Over the next few days, we’ll introduce you to a group of amazingly talented women. They are moms, small business owners and entrepreneurs, friends and all around good people (among many other attributes). We feel incredibly lucky to have them as our Tea Brand Ambassadors. We launched our ambassador program in early 2016 with hopes of connecting with customers who truly embody the Tea spirit. Starting small, reaching out to a few people we had met or worked with before on smaller projects. We’ve been blown away by how Tea shines through their every day lives. So, without further ado, it’s our pleasure to introduce you to Lisa Jackson. Read on to learn about her family, her favorite Tea item — and don’t miss the recipe she’s sharing for her black bean polenta dish, it’s delicious!
We love meeting new and inspiring creative people. We also love food (who doesn’t?!) and are constantly searching for creative ways to share recipes with our Studio Tea readers. Needless to say, when Lauren K. Stein, reached out to us we were thrilled to learn more about her latest cookbook Fresh Made Simple featuring beautifully illustrated, original recipes. Lauren graciously offered to share her recipe for a delicious Italian Cacio e Pepe pasta dish and here she dives into the story behind her work with a little Q&A.
I once read that the main ingredient in an Italian dish is enjoying it with family and friends. In Italy, la famiglia is everything. And family gatherings are at the center of it all. You may have visions of what an Italian family dinner looks like from friendly stories or perhaps something you’ve seen in a movie, but you cannot truly grasp the bond between family members until you join them for a meal.
We had the honor of meeting with the very talented kantha artist Mahamaya Sikdar while we were in Kolkata. Mahaymaya is a President’s Award Winner & National Award Winner in her craft. She was in the middle of a move when we visited and graciously took the time to bring all of her kanthas to us so we could see her work. We got to see the incredible detail, hear about her process and discuss how she is helping pass her craft to younger generations.
“Indigo, or indigotin, is a dyestuff originally extracted from the varieties of the indigo and woad plants. Indigo was known throughout the ancient world for its ability to color fabrics a deep blue. Egyptian artifacts suggest that indigo was employed as early as 1600 b.c.”
To celebrate the launch of our Citizen Blue collection which is rooted in rich indigo hues, we’ve partnered with Tatcha, a skincare company that happens to have their very own Indigo collection, to bring you (three of you!) the chance to win a prize package worth $200! Learn more about Tatcha’s founder and CEO, Victoria Tsai, below…
“I created Tatcha as a way to share the treasures I discovered on my journeys, a philosophy shared by the Tea Collection founders. My daughter, Alea, recently embarked on her first travels and is on her way to becoming a little citizen of the world. Wherever she roams, she loves wearing her kimono-inspired Tea Collection outfits. I’m honored to share our story – and the story of Tatcha – with you today.”
We understand you created Tatcha as “a way to share the treasures and knowledge discovered on [your] journeys East.” What was one of the earliest lessons learned that pushed you to start this business in 2009?
“My way of working represents an artistic creative process: irrational, intuitive, inquiring and interwoven. As a designer, however, I reserve the right to always keep the goal in mind and seek for solutions to existing problems. I test, scour, question and reject methods and in the best case new is discovered this way – always challenging the innovation in consideration of the real customers needs.”
Anna Niestroj founded BLINKBLINK in 2012 as an open interactive design studio.
We collaborated with the talented pattern designer Anna Neistroj for our Germany Collection. Here is a little interview with our favorite guest artist.
Where do you live now? In Berlin!
Favorite destination in Germany? Berlin… and surroundings. And any old town in the country.
Favorite destination worldwide? Seasides, Riversides, Lakesides! I wouldn’t prefer a specific place.
Did you always want to be an artist? As a child what career did you want? As a 5 year old: violinist. Soon I wanted to be an entrepreneur: doing things and selling it to people. As my father was an artist I considered myself even so 😉
Favorite Color? Turquoise
Where do you get your inspiration? From materials, printed matter, the internet, travels and the city I live in (+ people that live here.).
We were thrilled to discover your work while we were researching for our Germany collection. Your collages feel like a contemporary evolution of the Bauhaus artists. Is Bauhaus a strong influence on your work? It makes me happy to read this! I actually didn’t think of bauhaus while I created the collages but I think it still came to me via ‘zeitgeist’ 😉
left: artwork by Bauhaus artist Gunta Stölzl, right: artwork by Anna Niestroj / Blink Blink
left: artwork by Bauhaus artist Wassily Kandinsky, right: artwork by Anna Niestroj / Blink Blink
Will you send us a picture of your studio and tell us a little about your typical work day? There is no typical work day, except for being in the studio a lot (experimenting, printing, etc.), using the computer a lot (designing, communications, etc.) and welcoming all sorts of people. I have a fiew clients that I work for repeatingly. But the most jobs I do are on project-base and singular.
some shots of Anna Niestroj / Blink Blink’s inspiring workspace
Emily and Anna in Anna’s Studio/ Anna standing in the doorway to her studio space.
Do you have a cause or charity that is important to you? I think that the place I choose for my studio is a special form of charity. I’m ‘donating’ some color and joy to a pretty rough area / neighborhood. Also I think that ‘Think global, act local.’ is a good leitmotif.
Tea will be making a donation in honor of Anna to himmelbeet, an intercultural community garden in Berlin that focus on organic farming. Here people of all ages come together to garden, build with recycled materials, cook and participate in environmental education workshops.
When we were getting started with Tea, we met Braden & DeNai Jones, the founders of Petunia Pickle Bottom, at a New York trade show. We connected instantly – fellow entrepreneurs building great products for mamas. Emily and I returned to our office in San Francisco to find a (surprise) floral arrangement from our new friends at Petunia! The crush was mutual.
