Category: Cultural Adventure & Connection

Making Dala Horses

Each season, we travel to a new destination around the world and draw inspiration from the places we visit. This season, we’re inspired by the amazing culture, history, architecture, nature, and people of Sweden.

One common symbol you’ll find throughout the country is the Dala horse. A Dalecarlian horse or Dala horse is a carved, painted wooden statue of a horse that originated from the Swedish province of Dalarna. It became a popular children’s toy in the 17th century, and has come to symbolize good luck. You’ll find these wooden horses all over Sweden and in our latest fall collection.

To get a little more inspiration, a few of our team members made their own Dala horses in a virtual Dala Horse Carving Workshop. Here’s how they turned out:

Kim’s Dala Horse (Brand Marketing Director)

 

Jordan’s Dala Horse (Textile Designer)

 

Alisha’s Dala Horse (Assistant Textile & Graphic Designer)

 

Nicole’s Dala Horse (Director of Textiles & Graphics)

 

Emily’s Dala Horse (Creative Director)

 

Bryan’s Dala Horse (Assistant Designer)

 

Margie’s Dala Horse (Director of Design)

 

Want to see more fun activities like this? Follow us on Instagram @teacollection, and be sure to check out our latest styles inspired by Sweden.

Learn About Portugal: Download Our Latest Activity Book

Olá and welcome all curious little citizens of the world! We travel the globe to bring the beauty of different cultures to you and your kids. Today, we’re excited to share the beauty of Portugal in a whole new way: introducing the Portugal Coloring Book.

This printable coloring book is the perfect way to stay connected not only with each other, but also to the world! Inside, you’ll find coloring pages based on our original designs of important Portuguese icons. From sea and land critters to fruits and florals, they’ll be creating masterpieces in no time!

Download the Portugal Coloring Book here.

Want to show off their work? Share it with us on Instagram! Tag us @teacollection and use #Teamakesfriends for a chance to be featured.

 Happy learning and creating!

Quartier Collective’s Guide to Lisbon

 

You may remember our friends Taryn, Martin, and their globe-trotting kids Tilly, Viggo, and Francis from last year’s Mediterranean collection. They’re the well-traveled family behind Quartier Collective, and this season, they helped bring our new Portugal collection to life. Having stayed in Lisbon, they know a thing or two about where to go and what to do while traveling through this charming city. We’re sharing some of their tips, tricks, and favorite places to play and eat, so sit back, relax, and come with us on a virtual tour through Lisbon! 

 

What do you love about Lisbon?

Lisbon is charming beyond belief. The tiles, the trams, the elderly Portuguese making their way slowly down the cobbled streets, stopping to pinch your kids’ cheeks or chatter at you in Portuguese. It’s a proper European capital with history, art, and a buzzing cafe culture. It’s also a great value for travelers—the airport is only 15 minutes from the center of the city and the seaside is just a stone’s throw away. What really makes it for us is the wonderful people we’ve met there. Since our first visit to Lisbon in 2018, we’ve been welcomed by wonderful families, Portuguese and expat, who’ve helped us understand the magic of family life in this incredible city.

 

What are three “must see” places in Lisbon?

  • A walk down Rua Garrett will take you through Chiado’s busy pedestrian shopping street. The people-watching is great here (a bearded Wonder Woman roller skate dancing to Britney Spears anybody?). You can take a coffee to la Brasilia and visit some great shops. Turn left at Fnac department store and walk down to the Elevador Santa Justa, Lisbon’s neo-gothic free standing elevator. 
  •  Tram 28! It’s iconic for a reason. Board after a visit to the Miradouro de Graca for a solid and scenic trip. 

  • Fiera da Ladraor, or the “market of thieves,” is the coolest flea market in Lisbon. Perfect for unique souvenirs, vintage playmobil, and, if you pay attention, a unique window into authentic Lisboan culture. This market has been running for over 800 years!
  • We had to do four! Take a tuk tuk—they’re so fun and typically the drivers are excellent guides. They’re also a great way to manage the hills with kids.

