A message from our CEO/Co-Founder – Leigh Rawdon

To our dear friends of Tea:

Like you, we are facing the weeks ahead with cancellations, closures and travel bans.  There is uncertainty all around us and yet, we must stay calm, especially as parents whose kids are looking to us for guidance.  We are learning (and quickly) from the experts who know better than we do about what is best during a pandemic – what is best not only for our own family but also for the larger community.

Our brand and company are all about connection and curiosity about the world.  The Corona Virus will put Tea to the test of figuring out how we can stay connected to the world in our own backyard (literally).  We can and we must.  We are afraid of the virus spreading, and we are afraid of the impact on relationships and connections to (and with) the world.  We must resist sadness, fear and isolation while we are hunkered down. We must stay connected and curious – caring for the greater community all around the globe.

We are collecting and sharing ideas for how families can use this time ahead at home with our families to connect with each other and to the world around us.  We will share ideas on Instagram and on our blog.  We are following the CDC and WHO guidelines including (and especially) “social distancing”  which means working from home, staying at least six feet from other people and not traveling.

Believe me, this is not easy for a group of people who really love working together – and travel!  Our community means everything to us.  We love working with our small but mighty Tea team and we really love connecting with our customers.  We treasure engaging in the world – and understand that this will look and feel different to us during this time.  We’re focused on staying connected and curious.

Please stay connected with us.  We love hearing from you.

Leigh

International Women’s Day

Being a female-run and founded company, it’s a big priority at Tea to take every opportunity to inspire, uplift, and support the further empowerment of women. This month we celebrate women who have inspired us from all different backgrounds and walks of life. We asked seven of these women our pressing questions about life and empowerment. 

 

What advice would you give your younger self?

Anna, Lila Ruby King: Fake it, till you make, is totally a thing. The adults are doing it, all the time.

Kristin Guy: It’s okay to say no…and don’t burn your candle from both ends.

Mitzi Rivas: 1. Honor your intuition: If the path that is presented to you doesn’t feel true to you, step off of the well-manicured path and into the unpaved terrain where the wildflowers grow and the thickets are untamed. 2. Realize that we are interdependent: don’t undermine your talent but don’t believe your achievements stemmed from you alone. We stand on the shoulders of so many- acknowledging this truth is critical to achieving great heights. 3. Practice self-compassion. I learned this skill in my 40’s (I wish it had been sooner) and it makes the delicate balance of giving and receiving an act of ease.

Miranda Anderson: I tell my current self the same thing I would tell my younger self and it is this: You have plenty of time. You don’t have to be in a hurry. Take it slow. Enjoy each moment. Breathe deeply. Embrace the present with gratitude.

Rebecca Gross: I would probably advise my younger self to look within and not outwardly for comparison and approval. It is, of course, easier said than done, but in this season of my life I am slowly learning to live by this, and I think it would have been helpful understanding it on a deeper level earlier in life. 

Calli Kelsay: There are no boxes that you need to fit in so do you for you. Don’t worry quite as much because things will still work out one way or another. Failure is just another way of saying I haven’t figured it out yet, but there are a million and one ways that I can try again. Then get up and try again. Having self-compassion will pull you through all of the things life will throw at you. All of the hardships that will happen are opportunities to grow stronger. Never shy away from giving to others when you can and where you can. Try new things, often. Use your talents and strengths for the greater good. It’s okay to stand alone when you’re standing for what you know is right. 

Leigh Rawdon: I would like to send a message to my younger self before I had kids: make the most of your weekends! You think you are so busy, but you have so. Much. Time. Exercise, sleep late, linger over coffee with friends, spend hours in the kitchen mastering a recipe, travel, re-learn how to play the piano, organize your house, read a million books!  (I should probably remember to give my older self this advice when my kids go off to college!)

 

What do you hope for your kids’ futures—both boys and girls—and their approach towards equality between genders?

Mitzi Rivas: My hope for my beloved children, Luca and Maya, is that they proudly stand on their father, Carlos’ shoulder and mine. May they deeply appreciate the blend of the masculine and feminine and realize the harmonious impact for good that arises when both are given expression.

Leigh Rawdon: I always wanted to have a daughter so I could help her develop into a strong, kind, and independent woman. That didn’t happen! I have two incredible sons. So instead I am raising my boys to be good men—men who grow up seeing and believing that women are leaders and CEOs. They are surrounded by women who are confident and compassionate. They read books and watch movies with female protagonists without thinking twice. I might not get the chance to raise my own daughter, but I’m doing my part to nurture two sons who will respect and value women’s perspectives and equal participation.

