As we say so long to 2013, we welcome 2014 with a new destination; destination: Morocco. New arrivals are here just in time for the new year so go ahead, put a little spring in their step! Shop new arrivals for girls and boys and don’t forget about our Semi-Annual sale! Save up to 50% on our China collection. Happy New Year!
We are a family of experienced travelers – having visited more than 20 countries, from Canada to Jordan. On our far-flung jaunts, we enjoy immersing ourselves in the local culture, language and cuisine, experiencing the locals’ lives.
Our latest voyage was our longest – 3 weeks, 7 countries, from Copenhagen south to the D-Day beaches of Normandy and back again. This time, our itinerary was carefully planned with the tastes of our 12-year-old son Michael in mind. Michael, with his zeal for ancient history, medieval weaponry, seafood, and chocolate, and strong opinions to boot, sets the tone for our activities. As always, he did not disappoint.
Leaving Copenhagen’s Kastrup Airport in the morning, we began our GPS-aided foray into downtown Copenhagen on an unseasonably warm day. Although temperatures hovered in the high 20s Celsius, low 80s Fahrenheit, the lack of humidity was summer time bliss for us, natives of Washington, D.C.’s sticky suburbs.
Our first stop was Amalienborg Palace, where we enjoyed the sun-splashed morning and jostled with tourists of various nationalities as the changing of the guards unfolded. Soon, our jet lag caught up with us. We craved rest, finding welcome relaxation amidst a fountain and flower garden. Michael inspired our second wind, styling with my Tea Collection FashionABLE scarf.
After our car’s GPS led us astray a few times in the capital city and around Copenhagen’s teeming crowds of bicyclists, we found the Nationalmusset, home of the new Viking exhibition, featuring the Rothskilde 6 – the world’s longest surviving Viking ship. Michael enjoyed the exhibit’s interactive computer program, where he lived the Viking life. Not surprisingly, his pillaging, negotiating, and trading earned him the title of Viking.
After several wonderful days in Denmark, we headed south. Our destination was the Netherlands, through Germany via the Autobahn. While my husband Bruce enjoys life in the 130 plus km/hour lane, I take things a bit slower. After watching dozens of German drivers zip past me on the left, I wanted a break for lunch. Finding an Autobahn rest stop, we toasted each other with German bottled water, cheese, chocolate, and fruit.
The soaring cathedral, marvelous architecture, and canals of Utrecht, Netherlands, warmly welcomed us that evening. Utrecht is a university town, with its share of cyclists admirably navigating the narrow alleys and cobblestone streets. After the bicycle overload of Copenhagen, Michael noted that Utrecht’s two-wheeled denizens were much fewer in number, although no less brazen while driving through pedestrians and forcing cars to avoid them.
Our early morning Utrecht departure was marred by heavy rain. Fortunately, our rainy drive to Ghent, Belgium was short. Michael was excited about Ghent’s 12th century Gravensteen Castle, with its “Museum of Judicial Objects.” These torture instruments, racks, handcuffs, and knives, were used to extract confessions. If no confession flowed from the persuasion, the guillotine awaited. We eyed the castle’s own guillotine, pondering its gory past. As the rain continued pelting us, we found salvation in our hotel and a bag of Belgian chocolates.
Sunshine marked the next morning when we drove to France for nine days. We all eagerly anticipated croissants, baguettes, cheese, and much more.
From our wonderful gîte in Caumont l’Evente, we drove the narrow Norman roads to the magnificent Bayeux Tapestries, cathedrals, abbeys, and chateaux, highlighted by the stunning Chateau de Carrouges and William the Conquerer’s birthplace in Falaise. Everywhere we went, monuments, flags, and markers reminded us of World Wars I and II, and of course, D-Day, June 6, 1944.
My great-uncle from Pennsylvania came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day and was killed in action. Michael wanted to know more about what his ancestor did that day so we visited D-Day beaches, inspected German fortifications, talked about the allied landings, and gazed somberly at the starkly white grave markers of the American military cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer. While walking among the American graves, Michael quietly noticed the number of soldiers killed on D-Day and those who died during the war’s final days.
We topped off our last day in Normandy with a fantastic dinner at Chateau d’Audrieu, a marvelous 18th century abode and a one-star Michelin restaurant. C’est magnifique!
