Category Archives: Behind the Scenes

June 25, 2009

Journey to Japan: An Interview with Emily

First, the itinerary: four days in Kyoto, an overnight in a “wooden” mountain town, then in Tokyo for more exploration at urban-energy pace. Emily describes this trip as almost spiritual, honoring the culture that inspired Tea’s founding aesthetic seven years ago. Enjoy the sights and senses of the Fall Collection and learn how Japanese culture affects Emily—profoundly.

So why Japan for Fall 2009?

The aesthetics of Japan are part of our soul.  Their innate simplicity and the cultural colors of indigo, black, and red move us immensely.  We visited temples and artisan workshops.  We instantly made connections between ancient traditions and the ceaseless innovation in everyday life.  Our pure enthusiasm is what we wanted to share.

Visit to Indigo Artisan Aisenkobo
Indigo Artisan: Aisenkobo

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June 18, 2009

Latest “Little Citizen” Tees Benefit The Global Fund for Children

We proudly launch our new “Little Citizens” tees and gift sets made exclusively for the Global Fund for Children (GFC). 50% of your purchase supports GFC, which finances local grassroots groups working with the most disadvantaged youth around the globe.

Every day is an opportunity to help “little citizens of the world.” Dress your child in clothes that make a difference. Find the new “Little Citizens” tees and gift sets online and in stores now.

Partners for nearly five years, Tea and GFC are proud of and grateful for our shared vision and achievements. Together, we celebrate the beauty of all cultures and bring dignity and opportunity to our most disadvantaged little citizens.

Every season, Tea designs a new Global Tee collection and gives 50% of the proceeds exclusively to GFC. GFC then funds nearly 350 grassroots organizations dedicated to helping children through innovative programs in 70 countries. Last year, Tea donated over $35,000 to GFC through the Little Citizens Tees Program.

This season, we have created Global Fund Gift Sets that combine the newly designed baby bodysuit and older-age hoodie with GFC book favorites: Global Babies and Children from A-Z.

Every purchase makes a difference for organizations like Ruchika Social Service Organization. Ruchika is the reason Maya Ajmera founded GFC over a decade ago. While traveling in India, Maya saw young children, many from nearby slums, selling goods in railway stations. She also learned about a small group of local women who created “train platform schools” to provide working children with basic literacy and education. Ruchika started small but today is impacting nearly 4,000 children and their families. Tea shares GFC’s belief that “small is mighty and beautiful.”

Learn more about Ruchika at www.ruchika.org and other Tea-supported organizations at www.globalfundforchildren.org.

To make your purchase, visit stores such as Mulberry Road (Boston) and Style Child (San Diego), or purchase gift sets online.

 

 

April 22, 2009

happy earth day!

As a mother I think a lot about the world we are leaving for our children.  As someone who loves to learn, I’ve been reading a lot about the current status of the environment.  It saddens me to consider the reality that the world is getting “Hot, Flat, and Crowded,” to borrow words from Thomas Friedman.  But my heart sings at the energy and ingenuity that is going into saving our planet.  Smart people everywhere are thinking critically about what we can do.  There are big movements toward shifting the way we generate and consume power in this country and around the world, and so many small efforts toward the good.

As a leader at Tea, I embraced the challenge of Earth Day to remind us that we can do more to reduce and off-set our company’s carbon footprint.  As an organization we chose to partner with our community of customers and friends to raise money to plant trees around the world towards that end.  Carbonfund.org makes it easy for companies like Tea, and people everywhere, to make a difference.  On Earth Day we will donate 20% of our website sales to global reforestation projects through carbonfund.org.

We also invite our customers to make a year-round commitment with us to fight global warming.  We’ve created a SKU that can be added to any shopping cart for a donation to carbonfund.org.  Tea will match dollar-for-dollar any contribution made by our customers.  As I watched our incredibly talented graphic design team put together our Earth Day message for our customers this afternoon, I felt proud and happy to be on this team.  Join us in planting trees around the world.  We can make a difference one beautiful tree at a time.  Yes we can!

March 6, 2009

st. petersburg, russia with two toddlers

I grew up in Missouri. My husband grew up in Russia, and this is where his extended family remained. Now we live together in the Bay Area with our kids. In 2008, we packed up our 3 and a half and nearly 2 year old children and made the trek (24 hours door to door with two toddlers is officially a trek) to Saint Petersburg. Though the trip was not without its challenges, it was wonderful to experience Russia with the kids.