 

What are three spots for children to play?

  • Principe Real Park. There’s a small playground, a cafe with cold beer and snacks, and a legendary juniper tree whose branches have been pruned and splayed across an elevated lattice to make a circular, natural roof. There’s often something going on under this storied tree like music or a craft market. If all is quiet, at least there’s shade!
  • Estrela garden. This garden has a huge playground and loads of beautiful, exotic trees. Kids are welcome to run across the whole park and play in the great exposed roots of the buttress trees. In winter, the smoke from the roasted chestnut sellers filters through the palm fronds and feels wonderfully exotic.
  • The Miradouro de Sao Pedro de alcantara has a magnificent view of the castle plus enough space to kick a soccer ball or play by the great fountain. There’s a funicular tram that trundles down the hill from the southern end of the park, though you may want to save the ride for when you’re coming UP the hill.  

 

What are three spots to eat in Lisbon?

  • Copenhagen Coffee Lab. The coffee is wonderfully consistent, salads are healthy and hearty, and (not that you want to pretend you’re anywhere besides Lisbon) the cardamom buns will have you shouting, “Tak tak tak!”

  • Manteigaria. This spot in Chiado serves the best version of Portugal’s national pastry that we have ever found (and we’ve taken this hunt very, very seriously). It’s popular with tourists and locals, but the line moves fast and is worth the wait. The iconic Tram 28 passes in front of the shop. Grab a glass of port with your natas and take them across the street to the Luis de Camoes square to eat in the sun and chase pigeons. 
  • Senhor Uva, or “Mister Grape,” is a lovely restaurant close to the Estrela garden. It’s small and focused with caring service and natural wines. This is a fantastic date night spot. (DM us if you need a babysitter; we know some great ones!) 
  • Flores de Pampa (I know this is four again, but hey, we couldn’t help ourselves). This quirky spot on the charming Praca das Flores serves delicious food that’s also great for kids: dips and spreads, legumes, and occasionally noodles. With great music and hip and friendly people, this is a neighbourhood spot with a ton of personality. 

Save this guide for your next trip to Portugal (we all hope it can be very soon!), and let us know in the comments some of your favorite spots in Lisbon! For more inspiring stories like this, be sure to follow @quartiercollective to stay up-to-date on all of their travels and adventures. And, don’t forget to check out our new Portugal-inspired collection here

Activi-Teas for Curious Citizens!

 

Welcome aboard all curious little citizens of the world! This is the exciting new world of learning and exploring with us here at Tea. Each week we will bring you a list of fun, creative and educational Activi-Tea’s for you and your whole family. This is a place for us to stay not only connected to each other, but to the world! A big part of who we are is a global connection. Even though we can’t physically be in Ireland, Greece, Thailand or even a neighboring state. We can still be connected globally through so many different avenues. We have traveled the world to bring inspiration not only into our clothes but into our messaging and hopefully to each and every one of you. So, what a better way to start of our list than with an activity/coloring book combining designs and inspirations from all of our global destinations!
You can download and print right in your own home!

 Here you will find not only educational tools but games and puzzles too! Beautiful flowers, magical creatures, and scavengers hunts await! From sharks to lions, we have the whole world right at your fingertips.  

 Please share your drawings and adventures with us! We want to share with you just as much as you share with us. Please tag us on IG, email us pictures or even feel free to send us snail mail too! Use the #activiteas and #teamakesfriends to let us follow along on your journey!

 Happy learning and happy exploring!

Download the Activity Book  here TeaCollection-ActivityBook

Tea Takes Greece: Making Friends in the Magical Mediterranean

In October, five families from all over the world arrived in Andros, one of the many stunning Greek islands of the Cyclades and a site of inspiration for our Spring Collection.

Some traveled from Florence and Thessaloniki, while other families came from as far away as Sayulita, Melbourne, and San Francisco. From different places arrived a group of families who have dedicated a portion of their lives and hearts to travel.

