Monthly Archives: April 2013

April 26, 2013

Two Minutes With Tea: Karin Miller

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?

Conrad Botes

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.”


April 25, 2013

Equipo McKinstry en Mexico!

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!


April 24, 2013

Passport to Dawn Price Baby

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!

Tea: What is something that your customers would be surprised to learn about you? 

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.


Tea: What is the biggest trend you see right now in either shopping or kid’s fashion? 

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.


 

April 22, 2013

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: DIY ‘Tea-Shirt’ Bracelets

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!

April 18, 2013

Two Minutes with Tea: Photographer Corey Villicana

Meet photographer Corey Villicana.

She’s a mother, a go-getter, an all around lovely lady – and lucky for us, she put her busy life on hold to answer a few questions. We needed to know… how often should we schedule family photo shoots?! How do we find the right backdrop?  And of course (to make your life easier), we wanted to know which Tea items she’d recommend for a family photo! We’ve got all the answers for you below, along with several of Corey’s fabulous photos featuring Tea in action. Be sure to follow her on instagram, ‘like’ her facebook page, and peek into her photo shoots here.

What drove you to pursue your own business?

When I started Corey Villicana Photography, my initial drive was to provide a secondary income for my family. My children are the driving force behind everything that I do. Throughout the past five years, my focus has remained the same, although I’m now at a place in my career where I’m fortunate enough to be able to pick and choose the projects that I work on, an incredible blessing.

Any advice for photographers out there with dreams of turning their hobby into a career?

My greatest advise would be to follow your instincts and remain authentic. I think that especially in a profession such as photography, where your work is actually a form of art and a direct expression of yourself: it’s hard to remain true to your own vision. Each photographer should have a different approach, vision or “eye” for each image, that’s what makes each capture unique. Just this last year, I’ve had people express to me that my work has developed a certain consistency, that my photography is recognizable to a trained eye. That’s the greatest compliment that I could receive, related to my body of work.

Southern California must be a pretty inspirational place! You have the Pacific Ocean as a sandy backdrop and sunny skies for great light, seems like the perfect combination. For those who may not be as lucky as us West Coast dwellers, where would you suggest they look for their own perfect backdrop?

I always suggest that a location is chosen based on the preference and regularity of the family using it. If yours is a beach family, you will likely be most comfortable at the beach. Homebodies? Then you should be photographed there at home, in the comfort of your own surrounding. A good amount of natural light is essential to a beautiful photograph, the rest comes easily.

Newborn photo shoots seem to be a must these days, while 1st Birthday’s are becoming the ultimate production. What special years and holidays would you suggest to capture professionally?

If I had to choose three, they would be maternity, newborn, and one year documentation. The grace and serenity that a woman radiates while she’s carrying a child is one of the most pure and honest forms of beauty that we as humans are ever exposed to. The time that you have have to capture the miracle of another human being growing inside a woman’s body is limited, and once the pregnancy is over, those moments and images cannot be duplicated. That being said, the sweetness and peace of a newly born child has got to be the most precious images captured. Babies grow so quickly and change at such a rapid rate, the images of your tiny newborn child will be something that you cherish for a lifetime. One year of life is such a landmark, for both a child and their parents. A celebration of the first twelve months of your lives together, and the excitement of a lifetime. By age one, a child has developed a personality of their own and is typically more than willing to be photographed.

We love your detail shots! Tell us why they’re important to you.

The detail shot is something that I live for. If you’re given the opportunity to capture moments or images of the human connection between people or the essence of a person in a single image, it’s best done in a detail shot. Say that you have a father who has his child in his arms, the initial thought would be to photograph their entire bodies, but if you can train your eye to look a bit closer, you’ll see the child’s hair falling over her fathers shoulder, or their small hands wrapped tightly around his arm. Those are the images that move me, the snippets of current life, captured for eternity.

What are your thoughts on props?

When I starred my business five years ago, the industry was heavily saturated with prop photography. I dabbled in it myself, although at the end of the day, I prefer working without any restrictions, props, furniture etc… My ideal location to meet with a family would be a completely wide open space, where they can act naturally and connect with one another without any outside influences. I’ve also noticed that people tend to hide behind props or worst case, props can overtake an image, becoming the focal point as opposed to the the people in the image.

Share with us the secret to keeping children happy during shoots!

My best advice is to act naturally. Children can sense any sort of nervous or stressful energy, so I approach each session as myself, casual and personal. Keep in mind that each child is an individual with thoughts and feelings of their own. If you can connect with that child, and make them feel comfortable in the situation, the session and the images will unfold naturally.

I know one question you get asked over and over is a panicked, “What do we wear?!”.  So let’s make it easy for them… Looking through our current collection, choose your favorite looks for family photos.

Tea Collection is an absolute joy to photograph, so there really isn’t a way to go wrong choosing pieces from this collection. My current favorites would have to be the Ubuntu Striped and Happy Hoodies, Striped Purity Tees, Twirl Dresses, and the Gypsy Knit Pants.

Thank you Corey!


April 16, 2013

Make A Splash With Tea’s Swim Collection

It’s almost time to break out the swim suits and pack up the beach toys – pool days and beach trips are right around the corner! This year, Tea has you covered on the swimwear. Our first ever swim collection is just what you’d expect from us, colorful and comfortable; it’s the Tea way!

