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.

Boutique of the Month: Ruby’s Garden

Ruby's Garden

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 Ruby’s Garden, a boutique in Oakland, CA. Together with her daughter Ruby, storeowner Mae has run Ruby’s Garden for thirteen years. Read on to learn more about her story.

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Mae, Storeowner of Ruby's Garden

Mae, Storeowner of Ruby’s Garden

Before I was a stay-at-home mom, I was an architect and a community organizer. All that outward career energy doesn’t just go away when we have a baby, does it? My “nesting instinct” when I was pregnant was knitting. I learned and was soon obsessed. I think the reason I was so into it was because I was creating tangible work product, in contrast to the intangibility of parenting a new baby. All that knitting was part of figuring out I needed work outside the home that I could do while mothering. So I created Ruby’s Garden to be a place I could raise Ruby alongside all the mothers in my community.

Opening a children’s store sounds like it’s about the stuff we sell. I’ve always had a pretty clear point of view in choosing products from my design background. Designing all our store layouts and product fixtures has been extra fun since it’s the fun part of architecture and interior design. But the reason I’ve loved Ruby’s Garden has always been getting to be connected with my neighbors and providing a space for neighbors to connect with each other. I especially love the sisterhood of women-owned businesses on my block and throughout Oakland. Sisters are doing it, and I love being a part of cheering us on.

Ruby and Mae

Ruby and Mae

I’m so proud to have raised Ruby in the shop these thirteen years. As a high-schooler now, Ruby has taught me a lot about youth culture and social media — all of which have impacted how I run the business. She’s an entrepreneur in the making, and I like to think she’s learned a few things from me too.

Ruby and I have been doing more traveling together these past few years. We embarked today on our first trip to Asia together: Taipei first, where my mom grew up, then Hong Kong where my late father grew up. I’m writing from our Airbnb in Taipei after night market street food adventures. Tomorrow is the Dragon Boat Festival, a national holiday in Taiwan—another adventure tomorrow!

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Be sure to check out Ruby’s Garden if you’re in Oakland, CA. Of course, you can always shop Tea at TeaCollection.com. Want to see more? Follow us on Instagram @tea_collection.

Tea Travels: Exploring the Coasts of Italy

Travel is always at the heart of Tea — it’s the true inspiration behind all of our clothing collections. We believe that by introducing ourselves to new people, places, and cultures, we become better, more open individuals. To encourage our employees to truly live these values and take time off to see the world, we offer them an annual international travel stipend to help offset costs. Upon their return, our Tea travelers write a post to share their adventures with all of us, and all of you. Today, we’re highlighting a trip to Italy taken by Letty, our Quality Control & Compliance Manager. This was her second time visiting the country, and she set off to explore the smaller towns of the Amalfi Coast. Read on to learn more about her trip.

Fiordo Di Furore, Italy

Cove in Fiordo Di Furore

I fell in love with Italy a couple of years ago when I visited Rome, Florence, and Sicily. Since then, I’ve been dying to revisit. Italy is so varied from region to region, so we were excited to explore some new places this time around. We first visited the Amalfi Coast, opting for the smaller towns of Praiano, Maiori, and Minori. We loved all the little coves, full of secret beaches. My favorite was Fiordo Di Furore, reminiscent of the secluded beach from the Studio Ghibli film “Porco Rosso.”

Amalfi Dolls in Italy

Amalfi Dolls

 

 

When we weren’t lounging on the sand, we took hikes between towns. Maiori and Minori were connected by a winding lemon tree hike. Along the walk, we found funny decorations, statues, and even dolls. From Amalfi, we took a very winding and dizzying bus ride to a train to take us to Naples.

I’ve always been skeptical about the hype surrounding Naples pizza. How good could it really be? Once we got off the train, we bee-lined to L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele. I was worried when I saw a line out the door and a sidewalk littered with tourists. In the end, the pizza was well worth the wait. Once we took a bite and tasted the perfectly sweet and acidic sauce, lightly charred crust, and creamy cheese, we committed to ONLY eating pizza. The hype was real.

