Wednesday, 10 March 2010

High Tea Meets High Fashion

Yet again an eventful couple of months have been and gone in the blink of eye. Of particular noteworthiness, is that Tea was asked to provide tea for Charlotte Olympia's A/W 2010 Collection held at The Langham Hotel in London. We duly obliged as Tea's association (collaboration is stretching the meaning of the word beyond recognition) with creative talent can only be a good thing. It transpired that Charlotte is a big fan of Tea and her fiance is actually a regular at our teashop and offered a welcome respite from the super glamorous, incredibly tall (a combination of genes and shoes) ladies at said event. In a surreal manly bubble, surrounded by air kissing and flashing bulbs, we spent most of our time discussing in detail the merits of a roast beef sandwich including the bread to beef ratio, type of bread, preferred condiment and whether medium rare is suitable for a sandwich. Indeed we only broke from the wonderful world of beef to pose for the flashing bulbs and to receive air kisses from afar.

Although a wonderful afternoon, I was supposed to be working and having scoured the guestlist (this is the work part by the way) which included the great and the good of the fashion world, I can only conclude that some of the most influential people in fashion are starting the day with a cup of our tea and it is therefore only a matter of time before Tea is gracing the front covers of Vogue, Elle and Vanity Fair. And now for the star of the show (I am happy for tea to play second fiddle on this occasion), the shoes:

They are indeed beautiful shoes and a great time was had by all. I can't wait for the S/S 2011 collaboration!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Where do I begin?

I am at a complete loss as to where to start this post or what to include. To say that the last six months have been eventful is like saying the universe is quite big. The highlights include:

  • Securing investment to launch an assault on the retail tea market
  • Winning 'Best Performance by a First Time Entrant' at the oscars of the fine food world (2009 Great Taste Awards)
  • Exhibiting at the Speciality & Fine Food Fair (see below)
  • Visiting Darjeeling to meet the real heroes of the tea world
  • Developing a range of whole-leaf teabags

The dilemma that I have is that each of the above bullets is a post in itself. Indeed the trip to Darjeeling could be a short story. I shall therefore have to up the ante in terms of my blogging which, to date, has been sporadic at best and down right shoddy at worst. As I must start somewhere, I shall dedicate this blog to a general update closely followed (I promise) by blogs covering the specific points mentioned above and whatever else I feel may be of interest.

In general, the last six months have been challenging. There certainly appears to be more positivity from our customers although I do not see the halcyon days of 2008 returning any time soon. However, every cloud has a silver lining and instead of wallowing in self pity, I took the opportunity to review the strategic outlook for the business. It was my opinion that there was going to be limited opportunity to grow the teashop model so I decided to look at other areas where value could be added without a huge amount of investment. I think this is known as 'the course of least resistance' in business parlance. So I have spent the last six months developing our products, processes, packaging, and contacts to pave the way for our teas to be sold via third-party retailers. The result is that we now have a number of our award-winning teas available through carefully-selected foodhalls and delis. The feedback from retailers and end users alike has been so positive that I really feel that this could be a hugely successful strand to our business.

Although I sit here now more positive about the future than I have been for some time, I am not so naive as to think that we are completely out of the woods. Developing new revenue streams does help spread risk although we are still very much at the mercy of the global economy and my view is that there is still a long way to go before confidence returns. Even when confidence does return, I think that it is going to be a more prudent confidence than the one we have previously seen, which is not such a bad thing. It is therefore imperative for a business like Tea to ensure that we continue to offer our customers the best value and quality that money can buy together with exceptional customer service while continuing to innovate. In short, we need to give our customers several very good reasons to continue to spend their very hard-earned cash with us. If we can do this, the future should be bright. If not then we shall probably die a slow and painful death but such a macabre notion has no place in this blog or my thoughts.

I started this blog asking 'where do I begin?' and I finish it asking where it should end. The answer? Right here.