 

How do you navigate motherhood and career goals? 

Kristin Guy: When I was very new to the working mom role, I made the decision to leave a senior-level corporate position over six years ago to go freelance and start my own business. I wanted the opportunity to have flexible hours and the potential to work from home. Now as a self-employed working mother, I am grateful for that decision because[…]it is very important for me to have the ability to control that balance of time spent between my family and my career. It was initially a terrifying leap into the unknown, but looking back I don’t regret a thing because I’m able to do what I love while being more creative than ever and still spend quality time with my family. 

I decided to consider my children my greatest asset in my career. They naturally create scheduling boundaries that I have to navigate, which means more efficiency, creativity, and flexibility. They are so imaginative and wonderful examples of living in the present an

Miranda Anderson: Years ago enjoying the moment. I truly believe that one of the best gifts I can give them is a mother who is fully living into her dreams, which for me has meant writing a book, traveling to speaking engagements, and hosting workshops all over the country. I show them, by example, how to live their own best lives to the fullest.

 

Besides finding a work-life balance, what was the most difficult thing you experienced in your career as a woman and how did you overcome it? 

Rebecca Gross: The most difficult thing for me was working under bosses/a company that did not value or appreciate me or my artistry. I had a constant feeling of why have they even hired me if they won’t let me have a voice? Why am I here? Comfort and familiarity will keep you stagnant for as long as you let it. As much as leaving that situation was uncomfortable there was no opportunity for growth in a space where I wasn’t valued. I think women oftentimes feel undervalued but I can tell you, I have THRIVED when I have demanded my place in spaces where I felt I belonged.

Mitzi Rivas: Over the years I have chosen to honor my own voice instead of bowing down to the more dominant and imposing voices in society. Being a Salvadoran woman, it is sometimes hard to depict the source of the challenge. It has taken much of my life to find the courage to step forward with my perspective, passion, and talents amongst the undercurrent of unspoken messages designed to keep me in place. The struggle is real, but so is freedom and opportunity to infuse my truth and purpose into my daily life and work.

 

What qualities make a great leader?

Leigh Rawdon: Curiosity. Great leaders know that the key is to search for and discover the right answer, not to have the right answer.Believing that every person has something important to contribute—and helping them find it and embrace it.

Kalli Kelsay: Empathy, kindness, compassion, passion, connection, vulnerability, strength and love. I have seen, first hand, what happens when we acknowledge and honor the feelings of others[…it] creates a stronger and more powerful community.

Lila Ruby King: When I think of the leaders I really admire, probably the quality that stands out the most is empathy. I think that when our leaders display things like empathy, kindness, thoughtfulness, it filters down into the environment in which we live in or work in.

Kristin Guy: Transparency and trust in others.

Mitzi Rivas: Being able to lead with authenticity is the greatest strength of my leadership. 

 

We appreciate all of these women for passing along their words of wisdom and will continue to admire the innovation and inspiration that they poignantly demonstrate through their work and within their life. 

 

 

Artist Feature : Lila Ruby King

Guide to Athens by our Artist Collaborator, Anna of Lila Ruby King

By Leigh Rawdon

 

Whenever we travel, we always aim to work with local artists for a number of key prints for Tea’s seasonal collections. This season, we were lucky to work with Athens-based illustrator Anna of Lila Ruby King to develop two Mediterranean-inspired designs for our Spring line (the King Sardine and the Barbary Lion).

While we were in Greece for our photoshoot, Anna was kind enough to spend her Friday afternoon walking through Athens with us, as she answered our endless questions and gave us a memorable tour of the local area. After sharing a lot of laughs, she parted ways with us to meet her mom who was visiting all the way from Australia.

In fact, our local tour guide was originally from Australia herself! She moved to Athens over a decade ago for love (she’s now married to the Greek man who got her attention all the way from down under), and in the process, she has fallen in love with  Greece as well. Anna’s love runs so deep that her drawings for Lila Ruby King are entirely meant to celebrate the country that stole her heart. Her art feels like a multi-faceted love letter to the country she now calls home.

[Two prints by Lila Ruby King featuring her favorite Greek cheese and foods]

Much of Anna’s work features Greek food. Even if she keeps her creative focus on cheese alone, she’ll likely never run out of material—unique cheese choices are neverending in Greece! 

Anna also loves sardines, and it so happens that we do as well. So much so that we featured her sardines in our Spring collection (with more coming for Summer!).