Since day one, Dmitri, my husband, has always spoken with the children in Russian. They have a Russian nanny and many local Russian friends. So, the kids both speak in Russian as well as they do in English. It was such a pleasure to watch them naturally and easily interact with their extended family in Russian. They played games, laughed at their grandfather’s jokes, and chatted endlessly with their slightly older Russian cousin (age 8).

We enjoyed long strolls with the whole extended family in the beautiful parks in St. Petersburg surrounded by canals. We went to the zoo. We played in the neighborhood playgrounds. We ate yummy treats. Max discovered a pretty serious passion for Russian apple juice boxes (not really unlike juice boxes in the U.S., but in plentiful supply and at his reaching distance in his grandparents’ pantry), and both ate a considerable amount of Babuschka’s (grandmother, in Russian) borscht soup. It was a toddler paradise. The jet lag was a little crazy. Visiting almost the exact opposite point on the globe pretty much flips night and day. The kids got a little turned around. They’d be up one moment playing enthusiastically with their cousin, and then moments later crash into deep sleep. I was beyond exhausted, but I have to smile as I recall the trip. This is what it means to be a little citizen of the world – to be equally at home on either side of the globe at the tender age of 2.

February 19, 2009

journey to brazil

When I thought about the inspiration destination for our Spring 2009 collection, I was still stimulated by the beauty of the Norwegian fjords (our Fall 2008 inspiration) … scenes of the dramatic mountain & beach landscape in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil elated me as a warm interpretation of similar voluminous silhouettes. With its innate colorful, celebratory culture I was thrilled to seek out treasures for translation.

My only previous exposure to Brazil were tales from my mother. She had spent 6 weeks traveling all over South America when I was 10 years old … and for the next few years I heard plenty of stories about her experiences and the sounds of native flute players from a 12’ vinyl.

Laura’s husband – “Matt the architect” – joined us to see Oscar Niemeyer’s famous buildings.

We visited Sao Paulo first – a metropolis, similar to New York. All 3 of us once lived and loved New York (and still do), so we were excited to get a glimpse of this urban jungle.

We visited modern art museums, walked the streets of the Jardin district, and discovered the Liberdade neighborhood during a Sunday flea market. There is a huge traditional Shinto tori gate and Japanese lanterns lining the main street.

Ginko Floral Dress and Waves Hooded Pullover

Brazil is a beautiful chaos of cultures.. with influences from Europe, Africa and the indigenous people of South America. Together they create the vibrant lifestyle that Brazil is famous for.

It was interesting to learn that the first Japanese immigrants arrived by ship in 1908 to work on Brazil’s coffee plantations. We combined the Japanese aesthetic with nautical notes, reflecting on the long voyage the immigrants traveled for a chance at a new way of life.

For girls: Kasato Stripe Top, and for boys: Heitai Sweater.

One evening we found the Shimo Sushi restaurant – the sushi quality fish is fantastic in Brazil. The walls are covered with incredible graphics using motifs often found in Japanese art. We were in awe – it inspired our printed French Terry pieces: Izumi Dress, Taiyou Hoodie for girls, and the Waves Hooded Pullover, Waves Long Shorts for boys.

In Rio, you can easily understand how essential it is for Brazilians to express themselves through music, dance and art – as much as eating and sleeping!!

This photo of the lawn and Sugarloaf Mountain is taken from the top of the Contemporary Art museum in Rio, one of the first buildings designed by Oscar Neimeyer in Rio, looking over Flamingo Bay. The Rio Dress was inspired by this beautiful place.

We stayed in a bed & breakfast run by an artsy Brazilian couple. Situated in the Santa Teresa neighborhood, the house overlooked a valley populated with aging colonial homes. We spent a few afternoons wandering along the cobblestone streets and took the trolley into the city.

The charming wrought iron work on these homes inspired girly flair for our Brasilia Crinkle Dress and Santa Teresa Dress:

You cannot miss the extraordinary sidewalks in Rio – they are famous. We used the tile design to create the Goncalo Sweater Polo.

Laura and Matt were captivated by the street art. We loved this one for color – inspiring our palette for the Spring Collection.

Other street art-inspired styling for our graphics – the Cavaco Polo for boys and the butterfly embroidery on our Zaba Stripe Halter Dress for girls.

Together, we spent a late afternoon on the Ipanema beach and watched the sun set … it was gorgeous.

To really take in the Niemeyer phenomenon, we flew to Brasilia, the capital city located in the driest region of this enormous country. What’s incredible is that this carefully planned city was built in 5 years under the direction of President Kubitcheck in the 1950’s … it was meant to symbolize the “city of the future.”