We were all there to make the collection come to life, but the blue skies and seas, the bonds that were created, and the memories that were shared are what we’ll never forget.

The kids declared themselves best friends within minutes of meeting—and these friendships only grew stronger over the next five days we spent exploring the coasts of Andros, our temporary home in the Aegean Sea.

For our Spring launch, we made our way to Chora, the picturesque capital village of Andros. We ran through alleys chasing cats—sweetened treats in hand—pausing in bright blue doorways to take shelter from the untamed Meltemi winds.

We’re so pleased to introduce to you our friends, who you’ll get to know over the next few months as we post more about our shared adventures. We only spent a few days together on Andros, but these are friendships that will last a lifetime.

Our Ocean’s Eleven

 

We had always heard that sibling rivalry was as real and universal as gravity. But not with these two. Tilly and Francis were like peanut butter and jelly.

 

Meet Tilly and Francis. They are two of the world-traveling kids on Quartier Collective. We had been drooling over their family travels on Instagram and were especially inspired by their work to organize group travel for families. Their Family Gatherings bring families together to explore new countries while connecting through shared curiosity and adventure.

A rare occurence of Captain Viggo sitting still, miraculously captured on camera.

 

This is Francis and Tilly’s little brother, the viking-pirate. Viggo—whose name means Viking—was often found running around with a hand-drawn pirate patch on his face (but no talking parrot on his shoulder).

These three adventurous siblings quickly befriended fellow world-travelers Amelie, Indi, and Lulu, who are the next generation executive team of the inspiring and sustainability-focused Joy Chasers. These six were fast friends, quickly bonding over their world-schooling lifestyles.

Amelie and Tilly were nearly inseparable and loved planning fun games and little parties for everyone. We’re pretty sure these two could have organized the whole trip without missing a beat.

 

Throughout our time together, Lulu made her rounds so that just about every kid was her best friend, at least for a day.

 

Indi, Amelie, and Francis taking a break from running through the alleys of Chora.

 

Everyone quickly embraced the sibling pair from northern Greece, Vasilia and Kostis. They arrived with Greek treats in hand for everyone: Greek eye bracelets for the kids and Tsoureki (Greek sweet bread) for the adults.

Vasilia helped us all learn a few words in Greek.

 

Kostis had style for miles. He has a long-time love of Vans and was especially into the Tea shirts with collars.

 

The next family to join us included the sisters from Florence: charismatic and cat-loving Mariú and her equally enthusiastic and charming baby sister, Luna (affectionately called Luna Banoona).

Indi and Mariú playing it cool by a pretty pink wall in Chora.

 

Sweet Luna took a pause from chasing cats to hide from the gusty winds with Vasilia, her new Greek friend.

 

Bringing up the rear (in age only) was 8-month-old Frances Lucille from San Francisco (aka “Baby Fwankie”) who is likely now known as the happiest and most loved baby who ever visited Greece.

Baby Frances sure did love the attention from Francis … as well as all of the other children. And let’s be clear, there was no shortage of attention for this olive-loving baby.

 

Wondering who took these incredible photos? We’re so thrilled that we were able to work with the endlessly talented Taryn Elledge-Penner (of Quartier Collective), who tirelessly chased this gaggle of children up and down Andros to capture our Spring and Summer collections.

Follow @teacollection and #teamakesfriends on Instagram to see more behind-the-scenes snapshots of our time in Greece.

Follow these amazing families and travel partners below. They’ll also be posting their photos and unique stories of our Andros experience this season!

@quartiercollective
@joychasers
@emikodavies
@effie_panagoula

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.

Native Artists x Tea Collection: Meet Crystal Worl

Artist Crystal Worl, based in Juneau, Alaska, is a child of a Thunderbird and from the Chilkat region in Southeast Alaska.  From her mother’s side, she is Deg Hit’an Athabascan from Fairbanks Alaska.  She is co-owner of Trickster Company with her brother, Rico Worl, which promotes innovative indigenous design focused on Northwest Coast art.  We were thrilled to partner with Crystal for several winter product collaborations including storytelling tees featuring her original artwork.  Read on for more of her story and the inspiration behind her work!