 

[In-process sketches of Lila Ruby King’s sardine print and a set of charming puffin mobiles.]

Where to eat?

After wandering through Plaka, we stopped for a bite and a drink to cool off at TAF (The Art Foundation). It’s housed in an ancient building with nooks and crannies that are all worth exploring. Enjoy a Freddo Cappuccino or a cocktail in the inner courtyard. Afterward, we walked through Plaka to have some gelato at La Greche near Syntagma Square.

 

Where to shop?

[A poster for the Museum of Greek Folk Art. Anna standing in front of Heroes with the signage that she painted.]

TAF is not just for tasty beverages, but has great shops too! After you grab a beverage, wander into the gallery upstairs or the tiny shops that feature all Greek designers. We also visited the charming Museum of Greek Folk Art, which highlights traditional Greek art and crafts.

Flâneur Souvenirs & Supplies is where Anna says you should go for more indie options, such as modern Greek pins to mark your backpack or charming prints for the home. Anna’s unique and much-loved thank-you card is sold here as well. She designed it for her cat’s pet sitter and had no idea that it would become so popular.

 

 

[Anna’s pet-sitting thank-you card and her mural at Flâneur Souvenirs & Supplies]

In fact, what motivated Anna to express her love for Greece in drawing was her need for greeting cards to send to friends back in Australia. Apparently, she had a hard time finding any cards in Greece so she just started making them herself. Then she sold them on Etsy, later to shops, and the rest is history.

In Athens, Anna’s work is also sold at Heroes and KouKoutsi.

 

What to see? 

Check out the street art! Anna recommends seeking out the talented Dreyk the Pirate. She always admired his work and encouraged him to start selling his pieces. They have a close friendship now, so much so that he came by to support her while she was painting her mural at Flâneur Souvenirs & Supplies.

 

Where else to visit in Greece? 

Well, I wish I could have pried it out of her. Anna’s relationship with Greece is private. She told us about a place up north where there are idyllic places to stay near a lake. But that’s all she would tell us. Why? Because she doesn’t want it to get crowded.

That said, she really wants people to visit Greece and to support local shops. When we asked her what she wanted people traveling to Greece to know, she said, “I want people to know how important it is to shop locally. If someone has to stay in an all-inclusive resort or on a ship, then please make a point to wander into town to buy something in a shop, even if it’s just a coffee or a snack. That one act can be what helps the shop owner break even that day.”

 

Same Favorite Styles, New True Fit

Since the very beginning of our journey to bring world-wide adventures home, Tea has created exciting, travel-inspired patterns in durable and timeless designs that outlast the seasons.

Now, our very own in-house Tech Design team has created a New True Fit that is true to size and streamlined for easy movement and a modern look. The styles you love are still here; they’ve just been updated to fit better than ever!

Our new true to size fit is streamlined for a modern look.

 

Looking sleek/up to date and ready for play in our New True Fit.

 

New True fit eliminates excess material for a more streamlined fit.

 

As we continue serving fresh looks, Tea looks forward to bringing more of our travels to you. Have you seen our latest destination? Because it’s epic. Explore it here.

Questions about sizing or our New True Fit? This chart can help you pick the right size. Or, contact our sizing experts at service@teacollection.com—they have all the answers.

Let Kids Be Kids: Meet Magda of METAdrasi

We arrived at the shelter for unaccompanied refugee children in Athens to meet Magda. Magda works full-time (and more) to look after the 14 children who live in this home away from home. Every one of these children arrived in Greece without a parent or guardian. Some will stay in Greece, while others will find their way to a relative in Europe. But for now, all of these kids are at home in Athens.

The home looks like any other home in this upscale, residential neighborhood. We sat in the backyard under green trees that let in bits of warm sunshine. A toddler from the Congo kicked a soccer ball while his tween sister talked on a cell phone with her uncle. A boy from Pakistan peered over the balcony to watch us (and occasionally toss something below to get our attention). An eight-year-old Syrian girl kept tapping on Magda’s shoulder and pointing to Magda’s phone with a very expressive voice. We didn’t need to speak Greek to recognize the universal language of: “How much longer?,” and then the grown-up’s firm response: “It will be sooner if you stop interrupting me.”

And that’s just it. Childhood should be universal. While these kids have faced the unimaginable, they are still kids. They are having universal childhood experiences of kicking balls, talking on the phone, and waiting endlessly for a grown-up to stop talking to other grown-ups.

We asked Magda, “What do you want people to know about METAdrasi’s work helping unaccompanied child refugees?”

