When Sandra Barrett packed in her full time job, she had to find something quick to replace her income. Scrambling for ideas, she realised the answer lay closer to home, in the form of a forgotten sewing machine. Together with her talent for catering and event planning, Sandra launched her brilliant new business venture; teaNcake.london. Convinced that her idea would take off immediately, Sandra soon found that the road to establish her brand would not always be as ‘smooth as honey’. This is what Sandra did next to push her big idea.
A friend and I had become business partners. I would organise the events and she would do the catering. The concept was great, but we didn’t get any clients. So after working together for at least 2 years we separated.
As an event planner, I became tired of organising events for friends and not being paid according to all the work which I had put into the job. I became disillusioned and tired and wanting to change career.
I thought that I could organise tea parties and cater for small events like baby showers, small ladies gatherings etc. Something which I could do on my own, which did not require hiring someone. I also thought that I could make napkins to go with the tea parties and table runners. As an event planner I had always admired the way tables were dressed. I love napkins and believe that they complete the way a table looks. I thought I could recreate this look, make the napkins colourful, bright and perhaps cultural. I might even have an audience who would appreciate the beauty of my handmade creations.
I also wanted to change my career desperately. I found a job as a Recruitment Consultant and worked for the company for three weeks. They were awful so I left. I left with no job, no career, no money. I needed to think fast about what I could do to make money. This is how the concept of teaNcake.london came about.
Please explain the range of your products and services?
I organise small tea parties for baby showers and small group gatherings. I provide light refreshment consisting of juices, tea, sandwiches, cakes, scones and fruit, in case the host would like a slight snack for her guests. I provide everything, ranging from the cups and saucers, table cloths and also a complimentary bottle of Prosecco! I also make handmade napkins and table runners. They are all hand made using African waxed fabric.
So would you say it a cottage industry? Where are you based?
Yes it’s a ‘cottage industry’ which I created at home in Wembley in London. My mother brought me a sewing machine at 16 years old, which I had hardly used for many years. When I had the idea of creating the napkins, I realised I had found a rare diamond in the old machine sitting in my home. I could use it to eventually make money!
What challenges do you face promoting your business? Who is your clientele?
There is a saying that goes; “Work on your business, not in your business”. I think this quote was made for me! I don’t always post pictures or use social media as a way of advertising my brand. I know I should do that on a weekly or daily basis. The pictures need to be polished and sharp, with eye catching details and clear. I thought the idea would take off like a rocket. However I need to work harder in terms of advertising.
I would say that my clientele is predominately women from the ages of 25- 55 years old. Women who enjoy hosting small gatherings at their home, who love bright bold, cultural colours
So how will you harness social media to increase your brand awareness?
Social media is interesting and hard work! People may like your pictures and follow your brand but will not necessarily buy your product. You have to be persistent. I can be found on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (See details below).
Did you know that you would someday be an entrepreneur?
‘Going broke will make you creative’ I did not think about becoming an entrepreneur. I didn’t take it seriously until I had no money. I had to become creative, think outside the box and use gifts which God had given me. I admire and respect anyone who has an idea and transforms it into the next big thing! It can be, but one must be prepared for hard work, some tear shedding, losing money and even realising who your friends really are.
What are you most proud of in terms of business achievement? How would you define success?
I am so proud to have my own business. It may sound strange but I see it as a remarkable achievement. I own it, it was my idea. No one gave me the idea or what to call it. No one encouraged me, but me!! My faith in God has allowed me to believe in myself and know that faith without works is dead!
You asked what does success mean to me. It means many things; to a mother who has fed her children with her last £10 and is able to keep feeding her children – that’s success; to the young black man who is the first person to go to university in his family, that is success. To me just owning my own company is success. There is still so much to do, to research, to pitch to companies, to create, but the challenge is ongoing. Every day I breathe, I count as a blessing. I will let the blessing follow me and see what happens. I believe at times God is looking at me saying, “You got this Baby, you’re gonna be fine!”
For more about Sandra’s teaNcake.london contact:
@teaNcake.london on instagram
@teaNcake.london on facebook