Fastest-Growing Companies of 2013

Inc 5000

We’re so excited to share that for the seventh year in a row, we’re on the Inc. 5000 list for fastest-growing companies in America. We have the most amazing customers – thank you for supporting us year after year!

Things we found and want to share from this past week:

Great Moments in Parenting is asking you to finish this sentence: “You know it’s ‘Back to School’ time when…” for a chance to win their back-to-school giveaway.

Calling all non-profits! Here is the easiest fundraiser ever.

Handmade Charlotte has an entire Pinterest board dedicated to crafts made from cardboard. Amazing!

Design Mom is giving away a Tea wardrobe set – Enter for a chance to win.

This dish is a favorite in Hong Kong and we can’t wait to try it!

DIY: Pretty Panda Teddy

What are you going to do when your little girl grows out of her adorable Pretty Panda Tee?

I thought it’d be fun to turn it into a pretty little teddy bear!

1. Gather your supplies: Tea’s Pretty Panda Tee, old baby socks/stockings, filling, needle, thread, scissors, pins, iron, sewing machine (optional)

2. Iron wrinkles out of shirt.

 

3. Cut back and front panel out of shirt. Line up graphic on back and front with good sides facing each other. Trim shirt leaving about 1″ around design. Sew around panda keeping about 3/4″ away from edge of graphic. Make sure to not make any of the curves too narrow or she will look funny when you stuff her. Also make sure you don’t accidentally sew into her little flower.

4. Turn her right side in & stuff her to make sure everything looks ok. If not, adjust appropriately. Once she looks like you would like you can trim some of the excess fabric from the inside. Lay your socks or stockings underneath the panda and judge how long you would like them to be. Trim down socks/stockings if there is excess.

5. Stuff the foot of both stockings. Leave of the top of socks without stuffing. Pin feet to bottom of panda. Sew across bottom of panda and feet.

7. I worked with a baby shirt so I did not have much excess fabric near her flower. This left me with an awkward bit of the shirt’s collar sticking out of the top of her head. I hand stitched that part to make it look better. I also took in the bottom edges to make the curve where her body met her feet more gentle.

8. I wanted her feet to feel heavy and for her to have floppy legs so I shoved all the stuffing towards the bottom of the foot and stitched around the top of the stuffing.

9. All done! Now you have a cute little panda with hanging feet.

 

Here she is with her new friends – Vintage Minnie, Blue Ostrich and Black Bear. They are all envious of Pretty Panda’s stylin’ argyle feet.

 

August’s Activity Book Winner

Tea Collection's August Activity Book Winner

Take a picture of your child’s completed Tea Collection activity book picture and send it to us at [email protected] with “Activity Book Entry” in the subject line.  We pick one winner each month to receive a $100 Tea gift certificate.

Download a few of our activity book pages by visiting our Inspiration page.

A Moomah + Tea Collection Exclusive: DIY Tiger Collage

It’s time for part two of our Moomah the Magazine exclusive crafting series! In honor of our new fall catalog, they’ve created an amazing tiger collage. Looking for more tiger inspired goodies for your little one? Don’t miss our new Character Tiger Graphic Tee, our cozy Woodcut Tiger Pajamas or our bold Pouncing Tiger Tee… you’ll discover how much power can lurk in a shirt!

Be sure to sign up for their newsletter to receive the latest issue – Take it away ladies!

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Tea Collection’s fall collection is inspired by the Chinese Art District. When we envision Chinese artworks, we think of delicate brush strokes making thin lines with black liquid paint. In our eyes, those abstract lines come together in the shape of one thing: a tiger and her stripes.

With the tiger being one of Asia’s most recognized species, we thought it fitting to put together our Tiger Collage as a nod to China’s art world, animal kingdom and of course, Tea’s newest collection.

