Interview with Emily Meyer of Tea Collection

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Emily, It is such a joy to have you and your little citizens of the world on Tropic of Candycorn. Please tell us more about yourself and your family.

I am co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Tea Collection, a globally inspired children’s apparel company based in San Francisco.  Twice each year, we travel the world to gather inspiration for each collection. My hope is that we inspire global connection and curiosity; we strive to make the foreign familiar.

My grandmother taught me that travel is the best education. And growing up, my mother, a foreign language teacher, shared her own passion for travel. As soon as I began to see the world on my own, I discovered that no matter where we come from, we are all alike. We have much more in common than we think. That realization fueled my desire to tell the world, and served as the soul for what Tea represents – We are curious, open-hearted, real and original.

In our home, we can hardly avoid some sort of global awareness conversation every day. We have family in Europe and in Asia. There are objects, maps and globes in almost every room, and my husband and I are often sharing unique versions of everyday items (foods, toys, books/stories) from other cultures. Clement (age 6) and Georgia (age 4) ask questions and want to know the world around them, near and far.

How did you decide on the name Tea for your brand?

I called it Tea, because tea the drink is something shared by all cultures. It evokes warmth, wisdom, and timelessness—values that I wanted for the collection.

As a designer, why was it important for you to seek international inspiration? 

The beauty found in global aesthetics has always inspired me.  The quest for seeking, discovering and learning about the artisans and craftsman whom create this beauty is the most powerful connection to a place.   Making connections with other cultures is the foundation of our brand.  However, while Tea travels to far away places, it’s also important to remember that you can explore in your own neighborhood – beauty is everywhere, across the street and across the globe.

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You are an experienced world traveler, but this was your first international trip with children. Why the wait?

My husband and I did make a trip to Europe with Clement when he was 5 months old, to visit my sister for Christmas.  It was terribly cold, we all got very sick and the logistics of getting around were quite a challenge.  And then we were that family (more than once) with frightened, panicking kids on an airplane just crossing the US. We definitely needed patience for them to grow into the travel experience.  Now they are pros!

What were your biggest concerns or fears as you prepared for the trip? 

I was worried about so many things… How would the kids deal with jet lag? Would they be picky eaters and refuse to try new foods? How would I get them to take their malaria pills?  I packed chocolate sauce to make chocolate milk, brought strollers for when they were too tired to keep up and packed some of their favorite toys and books.

In the end, of course, everything turned out just fine. More than fine – our family had a truly amazing adventure together. We saw monkeys, rode on elephants, made new friends, and tried (and loved!) exotic foods with names like “ladoo”.

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I imagine this trip had been carefully planned since business was involved. How did it help to have things planned in advance?

The point of this trip was to retrace the steps of our designer’s earlier visit to The Farm and Jaipur with my family. While we did plan excursions to the Amer Fort and the Anokhi Woodblock Museum to experience what our designers had seen, we quickly learned how important it was to simply go with the flow. The kids needed time to adjust and explore and relax. That’s when they had the most fun – when they were on their own schedule, experiencing this new world around them!

No matter how well planned a trip is, there are always surprises. What was your favorite?

My favorite surprise was meeting and making a connection with the family that owns The Farm boutique hotel.  The open space was so casual and comfortable, which made it very easy for the kids to have the freedom and independence to wonder around or swing in the hammock.

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Were there moments on the trip where you questioned the decision to bring the kids?

No. The whole idea for my husband and me was to try and see if we could do it together, and not wait so long to share our own passions for discovery with them.

What advice do you have for families who want to travel, but aren’t sure if they can?

Try little experiments and slowly build to what your family is ready for. Try an ethnic food restaurant in your hometown. Try visiting a contrasting neighborhood, like downtown of a large city with skyscrapers if you live in the suburbs. Any road trip or campout can be an experiment of adventure!

We’re so excited to read your upcoming travelogue, but can you share a moment from your trip that was special and why?

Through an introduction of mutual friends, we were able to have global play date with young American family who live in Dehli.  We met at a playground, climbed on the structures, did the swings and slides, and even kicked the soccer ball around – just like we do every weekend at home.

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Tea Collection supports the Global Fund for Children, a non-profit focused on transforming the lives of children on the edges of society — trafficked children, refugees, child laborers — and help them regain their rights and pursue their dreams. Why is this mission so important to you and your company?

The Global Fund for Children is also helping raise and teach little citizens of the world. During our time in Jaipur, two Tea employees were able to visit a GFC grantee partner, Gram Bharati Samiti. My colleagues were incredibly moved and emotionally impacted by their experience.

Gram Bharati Samiti works to educate women and young girls about their right to information, education and healthcare. Meeting these children, listening to their personal stories and understanding how the GFC is helping transform their lives was a powerful reminder of why we support the Global Fund for Children’s efforts. We were so inspired by the work of this local non-profit, that we arranged for all contributions made to the GFC this spring, through Tea Collection, go directly to Gram Bharati Samiti.

So over the next few months, when customers donate on Global Giving Thursdays (or any day of the month), on TeaCollection.com, their funds will help the very same girls we met in the rural villages near Jaipur!

What do you hope to teach your children by traveling the globe?

My hope is that by experiencing and knowing other cultures in the world, my children realize how similar people are, no matter where they are from, and that we can all be friends.

Emily, thank you so much for your time. Your family and company are an inspiration for global connection and curiosity and we are honored to have you share your experiences on TOC. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to place another Tea Collection order because my girls love your clothes and I’m thrilled that a portion of all sales from the current line will benefit Gram Bharati Samiti. Wonderful.  

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