Tea Travels: Visting Colorful Oaxaca

Oaxaca

Jordan, our Assistant Textile Designer, in Oaxaca

Travel has always been at the heart of Tea. It’s what drives the inspiration behind each and every design we create. As such, it’s only appropriate that we give our hardworking employees time off to go on their own worldly adventures. We offer them an annual international travel stipend to help offset costs. Upon their return, they write a blog post to share their trip with all of us (and all of you). Today, we’re highlighting our Assistant Textile Designer, Jordan, who recently went to Oaxaca, Mexico. She’s been to Mexico many times, but only recently went to the very colorful state of Oaxaca. Read on to learn more about her trip.

As you may have seen in our Instagram stories, I recently went to Oaxaca, Mexico. Although I have been to Mexico many times, this was my first time traveling to the southern state of Oaxaca. My husband and I chose to go there because of its colorful and vibrant art scene, as well as its world-famous cuisine (both of which did not disappoint).

 

Oaxacan art

A relic of an ancient pyramid now integrated into the side of a church

 

In Oaxaca, art is everywhere. Just by walking down a quiet street, you can run into an artist’s workshop or gallery. I would recommend not only visiting the city’s countless museums, but also going to artist collectives. They allow you to see, firsthand, the artist’s process and purchase one-of-a-kind pieces. One of the best parts of my trip was visiting an artisan in their space.

During our trip, we went to the small village of Teotitlán de Valle. Only recently has this town been opened to tourists (previously, you could only get to the village via a mountainous path). Once we arrived, I met an artist named Josefina and her family at their home. There, they showed me their craft of organic dyeing and weaving.

Oaxaca artisans

The process of organic dyeing and weaving

 

Josefina demonstrated how to create dyes from the natural materials found in the family’s backyard, including roots, seeds, and the cochineal insect that grows on cactus paddles. When squished, the bug releases a bright magenta hue and shows up vibrantly in wool designs. Everyone in the family helps out, including Josefina’s children. They clean, comb, and spin the wool. Josefina’s husband then uses the dyed wool at the loom to weave rugs. He creates traditional patterns that date back hundreds of years and reflect the natural elements that surround him (seeds, water, land, etc.).

Oaxacan art

Left: Oaxacan Painted Pottery. Right: Oaxacan Embroidery at the Textile Museum

 

Finding and meeting a family-owned handicraft business like Josefina’s made visiting Teotitlán de Valle even more special. Weaving is only one example of a handicraft Oaxaca is known for. Traveling to different parts will lead you to villages specializing in pottery, embroidery, and many other crafts. With the help of a guide, getting around the surrounding parts of Oaxaca is easy and accessible.

Oaxacan tortillas

Freshly made blue corn tortillas

In addition to handicraft, Oaxaca is known for its unique dishes that wonderfully fuse its indigenous roots with a modern, elevated restaurant scene. From the Oaxacan string cheese to the more interesting chapulines (fried crickets), Oaxacans love to blend flavors and textures. Surprisingly, one of the best food experiences we had in Oaxaca was eating a quesadilla. It sounds simple, but the Oaxacans have really nailed the art of making the perfect quesadilla. We ate at a restaurant called Intanoni, which is known for its corn. All of it is organic and stone ground on the premises. From there, the chefs make delicious tortillas by hand, stuff them with strands of Oaxacan cheese, then cook the quesadillas on top of a comal (Mexican stove) until the tortilla edges are crispy and the cheese inside is perfectly melted. Wash it all down with an ice cold limónañada and you have, in my opinion, the perfect lunch.

I would go back to Oaxaca in a heartbeat. The only thing I would do differently is stay longer than five days. I would love to visit all of the handicraft villages surrounding Oaxaca to discover even more of the colorful art that makes visiting Mexico so special.

Feel inspired? Check out more stories like this on our Instagram @teacollection.

Tea Donates 12,000 Units to the Homeless Prenatal Program

Donation to Homeless Prenatal Program

A couple of weeks ago, we held a Sample Sale at our San Francisco headquarters. The event drew Tea fans from near and far to shop styles from season’s past. While it was amazing to see so many shoppers come through our doors, we recognize that not every family has the opportunity to shop Tea. We’re committed to bettering the lives of children everywhere, including those in our own backyard. We used the remaining inventory to make a difference in our local community, donating nearly all of the leftover clothing to our neighbors at the Homeless Prenatal Program (HPP). We’re proud to say we donated 63 boxes of clothing, totaling 12,000 units!

