.. .Fruition is an amazing thing. 

Right before I left is really when my friendship with Tea truly deepened and blossomed. I mean we had been hanging out and having these “business meetings” for about a year, but we hadn’t been given the time to ever just be and hang out in each others presence. I asked Tea to write a little something on our collab and here it is:

On this journey of creation and empowerment, I put a lot of thought into what wearable art would be for me. Thought into how I can break restrictions in the creative process. Thought into how I can make more art from art. I wanted truly unique pieces, visual thought pieces even, that would free creative expression for both myself as the creator and my clients. 

I feel as though art and bespoke fashion age well, as they can be timeless. With this, I thought it would be amazing if I can get fabric created with my own artwork and of artists that I appreciate. 

I’d say the universe recognizes real intentions, and brought us all together to show us how real our intentions are and can be. Meeting Meghan and learning about what she was already doing with art and fabric made my thoughts real for me. Confirmation that I was going in the right direction. Seeds planted grew into a collaboration where our art doesn’t stop at what we do individually. Collaboration allows us to give layers of life and power to the art we share with the world, empowering the world even more. On the most basic level as artists, Strata and Threads share this motif of empowerment, and this is why it works. - Tea Montgomery

The way he strings together thoughts through words has always made sense to me. I asked him recently through a WhatsAap message “how are you always so on point all the time!?” His response was simply “Some things just make sense to people.” His responses are always well thought out and the few words he uses are every time spot on for the conversation. As I have gotten to know him, I have been exposed to the various assets that embody Tea Montgomery. Almost every day I am still learning something new. If there is something I am certain of it is this, our friendship will never be boring. 

We had a Google Hangout interview with Lucy Gellman not too long ago, click here to view: 

Threads by Tea X Studio Strata

There are some people out there who just bring people together. My dear friends Eliezer Santiago and Tiphani Benbow are those people. I’m not even sure how it came up in conversation, but I’m sure it was related to the fabric I was designing - Elie mentioned “you’ve got to meet my friend Tea.” So there we were at Koffee? On Audobon St in New Haven and I just felt like it was the right moment for all of this creative energy to meet. Tiph and Elie ended up buying a one way ticket to Thailand, but Tea and I have continued to grow and develop both our friendship, but also this collaboration. 

With a tag line of wearable art created to empower and inspire, I knew this was the perfect fit of a designer for me to work with. 

Upon meeting Tea, I felt like I was taken aback by this air of coolness that engulfs the space he takes up. As we have continued to get to know each other and continue our “business meetings” we have really grown into forming a beautiful friendship. A friendship and partnership of designer and his muse. His humble nature paired with a presence that just makes a statement wherever he goes is something to reckon with. We make a good team. I think I’m a little more outgoing with making the connections and networking where as Tea literally has to do nothing and it just happens automatically. 

I can’t exactly remember when we met or how he picked out some fabric to buy from me, but it just always flowed nicely. He’s bought many yards of fabric from me now over time and I’m always playing a game of “where’s waldo?” But instead “where’s studio strata?” with searching for my fabric. 

Recently, we both attended the Essence Streetstyle Festival in the Brooklyn Navy Yard for New York Fashion Week. Tea and another friend Jason were both wearing outfits designed and constructed by Tea with Studio Strata fabric. I threw on a Threads lace cardigan with my Erica Zapp necklace, and hat from a clothes swap and was ready to take on this event in the dreary grey rain. Damn, did we make a statement and a little bit of noise. We were getting stopped all over the place for people to photograph us. At first I definitely felt a little shy, but a little bit into the event I think I found my groove and got into it. 

A Love Letter to Asheville

You had me within half hour of landing. I’m not sure if was the sun we were greeted by with the backdrop of scenic mountains. Or the delicious vegan lunch we had with coffee in a handmade ceramic mug. Or the amazing bathroom with local soap. Or the absolute cutest airbnb. 

