Bringing the best of Mexico to the UK and the best of the UK to Mexico, Tea & Tequila Trading are providing a platform for producers and artisans to introduce their products to worldwide markets.
Tea & Tequila are on a mission to preserve the skills and craftsmanship put into creating the unique products. They are a fully rounded lifestyle brand selling home-ware, design, accessories and food and drink products sourced from the two very different cultures. The founders also collaborate directly with some of the artisanal makers to create their own line of beautiful Tea & Tequila designs.
Fusing together their British roots and a passion for the Mexican culture, Sarah and Millie set up Tea & Tequila in 2015 after graduating from Bristol University. The Interview (London) catches up with the founders and discusses the inspiration behind the company, their ethos and values and some wise words to boost motivation.
Please can you both introduce yourselves and your brand?
Tea & Tequila Trading is a company set up by Sarah Goodwin and Millie Wilson, run from each side of the world, Mexico City and London retrospectively. ‘Tea’ represents the British products we choose to export and ‘Tequila’ represents our Mexican delights and own brand designs. We blend our inherently London/British style with the love and inspiration we found for indigenous Mexican art and craft to produce hand-made luxury accessories, jewellery, homeware and furniture. We travel extensively around Mexico to create and design, source and export products that embody this unique fusion of the rich and colourful culture of Mexico combined with our native British culture. We also work as importers, distributors and marketing agencies for our selected spirit brands, bringing Mezcal Amores to the UK and Elephant Gin to Mexico.
You’re both graduates of Bristol University. What did you study there?
Millie studied Sociology and Sarah studied Spanish which led to her spending a year abroad in Mexico and the birth of Tea & Tequila Trading.
Did it play a part in inspiring you to start your own business?
Sarah and I lived together for 3 years at Bristol University where we spent many evenings discussing the future business we would eventually run with our housemate Luca Brantly. Our business ideas would always be focused around sun, colour and the tropics… reflecting back on those evenings now we have in some way kept to our word (dream), Sarah and I are tropical designers/traders and Luca is a Brazilian bikini designer www.lucanua.com.
When did you first have the idea for Tea & Tequila and what were your next steps?
Tea & Tequila came to Sarah when she fell in love with the iconic design of the Acapulco chair, she knew how well they would work in England and since they were weatherproof it was a no brainer. I had recently been out to visit Sarah and had become completely obsessed with Mexican art, culture and people and I was already devising a work strategy which would enable me to work with Mexico in some way when Sarah pitched the idea of Tea & Tequila to me. Everything has been flowing at a fast and exciting pace since that day and neither of us have ever looked back. We constantly seem to encounter miraculous coincidences which remind and reassure us that Tea & Tequila was meant to be and is definitely the right path for us.
When did you first fall in love with Mexico? And what does Mexico mean to you?
I first fell in love with Mexico when I visited Sarah in 2014, to me Mexico is full of magic, colour and vibrancy. The culture and people embrace every aspect of life in such a beautiful and appreciative way, they make the most of what life/nature has to offer and never take it too seriously.
Can you tell us about the ethos behind your brand?
We are a lifestyle brand combining our favourite aspects of two amazing cultures very close to our hearts. We fuse Mexican colour, vibrancy and intricate design with the more structured style of Britain's light clean pastels; our products embody and celebrate both of these wonderfully rich cultures. We work closely with indigenous artisans in Mexico who have inherited a skill of craft which can be traced back through many generations of their ancestors. We wish to help protect the undiscovered skills and techniques that are rapidly disappearing as direct descendants of artisans are finding no place for their craft in modern society, this is not helped by the current cases of plagiarism occurring with large fashion brands replicating Mexican design and reproducing it in factories elsewhere. We intend to help sustain artisanal craft by increasing demand through recognition and modernising tools to help them rather than modify their techniques, for instance we take quality photographs of their work for them to easily promote their skills to other consumers.
Can you tell us about the creative process behind the brand and your designs?
The design of our clutch bags originated from the discovery of the bead and sequin embroiderers/esses in Mexico City who create an adaptation of Huichol, hand-placed tiny beads in many different colours. Veronica, our embroideress, and Luca, our embroiderer, hand stitch sequins and beads to create the designs we draw for them. We design clutch bags and laptop cases for each embroidered piece which we produce with Elena and Fabiola, two highly skilled seamstresses we came across in Mexico City. We source the bright colourful linings for the bags in Oaxaca city where they are hand-loomed in fine cottons with traditional aztec patterns.
Did you ever expect yourselves to be entrepreneurs/business owners?
Being entrepreneurs or business owners was definitely something we were striving for but we never really expected to be able to do it together, despite dreaming about it.
What are your future plans for Tea & Tequila?
We have our new website launching and we wish to continue working with wholesalers all over the world to increase our brand exposure and to employ a team of like minded enthusiastic people to work alongside us.
What key things have you learnt from setting up your own business?
Starting out especially when you are young is difficult as you have no credibility and your obvious lack of experience holds you back, to overcome this you must make sure you are very clear about your brand’s concept and objectives. Being a small team as most start-up’s are we learnt that we couldn’t do everything at once and we needed to narrow our focus in order to make an impact and excel.
Do you have any favourite quotes/mantras that you use to help keep you motivated?
Yes, we often remind each other of Deepak Chopra quotes:
“Even when you think you have your life all mapped out, things happen that shape your destiny in ways you might never have imagined.”
This quote reminds us to be open to possibilities at all times.
“Don’t try to steer the river” flow with it.
We also love Audrey Hepburn’s lesson on vanity:
“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.