When the COVID-19 close down hit the midwestern state of Indiana in March 2020 and bars, restaurants and businesses had to stop doing business in the traditional way, sending people to the safety of their homes, one independently owned tea business thought it would be the end for them.
After operating her tea business since 2011, British born Tina Jesson could have wept. But her Great British resolve kicked in, and thoughts soon turned to ‘what CAN we do and how can we best serve our community?”
Tina started to transform her business by turning to technology.
Tina started off by doing Facebook Lives EACH DAY called Virtually Tea Time, where a different daily brew and a story of a favorite china cup or mug was shared with her audience.
Then something amazing happened, she realized that this insignificant 10 minute daily post had become a lifeline to people who where at home alone and isolated. “What can seem insignificant to you can have a profound effect on others.” Tina said
And it wasn’t just the local customers who where turning in each day. She found that people from right across the USA and even UK, where starting to follow her and join the conversation.
Asking again “how can we best serve our community and who can we best help?” This is where social media really helped. Tina reached out to hospitals in the area and ran sponsored lunches, for their cleaning teams (some of the lowest paid and most overlooked employees in the Health service). For each lunch sponsored, Tina matched it with another and soon her team was delivering over 100 lunches in the area.
Realizing that as long as social distancing was going to be in force and that it was likely to take at least a year for things to get back to some form of normal, a “Plan B” needed to be developed.
What if all the British recipes that had developed for the tearoom could be converted in to dry bake mixes which didn’t need a commercial kitchen?
The first was a simple scones mix, which she then used in what became know as the Devonshire Cream Tea Care Package. Scones mix, jelly, clotted cream and of cause a packet of loose leaf tea. The website was redesigned to accommodate a larger online store and a Facebook shop setup.
The response was so overwhelming! People who hadn’t seen their family members in weeks, where able to buy online and have them shipped to a loved one anywhere in the USA.
Another one of the tea time experiences could also be transformed. Before COVID-19, a series of British food themed bake classes were held at her store. But what if those could be recreated online from Tina’s home kitchen?
So now Tina’s Traditional has totally transitioned with technology to offer interactive virtual bake classes each week, supported by the relevant bake mix. From Victoria Sandwich Cake to Battenburg Cake, from British sausage Rolls to Cornish Pasties and of cause British style scones, clotted cream and house made jam, with a selection of loose leaf teas. Over 100 home bakers have joined these Wednesday night classes.
Sadly, in August, the tearoom closed as the business pivoted to totally online. Tina’s Traditional is going from strength to strength, with extended reach, 1000’s of new customers, the business is thriving. Tina does miss the in person interaction, but loves the fact that through the virtual bake classes, families get to see each other again and share a tea time experience. Just like 3 generations from one family in 3 different cities in 2 different states were able to do. That my friend is priceless.
You can find out more about Tina’s Traditional at www.TinasTraditional.com