Crystal’s original artwork is featured on storytelling tees this winter

 

You were introduced at a young age to traditional arts, practices and storytelling from your parents’ tribes.  Can you share more about these experiences as a child?

My family recognized and nurtured my interest in art.  My mother showed me how to bead, sew and encouraged my creativity. Every Saturday morning, I would watch my favorite cartoons.  And, I would also watch the artist Bob Ross on the public TV channel.  Because I loved watching Bob Ross, I would often get a Bob Ross painting kit.

I was raised with my Athabascan family in the Interior of Alaska during the winter months.  My mother has a big family so we were surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins for family gatherings, potlatches, traditional dances or harvesting berries and/or salmon and meals.  Moose soup is my favorite!  My mother nurtured our interests in dance, gymnastics and art.

When summer came, we headed to Southeast Alaska to stay with my father’s family and my Tlingit grandmother. Visiting with family and playing with cousins was the highlight.  Our Uncle would take us out on his boat to fish and harvest traditional foods like salmon, cockle clams, and gumboots.  We would also learn more about our clans, family history and traditions through storytelling and hearing and speaking Tlingit.  It was important to my grandmother that her grandchildren know their tribal identity and how to introduce themselves in a public event, especially when attending sacred ceremonies.

Looking back, I see how valuable my unstructured time with my brothers was in nurturing my creativity.  We have great memories of building intricate cities made of Legos that even included telephone poles with wires.

All my family supported me in different ways.  My dad’s skills are finance and management.  He is teaching me about business and art.  He would get excited about my art and encourage me to create a business.  It helps when you have parents that tell you that you can do anything and everything is possible.

In our collaboration pieces this season, you highlight stories of animals: deer, raven, porpoise and polar bear.  How do these stories resonate with you personally?

Tlingit and Athabascan people have identified themselves as unified with the land and animals that gives them life.

Tlingit kinship is based on a clan system or extended family groups.  Tlingit clans are associated with specific animals, birds or fish.  Oral traditions and songs record the interaction between humans and animals and how clans obtained the right to use their images as crests on their ceremonial regalia or jewelry.

In Tlingit and Athabascan culture, we maintain both physical and spiritual relationships with the environment and animals.  Animals have given us life through feeding us, clothing us, and teaching us to co-exist with the environment.

The paintings with the Deer, Raven, Porpoise, and Polar Bear are used in the Tea Collection collaboration. I hope that when a viewer sees these paintings [see original works below] that they gain an insight into the relationship that I have to my culture and the connections we have with the land and animals.

 

 

 

 

 

You work with many different types of media in your art.  What are some of the materials that you have been most interested in recently and why?

I have explored multiple mediums from jewelry, sewing, beading, glass-making and even film production and more.  My favorite is painting. Recently, I explored tanning fish skin for various uses.  I taught myself how to make resin molds for bangles and earrings.

Fishing is important subsistence activity for our family and I have participated in helping on the boat and processing the fish. I explored the use of using natural dyes, like berries, to dye my fish skins and my wood laser cut earrings.  I am following my heart and the heartbeat of my ancestors that tanned fish skin for everyday household objects like bowls and used berry juice to create color in their life.

What are some of the themes and issues in Native culture that you are most interested in highlighting through your work?

Trickster Company was started by my brother quite by accident.  He was hand-painting skateboards for our cousins with Northwest Coast art formline.  Rico saw a way for youth to connect their culture through the use of  everyday objects such as skateboards, basketballs and playing cards.  Trickster Company was born to bring culture and pride into everyday experiences – our culture is alive and thriving today.  It is not just symbolized by relics in a museum.  It lives in our hearts, minds and daily activities.  We show our pride by wearing our clan crests and art every day.

Trickster Company is proud to partner with the Tea Collection to honor our ancestors, our culture and the beautiful gift of Northwest Coast Formline Art.