For over 30 years, HPP has empowered low-income and homeless families, particularly mothers motivated by pregnancy and parenthood, to gain the strength and confidence they need to change their lives. HPP partners with parents to address family health and stability during the transformative stages of pregnancy to kindergarten. As a holistic family resource center, HPP supports both parents and children in order to strengthen the whole family – and our community.

You can help HPP break the cycle of family poverty. You can make a donation to HPP at http://www.homelessprenatal.org/donate. Every contribution – big and small – makes a difference in a mother’s life.

Boutique of the Month: Fiddlesticks

Fiddlesticks

Every month, we highlight one of the three hundred boutiques across the country that help bring Tea to your local communities. This month, we’re featuring Fiddlesticks, a boutique based right here in our own backyard in San Francisco, CA. After working for big companies like Coca-Cola, Fiddlesticks’ owner, Elizabeth, decided to pursue her own passions. Read on to learn more about her story.

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What inspired you to open your boutique? How long has it been open?

 

I started my career at Coca-Cola in their Marketing department, and from there jumped into several Tech companies. It wasn’t the right fit for me, and soon I found myself on a path to open my own retail store. I believe I was always meant to be an entrepreneur. I have been doing this for over 15 years now, and to me it’s a lifestyle that I continue to really enjoy.

What makes your store special?

Fiddlesticks

I believe it’s the combination of our curation and merchandising. Design is really important to me when I head out on my buying trips. I look high and low to make sure the brand Fiddlesticks remains consistent in design and quality. And once in store, placement really matters – especially when mixed with toys and books.

I also believe our boys section is really special, and at times lately heavier than our girls side. The girls can’t always get all the attention. 😉

What was your favorite Tea destination and why?

 

We have been with Tea since the very beginning – back when there were just a handful of designs. So we have seen many destinations in the last 15 years. My favorite destination will always be Japan. I see it as a return to the brand’s roots, plus the designs are always beautiful.

What was the last trip you & your family took together, and what made it special?

 

This past summer we meandered our way through the Midwest for several weeks. My husband and I grew up in the Midwest, so this was familiar travel. We played with family and friends, and found ourselves in many known adventures. But we also tossed in a great deal of new to it all, which is what made it very special. Familiar travel with a mix of new was the right choice for us this summer. Plus, getting out of San Francisco during our freezing summers is always welcome!

Who inspires you (alive or not) and why?

 

My children! They are always schooling me in current lingo, wearing (or rejecting) the current trends, and always teaching me to be a better person. They are my light at the end of the day, and the force that keeps me inspired in this world that seems so dark right now.

What is one thing you think customers should know about the store that they may not be aware of?

 

We have an incredible Giveback program! We support local schools through our “It’s In The Bag” program. When San Francisco introduced a mandated 10 cent shopping bag fee in 2013, we saw an opportunity to bring together our customers and our local school community. We now charge 50 cents per bag, and all the funds generated from shopping bag sales within a two-week period are matched by Fiddlesticks, sealed with a kiss, and donated to a local school.

You’re a new addition in the crayon color box. What color are you?

 

In the world of Fiddlesticks, definitely Porange. Our brand colors are blue and orange, but we love to toss in pink here and there. Our favorite ribbon combo on our wrapping is white, pink & orange – PORANGE!

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Be sure to check out Fiddlesticks if you’re in San Francisco, CA. Not in the Bay? You can support Fiddlesticks by shopping online at www.shopfiddlesticks.com. Want to see more stories like this? Be sure to follow Tea Collection on Instagram @teacollection.

The Story Behind Tea’s New Look

Tea

Hi, I’m Leigh – fellow parent and co-founder of Tea.

So much thought and emotion went into selecting an updated look for Tea. For me, the brown square with the hand-written tea script is full of meaning. Spotting the little brown square on kids clothes in playgrounds, airports, and schools is a thrill every time. The little brown square stands for quality, and we have poured our hearts and imaginations into fulfilling the promise of that little brown square: to inspire global connection and curiosity.