To celebrate the warmer temperatures and longer days, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorites for this year’s beach bag.

1. Zoe b’s Fantastic Beach Toys – They’re bright & colorful and biodegradable. Made from corn, this five piece set won’t hurt the environment on the off chance it becomes a set of 3.

2. Green Toys Ecosaucer – This frisbee is made from 100% recycled milk bottles!

3. Green Toys Sand Play Set – Made in the USA. Actually, made just up the road from the Tea offices in Mill Valley, California.

Our new swim line has us dreaming of summer days and we were curious to see what a few of our blogger friends have planned for the months ahead. Click through each blog below to see what they’re up to!

A big Thank You to PJ, Laura, and Helen for being a part of this!


April 11, 2013

Not So-Fari: Experiencing African Wildlife Without Leaving The United States

The crocodile tee is your son’s favorite shirt and he’s mastered the lion’s roar, it’s time you bring the wildlife of South Africa alive with a trip to the zoo.

A tour of the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa may not be in the cards for your summer vacation, but it’s important to remember that we’re able to explore exotic wildlife right here in the United States!

Have you heard of Safari West? Located only 75 miles north of San Francisco, Safari West is home to over 400 exotic mammals and birds. You can choose to stay overnight in one of their authentic African safari tents or a cottage, complete with a private bathroom and kitchenette. This 400-acre wildlife preserve has plenty to offer – check out their 2013 Photo Expedition two-day workshop if you’re interested in working on your photography skills.

We hear the San Diego Zoo has one of the country’s best lion exhibits. Want to spend more time amongst the animals? The ‘Roar & Snore Safari‘ allows you to pack up and stay overnight on the campgrounds. If you live in the area you should look into their summer camp where your children would experience daily interaction with rhinos and giraffes.

Dallas, Texas is where you will find one of the top African Elephant exhibits. The Dallas Zoo‘s Giants of Savanna exhibit offers access to elephants, giraffes, impalas, zebras, lions and other native African animals. Don’t miss out on the giraffe feeding while you’re there! For $5, you’re little one can hand feed a giraffe fresh greens and rye crackers.

The Kansas City Zoo was ranked number one in the nation by authors Allen W. Nyhuis and Jon Wassner for their “African Animals and Exhibits.” Their 95-acre African exhibit represents five nations with an extensive collection of animals. Elephant demonstrations are held daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Soon the Cincinnati Zoo‘s African exhibit will be the largest animal exhibit in zoo history! Currently they’re working to expand the yard for the Massai giraffe and creating a new and improved home for the cheetahs “where guests will be able to witness cheetahs doing what they do best – running!”

What zoo’s are your favorite for African animals? We want to hear!

Visit your local Tea retailer to find out if they have any zoo favorites in your community.

Let the adventures begin!

 

*Photo Credits: Giraffe from the Kanas City Zoo, Elephant from PLOS blog, Lions from the San Diego Zoo*

April 9, 2013

Story Time

 

“Tonight you get to pick three books!” Sound familiar?

Whether it’s a nightly routine, an afternoon activity or a monthly trip to the book store, reading with children is one of the greatest bonding experiences we have with our little ones. Together we’re able to travel to far away places to meet heros and Kings, giggle with talking animals, and escape reality. As fun and whimsical as children’s books may be, they truly help our little citizens gain a better understanding of themselves and the world around them. We believe it’s important that we introduce multicultural books into our nightly routines to open their eyes to the great big world they’re part of.

Today we’re sharing three of our favorite South African children’s books with you in hopes that they’ll be incorporated into your routine in one way or another!

 

Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales, Various Authors and Illustrators

32 of Nelson Mandela’s favorite African folktales bound into one book. These stories have been passed down from generation to generation in Africa, now it’s time you share them in your home in hopes that the stories will live on through new generations worldwide. Complete with a map, you can see where each story originates. Travel through Africa by way of story with your little one with this beautiful collection of tales!


The Mother of Monsters, Retold by Fran Parnell and illustrated by Sophie Fatus

The Chief’s daughter Ntombi, isn’t afraid of the frightening Ilunge River like everyone else. When she goes there for a swim she finds a very unhappy monster, Mother of Monsters, causing more trouble than she could ever imagine!

 

The Gift of the Sun, Diane Stewart and Jude Daly

Thulani loves to bask in the sun, but life as a farmer leaves little time for this. One night he has an idea to exchange his troublesome goat for a sheep, the first trade of many in hopes of making his life easier. With every trade, his wife becomes more and more irritated until one day, Thulani receives a gift from the sun that will ultimately change his life forever.

 

 

 

April 4, 2013

How Does Tea Inspire You?

A year ago we traveled to South Africa and were inspired to create the pieces you see in our current collection. We reached out to three of our favorite crafting bloggers to see how our collection inspires them. You wouldn’t believe the amazing projects they’ve come up with! But, before we share their projects with you, we’d like to share a little project of our own.

 

Our Nova Trapeze Mini Dress was the main inspiration behind our project.

The pattern is bold & colorful, reminding us of exotic fruits. This is a no fuss dress, so we thought it was important that our project was too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Big Thank You to Stacy, Helen, and Rachel for being a part of this!