But then my desire to move just kept amplifying.

The Biltmore was up next. I mean I have been to some of the mansions in Newport and Hearst Castle in California. But, something about the Biltmore dressed up for Christmas was pure magic. I decided when we left if I am bahumbug for holiday season after experiencing that, there is truly no hope left. 

Everything was just so tastefully done. And the art collection was beyond amazing! 

Next day started with biscuits and fried green tomatoes. 

We were off to explore the deep art scene. I had a meeting with Sunny Side Trading Co. and everything was totally going according to plan. I left feeling inspired and wanted to see more studios. 

The day included meeting up with some childhood friends and continuing to explore. The art, well curated beer/wine lists, love for local handmade, coffee shops, vegan food, and of course company left me feeling content. 

aSheville Museum was totally worth checking out. It’s this feminist museum with pictures, writings, and some interactive exhibits as well. There was one picture with writing set in the foreground about the feeling when one cuts off their hair that especially resonated with me. 

And just like that our weekend escape to Asheville was over. My take away from the trip were some new textile ideas and a new collaboration with Meet Jivi (more on that later). 



Getting Caught in the Monsoon

So, you’re a teacher and the only time it makes sense to go to India is during the summer which is during monsoon season there - you grab a crew of five people and say YES to vacation. But since it is the monsoon, you pick places that are worth visiting during that season. Places that are even more lush and just hope not to fall sick. 

After our first time getting caught in the monsoon at Sanjay Ghandi National Park, we learned that our shoe wear was no good. We headed into Bata and left with power sandals. Now we were sufficiently ready to take on the rest of the trip and with of course my snack bag. 

This was the route: JFK - Bombay - Kholapur - Amboli - Goa - Munnar - Alleppy - Kochin - Bombay - JFK

An overnight train is a must during a trip to India so there we were, music playing, cards being delt, and AC flowing. Until the rest of the train car came and we all had to disperse into the top bunk. We woke up in Kholapur. I hadn’t visited since I was a kid, but I have always loved this little city. We spent the day visiting a fort called Panhala. Visited some shoe shops and ended the day with the most amazing homemade Misal. I crave spicy soupy things in the rainy cold weather. Dishes like chili or ramen. Well, in India you get Misal its soupy, oily, and spicy.

The next day we were en route to arguable one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. Amboli. The mist and fog came in and out and left us in complete awe. Once again we got caught in the monsoon, but I made sure we got chai and bhajia (fried potatoes and onions in chickpea batter) right after in a little shak. 

Next up was Goa which is known for its beaches, party scene, and Portuguese influence.

An early flight took us down to lush and clean Kerela. We started off in Munnar which is a hill station nestled in tea plantations. As we continued to climb the steep mountain the views just became more and more breathtaking. 

We got oil massages, ate the most amazing bbq at Club Mahendra (twice!), went off roading in a jeep to visit the highest tea plantations, and saw a kathakali show. 

I can still taste the tea up high in that plantation and the smell those leaves.

Next we got a day to just slow down. We drove all the way down the mountain and to Alleppy where there was a house boat waiting for us. This was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip. We just hung out and played cards for hours on end while indulging in the most fresh and tasty food. 

Off to Kochin for a night to end our trip within a trip in Kerela. 

Nihar has some family history in the south and still has a few family friends who live there in the spice industry. So, we had a very knowledgable tour guide show us around Kochin for a day. The sights included, feeding pigeons at the Jain temple, Jew Town, Chinese fishing nets, the pepper factory, a traditional banana leaf lunch, and my least favorite - the hyper mart. 

And just like that we were back in Bombay for the last days. Some last minute shopping and dividing time between family and we had to say bye to India. 

The inspiration that resulted from this trip was definitely from all the lush green we encountered. I’ve noticed some of the landscapes creep into my prints and definitely some of that green color. It has also brought some Indian inspired lessons to life back at school and led me to start the school year with a theme - a year of culture.