TELL US HOW IT ALL STARTED?
Millie: We met at Bristol Uni and have been best friends ever since. Sarah moved to Mexico during her studies and her newly discovered love for Mexico was quickly adopted by me when I first went to visit. We loved everything about Mexico and always dreamed of having a business together. With Sarah based in Mexico City and me based in London we came up with an import/export trading concept which shared the best products of each country with the other, hence the name Tea & Tequila Trading – trading British tea for Mexican tequila. We began trading mezcal and all sorts of wonderful things but soon our creativity began to blossom and our love for design took centre stage. We began sourcing fabrics, leathers and crafts from all over Mexico and started working with artisans to create our playful designs while supporting them ethically. Today ‘Tea’ represents our British roots and ‘Tequila’ the Mexican inspiration in all our designs.
WHERE DO YOU GO TO GET INSPIRATION?
Sarah : Mexico! The amazing colours, people, craft , incredible scenery & nature. We also get inspired by fashion and creating an ethical business in the current industry which is full of excitement and change.
TEA OR TEQUILA?
Millie: Usually tequila and for Sarah it is however I have been enjoying a detox from alcohol so for me right now it’s tea. We love a good spicy margarita, but it’s even better with mezcal rather than tequila.
HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR NICHE AND DEVELOP YOUR BRAND?
Sarah: We really found our niche once we focused on the design and creation of our bags. We are both fascinated with everything tropical, vibrant with attention to detail key for us to accessorise our style. We love combining our statement bags with chic city style as well as floaty summer prints and fabrics on holiday. The versatility of the bags is something that we are trying to get across to our audience as well.
The brand has developed organically as we have spent time finding the right artisans to work with and are continuously bettering and growing our team in Mexico to be able to share our vision!
IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE ONE PLACE TO LIVE IN MEXICO WHERE WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Millie: I would choose Mexico City as I love the buzz. Mexico has such an incredibly sociable culture and I love walking around the city with the restaurants filling the streets. Like everyone who visits Mexico City I became obsessed with the food, it is a gastronomical haven and I would love to live there with Sarah.
Sarah: Or for a quieter life I’d probably choose Oaxaca with its amazing food, culture and proximity to both the beach and mountains.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
Sarah: Our biggest challenge has to be working from opposite ends of the world most of the time which can be lonely as we bounce off one another and get so creative when we’re together . However it can sometimes be our greatest offering as we have someone working and both time zones constantly covered!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER ASPIRING DESIGNERS?
Millie: I would advise anyone starting out not to look around comparing yourself to the market, stay focussed on what you are creating and try not to mimic others style. You create your niche by staying true to who you are and what your brand is about. You almost need to be a little ignorant and unaware of what else is going on not to be disheartened and put off your project as the fashion world is hugely competitive, but there is a market for everyone as long as your brand story is coherent, honest and you believe in it yourself.
WHO DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
Sarah: I admire Frida Kahlo as a strong, inspirational Mexican artist. She has been someone who’s style and confidence we try to share in some way through our designs. Her incredible bravery and relationship with Mexican folk culture is incredibly inspiring. I’m dying to see the exhibition at the V&A while I’m in London.
IF YOU COULD DRESS ONE CELEBRITY WHO WOULD IT BE?
Millie: If we could dress anyone in Tea & Tequila it would be Rihanna, she is such an incredible influence to women and we are in awe of her confidence and charisma. Her style is fun and always pushing the boundaries. She has had an amazing impact on the fashion world and we love her.
WHERE DO YOU GO TO SWITCH OFF?
Sarah: When possible I’ll try to escape for the weekend from Mexico City to the beach (favourites being Tulum or Zipolite) – I find that a change of air and jumping in the sea can recharge and let you properly switch off away from busy city life.