Back in 2002, brown was not the obvious choice for a kids brand. But we loved it because it was different and reminded us of the reason we named ourselves Tea. Sharing a cup of tea (the drink) is the best way to meet someone new, and almost every culture and country has their own long-held traditions and rituals around tea. For me, sharing tea means being curious, open, and fully present.

Old Tea Logo                                       New Tea logo

If you look carefully, you’ll notice that the new logo is not a font. It is hand-drawn by an artist. Tea cares about the hand of the artist, and we embrace the unique, wabi-sabi (perfectly imperfect) soul that designers bring to our clothing, patterns, and graphics. The personal touch or “hand” is part of everything we do.

Inspired by the updated look of our brand, I spent time reflecting on what Tea stands for and how far we’ve come. Here’s what I want you to know about Tea:

 

Tea Believes In Cultivating Cultural Awareness

 

Tea in Nepal      Tea in Nepal

Tea believes that we are all citizens of a big, beautiful, interesting world. Travel is our opportunity to understand how people, different from ourselves, think, feel and live. We seek out relationships with people we meet in the places we go. We draw inspiration from art, music, natural wonders, architecture, textiles, packaging of potato chips, phone booths, and the people we befriend. Their stories, beliefs, and style bring the world closer together. This is what we mean when we say:

 

You want to give your child the world. So do we.

 

Tea in Nepal

When we create clothing for kids, we think about how they play, move, kick, twirl, cuddle, and nap. We design clothing that is the most comfortable, easy and stylish to wear for adventures big and small. We want kids to feel confident exploring and growing. We love when our prints and patterns inspire curiosity about the big, beautiful world we all share. My dream is to raise the next generation to be curious and open to connect. We’re not just celebrating childhood; we are celebrating our world and being a child in it.

 

Tea Believes In Giving Back

 

Leigh with Little Sisters Fund Founder Usha Acharya

Tea donated 1,000 uniforms to school girls in Nepal

Since the beginning, before Tea even had an office, we had a partnership with the Global Fund for Children. We are committed to giving back to grassroots organizations around the world to ensure a better world for children everywhere. The GFC finds, funds, and nurtures organizations that are led by social entrepreneurs that know their local community needs. We partner with the GFC to support these organizations that have real social impact at a local level. We are now committed to giving back 10% of our profits.

 

Bringing It All Together

 

It is my hope and intention that Tea brings people together through our journeys, stories and collections. And we LOVE connecting with you. So, please keep sending us photos of your little ones in Tea! Join us on Facebook, pin us, follow and DM us on Instagram. And of course, don’t forget to stop by TeaCollection.com to see all the latest styles. You and your kids are the reason we do what we do.

Tea Gives 1,000 Uniforms to School Girls in Nepal through Little Sisters Fund

Tea donates 10 percent of its profits to grassroots organizations working toward a better world for kids everywhere. This fall, Tea partnered with Little Sisters Fund of Nepal.

About Little Sisters Fund

 

Founded in 1998, Little Sisters Fund fights injustice and poverty by educating girls and empowering them to become leaders. In Nepal, where almost half of the population lives below the poverty line, school can be prohibitively expensive for many families. Little Sisters Fund provides long-term scholarships to economically disadvantaged girls, and protects them from the dangers of child sex trafficking, child marriage, and child labor.

 

Why Educating Girls Matters

 

Educated women marry later, have fewer and healthier children, earn more, and invest more of their earnings in their families and communities. When a girl gets an education, it impacts her family, her community, and future generations.

 

Tea Gives

 

Tea is excited to support Little Sisters Fund by providing 1,000 new uniforms to 1,000 girls so they can go to school.

 

Tea with Little Sisters founder Usha Acharya

      

   

   

We met Usha Acharya, co-founder of Little Sisters Fund, in the lobby of our hotel on our first full day in Nepal. We recognized her right away from her photo online, gave her a big hug hello, and sat down in the courtyard for a cup of tea. Our company is named Tea because all over the world, people connect with each other by sharing a cup of tea. So we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect way to meet Usha, who told us that welcoming visitors with a cup of tea is a long-standing tradition in Nepal.

