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.
The kitsune (fox) mask is one of the most famous traditional masks in Japan. Masks have been a part of Japanese song, dance, religion and celebration for hundreds of years. Lately, they have also become popular in pop culture, seen throughout Japanese TV shows and anime. Learn more about kitsune masks and download a mask DIY activity for your little citizens.
A puzzling design of layered thread, temari balls have been a traditional Japanese craft for over one thousand years and are still popular today. When we traveled to Japan, we saw beautiful temari balls in markets and museums, further proving the point that this handicraft has indeed been around for many years, but lives on in modern day. Temari balls are created by making a core base and wrapping layers of yarn, thread, paper or fabric around it to create a round shaped ball. Each temari ball is different, but typical patterns you can find are geometric and symmetrical. A lot of designs will also include some element of nature, which is a popular focus in Japanese tradition and culture. Temari are traditionally given as a gifts, and symbolize friendship, loyalty and good luck. It’s traditional for a mother to make her daughter a ball as a New Year’s gift. We loved this tradition and after speaking with some moms in the office, we realized that this craft lives on in the U.S. too. One Tea mom makes something very similar to a temari ball, for gifts for her little citizen, called surprise balls. After doing some digging we found out it is really popular! Here we’re sharing an activity perfect for gifts for the holidays, inspired by the temari balls. If you want to learn and try your hand at making a traditional temari ball, head on over to TemariKai.com where you can find step-by-step instructions.
Saju wears our Chie Graphic Dress and Tenley wears our Tankuki Teapot Graphic Tee.
The Japanese city of Kanazawa is known for it’s production of gold leaf and use of it in many traditional and modern handicrafts. Artisans and craftsmen throughout Kanazawa have practiced gold leafing for hundreds of years. We saw many artifacts throughout museums and adorning ancient temples and buildings in this magical city. Gold leaf is also extremely popular in crafting and housewares today, throughout the world. You can even see a hint of gold on the logo of our holiday catalog front cover. When we traveled to Japan to shoot our holiday catalog, we took our new friends Tenley and Saju, to try their hand at gold leafing. Learn how you can do it too, right at home!
The crane is one of the most iconic origami shapes there is. Easily recognizable and found throughout Japan in and around the many shrines, the origami crane, or orizuru, is a representation of the Japanese red-crowned crane, a bird that has special significance in Japan. Cranes are thought to bring good luck and longevity as it is said they can live for 1,000 years. An ancient Japanese legend says that anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes will be granted one wish by the gods. In Japan, we saw many strings of origami cranes, all folded with such precision and always near a shrine. The many colors and precise shapes left us in awe. While we would never consider ourselves to be “pros” at any craft, we’ve definitely managed to be quite quick at making these origami cranes. From launch parties and pop-up shop photo backdrops, to in-store installations, we’ve made hundreds of cranes over the past few months. If you’ve ordered from TeaCollection.com during our fall season, you’ve probably received your very own set of 8 origami papers with instructions on how to make an adorable origami uni (dog). Learn how to make an origami crane on your own! It might take a few tries to get it down, but once you’ve figured out the folds, you’ll quickly become a pro yourself.