Patty Monahan is the founder of Our Whole Village, a travel company that connects families with meaningful adventures that give back. Follow along on her adventure to the Amazon!
Patty Monahan is the founder of Our Whole Village, a travel company that connects families with meaningful adventures that give back. Follow along on her adventure to the Amazon!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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?
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
While in Santa Fe, we had the opportunity to visit The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, home to an extensive collection of Native art and material artifacts. The Museum opened in 1931, with a mission to collect and preserve Southwest Native American material culture. In partnership with the museum, our latest winter styles feature products inspired by textiles in the collection.
What significance do textiles have as an art form among the Southwestern natives?
Weaving is integral component of life, identity and creative expression amongst the Southwestern Indian peoples — and has been so for thousands of years.
The Navajo, Pueblo and Hopi peoples of the Southwest are all known for and regarded for their weaving traditions. Though their weaving styles and designs differ, they all share in the belief that weaving was a gift given to them by Spider Woman. Through her communication these Southwestern Indian people learned how to spin and weave and, in so doing, gained the ability to create beauty and share both a personal and cultural expression.
To learn more about the Myth of Spider Woman visit: https://youtu.be/c_Tj4lr8i_k
The first weavers were the Pueblo people of the Southwest and cotton and yucca were the initial fibers they used to make clothing, ceremonial dress and blankets. When the Spanish arrived in the early 1500’s they introduced the churro sheep and their long staple wool became the main weaving fiber.
In the late 1880’s trading posts opened up throughout the Southwest; and shortly thereafter the railroad arrived, delivering to the region new materials, new styles and new, and more frequent visitors. With so much fresh information and increase in demand, the focus and style of weaving changed. There was less need for woven basics and more demand from collectors and tourists for weavings to buy. Responding to the changing tastes and trends of the time, Southwest Native weavers produced more rugs than the traditional wearing blankets. A full 130 years later, the weaving tradition continues, with the native peoples of the Southwest making ceremonial dress, belts, and rugs both for personal use and for sale to collectors.
Stylistically, what are Southwestern native weavers known for?
There is no one style of weaving or pattern for which the Southwest is known, as every weaver approaches their craft differently. The one concept that does unify all weavings is the sense of balance, beauty and harmony with which all weavers approach their creative process. From gathering wool, to spinning, dying and weaving, gratitude and honor is accorded to the animals that provide the wool, the natural elements that nourish both the animals and the plants from which dyes are made.
What is life like within Southwestern Native communities today?
In New Mexico there are 19 Pueblos – or villages, located along or near the route of the Rio Grande River. The Pueblo people have lived in these towns or ones close by for over 1000 years. The ancient traditions of pottery, weaving, basketry, and jewelry making – are very much alive today and still practiced by the current generations.
The Navajo were originally a nomadic people who tended sheep. They moved as needed based on the season and the availability of good feed and water for the animals. That sheep were so integral to the Navajo way of life, it is understandable that they would become great weavers. While the Navajo are no longer nomadic and live in towns scattered across their 27,000 square mile reservation in New Mexico and Arizona, herding, wool processing and weaving is still practiced.
The Hopi people live in northeastern Arizona in small villages or settlements that have been there since time immemorial. Like the Pueblo people and the Navajo, the Hopi weaving traditions continue to thrive.
What types of tools and techniques do these artisans use when crafting their pieces?
Weavers the world round use the same tools – shears for harvesting wool from the sheep, carding combs to clean and separate the fibers, spindles to make the fiber into yarn, and looms for weaving the fibers. To learn more about the weaving process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vyw93hJt__g
Shop Museum of Indian Arts & Culture x Tea Collection here.
This summer, Tea families across the US are showing us around their cities and sharing the incredible places that make them special.
Next up in our Share Your City series, fellow Tea mom, Ellen Reynolds, and her little family of four, capture coastal adventures in Camden, Maine.
Meet our latest Foreign Correspondent, Christine Kim, who just spent the past 6 months adventuring all around Asia with her husband and two young kiddos. Their final stop was a month-long stay in South Korea, where Christine’s parents immigrated from long ago. There they caught up with close family and distant cousins, and had the opportunity to reconnect with their cultural heritage. Read along for Christine’s highlights!