Over the next few days, we drove with Usha to visit Little Sister Fund’s partner schools and meet girls who are getting an education thanks to Usha and her organization’s supporters. To the 2,700 girls attending 80 different schools in 20 districts in Nepal, Usha is a mentor, mother, big sister, and beacon of hope. She is living proof that an education can transform a girl’s life. Born in a small village to illiterate parents, Usha was sent at age 6 to live with relatives far from home. Through luck and perseverance, she was able to go to school. That experience opened her mind and changed her life. Usha went on to earn two master’s degrees and has made educating girls in Nepal her lifelong mission.

It’s easy to see her passion. She’s incredibly humble and curious. She takes a personal interest in the backgrounds and stories of every girl in the program. She listens with interest, asks lots of questions, and pays close attention to the world around her. At one point, we were walking through a field of wheat and oats near a school. Usha identified which stalks were wheat and which were oats, then pulled them together to look for the similarities and differences between them. Her curiosity got everyone to stop and think. It’s clear that her calling is to be an educator!

   

According to Usha, education is more important than anything else you can give a person. “If I could have three wishes, it would be education, education, education,” she said to us, as our car bounced along dirt roads. We didn’t see a single traffic light on our two hour ride to Lele, a village in Bagmati Province. We talked the whole way—about Usha’s life, her quest for an education, her father’s death, her marriage to the Nepali ambassador to the UN, her Ivy-League-educated sons, and her passion for her work. She is funny and quick and open and totally plugged into the news of the world. We talked about how the communists were elected to government in Nepal, how families are tricked into giving away their daughters to human traffickers, how she worked for Save the Children before founding Little Sisters Fund, and what it’s like to run a nonprofit in Nepal.

When we got close to the village school, we realized there was a festival happening. The whole town was gathered to honor a local god. The school was officially closed! No matter—when we arrived, there were 30 uniformed girls waiting for us with braids in their hair and flowers in their hands. The sight of all the girls filled our eyes with tears. It was overwhelming and moving to see so much beauty and strength and promise.

The girls handed us flowers and smiled shyly. We went into their classroom and sat in a circle on the floor and talked—about what their life is like, what they like to do with their friends, and what they want to do when they grow up. They drew pictures, laughed, sang, and took a bunch of selfies with our phones. We gave them backpacks filled with school and health supplies they would need for the upcoming school year. Donating a backpack full of supplies costs just ten dollars, but it makes a huge difference for these girls.

   

Getting to know the girls and hearing about their hopes, ideas about the future, and commitment to school was a joyful experience. Later, we learned more about some of the hardships they face. By ensuring they are safe and getting an education, Usha and her team are giving these girls the power to change their lives and the lives of their future children. To witness all that possibility in a small classroom with no chairs was like watching a miracle start to unfold.

Introducing Usha and her work to the Tea community is our way of bringing the world closer together. Being a student means everything to the Little Sisters and seeing how proud the girls were to wear their new uniforms was the highlight of our trip to Nepal.

Every purchase you make at teacollection.com helps girls like those at Little Sisters Fund. To learn more about Little Sisters Fund, visit littlesistersfund.org.

Tea Makes Friends in Nepal

Tea in Nepal

You want to give your child the world. So do we.

Traveling is more than one of life’s greatest privileges—it’s an essential part of cultivating awareness of the great big, super small world we all share. Tea believes in raising a generation of open-minded kids who are ready to explore and connect with people who bring different perspectives and new ideas to the conversation. Designing incredibly cool kids clothes, inspired by the places we go, is our way of inviting you to engage with all the little citizens of the world.

This season, we’re inspired by Nepal. Our latest collection celebrates its colorful culture and the magic of the Himalayas. Read on to learn more about what inspired us during our travels.

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For every trip we take, we usually have at least one connection everywhere we go. In Nepal, we met up with our friend Daphne, who recently moved to Kathmandu from the U.S. with her husband and two daughters.

   

The girls enjoy sel roti, a kind of Nepali doughnut. People use marigold garlands for worship and to greet visitors.

The girls took us on a kids-eye tour of Kathmandu. We learned that cows have the right of way, momo (stuffed dumplings) are a favorite snack, and cotton candy comes in the brightest pink!

   

   

We saw students of all ages learning to paint Buddha in art class. Every school requires a different uniform.

      

We love plaid!

Daphne and the girls introduced us to their friends from school. They all know how to speak Nepali. We loved hearing their stories and watching their daring leaps!

      

   

Tea’s back-to-school collection in action!

