When I started my mobile Afternoon Tea business nearly 3 years ago now, friends and family kindly kept how crazy they thought I was to themselves. I guess they could see how much of an excitable puppy I was about the whole endeavour, and didn’t want to burst my happy bubble.
But they have no bother telling me now. They admit to me that they didn’t think it was possible for me to make money from tea, or more specifically from a mobile vintage style Afternoon Tea service. Sure if I hadn’t been high on the novelty of it all, I probably would have thought the same myself.
Indeed I was chatting with a woman one day at a fair where I had taken a stand, and she asked the question that everyone invariably asks when they hear I am Chief Tea Lady by career, which is how did I come up with the idea. So I went into the sceal that it is, for I have yet to distill it into one sentence, and it came up of course that I was a secondary teaching in a past life before SocialBee.
‘And you gave that up to do THIS?’ she asked. I truly surprised myself by how genuinely unaffected I was by her comment, and thought to myself, if my mam were here she would be so proud of me, and that’s all I need to know.
As an aside, in case any of you reading are wondering how I came up with the idea, here it is in as nutshell a form as my rambling Cork personality can make it :
The idea for SocialBee was written on a post-it on a bus in Dublin one wet and cold afternoon. But the thinking behind it had begun a few years before, whilst living abroad. I realised that sitting down together and sharing food and conversation had become an occasional luxury rather than a daily occurrence. Growing up in a family of 12, I learnt my manners, values, respect for elders, and conversation skills around the kitchen table every evening. I missed that. And wanted to bring people around tables again, to sit and chat. That sounds pretty lofty I know. Don’t worry, I haven’t gone totally notions about myself, I am aware at the end of the day that I’m not saving the world with my service!
But the experience of Afternoon Tea is a timeless tradition for good reason. It’s a nugget of golden time that we gift to ourselves. And we need that in today’s busy world. As the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says, when you are drinking your tea, drink the tea, and not to be drinking your worries about today and thoughts about tomorrow.
So why is it working, I ask myself?
I may be wrong, but the beauty of Afternoon Tea goes so far beyond the realm of ladies who lunch. It is a treat, and not just of sweet delights, but of time. You give yourself the gift of time shared with loved ones, and in our busy days and busy minds, that is a gift that is priceless.
Afternoon Tea is an experience you see, a delightful feast for all the senses. The excitement as you look forward to it, the visual beauty of the timeless setting, the smell of unusual teas, the delicate touch of old fine bone china in your hands, the taste sensation of all things sweet and savoury, and the sound of jazz on the record player in the background. There’s so much to take in, it’s little wonder we can’t believe how long we have sat and chatted, in this oasis of loveliness and relaxation.
Another reason that is works is because the beauty of having a mobile service is that we can come to you. So Afternoon Tea is now accessible to people in their homes for any number of special occasions, to brighten up the workplace for staff wellbeing and team bonding, and to adventures in the great outdoors such as the wedding proposal atop a cliff that we helped make magical. We have brought the Afternoon Tea party to barns, parks, rowing clubs, O’Connell Street in Dublin, and a pop-up tearooms as well as people’s homes and workplaces.
It’s also a beautifully universal experience, enjoyed by guys and gals, young and old, and even hardcore coffee drinkers! Baby showers, hen parties, christenings, birthdays, launch events, staff days, team building, client entertainment. There aren’t many services that can be used so universally.
So raise a cup of tea to SocialBee as we celebrate nearly 3 years in business, bringing civilised tea and chat to the masses, one dainty pinky finger raised at a time.