OnDeck (NYSE: ONDK), the leader in online lending to small business, today announced that Tea By Two, a tea room in Bel Air, Maryland is its Small Business of the Month for May 2019. Owned by longtime friends, Erin Bradley and Janet Meyers, Tea By Two is the first small business in Maryland to receive the OnDeck Award.
Erin and Janet had long enjoyed an afternoon tea break as they worked together at a local insurance company near Bel Air. The traditional light meal with tea between lunch and dinner always rejuvenated the friends who found the time to be a welcome respite from the busy workday. After a few years, they began recruiting friends and family to join them and their afternoon teas became a beloved tradition in the Bel Air, Maryland community. Soon, Erin and Janet began to think seriously about turning their passion for afternoon tea into a business.
On a drive through Bel Air one day, they stumbled across a small cottage that was listed for rent. Both loved the location of the property next to a flower shop in town and quickly agreed that it would be the perfect spot for their tea room. After a brief conversation, Erin and Janet took a bold step. Despite not having any experience in the restaurant or retail industries, the pair left their long time jobs in the insurance industry in 2001 and started Tea By Two.
"The first six months were a mix of excitement, anxiety and exhaustion as we got Tea By Two off the ground," said Erin. "As first time entrepreneurs, we had to learn so much on the fly. It seemed that Janet and I worked 24 hours a day, but we felt strongly that we were onto a unique concept that the local community would find as appealing as we did."
Erin and Janet were right. Bel Air residents embraced Tea By Two, especially the notion that they could step back from their busy lives, and relax for afternoon tea in a cozy cottage. Soon, Tea By Two was taking reservations.
Over time, the long-time friends settled into a comfortable approach to operating the tea room. Janet acts as the manager in the front of the house, greeting and seating every customer. Erin meanwhile, concentrates on tea making and baking in the kitchen. At afternoon tea, each customer gets their own tea pot and chooses from more than 70 tea flavors, as well as delectable food items, including tea sandwiches, quiches and freshly baked scones.
In 2016, after many successful years in business, Erin and Janet found themselves in need of additional financing to purchase inventory and address new vendor payment changes. After being referred to OnDeck as a reputable online lender who could provide fast funding, the business owners applied for and were quickly approved for the needed capital.
Erin and Janet used the funding from OnDeck to expand inventory, purchase new materials and add needed equipment. "OnDeck was there for us when we needed financing quickly and that kind of solid relationship with a lender is vital to small business owners," said Erin. "They are easy to work with, true to their word and our customer service experience has been tremendous."
"Congratulations to Erin and Janet on being named OnDeck's Small Business of the Month," said Andrea Gellert, Chief Revenue Officer, OnDeck. "Their inspiring journey from corporate employees to opening their own business is one shared by many small business owners. Erin and Janet's tea room has become a central part of the Bel Air community and we applaud their pioneering spirit in turning Tea By Two into a thriving business."
After 18 years of running the business largely by themselves, Erin and Janet just hired their first full-time employee. They have plans to grow Tea By Two, including enhancing the online shopping experience and hosting more onsite events. A big bet made by two tea lovers at a small cottage years ago has turned into a thriving and thrilling business adventure for Erin Bradley and Janet Meyers. For more information on Tea By Two, please visit: https://www.teabytwo.com/. And to buy products online from Tea By Two, please visit http://shop.teabytwo.com.
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