August 9, 2012
Well, yesterday was Hip Hop Tea Shop day. Those of you following the twitter (@hiphopteashop) will know that I did alright. Despite the fairly rubbish weather I actually made a profit. I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts on the day so maybe any of you who are thinking of doing the same thing can learn from some of my mistakes. If you already have a successful tea business, well at least we can have a bit of a laugh at my naivety eh? So, let’s organise these thoughts into a nice, easy to read list shall we?
Thought No. 1: Woo! I made a profit! That’s like money from nothing! Well, money from several months of sorting stuff out, stress and a mad rush towards the end, but money none the less. Now I’ve had an evening to rest on my laurels it’s time to get my business head on and try to establish why. Which leads me to my second thought…
Thought No. 2: Damn, the weather was rubbish! Ah the British Summertime, you can always be relied upon to (very literally) rain on my parade. I’m just moaning really (another long standing British tradition). It rained most of the morning but cleared up in the afternoon, much like Woodstock of old, as any Wayne’s World 2 fan will tell you. I must admit I was worried to start with. Last week the sun was shining and there were plenty of people around, I was fretting that the adverse conditions would lead to a disappointing day. Thankfully that was not the case. So, if the weather wasn’t a huge factor then perhaps it was thought No. 3…
Thought No. 3: I’m really getting the patter down. Any experienced trader will tell you that t is extremely important to connect with potential customers. A good rapport can be the difference between a sale and… well… not a sale. Now I’m not going to claim that I’m some silver tongued saviour of the market stall business but I’m definitely getting to grips with touting my wares to an unsuspecting public. Except when they ask me about the health benefits, I’m not a doctor and I really don’t want to sell tea as some sort of mystical cure-all. I may have to brush up on some studies though, just so I can have the conversation. Personal feelings aside, did the patter help boost sales? Probably, but in all honesty I think it was thought No. 4…
Thought No. 4: Presentation is everything. Bet you were wondering when I was going to get to the point. As with many things when selling a product the first bite (or sip, or bag of tea sold, delete as applicable) is with the eye. I’m sure you saw the pictures from last week, me on my stall, surrounded by Tupperware. Well my Mum certainly did, and to my suprise the next time my sister came round she did so with a whole load of wicker baskets and a politely worded message. Wait, that doesn’t sound gangsta enough, how about WICKER WITH ATTITUDE (or WWA)? Anyway, my Mum being the sage that she is instructed me on the finer points of display. My original thinking with the Tupperware was that people might want to actually see the tea, smell it, hold it in their hands before buying it (in a container obviously, health and safety etc). What actually happened was a general confusion about what I was selling. So this week I spent a day bagging up and labelling my wares, and you know what? It made all the difference. People were asking me about the teas, actively engaging with me rather than just walking by. It felt good I tell you.
So what am I going to take away from all this? If you haven’t guessed already it’s that presentation really is everything. A table cloth, some WWA and a few napkins is lall it took to get my stall looking professional and inviting (or PIMP as it’s known in the trade). I still think people may want to have a look and smell though, maybe some sample pots are in order. So to finish (and because I stupidly took very few usable photos) I’m going to leave you guys with a picture of me shaking my ass* in celebration.
August 7, 2012
A little review to whet your appetite for tea buying tomorrow. Here’s the Assam I have available. Enjoy. Music: DJ Format – Ill Culinary Behaviour, Lyrics Born – Top Shelf.
August 7, 2012
Right, time to get back in the old reviewing saddle methinks. This week I’m reviewing and absolute cracker of an album that has been keeping me company on the stall: Everywhere At Once by Lyrics Born.
I almost don’t know where to start with this album. I’ve had almost every song off it stuck in my head for the past week. I guess I’ll start with some background. Currently signed to ANTI-, Lyrics Born (formerly Asia Born) has worked with many of the most influential people in Hip Hop today. He’s appeared with Gift of Gab, DJ Shadow and Charlie 2na to name but a few, and that’s just guest appearances on his albums!
Now on to the album, Everywhere At Once has a distinctly retro feel to it. Taking a lot of cues from 90s R&B, Lyric Born manages to produce a funky and soulful collection of songs. This is especially evident in tracks like “Differences” or “The World is Calling”. Lyrically, he likes to keep it fairly light, there’s bags of humour in there, which only makes the more introspective moments so much more poignant. The track “Whispers” about the death of a friend is a real tear jerker and especially with the following track “I Can’t Decide” shows that, whilst he clearly knows how to make a serious statement, he doesn’t feel like he has to get bogged down in it.