Our paths continued to parallel not only through building our businesses, but also in building our families. Braden & DeNai also have two boys: Sutton (8) and Miller (6); just a year ahead of my two boys! I have enjoyed keeping up with their families these past few years – especially when they packed up their kids and took them to visit their vendor partners in Asia.
Now, it is my turn! Once each year, I travel with a few members of our production team to visit our partners abroad. It just so happened that my husband’s calendar opened up around the time of this year’s trip, so we thought this would be the perfect opportunity for a family vacation! Our boys are very excited about an extra long spring break.
As soon as we started planning the trip, the first call I made was to Braden & DeNai for advice, which was beyond helpful. I felt selfish keeping their suggestions to myself, so read on for the full details of my conversation with the Jones’ and get tips for your own kid-friendly trip abroad.
Leigh: David & I are concerned about jetlag for the kids. It’s one thing for adults because we can just push through as long as we have an extra coffee. But that doesn’t work for kids!
Braden: I try and put the family on a sleep schedule during takeoff to give us a jump on the time zone we are traveling to, before we arrive. That tactic seems to help the boys with jetlag.
Fun things to do in Hong Kong when you aren’t working?
Braden: There are some great activities we do to get the boy’s legs moving; we like the Tian Tan Buddha, we visit the HK Zoo or ride The Peak Tram up the hillside. Ocean Park was a big hit with the boys too. Most of the time we just enjoy walking the streets, exploring temples, and browsing markets and other nook and crannies of the city.
How about the food? My kids like some Asian food, but they tend to rely on their go-to favorites like Pad See Ew and avocado sushi – does that even count as Asian food or sushi for that matter?
DeNai: Our boys usually enjoy trying new foods, but for those times when they aren’t feeling as adventurous, Cup Noodles is always an option. You can get these just about anywhere or bring them with you. I also like to bring granola bars wherever we go as back-up. When I can find western grocery stores, I’ll stock up there on things I know the kids will like.
I’m excited to take our 7-year-old to our factory outside of Bangkok. I can’t wait to show him how clothes are made! Plus, we have known our partners and their families there since Adam was born. I think it will feel like a family reunion! Our partners in Hong Kong have invited my family to join for dinners too. It will be a pretty amazing “take-your-kids-to-work-day”! Any tips?
Braden: Honestly, it’s an amazing experience for everyone. We first brought our boys along so that we could work for several solid weeks without having to be away from them for too long. It’s a very family centric culture, so bringing our kids really enhanced our relationships with our colleagues, friends, factories and staff. The boys join us for work, dinner and entertainment, and our partners love to see Miller and Sutton grow over the years. As hard as it is for them sometimes, I will tip my hat to my boys for being along for the ride and being great sports about it.
The Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Shanghai airports are a lot bigger than San Francisco… Not to mention the number of people and languages! Do you have any practical tips?
Braden: A time saver I suggest, is to grab a stack of Customs Cards (Arrival or Departure forms) and fill them out before you are in the customs line. It’s much easier to focus on keeping the family together when you’re not fumbling with the papers and passports. I also memorized all of the passport numbers, saves time for border access and if you lose a passport.
How about hotel recommendations? Any specific kid-friendly, designer-y hotels? You two always seem to find the perfect stylish hotels!
Braden: Finding a room with multiple beds in HK is hard, but it can be done. Most websites only allow you to add one child (not two) when you make your reservations. I suggest making the reservation with one child and then explaining (with a smile) that you need a hide-a-bed for your second or third child once you arrive. On the Kowloon side we tend to stay at the ICON Hotel. It’s new, modern, has every amenity for a great price. On the Hong Kong side we have stayed at the Hotel LKF right above LAN Kwai Fong. At this hotel you are right on top of the party street, restaurants and activities. Other child-friendly hotels we have visited in Asia are: The Racha Hotel in Phuket, Thailand, the Osaka Hilton in Japan, the Lotte World Hotel in Seoul, South Korea, and the Hotel Majestic in Vietnam.
Tips for packing? We’re gone for more than two weeks and I can’t bear the thought of packing enough clothes for such a long stretch! I’m not worried about clothes for the kids because Tea has that covered! Always easy to mix & match, comfortable and great looking. Next time you go, promise me you will call so I can send some Tea for your boys – I would love to see your Instagram pics with your beautiful sons in some Tea!
DeNai: We always pack a lot of black and gray clothes for the kids because they hide the messes and can easily dress up or down. We tend to bring about four to five days of clothes and use the laundry service at hotels to refresh the selection. We’d love to dress Miller and Sutton in Tea next time!
How about emergency kits? And I mean all types of emergency: medical, long layovers, sleepless nights….
DeNai: I usually pack my Petunia Pickle Bottom Wistful Weekender for traveling. It has plenty of storage space and I have a handful of emergency-type items stored inside for the boys: everything from a thermometer and Dermabond (liquid stitches), to small toys and a travel art set to fight boredom. Oh and Cleanwell hand spray is the best germ spray out there!
You are amazing! Thank you! Such practical, helpful tips. I couldn’t be more excited. Keep an eye on my Instragram! I hope to have lots of pictures to capture what will undoubtedly be a crazy & beautiful trip.
Note: Tea is currently hosting a fun baby sweepstakes, which includes our friends Petunia Pickle Bottom. Please sign up for a chance to win over $3,000 in prizes. Perfect for new mamas!