Photographed by Corey Villicana
Photographed by Corey Villicana
Cinco de Mayo is a day for celebration! The fifth of May is the anniversary of the Mexican army’s unlikely victory in 1862 in the fight for independence from French forces. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, we’ve rounded up a few recipes and DIY’s for this year’s fiesta.
Tablescapes – Mix & match old vases with cigar boxes to create a unique tablescape. Add bright flowers and succulents to bring your table to life!
Embroidered Textiles – The art of embroidery dates back thousands of years. Today, the hand stitching can be found anywhere from cocktail dresses to cocktail napkins.
Paletas – These pineapple and lime Mexican ice pops are sure to be a hit.
Piñata Crackers – This is a DIY your little ones won’t want to miss. Fill them with candy as set them out for your guests to takes as party favors.
Mexican Corn Salad – Bright, delicious, and easy to throw together!
Paper Garland – We were smitten with Lovely Indeed’s orange & pink flag garland. An easy DIY to liven up your fiesta.
Upcycled Vases – Rinse out your old tin cans, fill them with sand & succulents (or fresh flowers!) to create new vases.
Piñata Sugar Cookies – Mini piñatas in the form of cookies? Yes, please!
Kwaito, a style of dance music from Johannesburg that is often called the sound of the new South Africa, is the rhythm behind this print. Shop the Kwaito Smocked Peplum Dress here.
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?
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.”
To help everyone at Tea “go there,” we make a yearly contribution to each employee for international travel and exploration. Upon their return, our Tea travelers write blog posts to share their adventures with all of us (and the world).
Amy McKinstry, Senior Sales Executive of Department Stores here at Tea, traveled with her family to Mexico to enjoy sandy shores and ancient ruins.
When my husband and I were deciding where to vacation this year with our kids, we went back and forth quite a bit. France was high on the list, having never been to Paris (shameful, I know) and also wanting to see the French countryside as well as the beaches. We considered Portugal. We talked about local destinations in the US as well but having not been on a proper vacation for several years, we wanted to go a little further away – insisting however, on a combine of relaxation as well as some great cultural influence (sitting pool side in the confines of a massive resort was not what we had in mind.) So we landed far, but not too far – on Soliman Bay, Mexico. Probably one of the best kept secrets on the Maya Riviera (about a 90 minute drive south of Cancun) Soliman Bay is a secluded beach just 10 minutes from the magnificent beach town of Tulum – and with so many terrific cultural activities to choose from on any given day!
I feel compelled to first paint you a mental picture of Soliman Bay – a beach so beautiful and secluded that we were challenged to find even 2 more people sitting on the sand or kayaking in the crystal blue water on a regular basis. Kayaking and snorkeling became my every day exercise and source of meditation – I found myself in “vacation mode” nearly the moment my toes hit the sand. Palapas (the Mexican thatched roofs) dotted the beach and each villa (be it modest or luxurious) had its own unique beauty and charm. A little hut at the end of the beach referred to as “The Fish Shack” served lobster, ceviche and ‘the like’ on modest plastic tables under palm trees and could rival the very best seafood restaurants in Manhattan. Our kids swung on hammocks and played in the sand at our feet as we waited for our food and enjoyed some cold Modelos. Needless to say, we were happy campers and gloating over our choice of destination almost immediately…
Of course, we soon felt the need to explore the area and with some guidance from a good friend who had been drawn back here year after year, we enjoyed a few wonderful experiences worth mentioning.
The Tulum ruins (again, just 10 minutes from our location) was our first stop. These ruins sit along the shore of Tulum and are one of the few elevated locations along the coast (so the views alone, as you can imagine, were just beautiful.) With a terrific Mayan tour guide leading the way (Senor Miguel) we learned about the significance of each ruin, their location within the walls of this
“city” and the carvings and traces of paint that amazingly still remain on so many of the ancient walls.
