A North East entrepreneur, big in china has hailed the reality TV show Great British Bake Off as one of the reasons behind her business’s success.
Whitley Bay based, The Vintage Tea Party, which provides crockery and bunting hire to an array of events and weddings across the region, first came into prominence as a result of the popular baking programme, according to its owner, Julie Clay.
“The business started when I bought some vintage china from Tynemouth Flea Market and a couple of friends borrowed pieces for an event they were having. When the TV show started highlighting cakes with vintage crockery I noticed an increase demand for my cups, saucers and plates. Julie said.
“People were hiring things to showcase their cakes and the next stage was seeing people hiring my crockery for weddings to create a traditional British vintage theme. Bake off was where Vintage Tea Party started to become popular.”
Although the Bake Off is certainly no longer the catalyst for her trade, Julie doesn’t play down the importance it played in the initial success of her business.
Now seven years on, Julie has her fingers in many pies, and provides her china and tea party paraphernalia to as many as 250 people at a time.
Such is the popularity of The Vintage Tea Party that it can claim to have royalty amongst those who have enjoyed the fine crockery, as Julie explains:
“Princess Royal sipped from my china at an afternoon tea which celebrated the opening of Northumberlandia.I love pointing out to people that HRH drank from that cup. We still hire out that particular cup, and I trust the customers with it because they always return the china in good condition.”
The Vintage Tea Party’s reputation has risen accordingly with its increase in custom. Weddings, engagements, birthdays, theatre productions and TV shows have all used her vast collection of crockery which she personally delivers, sets out, collects and painstakingly washes by hand ready for the next function.
A testament to the service she provides is in the repeat business she attracts.
Julie explained: “There is one lady for who I have provided tea sets for her engagement party which was used again for her wedding and the birthdays of her two children.
“When you have people coming back, especially to play a role in such important days in their or their loved one’s lives, it really is lovely. Bake Off really did set off my business and like the cakes on the show, I’ve risen to the challenge.”