Virgin StartUp of the week: Mrs Tea's Vintage Tearoom
Claire Hearn is the founder of Mrs Tea's Vintage Tearoom - an indulgent tea shop with a distinctly vintage twist! After running pop-up tea shops all over the country, Claire has recently set up base in Tunbridge Wells. Claire is supported through StartUp Loans delivery partner Enterprise First.
We choose one Virgin StartUp company to be featured on Virginstartup.org each week. We ask our startups of the week to deliver the ultimate elevator pitch. What would they say if they had one minute in a lift with Sir Richard Branson? Please answer the questions below, keeping each answer to five sentences max.
Ground to floor 1 – Explain what your business does
I host vintage tea parties as well as ‘pop up’ vintage tearooms at festivals and events across Kent, Surrey, Sussex and London. I serve delicious homemade cakes & savouries and plenty of tea on eclectic vintage china, recreating the nostalgic atmosphere of a vintage tearoom.
Floor 1 to 2 - Where are you based?
I’m currently running a 1940s tearoom in The Corn Exchange, just off The Pantiles in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
Floor 2 to 3 – What’s the business model?
Having a tearoom base is a way for Mrs Tea to be able to expand in every respect – in terms of the food I offer (I will be having a gluten-free range starting in January) and in terms of making the most of utilising the tearoom space I have (I will be hosting Make, Do & Mend Craft Workshops starting in January too). I want to take the concept I have and continue to grow it, to cover new areas and new product ranges.
Floor 3 to 4 – Who are your competitors?
There are other businesses across the UK who offer similar services to mine – however I’ve stayed true to what I do and have focused on delivering a unique vintage experience along with delicious food and attention to detail that sets us apart from the others. In terms of where I’m currently based, I put a 1940s spin on my tearoom to enable me to stand out from the other cafes and coffee shops in the area. I’m proud to be the only ‘40s tearoom in Royal Tunbridge Wells!
Floor 4 to 5 – What’s your USP?
I offer a nostalgic, memorable tearoom experience. From the elegance of sipping tea from bone china teacups and enjoying delicious homemade cakes from vintage china plates to the music from a bygone era that plays softly from the gramophone and waitresses in vintage dress – it’s an experience enjoyed by all, young and old.
Floor 5 to 6 – Where did the idea come from?
I’m into the vintage scene and I love afternoon tea - for a long while I've wanted to open my own vintage tearoom. Always being one to seize an opportunity, I took over Mrs Tea in February 2014 from its previous owner. I re-launched Mrs Tea in June and even though it didn’t start out as my idea, I have put my own stamp on the business and have generated all of the bookings and opportunities. It really has been like starting from scratch.
Floor 6 to 7 – How much funding did you receive from Virgin StartUp?
I received £3850.00.
Floor 7 to 8 – How are you going to use it to grow your business?
Having had a busy seven months since launch, travelling all over the UK hosting ‘pop up’ tearooms and tea parties, I really wanted to have a base and a tearoom I could open all week long. I have used the funding to open a 1940s tearoom in Royal Tunbridge Wells – as a ‘pop up’ initially – open six days a week until the end of February 2015. I see real opportunity and potential with the location and I feel having this base is a way for me to grow my business further and reach more people.
Floor 8 to 9 – What’s your workspace like?
Floor 9 to 10 – Where will your business be in 12 month’s time?
I would like to be running a more permanent tearoom of the back of my ‘pop up’ base and will be looking to develop Mrs Tea with product ranges, my own blends of tea and looking ahead to further expansion. I would love to bring Mrs Tea to New York!