WHAT YOU NEED:

• Tiger Template
• 12” x 12” Black and Blue cardstock
• 12” x 12” Orange cardstock
• Glue Stick
• Spray Fix
• X-acto Knife
• Tape
• Pencil

CLICK HERE TO MAKE YOUR OWN TIGER COLLAGE

 

New Books For Your Collection

One of our favorite publishers heard our fall collection was inspired by China and the next thing we knew, seven amazing children’s books were on our desk. We believe books are one of the easiest ways to introduce your children to new cultures. Today we’re sharing seven Barefoot Books that were inspired by Chinese culture as well and we hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Little Leap Forward: Experience this coming-of-age tale that brings to life the time of the Cultural Revolution. A young boy growing up in the hutongs of China discovers the heartache of loving and having to let go when he captures a bird, only to discover that she will not sing in confinement. The first in Barefoot Books’ Young Fiction line, this story also includes beautiful full-color illustrations.

Stories from the Silk Road: Journey along the ancient trade route between East and West. The seven intriguing tales in this collection each feature an important city along the Silk Road, and are filled with adventure and drama, as the merchants, muleteers, spies and shepherds travel this exotic route.

We’re Riding On A Caravan: Join the caravan for an exciting yearlong trek along China’s ancient Silk Road. Following the rhyming, treasure-filled story are informational endnotes about the history of the Silk Road, the story of silk, important cities of China, and a full-spread map.

The Great Race: Race with the animals of the Zodiac as they compete to have the years of the Chinese calendar named after them. The excitement-filled story is followed by notes on the Chinese calendar, important Chinese holidays, and a chart outlining the animal signs based on birth years.

The Barefoot Book of Buddhist Tales: The Buddha taught that life is like a dream, yet real. The ways in which we may fruitfully engage with this mystery are playfully explored in numerous tales from the folk traditions of countries including India, China, Japan and Tibet. This is a collection of enthralling stories which illustrates various important aspects of Buddhist thought.

Lin Yi’s Lantern: Meet Lin Yi — a little boy with a big heart and a talent for bargaining. Tonight is the moon festival and he wants nothing more than a red rabbit lantern; but first he must buy the things his mother needs at the market. This heartwarming story shows the rewards of putting others first, and includes educational notes at the end about the Chinese moon festival, life in rural China, and the legend of the moon fairy.

Motherbridge of Love: This beautiful poem celebrates the bond between parent and child in a special way. Through the exchanges between a little Chinese girl and her mother, Motherbridge of Love offers a poignant and inspiring message to parents and children all over the world.

 

Passport to Fiddlesticks

Nestled in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley, Fiddlesticks is bursting with unique children’s toys and tons of Tea. Come explore Fiddlesticks and have a macaroon or two while strolling the quaint neighborhood in the heart of San Francisco. This month we chatted with Elizabeth, founder of Fiddlesticks.

Tea: How did you decide to take the leap and open your own store? How long has your store been in business?

Fiddlesticks: Ten years ago I opened my first store, Lavish. The focus was on home accessories and women’s clothing, with a small baby section. Over time the baby section grew as the demand for more kids items increased. The Tea Collection was one of our first brands we carried actually. I can remember that first collection and those Chinese sweaters like it was yesterday! About four years later, I decided to open a second store, Fiddlesticks – with the focus on all things kids. The neighborhood, Hayes Valley, was exploding in retail and it was ripe for a kid’s store. I knew I could fill that gap. So in the spring of 2007, I opened Fiddlesticks. We are six years old and going strong.

T: What is your favorite part of your day at the store?

FS: My favorite part of any day at Fiddlesticks is watching the kids interact with the merchandise – whether that be trying on shoes, playing with a new toy or putting an outfit together. It’s their reaction that fuels our future decisions in what and how to buy, and it’s their glowing squeals that make it absolutely fun to the core.

T: We know how special all of our stores are, what makes your store unique?

FS: Honestly, it’s our esthetic. I think at the core we are really good curators of all things kids and that is why customers keep coming back. Our individual attention to every customer – we work really hard to give everyone the attention and focus to ensure they have a really great experience. Our customer service definitely sets us apart from others.

T:  At Tea, we “Go There”, how do you share in that mission at your store and/or in your life?

FS: We have a great deal of customers who are dedicated to Tea and come in only wanting to see Tea. Most of them know the story, but for those who are new and haven’t had a Tea experience, we spend a good deal of time with them educating them about the production and the design process.  The more we are able to discuss and share with them, the more they are vested in the collection.  And, as you can imagine, once they try Tea they tend to be lifers.
T: Woo hoo!