Wrapping up our journey, we headed east, visiting Alsace-Lorraine. Michael enjoyed the many Roman artifacts we saw. While my husband and I marveled at the Roman Empire’s ancient reach, Michael shrugged, assuring us that this was old news to him.
Driving through Germany on the way back to Copenhagen, we stopped in Cologne. There we visited the city’s magnificent cathedral and our priority – the Schokoladenmuseum. Michael loved learning how chocolate was made, enjoying a Willy Wonka-esque sample.
Three weeks later, we returned home with great memories, wine, chocolate, jam, crackers and tea that will keep our trip alive for a long time!
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).
Tami, one of Tea’s creative guru’s, took a week to herself to indulge in a simple, quieter way of life.
Each month Studio T features one of our retailers. This month we caught up with Natalie, founder of POSH Baby in Oregon. Learn about her store philosophy below.
Tea: How did you decide to take the leap and open your own store? How long has your store been in business?
Posh Baby: I have been in business since 2003, I did not start out with plans to open a retail store. I had a wholesale line that was sold to about 300 stores across the globe and having all that inventory, it seemed natural to have a storefront as well. I started out with a tiny store, it was probably about 100 square feet in size. After about six months, a leasing agent approached me about opening up a much larger store that was when I took the leap! Unfortunately, I signed the lease and days later my husband received deployment papers to Afghanistan. That period of my life was very difficult. I had an 18 month old and no idea what I was doing or how I was going to do it all. The store was about 1600 square feet, so I decided to not only sell my own line but other lines as well, plus maternity clothing. Two years later we outgrew that space and moved across the street, and three years later we opened our second store. Last year we moved our original store to an even larger space and I vow to never move again. We are now more of a one-stop shop with everything… clothing toys, gear, furniture, essentials, you name it – we have it.
What is something that your customers would be surprised to learn about you?
I was born and raised on and English Island called St. Helena Island. It is one of the most remote islands in the world with a population of about 5,000 people. It is also where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled and died! And yes, we had electricity and did not wear grass skirts. Someone actually asked me that once! Another thing about me is, going into this I had no experience in wholesale, retail, sewing or business… nor money to do it! But I started small and slow and grew when I could. Lastly, I always wanted to be a Spy! I’m still waiting on the CIA or James Bond to come calling for my services.
What is your favorite part of your day at the store?
When the proud parents bring their babies in for the first time. I love having that special relationship – seeing my customers pregnant, being a part of their journey and sharing the excitement, and then having them come in with their new babies!
We know how special and unique all of our stores are, what makes your store unique?
We focus on the customer experience and personalization. We feel it’s important to allow customers to take strollers outside for a walk to test drive, hold frequent giveaways, have Facebook trivia questions with prizing – all things aimed at creating a fun and rewarding experience.
At Tea, we “Go There”, how do you share in that mission at your store and/or in your life?
Coming from another country and having family that is literally scattered around the world has led to a rewarding life of travel and exploration. I truly am a citizen of the world! I even have a dual citizenship so “Going There” resonates with me and brings the wonderful diversity and flavors of the world into the products.
What is the biggest trend you see right now in either shopping or kid’s fashion? What are people coming in for?
Well I’m not sure if it is much of a trend as it’s always consistent; Parents and kids want easy comfortable, high-quality clothes that are easy to mix and match. Tea falls perfectly into that category and we have a very large Tea following here.
What do you do in your “spare” time? Laughable right?
As a business owner you know you don’t have much spare time and over the years you tend to not prioritize yourself, you put the business (and everything that comes with it) first! So recently, I have decided to refocus on myself both on my mind, body and spirit so I try and do things that fall into place with that. I have discovered spin classes and am really enjoying that. I fit them in before or after work. My husband is excited as he is a cyclist and thinks this may lead to some touring together.
How do you balance it all? What tricks can you offer us?
Turning everything off when you walk in the door. Being present and in the moments of home life are key to work life balance. I don’t check my computer or email at night unless I know I have something urgent or pending. At the end of the day, everything can wait until the next day!
We’re pinning our holiday favorites on our new Pinterest board Holiday Gifts for Kids, come join us!
Things we found and want to share from this past week:
It’s #GivingTuesday and our Four Seasons and Animal Puzzle pajamas are giving back all season long! All proceeds from the purchase of these pajamas go to support the work of The Global Fund for Children. They’re the perfect PJs for the holiday season, what are you waiting for? Shop now!