Everywhere At Once is well worth a listen in my opinion. It’s uplifting and humourous whilst never comprimising artistic integrity. It’s never been far from my playlists in the past week or so and I suggest you give it a go! How about a wee taster for you, have a listen to this…
August 2, 2012
I know I know, no album review this week, no tea review this week, standards are slipping right? Well at least I have a good excuse for once. Yesterday Si’s Hip Hop Tea Shop was officially open for business! It’s been a crazy week sorting everything out but god DAMN it felt good to finally get live and sell some tea. For those of you who didn’t have the dubious honour of following my live tweets of the day (apologies for the incessant R Kelly lyrics), I’ll give you all a brief overview.
I arrived at the market, bleary eyed, around 8:30. After taking a moment to bemoan the earlyness of my rising I reminded myself that 8:30 is the time most people are awake, the first steps into being a real person begin here! After setting up I was greeted by an equally bleary eyed friend on his way to work, he bought some tea off me though. Barely open an hour and already made my first sale? Good times. The day carried on in an orderly fashion, I chatted, networked and generally punted my wares, what really suprised me was the level of passion that some people have for tea. Now I know there are serious tea heads out there, chatting to people on Teatrade has been an eye opener but they’re all people I know from the Internet, people I’ve met through a shared love of tea. In my real life I know very few people who are as in to tea as I am and it was amazing to have a few of Brighton’s tea fans come down and chat. What flush was my Darjeeling? (it’s a blend) How long was my Pu-Erh aged for? (I’m not sure but it smells young) all questions that, in all honesty, I was not expecting to hear from the general public. It warms my heart to see that there are people who live in my town who share my passion. The Devotea’s tea blends caused a bit of a stir, one particular tea fan declared the Jim’s Caravan it to be “just like his mother used to drink”, an easy sale there.My biggest suprise was at the end of the day. I fully expected to have sold mostly the standards, Earl Grey, English Breakfast etc. but what should be my top seller? My Sencha with Passionfruit Guava and Mango, with Lapsang Souchong a close second! I couldn’t have predicted it, seems Brighton’s taste for tea is more sophisticated than I thought!
I won’t let this run on too long, I’ll finish by saying thanks to all of those who came down and talked tea with me, even more if you actually bought some. Thanks to everyone who helped me get to this point and I look forward to seeing you there sometime. I’ll be there every Wednesday, just look for the beardy man with a cuppa and you’ll have found me….
July 27, 2012
With a special guest! I’ve roped my sister in to help me out. So enjoy the review of the Earl Grey I’ll be selling on the stall! Music: DJ Format – Ill Culinary Behaviour, The Temptations – Papa Was a Rolling Stone.
July 27, 2012
Here’s a video I’d forgotten about. A stunning demonstration of beatboxing. It’s a long one but I suggest you give it a go…
July 26, 2012
My review of the Lapsang Souchong Larch I’ll be selling on my stall. I’m so excited! Music: DJ Format – Ill Culinary Behaviour, Move.Meant – Say When
July 26, 2012
Well I’ve finally got there. An opening date for me selling my delicious teas to the unsuspecting public! So come do to the market outside Churchill Square, Brighton on Wednesday 1st August to get some of my tasty wares. Check out the menu page for the teas I’ll be selling and hopefully I’ll see you there. Now, this calls for a victory song I think…
July 24, 2012
You know what? I think it’s time for another album review. This week it’s the turn of L.A. based rappers Move.meant and their first full length album, The Scope of Things.
I was in to this album from the first song. I love the style, it’s very much like early Kanye West or Common. Lots of bluesy, funky samples with a smooth and natural flow from MC CHAMP!, it really sucked me in. Quite socially minded, this album’s main theme is life in some of the poorer areas of America, it manages to show the experiences of the group without becoming preachy and, most importantly, never losing a sense of hope. Many rappers like to talk on and on about how hard their lives are, which becomes kind of redundant once they gain fame and fortune. I mean, how can you relate to the problems of a millionaire? Not so with this album, whilst it does highlight some of the great problems facing youths today (Drug addiction, crime etc.) it never slips in to complaining about their lot. It’s actually quite refreshing to hear an album that gives a window in to that sort of life, without trying to impose a political opinion in with it.
So to wrap up, if you’re a fan of rappers like Visionaries, Souls of Mischief or Gangstarr then Move.meant could well be a group to check out. Jump up bangers, introspectiveness and groovy beats, this album has it all. Try this little gem from the album, Myself in You.
July 20, 2012
Including the now legendary LOST REVIEW (well, the review I did whilst on tour, in a service station, in Luxembourg). So enjoy my review of the Camomile and Lavender blend available from Si’s Hip Hop Tea Shop Music: DJ Format – Ill Culinary Behaviour, Leela James – The Fact Is, Down – Losing All, Clutch – Power Player