StartUp of the Week: TranquiliTea Tea and Cake Emporium
More and more businesses are starting up in the north, proving that the startup revolution isn't just limited to London and the south. One of these brilliant businesses is TranquiliTea, a vintage-style tearoom and cake business. Founder Clare Jardine was a keen cake-maker in her spare time, and with the help of a Virgin StartUp loan she was able to fulfil her dream of starting up a tearoom. We caught up with her over a cuppa.
Business name: TranquiliTea Tea and Cake Emporium
Founder(s) name: Clare Jardine
Loan funds received: £5000
Based in: Manchester
1. Explain your business in the time it would take the kettle to boil
We not only sell tea, cakes, and savory food, but also have a children’s party room upstairs where we run children’s parties with cake decorating, art and craft activities. We bake delicious cakes and also supply celebration cakes such as for weddings and christenings to order. We care also planning to add an outside catering service to the business.
2. Where are you based and why is it a good location for your business?
The business is based in Swinton, Manchester. We identified a place where there was a gap in the market for a tea room/coffee shop, and were very careful in researching this. We chose somewhere with few competitors, easy free parking, and ensured that our target market customers would be nearby. We're also situated very close to a church and a school so have plenty of passing trade.
2. How did you come up with the idea?
I had worked in finance but had a bit of a hobby business as a sole trader in the past selling celebration cakes from home, and loved doing this. It was dream of mine and my mum’s to open our own tearoom where I could use my baking skills and knowledge to have a pretty vintage-style place where people could enjoy delicious home-baked food in a lovely environment.
3. What’s the business model?
I worked for the last nine years in the finance industry and this previous experience has given me a valuable insight into many useful business and financial processes, which I'm sure will help with the running of this new business.
4. Who are your competitors?
Other tea rooms and cafés, although there are none in the immediate vicinity.
5. What’s unique about your business?
Not only the excellent home-made quality food we pride ourselves on, but the bright and pretty environment which you can see from the photograph. We wanted a café that looked lovely and would attract people. As you can see from our website we have put a lot of effort into making it a lovely place for our customers to spend time. We have lots of things for children to do in a specially designed children’s corner including toys, coloring and a chalkboard area, so parents can relax knowing the children are happy and occupied.
6. What stage was your business at when you applied for the StartUp Loan?
As well as the financial support from Virgin StartUp my Mum and I borrowed £10,000 to start the business. We also had lots of help from family in getting the premises ready for opening.
7. How have you used it to grow your business?
The loan we received meant we were able to have everything ready in terms of tables, chairs etc. for our customers, together with a fully functioning kitchen and an upstairs party room so we could offer a full service to customers if required from the start. If we had not managed to get the finance it would have been difficult to start, and we would have had to start much smaller and grow much more slowly.
8. Who is your mentor and how have they helped you?
The support and advice has been very helpful for working on our business plan, marketing and financial planning, and our application to obtain the loan we needed to set up. Our adviser also had previous experience in the restaurant industry and gave us lots of useful advice, which was great as we had no prior experience.
9. Who is your regional delivery partner and how did they help you get a Virgin StartUp loan?
BBV Ltd helped make the application process easier, as we had support when it came to the business and financial plan, loan application and all supporting documents. As I was still working full-time whilst doing this it was good to have the additional support and guidance to ensure the process was a smooth as possible. We would have struggled with several aspects and having had advice and support feel we are much less likely to run into difficulties as we have been advised how to do things the right way, so can get on with building the business.
10. Biggest achievement so far?
We thought we would manage with two directors and another staff member but our BBV adviser thought new would need more staff. They were right - we became so busy so quickly we had to take on new staff to cope with the early demand, which was great.
11. What’s next for your business?
We hope that the business will grow so that we're busy all the time and have the party room fully booked. We're taking it a step at a time and ensuring that we can meet any demand. We're also now using social media to let the public know about special offers and to bring more customers in when it tends to be quieter.