Not your grandmother’s china’
Tenia Woolridge calls the plates, cups and soup bowls she sells through Miss T @ Home “special occasion dinnerware”.
If she calls them what they are, bone china, the younger crowd gets antsy.
They want to know if they need a wedding registry. They worry that it might be what their grandmother had gathering dust in her cupboard all those years.
“It has nothing to do with whether you are married,” Ms Woolridge said. “And this is not your grandmother’s china.”
The style of the china she sells is contemporary with clean lines.
“It is more celebratory,” she said.
She officially launched her online business Miss T @ Home on Saturday. She not only sells dinnerware and stainless steel flatware, she also offers catering and decorating services.
Miss T @ Home is an outgrowth of her passion for entertaining and cooking.
“My friends call me the dinner party queen,” she laughed. “I enjoy doing it. I enjoy dressing tables and decorating houses.”
In September 2017, she started a blog, Table For Eight, to share her recipes and decorating tips. A year ago, she released her own cookbook, 20 Weeknight Recipes.
“I grew up in a house where we did a lot of family stuff,” she said. “My nana’s house was the house where we always met. We all sat around the table and ate. We always talked at the table.”
The 39-year-old said in those days there was no sitting in your bedroom by yourself eating.
“Nobody ate in front of the television,” she said. “Dinner was the time when we came together.”
She’s hoping her products and services will help to bring families back together.
“We get caught up in every day life and forget we have to take time out to enjoy it,” she said. “This is a way to celebrate ourselves and enjoy family and friend time together and I hope my products and services can encourage that. I want to help people bring warmth, style and sophistication to their homes. I want to encourage us to gather again. That is something we are not doing as much as we used to.”
She feels there is a real lack of affordable ‘special occasion dinnerware’ in Bermuda.
“Looking around, the cheapest set I could find was $150,” she said. “That’s for one set. If you want to buy enough for party of eight you have to times $150 by eight.”
She currently offers four different styles, at around $75 a set.
She has at least ten different styles of dinnerware of her own at home.
“I have a daytime one,” she said. “A dress up one, every day.”
She has dinnerware specifically for when she’s entertaining a small group.
“If you were coming to my house, I’d probably put together a cheese plate and we’d have some wine,” she said. “I’d have a special plate for that. I like to mix it up. I have cheese boards in every shape and size. My friends tease me that I like to go ‘all deep’.”
Her hope is to expand to offering more unique entertaining items, like coasters and aprons.
Her biggest challenge has been technical.
“Nowadays, if you have an online storefront you are less likely to see your clients,” she said. “Everyone is click, click, click. We carry around phones. So learning how to use that stuff effectively has been the most challenging thing, but I am learning.”
She taught herself how to put up a website and start an online store, by watching YouTube instructional videos.
Ms Woolridge is looking at writing a second cookbook, and maybe teaching online courses in Bermuda cooking.
• This story has been amended to show that Ms Woolridge’s business is called Miss T @ Home. She does not own R&R Decorations.
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