Tea With Iris owner Leslie Shockley in one of her 100% organic hemp jersey printed dresses from 2012 with a smoke tree design handmade with a piece of the smoke tree she is standing next to.
It was all because of a turtle named Iris.
In 2010, while working a full time job, Leslie Shockley found herself often seeking solace in her gorgeous, desert-landscaped front yard, which housed a small dirt hole where her family’s turtle Iris lived. As she would sit and watch Iris loll about her days, Leslie became inspired by the idea of slowing down and utilizing what was on hand to make meaning out of life. She began to adopt a personal philosophy of life, based around living small and with intention, consuming less and creating more, and most of all, becoming conscious about the objects she allowed into her life and her home. This philosophy soon birthed a company Tea With Iris—a venture all about no-waste upcycled craft and eco-creativity.
In a refurbished freight train cargo container in her backyard, adjacent to DIY plots where she and her daughter grow herbs and produce, she began to make conscientious products with the help of her grandmother’s old sewing machine; think little girl baby doll dresses from vintage pillowcases, infant onesies printed with vegetable dye dipped smoketree branches, recycled wine cork earrings adorned with illustrations from used storybooks, and organic market bags in whimsical found fabrics.
In 2018, she was able to quit her day job full time to focus on Tea With Iris. Today, she is a regular presence in her local Whole Foods and Farmer’s Markets as well as other events and fairs that are in line with her personal commitment to integrity and sustainability such as Unique LA, Renegade Craft and Mojave Flea.
Leslie's favorite Sergio Lub bracelet is her Nepalese Cord.
Even though her business has grown, she still maintains a firm mission to design products that help reduce waste, using only certified organic cotton, hemp, and repurposed materials. Plus, many of her products are designed to replace disposable product that, at the end of their life cycle, can be cut up or composted to return to the soil. But bottom line is that her wares appeal to anyone with an interest in reducing their carbon footprint and living more in tune with their natural environment.
Recently, this has meant new creative offerings such as organic cotton jersey and upcycled burlap “scrubbys” – a natural alternative to a kitchen sponge, everyday organic dusters, colorful organic beeswax wraps for storage, and even bandanas that come with a slot for an ice pack for hot summer hikes.
In March, when everything closed down, and to adapt to the realities of the pandemic, Leslie shifted gears to make organic cotton face masks. For every three she sells, she donates one mask for free to a health care professional or essential worker in need.
Leslie is a living example of her own beliefs, particularly to “Be true to yourself and what you believe in and work hard to create the world you want to live in.”There is a new hashtag roaming the social media circuits these days called #staywithsmall. It arose in response to the current pandemic as businesses across the nation found themselves shuttering their doors to shelter in place, or local artists and creators were forced to utilize new ways to spread the word about their products, creations, and art online. In support of #staywithsmall we are temporarily turning our blog into a place to share profiles of small businesses we adore. If you’d like to be featured, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.