We’ve always been a little in love with the children’s clothing line, Tea, especially given their shared passion for inspiring adventure and beautiful design. Twice each year Emily Meyer, their chief creative officer and co-founder, packs her bags and travels the world in search of their new collection. Here, she shares of a trip to Mali, West Africa for our weekly “Places We Heart” (#placesweheart) series.
When I founded Tea, I envisioned a lifestyle brand that would “go there,” across the world, to bring the beauty of world cultures to customers. Our first time to actually go there as a company was in 2007. Inspired by the raw elegance I saw in their mudbrick architecture, we traveled all the way around the world to Mali, West Africa.
One of our first stops on the lengthy road trip from Bamako to Djenne to Dogon Country was a mud cloth gallery and artisan workshop. It was a peaceful place where the artists concentrated on painting their artwork on textiles. We were given a demonstration and the chance to paint a piece ourselves.
Along the road, we stopped in Segou, where we took an evening boat ride. To this day, I remember that evening’s sunset as the most magical I have ever experienced.
In Dejnne, the ancient mudbrick mosque was glorious. Every year the whole community comes together to re-plaster the mosque with a special mixture of mud. We also visited the (very small) shop of a famous embroiderer whose work inspired beautiful geometric designs for our spring holiday collection.
In Mopti we explored a lively market where I had fun negotiating for colorful Dutch Wax printed textiles, and gathered up hats, ethnic jewelry and handcrafted gourd utensils.
At the end of our journey, we arrived in the striking terrain of Dogon Country. This bluff stands almost 500ft high and stretches for nearly 100 miles. We stopped in several different villages in the area where we discovered bold primal textile art, spent the night in one small hostel, and made a short hike up the embankment.
I will never forget this experience. The Spring 2008 collection was a charming rendition of the beauty we brought back–it was our way of sharing the warmth and glory of Mali, West Africa.