The most stunning structure of all is the Cathedral Metropolitana – a glorious thing made of concrete and glass, draped with abstract shapes of color. We interpreted the glass into a graphic print, and the shaped of the dress came from the structure. Our Catedral Dress is a perfect style for summer.

And no one can escape flora and fauna in Brazil … from the Botanical Jardin of Rio to the immense rainforest, tropical plants and flowers flavor the landscape of Brazil. The beautiful landscape inspired our summer Jardin Halter Dress and Jardin Crop Pant.

techie tea

Check out this video over at BNET! Meet some of the Tea team and learn about how we use technology to reach you and your little citizens of the world.

February 11, 2009

michelle obama’s quote in vogue

I love her attitude and perspective, and BTW, I loved her choice of designer for her Inauguration Day outfit – citron wool lace dress & coat by Isabelle Toledo. I’m so exited to watch how she evolves the role of the first lady and the perception of the White House.

So I was elated to read this today on style.com:

Just as Hillary Clinton took Chelsea along to Europe and Africa when she was off from school, Mrs. Obama anticipates traveling with her own daughters during school breaks. “I’ve been grateful that my girls have been able to see parts of the country that I’m just seeing at the age of 44,” she says. “It’s not only seeing Paris, London, and Rome. It’s also the remote places…exposing them to what we hope all kids will have: a feeling that they are citizens of the world.”
– Michelle Obama in Vogue, as reported by Andre Leon Talley

She so eloquently expresses what we want for every child wearing Tea. It’s so powerful to witness the creation of global awareness in the next generation.

The rest of the article: http://www.style.com/vogue/feature/2009_March_Michelle_Obama/?mbid=sn

 

August 22, 2008

fall 2008’s inspiration: norway

flying into NorwayIn May 2007, Emily and I headed north to explore the vast country of Norway in search of inspiration for Tea’s Fall 2008 collection.

This was my first visit to a Scandinavian country and I was expecting clean and modern aesthetic. Upon landing in this rich country, I was instantly taken by the enveloping evergreens and the woodwork, immaculate even in the airport.

I knew that this was a country that respected its natural resources and proudly celebrated them through craft. I could not wait to see what we would find…


We began our trip in Oslo, visiting museums and taking in Norwegian metropolitan culture.

One notable stop was the Norsk Folkemuseum, which featured 150 reconstructed townhouses, farm buildings, and churches from Norway’s past.

Here, we discovered a style of folk painting called Rosemaling (see below). This style of painting emerged in Norway around the late 18th century. Artists from the more rural areas in Norway would travel from home to home, painting interior walls and furniture. The homeowners would provide warm shelter and food for these artists in return for their services.

The color and detail of these scroll-like floral designs were captivating in beauty and impressive in coverage.

Later, we found that this painting style influenced embroidery in Norwegian folk costume. This discovery inspired us to come up with our own modern interpretation.

(Norwegian Folk Embroidery and Tea’s Inspired Print)

(Below from left to right: Tea’s Rasmussen Floral Dress and Elina Embroidery French Terry pants)

We also found that hand and loom weaving have been a native tradition in Norway, often done by families in times of celebration. There are many different types of traditional weaving, but 2 examples stood out, Billedvev (pictured here), a pictorial tapestry…

…and Rutevev, a geometric style (below).

These flat woven textiles were typically done in village homes found amongst the fjords. We were fascinated by the textures and colors in these textiles, so we headed north in search of some to make our own.

By chance and through a little help from friends that we met along the way, we ended up at the Stalheim Hotel.

A beautiful hotel set atop a 300 meter high cliff, not only does this hotel boast amazing views, it also has a spectacular collection of Norwegian crafts and a reconstructed folk village.

The varied patterns and color we found in Stalheim’s collection of textiles inspired us to interpret them in rich sweaters and bright plaids.

(above: Norwegian woven textiles)

(Above from left to right: Tea’s Stalheim Fairisle sweater, Aurland plaid shirt, and Ingrid Jacquard sweater)

(Emily and me at the lookout from the Stalheim Hotel)

It is hard to be in fjord country without going on a fjord tour. We were in luck as we were close to one of Norway’s most famous, the Sognefjord. It is of the longest and deepest in Norway, an inlet jutting over 100 miles into the country and over 4000 feet deep.

You can’t deny the beauty and massive landscape surrounding you in Norway. We tried to capture this feeling through voluminous silhouettes in this Fall’s collection like the Aurland Plaid Dress and Fjord Coat (both pictured here).