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.
Discover the inspiration behind one of our favorite boys tops, the Black Mamba Tee.
Hiss-Hiss make this Black Mamba tee ‘hiss’ own.
Elephants at Thula Thula.
Me on my safari jeep with the Thula Thula staff.
At the end of our South Africa adventures I went to visit Thula Thula – the game reserve owned by Lawrence Anthony, author of the Elephant Whisperer – a book I decided to reread on our trip. The first night I was there – I was literally the only guest. I went to dinner and on the nightly safari drive with the staff and as it turns out, a few of the people from the book I was reading. It was a little scary sleeping in your own little house by yourself with no one else around. I heard a few creatures around my room throughout the night – but just kept telling myself they were only geckos so it was no big deal.
Rhinos at Thula Thula.
Hello, way up there!
The next day in between a morning bush walk and lunch, I went back to my room/cottage to read. I’ve never been especially squeamish around snakes – I watched a lot of crocodile hunter and “knew” how to deal with the poisonous ones. Then I get to the section in the book where one of the staff at Thula Thula gets bit by a black mamba, because he tried to grab it – crocodile hunter style. So then they talk about how you have 30 minutes to get anti venom but they can’t keep it on site because it goes bad too quickly. They have to rush this staff member to the nearest hospital – 45 minutes away. The math is not adding up to me and things aren’t sounding good for this poor guy. It was now time for lunch so I put my book away and glance up at the top of my mosquito net – and what do I see? A smiling black snake looking down at me. Well crap, now I am scared of snakes, or at least this snake. So while still in the safety of my mosquito net I try to get as close as possible to the door of my room. But every move I make the snake follows. I finally get the courage to brave it and leap for the door.
I went and found a ranger. He and the manager came back to my room to identify what kind of snake it was. Obviously, he was no longer in the same spot when they got there. But I wouldn’t let them leave till we found him because logically, I assumed the snake was going to hide in my luggage and wait to make surprise attack back in San Francisco. So we are all looking around my room and finally we spot the snake. But we are all pointing in different directions, because apparently it was a entire family of snakes that was lodging with me.
Well it turned out they were just a friendly black house snakes, so I was safe. But the experience inspired me to design our Black Mamba Tee. Black mambas actually do look quite friendly, so I made him a little scarier so his look better matched his reputation as the “deadliest snake in Africa.” Like what you see here? Check out all our new boys outfits.
A common house snake on your left and a deadly Black Mamba on the right.
Who do you think looks more friendly? The house snake is on the left and the Black Mamba is on the right.
Our design team loved visiting Kruger National Park so much that they just couldn’t help but design a collection of boys tees inspired by Kruger. Kruger is Africa’s largest game reserve and it spans over 7,500 square miles. That’s six times the size of Rhode Island! Kruger was created in 1926 to protect the diminishing number of safari animals. If you ask anyone in Africa what the ‘Big 5′ is, they will tell you that the ‘Big 5′ are the five most difficult animals to hunt on foot- the lion, leopard, African elephant, Cape Buffalo, and the rhinoceros.
Did you know:
-despite the African Elephants large size, they can hide in the tall grass
-the leopard is a nocturnal animal, which means it does the majority of its hunting from sunset to sunrise
Vilakazi Street- where Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu lived.
Here’s a history lesson that not only is short and sweet but fun to say. We bet you didn’t know that our Vilakazi Henley was named after the only street to once have housed two Nobel Prize winners. Nelson Mandela, one of the most famous anti-apartheid activists and President of South Africa, lived at 8115 Vilakazi. Mandela’s former home is now the Mandela House- a museum that preserves his story as he fought for equality. Just down the street, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu still lives with his wife. Desmond as he is fondly known aided to bring an end to apartheid in South Africa. During his quest to bring the fall of apartheid, he coined the term ‘Rainbow Nation,’ when speaking about his beloved South Africa and its ethnic diversity. It is said that Desmond can still be seen strolling down Vilakazi.
Our designers were so inspired by their trip to Vilakazi Street that they wanted to share it with you. Bring a piece of our experience home with you, shop from our boys’ tees.
Our cozy boys’ hoodie was named after Chester Williams who was famously dubbed ‘The Black Pearl.’ During the 1995 Rugby World Cup games, Chester was the only black player on the Springbok Team from South Africa. He became the poster boy (literally) of the end of apartheid in South Africa; his face was plastered on the sides of planes and on billboards. Many South African children idolized him which eventually helped bring an end to the racial injustice in South Africa. If you are curious about Chester and the rest of the Springboks, watch Invictus.
Nceka cloth from our South Africa inspiration trip.
On our trip to the Limpopo Region, our designers were struck by the beautiful beading and embroidery on Nceka cloths. The Nceka cloth is a traditional cloth worn over the upper body by Tsonga and Shangaan women. Oftentimes it is an indigo dyed fabric embellished with beads and safety pins by the wearer herself. Intricately embroidered Nceka cloths are saved for special occasions like weddings.
We loved the colorful and unique detail of Nceka cloths so much that we created the Mtititi Floral Tunic. You can bring home a piece of South Africa too from our girls’ tops! The over-dyed floral indigo fabric is embellished to look like the beads from traditional Nceka cloths.
Our Mtititi Floral Tunic inspired by the Nceka cloth.
Watch the Mtititi Magic video to see beading in action and learn about how Mtititi has changed the lives of women in the Limpopo Region. Video courtesy of WatchKubasa via Youtube.
Horses have played a major role in the development of all cultures, maybe because they proved reliable creatures and friends. For the past three holiday seasons, we have featured horses on our girls’ tees. Take a trip down memory lane with us.
What can you see on every street in Copenhagen? A bike! That’s right everywhere our designers looked – right, left, up, down- they spotted bikes. That’s why our Nordic collection was dotted with bikes on girls tees and boys hoodies. Cycling is an integral part of Danish life and even has its own blog capturing cycle style, Cycle Chic. For many, it may be their only mode of transportation. Did you know more people bike to work in the greater Copenhagen area than in the entire United States? Urban planners in Copenhagen wanted to make cycling easy not an uphill battle for their residents. Many factors contribute to Copenhagen’s biking success, one being that they have a relatively flat terrain and specialized cycle tracks that criss-cross the city. Slowly but surely, progressive American cities are becoming more bike friendly like San Francisco where bikes lanes are being widened and free bike valet is offered at major events.
One of the many inspiring artists we discovered in Scandinavia was Swedish ceramicist, Lisa Larson. We loved how Larson, played with flower and leaf shapes to create creatures (pictured above). We wanted to use the same idea of creating a Scandinavian creature out of plant elements. I collected a variety of internet images and actual plant pieces that I scanned into the computer. Then came the fun part, arranging the elements to create an animal. The pieces I had worked nicely to make an owl. I then traced the owl I created with sharpies to make our Blomma Owl Girl’s Graphic Tee.
We thought it’d be a fun idea to collect leaves and flowers with your children and see what kind of creatures you can create. I found these amazing leaf creations (below) by kokokoKids over on My Barn Owl.
Ever wonder why our Finnish fire engine tee says sisu? We didn’t make up that word. During our inspiration trip, our designers noticed the word sisu on many service trucks. It turns out that sisu is the name of a Finnish truck company started in 1931, and it has been producing fire engines and armored vehicles ever since. In Finnish culture, sisu means having resilience, perseverance, and determination- all qualities that I would want in a fire fighter. Some Fins might describe it as “having guts.” Parents have grown so fond of sisu that they have started naming their sons this. Like all cultural phenomenons, it will slowly spread to the rest of the world just like the word sauna has. I bet you didn’t know that was originally a Finnish word.