Another great experience was our visit to a Spider Monkey Sanctuary that had only been open to the public for about 6 months. This property, spanning 67 acres of jungle, is a safe haven to protect this dwindling species of monkey. The kids enjoyed feeding these amazing creatures (they took peanuts right out of their little hands) and just watching them in their habitat. We hiked the property to also discover small alligators as well as a Cenotes (the underground rivers which are a very popular attraction in the area and are often referred to as the sacred waters of the Maya Riviera.) My husband and I reluctantly jumped into the Cenotes with the other in our group (and if you knew us, and our collective fear of heights and small spaces… you’d be impressed. Trust me!)
And of course, there is Tulum… a more perfect beach town I challenge anyone to find. The beach itself is just beautiful – eco friendly and relaxed, it is a beautiful hybrid of an authentic Mexican surf town, and the most sophisticated of locations all in one. Local artisans sell the most wonderful handmade jewelry on the streets and airy cabanas and palapas line the beach along with amazing bars and restaurants. A great spot during the day or for a night out – heavenly!
We were inspired daily during this trip with the cultural as a whole – the vibrant colors of their textiles, hand embroidery, Mayan art, beautiful architecture, amazing food and the graciousness of the locals. So many little things brought me back to Tea’s visit to Mexico and the wonderfully authentic details that they included in their designs just a few seasons ago (and before that, during their first visit to Mexico back in the earlier years of Tea!)
In short – it was a wonderful family vacation full of relaxation, culture, amazing food and fun activities. I am also so grateful to Tea for reminding me, through their own inspiration & travel, to always recognize the small, beautiful details of the world around us – in every culture. It is such a special place to work and such a special practice to pass along to our children.
So if you are considering a trip to this region of Mexico, I’d say… pack your bag. Go there. ENJOY!
Each month Studio T features one of our retailers. This month we sat down with Dawn from Dawn Price Baby. From Taekwondo to running her own business, Dawn really is a mom who juggles it all. Continue reading to see how she keeps everything moving!
Dawn:Not much, I am pretty much an open book. I recently became a black belt in Taekwondo. I am a lawyer, accountant by degrees. I have three kids (set of boy/girl twins) and an old, sweet chocolate lab and LOVE watching kids movies with my kids snuggled with me on the couch. I love to talk about business and will sit with just about anyone to talk about whatever they are interested in doing.Tea: What is your favorite part of your day at the store?
Dawn: Before we open, I get to look around and evaluate the store — how it looks, what it needs, how beautiful it is!
Tea: We know how special and unique all of our stores are, what makes your store unique?
Dawn: We host two major events a year – Mom’s Night Out. It has turned into a fun night of shopping and socializing with friends. We really try to focus on customer service and expertise as we have a lot of bigger stores in the area. We also have a great rewards program that we offer our customers.
Dawn: We are having good success with sticking to items that are more unique and not viewed as a commodity. For example, we do better with specialty leggings over plain leggings. We have more and more customers coming in for multiple kids and multiple outfits. We try to make it easy by setting outfits for them and offering options to mix and match.Tea: We love sets!
Tea: What do you do in your “spare” time (if you have any)?
Dawn: I actually do a lot, but I sacrifice sleep and “me” time. I help with the kids running club at their school and my child’s lacrosse practice. I don’t miss their practices or games. I make a big deal out of birthday parties and friends over and, we are in taekwondo (as a family). Trade off is lack of sleep, migraines and circles under the eyes. I am currently in the kid stage of life, even though I am running a business. I try to enjoy every second I have either with the kids or a work. I joke around a lot in both areas and try to have a lot of fun.
Tea: Since you do it all, would you mind sharing your secret to success with us?
Dawn: Stay organized, stay focused and make the decision — whatever decision it is. I am not right all the time, but I do try to keep moving forward. I empower the people that work with me to look at the big picture and contribute versus just clocking in and out. I expect a lot and give credit where credit is due.
How are you celebrating Earth Day?
Today, we have Corey Villicana back on Studio T to share a beautiful DIY with you.
What better time to repurpose some of your children’s stained and abandoned tea brand clothing. Make a set of braided bracelets that your little ones can wear well into the summer!
Make sure you follow Corey’s adventures on her website and facebook page. We can’t wait to see the colorful bracelets you create. Take pictures and tag @tea_collection on instagram, your bracelet may just end up here on Studio T!
Thank you Corey for this gorgeous how-to!