Museo Madre, Naples, Italy

Museo Madre, Naples

Naples is a lively city, having all the history of Rome without any of the pretension. It mixed high art with street and political art. Each subway station boasted its own art installation, full of colors and movement. The Museo Madre, a cool contemporary art museum, was just dizzying. Once we entered, we were engulfed by a fun house full of graphic shapes and mirrors.

Once 4pm hit, everyone was off work. The winding streets filled with conversation, laughter, and aperol spritz. I love a good commotion, and Naples immediately sang to me. Everyone was friendly and super talkative. A young shopkeeper we spoke with insisted we eat at his best friend’s restaurant, promptly making us reservations. From Naples, we travelled to Procida, a small island off the coast. There, we met with the Naples chef again, who also directed us to the best food on the island.

Galleria Nazionale, Rome, Italy

Galleria Nazionale, Rome

We ended our trip in Rome meeting up with friends. The last time we visited Rome, we diligently hit up all the historical sites. This time, we decided to take our time with leisurely strolls, picnicking in parks, and chatting for hours. I can’t wait to return and see more of Italy.

Feel inspired? Check out our limited Italy collection available at teacollection.com.

Boutique of the Month: The Spotted Goose

The Spotted Goose

Our Boutique of the Month series highlights the boutiques across the U.S. that help bring Tea to your local communities. This month, we’re featuring The Spotted Goose, a boutique based in Cincinnati, OH. We sat down with store owner Amy Fessler to learn more about her store and what makes it special.

What inspired you to open your boutique? How long has it been open?
Store Owner Amy Fessler

Store Owner Amy Fessler

 

Totally by chance. Someone else opened the Spotted Goose in 2007. I was shopping in the store one day when I overheard the owner say she was moving to China and going to sell the store. I jumped at the chance and a few months later I was the proud owner of The Spotted Goose.

What makes your store special?

 

We’re a locally owned boutique and love being a part of our neighborhood. We work in the store, get to know our clients and their families, and hand select the items we bring into our space. Our clients are the absolute best and it is so much fun getting to know them and their little families.

What was your favorite Tea destination and why?

 

I’d have to say the current collection. We have a more minimal style and the current collection’s simple patterns and sweet little stripes have definitely been a favorite of ours.

Tea in the Spotted Goose

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

 

We went to Cabo for Spring break this year. It was the first time we took the kids out of the country. We had such an amazing time. The most special part was exposing our children to different cultures, family dynamics, and showing them how diverse and wonderful our world really is.

Who inspires you (alive or not) and why?

 

Elyse Walker – boutique owner and fashion icon! I love that she is a strong woman who empowers women. She has a wonderful team of ladies that make up that powerhouse brand. We are so fortunate to have a group of gals (The Goose Gals) in our store who are strong, smart, and our shop family.

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

 

We offer personal styling sessions for your little ones. Families are busy, so we do our best to make the shopping process simple. Clients call us looking for an outfit for an event or photoshoot or needing new wardrobes for the season. We ask a few questions about style, favorite brands, and size. Then, we shoot over photos/style guides for the family. If the client is out of town, we can ship items directly to them or we can set up an appointment in the store to go over selections. Life is busy. We’re happy to free up some time for our clients to spend with their loved ones!

The Spotted Goose

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

 

Tulum Teal because those beaches are beautiful! If you catch me daydreaming, I’m on those white sandy beaches soaking up the view and the sunshine.

Be sure to check out the Spotted Goose if you’re in Cincinnati, OH. Of course, you can always shop Tea at TeaCollection.com. Want to see more? Follow us on Instagram @tea_collection.

Thailan When x Tea Collection

Thailan When Collaboration

Thailan When is a Vietnamese-Chinese American artist based in Oakland, CA. Thailan first caught our eye with her ability to bring whimsical stories to life through her signature illustrations. Born in a refugee camp in Songkhla, Thailand and raised in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California, Thailan offers a unique, multicultural perspective. Together, we created a special collection of graphics exploring Southeast Asian folklore and animal symbolism. Read on to learn more about her upbringing, art, and what her designs for the collaboration mean to her.

How do you balance your Vietnamese, Chinese, and American identities?