Photographing Tea’s back-to-school collection on location reminded us of all the colors and places that inspired our designers.

   

      

Plaid again! And so many jewel tones!

Lastly, we were treated to a musical treat from a flute master.

   

Handmade flutes, displayed on a flute tree.

We want to make friends everywhere we go. Friendship opens a world of ideas, customs, beliefs, and values—plus all the food, art, and music that makes the world so incredible. Connecting and making friends with people different than ourselves—that’s what Tea is all about. We bring travel-inspired style to curious kids. Shop the newest collection inspired by Nepal at teacollection.com.

Meet Living Rosa: A Family With Pride

Living Rosa

June is Pride Month, a reminder to celebrate all people. At Tea, we believe in teaching kids to be little citizens of the world. By opening our hearts and minds to others, we set an example for our children to follow. Today, we’re featuring Living Rosa, a two-mom family with three of the cutest little citizens of the world. Over the last five years, they’ve amassed a large following on YouTube documenting their road to parenthood and everyday adventures. Read on to learn more about their lovely family!

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What does pride mean to you, especially as a family?

Living Rosa

Having pride in yourself is so important but even more so as a family. We always tell our kids that family is the most important and valued thing we have. Families can be made in so many different ways, but the only factor that really matters is the love within your family. Have pride in yourself, but also be proud and supportive of your family. Pride is about feeling comfortable with your true self and not letting others cover up the beauty that you are.

Have you faced challenges being a two-mom family? If so, what have they been and how have you dealt with them?

We are extremely lucky to not only have the support of each other, but also have the support and love from both of our extended families. No one within our families has ever treated us differently from anyone else. Our marriage, our children, and our lives are treated with the love and respect they deserve. We will always be grateful for that.

However, I will say a huge challenge with being a two-mom family is having to come out over and over again, multiple times a month. People never assume that we are a family. Normally, their first impression of us is that we’re sisters or friends. People ask questions like, “Whose kids are they?” Sometimes, it’s just a quick exchange at the grocery story and not a huge deal. Other times, it can be scary not knowing how a person is going to react to the news (especially when your kids are with you).

Our daughter started school this past year. We made sure to explain our family dynamic in advance to her teachers because we didn’t want our daughter feeling uncomfortable in anyway. (Starting school is already a huge experience within itself!) We had the most positive experience with not only her teachers, but also the whole class and parents within the class. It makes us proud to be a positive example of visibility within our community.

Here are Tea, we talk a lot about being open-minded. We strive to connect people to other cultures and ways of life through our clothing. How are you teaching your kids to have that view of the world?

Living Rosa

Our girls are being raised with the value that every life is important. No one person is the same, and that’s what makes everyone special. Everyone has their own story to tell — who doesn’t love learning or hearing about a new story? Above all, we love to explore with our girls. Since they are still so young, everything is new and exciting. For example: parks, playgrounds, museums, beaches, etc. Our wish for them is that they never stop exploring because this world is big and I believe you can never run out of new things to discover.

What has it been like having your journey to parenthood broadcasted to a large audience?

We started sharing our journey before we even became parents. It grew into much more than we could have ever imagined. Although it is scary at times to be viewed by such a large audience, we wouldn’t change this experience for the world. We have been able to capture such pure and real moments of growing together and as parents. It shows people that regardless of gender, our family is relatable. We work; we cook dinner; we read stories to our kids. Our norm is not any different from many other parents. Our kids are smart, happy, and beautiful people. I am honestly proud to share this family we have become.

What advice would you give to parents?

Living Rosa

Love your kids — that’s my best advice to parents. Do everything out of love. Be supportive and encouraging. Remember that your kids are not you. They are their own people. Help them to grow into the best version of themselves that they can be.

What was the last place you traveled to?

This past weekend, we took a five hour road trip with our kids to Catskills, NY. We spent the weekend disconnecting from phones and the Internet. We stayed in a family-owned log cabin exploring the nature around us. The highlight of the trip for the girls was picking wild flowers and watching deer in the woods.

What are some tips you have for traveling with kids?

Traveling with kids can be overwhelming to think about. Bring snacks as a distraction and their lovely to sleep with (if they have one). Sometimes, you just have to jump into the experience and share your excitement with them. They might surprise you!

You can see more of Living Rosa’s family on YouTube. Follow them on Instagram @livingrosa.