03 Jul 2018
How a Passion for Travel Built a $43 Million Fashion Brand
Tea Collection celebrates global connectionsTopics:
Photo via Forbes
Leigh Rawdon (MBA 2001) grew up outside Memphis, Tennessee, listening to stories an adventurous aunt told of travels abroad. At 16, she got her first passport, traveling to Paris with a high school French class. "I finally could see the world was a bigger place than Tennessee, but I felt at home,” Rawdon told Forbes online. “After that trip I set my mind to travel.”
In 2002, that passion was a strong factor in Rawdon’s decision to co-found Tea Collection, a children’s clothing brand that draws on cultures across the globe for design inspiration. A rotating group of Tea staffers travels twice annually to soak in the food, music, art, and general sense of place that will give the company’s seasonal collections a particular look and feel.
Rawdon spoke to the Bulletin back in 2011, just after her 10th reunion. “I didn’t have to explain that I’m not sewing things out of my garage. Because all the moms were crazy for it,” she said. Today, Tea is even more familiar, bringing in over $43 million of revenue in 2017. And it continues to look for ways to build connections and benefit the communities where it finds inspiration. “Corporate social responsibility has been in our DNA from the beginning,” Rawdon says, citing an ongoing partnership with The Global Fund for Children now in its 15th year. “Our magnitude is already large, but we want to get even bigger.”
Class of MBA 2001, Section C