T: How do you balance it all? What tricks can you offer us?

FS: I have a very dedicated team at Fiddlesticks. Team being the key word, it’s not I but WE at Fiddlesticks. Kassie keeps us up-to-date on our website and in all things social media, while Caitlin focuses on the toys and books making sure we have the most current merchandise. And, I am mainly the clothing buyer and everything else that happens behind the scenes. TOGETHER we create Fiddlesticks and somehow keep it balanced.

China’s Most Recognized Design Tradition

One of the most iconic Chinese designs is China’s world famous Blue and White Porcelain (known in Chinese as 清花 qinghua), which is why it seems so natural that it was one of the design inspirations for Tea Collection’s Fall/Winter 2013 Destination China collection.

Traded all over the world at the height of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Blue and White Porcelain came to be known outside of China as “Ming Ware” or quite simply “china” as an ode to the land of its origin.

The most prized Blue and White Porcelain didn’t come from just anywhere in China, though. It all came from one place known as the mecca of all porcelain craftsman and artisans for over 1000 years: Jingdezhen, Jiangxi.

Porcelain from Jingdezhen has come to represent the pinnacle of Chinese craftsmanship, as China’s most skilled porcelain and pottery masters have perfected their craft in the city for centuries. Aspiring porcelain artists continue to flock to Jingdezhen to join the artisan community and study at the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute, China’s premier center of ceramic higher learning.

Photo credit: Frank B. Lenz

History of Jingdezhen

Since 557 CE, Jingdezhen has been the center of fine porcelain art, crafting, innovation, and production in China. The city is home to the Imperial Kilns that fired the porcelain used and treasured in Beijing’s Forbidden Palace.

In fact, Jingdezhen’s name is connected to its imperial ties. The Song Dynasty Emperor Jing De (who reigned from 1004-1007) so admired the porcelain created in Jingdezhen that he issued an imperial edict to honor the manufacture of porcelain. The town became known as “Jing De Town” (zhen 镇 in Chinese means town) in his honor.

In 1267, the legendary Kublai Khan established a Ceramic Bureau with 80 imperial craftsman.  During the Ming Dynasty, official kilns designated for imperial porcelain production were established along with the Imperial Porcelain Bureau in Jingdezhen.

In addition to regular sacrificial offerings to the Chinese diety protecting ceramic production, in the Ming Dynasty the emperor started dispatching a royal eunuch to oversee ceramic production in Jingdezhen on behalf of him.

Chinese Emperors took their Jingdezhen porcelain seriously!

When your young ones wear the Lucky Fish Tee, Porcelain Floral Smocked Top, Painted Pottery Graphic Dress, or Porcelain Floral Henley Dress, you can transport your whole family to the historical ancient porcelain crafting capital of Jingdezhen.

Photo credit: Frank B. Lenz

Visiting Jingdezhen Today

Jingdezhen still continues to carry on the legacy of fine Chinese porcelain craftsmanship today.  The pride this small town in southern China takes in porcelain crafting can be seen in the visitor friendly restorations of the Ancient Kilns and in the small details, like the porcelain stop lights downtown or the porcelain trash cans at historical sites (really!).

Photo credit: Tranquil Tuesdays

Visitors to Jingdezhen can see how craftsman continue to use the same techniques Chinese porcelain traditions have relied on for centuries at demonstrations in the Ancient Kilns. In the pictures above, you can see a photo taken in the 1920’s and one I took two years ago. As you can see, not much has changed!

To discover what is new and fresh in the ancient town of Jingdezhen, visitors can also visit many different studios and galleries of younger talents based in Jingdezhen who seek to bring a modern twist to China’s ancient porcelain art.

Photo credit: Tranquil Tuesdays

For anyone fascinated with Chinese porcelain crafting traditions, a pilgrimage to Jingdezhen is the place for you! If you want to learn more about Jingdezhen and China’s unique design and art traditions, read more here.

 

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Charlene Wang regularly travels to Jingdezhen, China to work with the emerging Chinese artisans who handcraft Tranquil Tuesdaysauthentically beautiful and exclusive teaware collection.