Tea shop bringing a touch of vintage charm to Cirencester

With an eclectic work history, including running a petting zoo in South Africa and working in a Gloucestershire school library, Karen Harvey decided to do something completely different and open a tea shop. Rather than a regular, run-of-the-mill tea shop, Karen wanted to create a ‘tea experience’, with vintage décor and bone chinaware – an escape for market shoppers and tourists.

Karen had her business idea down pat, but knew that she needed help to make her dream a reality. Working closely with her Business West business adviser Andrew Mercer, Karen put together an in-depth business plan. Her business plan clearly outlined how the business would be structured and the market research she had conducted – Including that Cirencester had stiff competition with 10 existing coffee shops! Andrew was also on-hand to provide information and advice on VAT registration and how to choose the right legal status for the business. Andrew also helped Karen to create accurate financial forecasts and assisted her with her successful start-up loan application, which allowed Diversitea to open its doors.

“Andrew and Business West really helped me to get my business plan ready to apply for investment. Andrew worked with me every step of the way and gave me great advice about VAT registration and financial forecasts.” - Karen Harvey, Diversitea

Karen’s teashop Diversitea opened in July 2016 in the Corn Hall Market in Cirencester. The tea shop offers a range of teas, locally roasted coffee, sandwiches and home-baked cakes. Karen bakes all of the cakes herself at home in the evenings and early mornings and even though it’s hard work, it adds a personal touch to the tea shop.

Initially Karen’s family and friends helped out by working in the tea shop, but this wasn’t proving to be sustainable. Andrew provided Karen with advice on recruiting staff and employment contracts and supported her during the transition period. Karen now employs a full-time manager and six part-time staff, which has allowed her to focus on growing and developing the business.

Diversitea support local producers by selling jams, tea and ice cream and has something for everyone, with gluten and dairy-free options available. Although challenges have emerged in the form of Brexit, building works on the town’s high street, and limited parking, initial turnover is well over projected figures. Moving forward, Karen is planning to development a website to attract coach tours and bookings for special occasions such as baby showers or birthday celebrations.

Find out more about Diversitea.

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