40,000 people live in the Kliptown slum, where the community suffers from high rates of unemployment, crime and school dropouts.

KYP has been a GFC grantee partner since 2010 and we were so proud to see KYP’s director, Thulani Madondo, honored as a Top 10 CNN Hero last year. See the video here: CNN Hero

Which issue is the most urgent to you right now?

I think a lot about kids exposed to conflict and war.  It’s hard not to.  Nearly a billion children live in places where there is armed conflict. That means families and children leave everything that’s familiar, live with ever-present fear and chaos, and for children, the vulnerability and upheaval is really traumatizing.   We invest in a lot of groups that are protecting and healing children and families in conflict-affected areas, creating comfort, stability and places to learn.

Which region do you find particularly vulnerable?

Since the Arab Spring that began in 2010, we’ve looked a lot at the Middle East and North Africa and we’re expanding our work in Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon.  While it is a region marked by conflict, it also has emerging civil society and a chance to partner with local community members to make a difference.  Ten years from now, it will really matter if we rise to the opportunity of investing in the dignity, learning, safety and positive pathways for children here.

 

We absolutely love the newest GFC book, Global Baby Girls! Could you explain why little girls need particular attention?

Girls can be powerful agents of change in their communities.  They have the ability to solve some of society’s toughest challenges because they are the fabric that holds families together. The possibilities are limitless for what girls can do today. We owe it to them to make sure they are equipped with what they need to go out into the world and shine.

Where do you see The Global Fund for Children five years from now?

Five years from now, we hope GFC will be top of mind for everyone when they think about how to make the most powerful impact in vulnerable children’s lives. Since 1997, we have touched the lives of nearly 8 million children.  With continued support from generous donors, key partners, companies and students, we expect that number to grow to 10 million by 2015.

Other than donating money through the GFC website, how can we help support The Global Fund for Children?

We love hearing from students because it will be up to them to transform the future of little citizens around the globe.  We encourage schools and universities to contact us to learn more about ways they can help us help other kids around the world.  We’ve had some great fundraising events and speaking engagements with students!

You can also show some love by spreading the word about our work on Facebook and Twitter. We look forward to hearing from you!  AND when you shop Tea Collection, keep us in mind! There’s a donation at check-out option – and any amount goes a long way!

 

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Two Minutes With Tea: Karin Miller

Karin Miller is a South African artist whose work is bold and thought provoking. You may have seen her art pinned around Pinterest or perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to see her work hanging on the walls of the Holzen Manz Collection and Gallery in Franschhoek. Our dive in to South African culture this spring lead us to Karin and we’re so thankful she took the time to answer a few questions for Studio T.

Your pieces are unique, layered, and complex. Give us some insight on their background and how they’re created.

I must say my work is quite intuitive. I have a feel for my strong cultural background and I am inspired by my environment. I collect ideas and images and scan them into my computer. I also take photographs of people who appeal to me to use in my work. Once I have most of my elements ready, I start doing my artwork in Photoshop and it is a very lengthy process because I am quite obsessive about details.

How do you think art has evolved with technology?

I was trained as a  Graphic designer, and for that reason I evolved with technology  and I love playing around and experimenting with art on my computer.

How has the South African culture influenced the aesthetic of your work?

I love people of different colors and cultures and also to use them in my work. I find the evolving south african culture and social dynamics of racial and cultural relationships fascinating.

We were enamored with the Protea flower as you may be able to tell from a number of pieces in our spring collection! Is there anything native to South Africa in particular that you find yourself drawing inspiration from?

There are so many elements of that I draw inspiration from. I love the aloe plant in all its forms at the moment, and the more I start studying a plant, the more fascinating and beautiful it becomes to me.

What’s a typical day in the life of Karin Miller consist of?

I spend just about every day working in my studio at home. Not because I have to, but because I want to.

Do you have any favorite South African artists we should know about?

Conrad Botes

On our next trip to South Africa, where is one place we must visit that may have been overlooked as a first-time tourist?

Perhaps the simplicity and the vastness of the Karoo.

Finish this sentence: “To me, art is…not that serious.”


Two Minutes with Tea: Photographer Corey Villicana

Meet photographer Corey Villicana.

