For the love of tea, scones and the people
Name of business: The English Cream Tea Company
Creator: Jane Malyon
Years in business: 4
Specialty: the cream tea experience, delivered via hampers, speciality jams and teas, and workshops
Key to success: Passion and having the systems in place before you need them, allowing them to grow with the company and streamlining the development (“When you grow, if one part is missing, it (the business) crumbles.” – comments Jane)
Biggest challenge for businesses: Distribution, developing relationships with buyers
Greatest asset: Husband and the team (“No one person can do it all” – concludes Jane Malyon)
Greatest achievement, so far: breaking the Guinness World Record of mist people having cream tea at the same time (visit their website for details); this event was chosen over BBC appearances and TEDx talk, as it was ‘a masterclass in organisation’
The afternoon tea from which it all began
Jane has always loved the way afternoon tea brought the family together. She admired the ceremonial, the proper way of things. One afternoon she met an old lady who shared her love for fresh tea, cucumber sandwiches and smoked salmon. They talked about the extraordinary experience at the Savoy, to which the old lady said “That was probably my last afternoon tea ever”. Jane thought – that must not happen, there has to be a way to bring the afternoon tea to you. There wasn’t, so she created one.
Two weeks later the outline of the English Cream Tea Co. was ready.
The story continues
We meet at Jane’s house and HQ of the business. The reception room is actually more of a showroom, but it’s not your usual one. It’s homely and it makes you want to sit straight and use nice phrases in a conversation, just because you are able to and because it’s a pleasure.
Banter in a hamper, seriously
Cream tea is a very British thing. Every culture has its equivalent. An afternoon ritual bringing all family members together. It has its rules – the etiquette. But the protocol only enhances good manners: restraint, politeness, kindness (you need to think about the other person first), consideration (do acknowledge the company, notice them and appreciate the time spent together). Call me old fashioned, but I find it quite liberating to know the rules and the order of proceedings in business and in life, actually. It allows me to find my space and feel more comfortable in a given situation. I suppose cream tea is a vehicle to teach this lesson. It’s done with a smile and not a ruler hovering over your wrist. First of all, this cream tea comes to you. Secondly, it comes with instructions to help your fully enjoy the experience. They’ve gotten rid of the harsh and twee, leaving the ‘lovely’ and the ‘tickety-boo’ of the affair.
Exporting quality time
On a more serious note, these are scones on a mission – to save the world, no less. “You cannot hate someone you have shared a scone with.” – explains Jane. Most deals are struck over dinner, even Robert Cialdini has written about that, so sharing a scone truly may be the first step to peace between nations. …especially as these ones are made with butter, not margarine, and they fall apart under your fingers.
I do not suspect the fact that this business growth is driven by demand will come as a surprise to anyone. However, what you’ll find baffling is that the biggest interests originates outside of the UK: Canada, the Americas and Middle East request cream tea. For now, they can only have the jam and tea, but the team is working hard to make the ‘very perishable’ scones and clotted cream available as well. That’s the next task for those lovingly described by the brand creator as scone gnomes.
The fact that they are all truly engaged in the brand is clear when you meet the team and when you come across the fruits of their labour. The passion of the creators makes it a great brand to work with. They want to make it a worthwhile experience as their marketing team have shares in the business. That is a brave, but a great way of ensuring that your team is truly putting the good of the brand first.
Why Jane Malyon & The English Cram Tea Co. are my brand heroes
When you have a strong idea the branding is a natural consequence of your mission. The English Cream Tea Co. is an exemplary example of how branding can be present in every molecule of the business – the packaging, the language, the experience, the taste. All comes from the idea Jane had had four years ago and it is still true to it. That is their strength. You may have read about cream teas, tasted it with jam and cream, but after experiencing The English Cream Tea, you will know the only way. You will want to have it the only way. David Ogilvy said that branding is a way of claiming space in your client’s mind. They have done it and in a very tasteful way too.
…just have a taste of their scones, you will know of what sensation I speak of.
My lessons from this conversation:
- develop relationships and partnerships, they will stimulate and support your development
- when you have a great idea, the branding flows through it
- find a mentor, find a mentor and find a mentor
Further reading from Jane Malyon or ‘What would Jessica Fletcher do?’
How’s that for a personal brand as an icon! I can see Jane and Jessica as kindred spirits though: both enjoy the finer things in life, do not give in when faced with adversity, both are witty and resourceful, saviour vivre is an important ingredient of their recipe for a good life, love people. And are spirited. And both are wonderful aunties.
Elements of a strong brand:
spirit, present in every communication
relevancy, both to your values and your audience’s needs
Enjoy the journey; it will keep you away from the regret.
Find out more about Jane Malyon and The English Cream Tea Company by visiting their website englishcreamtea.com
P.S. On departure, she presents me with a tin of her grandfather’s tea. In all the excitement, I left it on the table. What a shame, I will have to go back for it. I hope there will be scones…