Thailan When

Thailan When

Living in America in the ’80s was, at times, challenging for my family. The war wasn’t far behind us, and some of the kids I grew up with had fathers who fought in Vietnam. In my community, there was some resentment towards us, but we were also met with warmth and care and made lifelong friends. My mom would make egg rolls for people as a way to win them over – and honestly, it worked most of the time! Food is a language that everyone speaks apparently… It wasn’t always easy, but I learned how to navigate between two different cultures, and I think my Asian-American identity is split pretty straight down the middle. When I went to Vietnam for the first time two years ago, I deeply resonated with the experience. My dad’s side of the family still lives there. My cousin – who is my age – took me under her wing in Saigon. It was like stepping into a parallel universe of what my life could have been like. Seeing how strong her Vietnamese identity is made me a bit envious, but I am truly proud to be Vietnamese/Chinese-American.

Can you tell us more about how your upbringing has influenced your art?

In my family, we were taught to believe in the supernatural world of ghosts, ancestral spirits, animism, and reincarnation. I remember being four years old and my mom warning me, “Be a good girl, or you’ll come back as a pig. In which case, we might eat you, but of course we would ask for your forgiveness first.” This scolding doubled as a lesson on the cyclical nature of the universe and the honoring of all lives as sacred – even the naughty ones. These kinds of ideas propelled my imagination into fantastical realms. Though my beliefs today differ from the ones I was taught, I still flirt with the concept of magic in my life and in my artwork. I also loved to read growing up. Since I lived in a culturally homogenous area, books and the characters within them introduced me to a much bigger world and made me think about the kind of life I wanted to live. If I recall, Where the Red Fern Grows was the first book that made me cry. It’s about a young boy, his dogs and the land on which they live… I still find myself recreating similar storylines within my art.

You helped us design pieces that feature the Qilin and Hoan Kiem turtle, two figures in Southeast Asian mythology. What do they mean to you?

Qilin

Thailan’s interpretation of Qilin

When Tea asked me to collaborate with them, I was really excited and honored. In order to re-envision these mythical creatures, I did a lot of research and went down a few rabbit holes along the way. It was an enriching experience, which not only taught me more about my culture, but also gave me an opportunity to design specifically for kids, which I had not done before. I have always aimed to make art that speaks to the child in all of us, so this project couldn’t have been a more perfect fit for me.

Qilin is revered as a wise and powerful creature because it can tell whether a person is good or evil, and in some stories, would punish them accordingly. There are depictions that show Qilin walking on clouds for fear of harming a single blade of grass. They are also vegetarian! In a sense, they are ethically-balanced; they have a strong nose for justice while still being able to exhibit compassion. It’s this dichotomy that lends them so much respect in Asian folklore.

Hoan Kiem turtle

The legendary Hoan Kiem turtle

Designing the Hoan Kiem turtle was particularly cool because when I was in Hanoi, I visited the famed lake where the legend comes from. As the tale goes, in the 15th century, a man named Le Loi was able to drive out invading forces with the help of a magical sword. After his success, he was crowned emperor and a giant turtle emerged from the lake to retrieve the heavenly sword. Neither the turtle nor the sword was ever seen again… In Vietnam, the Hoan Kiem turtle is seen as a symbol of independence and longevity as the sword lies in wait, a secret weapon to be summoned if necessary.

What inspires you?

When I was little, we had kind of a mini farm with wildlife all around, so I spent a fair amount of time observing animal behavior. I think what fascinates and inspires me the most about animals is how they seem to live in the present moment, a state of mind that can be difficult for me to tap into. I have also discovered that through them, we are able to indirectly examine ourselves. When our strengths, weaknesses, values and fears feel too sacred to convey explicitly, we anthropomorphize and project them onto animals. In this way, they have long been our reflections and our teachers, and carry a universal symbolism that transcends language and culture. In my artwork, I try not to look at nature in and of itself, but instead examine humankind’s relationship to nature – from folklore into the future.

You can find all the pieces Thailan helped us create at TeaCollection.com. Be sure to check out more stories like this on Instagram @tea_collection.