She paused and then looked us in the eye to emphasize the importance: “Remember first and foremost: these are kids just like any other kids. Don’t look at them with pity. Don’t ask them about their past or to repeat their story. These kids need to live in the present and look forward. They are more than their refugee story.”

Our hour-long conversation went by so quickly (at least for the adults, but it was clearly interminable for children!). Much to the delight of the girl watching the clock, Magda was finally ready to walk to the nearby kiosk. The Congolese tween had finished her call with her uncle so she joined us, as did a happy, dimpled girl from Kazakhstan.

We all walked in a pack. Sometimes the girls held each other’s hands. Sometimes they grabbed Magda’s hand. One would skip ahead and then the others would jump to catch up. They zigged and zagged down the sidewalk, making jokes in Greek that we didn’t understand—and yet, in a way we did.

We arrived at the kiosk. What had the young girl been waiting not-so-patiently for? SLIME!

Indeed, Magda is doing the work that these children need most. She is enabling them to be kids.

We are happy that Tea can be a part of this important work, nurturing kids to be kids, wherever they live, however they arrived, wherever they are going next. All children deserve dignity, and it is the work of people like Magda and METAdrasi that makes that possible one sweet, slime-loving, giggly kid at a time.

About METAdrasi

 

METAdrasi – Action for Migration and Development was founded in December 2009, with the mission to cover crucial gaps in the reception and integration of refugees and migrants in Greece. METAdrasi is determined to uphold and protect the fundamental human rights of all those displaced and persecuted through innovative interventions. METAdrasi is the only NGO that retains a permanent frontline presence in all key entry points in Greece, focusing on four main axes of activities: interpretation, protection of unaccompanied children, protection of other vulnerable groups, and education and integration. For more information, please visit www.metadrasi.org.

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

Giving Tuesday: Giving Back for Good

Giving Tuesday

Giveback has always been at the heart of Tea. Since 2003, we’ve committed to donating 10% of our annual profits to make the world a better place for children everywhere. Giving Tuesday was no different, but we wanted to do something extra special for the holiday season. For every purchase made on Giving Tuesday, we committed to donating an outfit to a child in need. Additionally, for every new Instagram follower we gained, we would donate an additional outfit.

Thanks to your support, we’ll be donating 1,543 outfits (3,086 individual pieces of clothing) to children in need.

The Kelsays

Calli’s kids helping make gifts for the Door of Faith children

 

To ensure our efforts would make a meaningful difference, we searched far and wide for donation partners who expressed a true need for children’s clothing. One of these partners was Calli Kelsay of The Kelsays. A longstanding Tea supporter, Calli has made it a priority to get her four kids involved in giving back. When we reached out to her about our Giving Tuesday idea, she was ecstatic to jump on board and help the cause.

We sent her six full boxes with nearly 300 units of brand new clothes to personally distribute to kids in need. She then packed up her things, drove down to Baja, Mexico, and surprised kids at the Door of Faith Orphanage with Tea for the winter season. The children could not have been any happier. You can watch the full video of her giveback in action below:

Follow more of Calli’s do-good adventures on her YouTube channel, blog, and Instagram. We’ll be continuing to work closely with her throughout the rest of the holiday season to distribute more donations to children in need. Door of Faith is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and one of the largest orphanages in Baja. For over 50 years, they have served orphaned children and the poorer communities of the California-Mexico region. Today, they house around 100 children to provide them stability, love, guidance, and education. You can learn more about what they do and how to help here.

Door of Faith children

Door of Faith children benefiting from our Giving Tuesday efforts

 

In addition, we partnered with one of our boutiques, The Spotted Goose, to help children in need in Cincinnati, OH. Beloved in the community, The Spotted Goose knew the perfect place to donate nearly 300 units of brand new Tea. With five full boxes, they drove down to St. Joseph Orphanage to provide their kids clothes for the cold winter season. We are incredibly grateful to give back to the community of one of our national retailers.

Spotted Goose Team at St. Joseph Orphanage

The Spotted Goose Team at St. Joseph Orphanage

 

St. Joseph Orphanage is a comprehensive behavioral health and educational treatment agency that helps children and their families on the road to recovery and success. Since 1829, they’ve offered mental health services, education, and foster care. They care for over 3,000 children and adults a year who are struggling with mental health and behavioral concerns. You can learn more about what they do and how to help here.

We’re currently working to identify additional donation partners who have children in need of new clothes. Stay tuned for more updates. Feel inspired? Follow more stories like this on our Instagram @teacollection. #Teagivesback