Small businesses around the world are feeling the impacts of COVID-19, doing their best to navigate this strange new normal. Amidst all this uncertainty, local businesses are coming up with creative ways to stay connected to their customers.
Kathy and Erin Wyder are the co-owners of Secret Garden Tea Company, a charming tea shop in Vancouver, BC. Below, Kathy shares how Secret Garden is staying in touch with their network and what gives her hope.
Tell us about The Secret Garden Tea Company! What inspired you both to create the business?
It was actually my grandmother who came up with the idea! She complained that there was no place to have tea in Kerrisdale (a beautiful neighbourhood in Vancouver) and I thought, what a great idea! We wanted to create a beautiful space where friends and family could experience sipping tea in china cups and enjoy delicious food and high tea.
How Has Covid-19 impacted Secret Garden Tea?
Initially, we had to completely close and lay off almost all of our staff. Everything came to a complete stop except for our online tea store. We have just launched a limited take out menu.
How have you been staying connected and in touch with your customers?
We have been sending out newsletters and using all aspects of our social media. We have also been talking to some customers on the phone.
As business owners, how have you been taking care of your own mental health during these challenging times?
I must admit, the first two weeks was really tough. I was sleeping in and just not wanting to get up in the morning.I definitely needed some additional sleep at the beginning, but I soon realized that I needed structure and a routine if I was going to be okay. I now have a daily routine that includes walks, meditation, check ins with friends, and of course a good dose of Netflix.
While this time has been difficult for so many entrepreneurs, there has been an outpouring of solidarity and support online in the business community. What has been giving you hope during this time?
Our customer support has actually really given me hope. We have had customers buying gift certificates saying they can hardly wait for us to reopen and people buying extra tea with notes saying they want to help us out. Some of these gestures have brought tears to my eyes.
We’re all trying to figure this thing out together as entrepreneurs. Do you have any advice or suggestions for other food-based businesses who are struggling?
Don’t give up and make sure you are talking to others in the business who understand what you’re going through! I think it is very, very important to look closely at cash flow, making sure you’re only purchasing essentials. Also, this is the time to get creative about selling your product. Lastly, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.
How can people support The Secret Garden?
Please purchase food and tea from our takeout menu and online store. Buying gift certificates is also a great idea and makes us happy as it lets us know you believe in us and are coming back to see us!