She’s a mother, a go-getter, an all around lovely lady – and lucky for us, she put her busy life on hold to answer a few questions. We needed to know… how often should we schedule family photo shoots?! How do we find the right backdrop?  And of course (to make your life easier), we wanted to know which Tea items she’d recommend for a family photo! We’ve got all the answers for you below, along with several of Corey’s fabulous photos featuring Tea in action. Be sure to follow her on instagram, ‘like’ her facebook page, and peek into her photo shoots here.

What drove you to pursue your own business?

When I started Corey Villicana Photography, my initial drive was to provide a secondary income for my family. My children are the driving force behind everything that I do. Throughout the past five years, my focus has remained the same, although I’m now at a place in my career where I’m fortunate enough to be able to pick and choose the projects that I work on, an incredible blessing.

Any advice for photographers out there with dreams of turning their hobby into a career?

My greatest advise would be to follow your instincts and remain authentic. I think that especially in a profession such as photography, where your work is actually a form of art and a direct expression of yourself: it’s hard to remain true to your own vision. Each photographer should have a different approach, vision or “eye” for each image, that’s what makes each capture unique. Just this last year, I’ve had people express to me that my work has developed a certain consistency, that my photography is recognizable to a trained eye. That’s the greatest compliment that I could receive, related to my body of work.

Southern California must be a pretty inspirational place! You have the Pacific Ocean as a sandy backdrop and sunny skies for great light, seems like the perfect combination. For those who may not be as lucky as us West Coast dwellers, where would you suggest they look for their own perfect backdrop?

I always suggest that a location is chosen based on the preference and regularity of the family using it. If yours is a beach family, you will likely be most comfortable at the beach. Homebodies? Then you should be photographed there at home, in the comfort of your own surrounding. A good amount of natural light is essential to a beautiful photograph, the rest comes easily.

Newborn photo shoots seem to be a must these days, while 1st Birthday’s are becoming the ultimate production. What special years and holidays would you suggest to capture professionally?

If I had to choose three, they would be maternity, newborn, and one year documentation. The grace and serenity that a woman radiates while she’s carrying a child is one of the most pure and honest forms of beauty that we as humans are ever exposed to. The time that you have have to capture the miracle of another human being growing inside a woman’s body is limited, and once the pregnancy is over, those moments and images cannot be duplicated. That being said, the sweetness and peace of a newly born child has got to be the most precious images captured. Babies grow so quickly and change at such a rapid rate, the images of your tiny newborn child will be something that you cherish for a lifetime. One year of life is such a landmark, for both a child and their parents. A celebration of the first twelve months of your lives together, and the excitement of a lifetime. By age one, a child has developed a personality of their own and is typically more than willing to be photographed.

We love your detail shots! Tell us why they’re important to you.

The detail shot is something that I live for. If you’re given the opportunity to capture moments or images of the human connection between people or the essence of a person in a single image, it’s best done in a detail shot. Say that you have a father who has his child in his arms, the initial thought would be to photograph their entire bodies, but if you can train your eye to look a bit closer, you’ll see the child’s hair falling over her fathers shoulder, or their small hands wrapped tightly around his arm. Those are the images that move me, the snippets of current life, captured for eternity.

What are your thoughts on props?

When I starred my business five years ago, the industry was heavily saturated with prop photography. I dabbled in it myself, although at the end of the day, I prefer working without any restrictions, props, furniture etc… My ideal location to meet with a family would be a completely wide open space, where they can act naturally and connect with one another without any outside influences. I’ve also noticed that people tend to hide behind props or worst case, props can overtake an image, becoming the focal point as opposed to the the people in the image.

Share with us the secret to keeping children happy during shoots!

My best advice is to act naturally. Children can sense any sort of nervous or stressful energy, so I approach each session as myself, casual and personal. Keep in mind that each child is an individual with thoughts and feelings of their own. If you can connect with that child, and make them feel comfortable in the situation, the session and the images will unfold naturally.

I know one question you get asked over and over is a panicked, “What do we wear?!”.  So let’s make it easy for them… Looking through our current collection, choose your favorite looks for family photos.

Tea Collection is an absolute joy to photograph, so there really isn’t a way to go wrong choosing pieces from this collection. My current favorites would have to be the Ubuntu Striped and Happy Hoodies, Striped Purity Tees, Twirl Dresses, and the Gypsy Knit Pants.

Thank you Corey!