Who are we?
'Thyme after time' is a small rural Dorset business with a large appetite to never let the grass grow under our feet! The 'Thyme after time' brand has been established for 17 years.
The Café aspect of our business where we are now has been established for 6 years today on this very day of launching our crowd fund! Our business has evolved and grown slow and steady since I started it in 2004, starting out as making preserves wholesale to lots of farm shops and deli's around the area.
As I had been head Chef of an upmarket local catering company for a number of years in the past, folk started to ask me to cater for their parties- so who was I to say no?
Before I knew it- I was catering for lots of weddings, also private and corporate parties. I outgrew my 'working from home' situation and so took a commercial premises where our Café business was born.
Before I knew it our Café took off and I really enjoyed this aspect of my business so decided it was 'thyme' to get onto a busier 'A' road and make our café my main business.
The rest as they say is history and here we are- COVID business survivors with a forward vision!
So what is our forward vision- Dorset Cream teas by post.....
As we now drive forward our plan is simple....
We plan to add a string to our business bow by offering high end, quality Dorset Cream Teas by post. We are very niche in that we make all our own buttermilk scones and our own strawberry jam in small batches in our kitchen here using as much ingredients that is local as is possible, even our clotted cream is local- that's what will give us the edge! Given that we keep our sourcing mileage as low as possible we also plan to package our cream teas in environmental packaging too!
From day one, Margot's vision for 'Thyme after time' has been a no compromise approach to quality and provenance of ingredients.
Most dishes we try to make, so even a Dorset cream tea for example is not just a scone, sachet of jam and some cream......absolutely not! It is all about the small things that make one big, delicious, unforgettable cream tea.
We make our scones with quality, carefully hand selected ingredients.
Into our Dorset cream teas we use Matthew's Cotswold flour, a brand we trust and have used for many years! We add Dorset buttermilk to make our scones lovely and soft and fluffy!
Served with our cream teas we add our own homemade strawberry conserve with lovely juicy whole strawberries. In season we use New Forest Strawberries the most local we can source for as long as the season permits! We always have always felt this instantly raises us above our competitors!
Then we source Dorset clotted cream from a local dairy.
Loose tea and coffee beans we source from a local company just down the road -Reads Coffee Roasters of Sherborne. Even our milk for the teas and coffees hales from right here in Stalbridge- The Dorset Dairy Co!
Our tag line for our business is 'Dorset born, Dorset fed'.
This alone tells you what we are about, if we can source and buy from our beautiful county and from local suppliers, then we jolly well do as a matter of course, its just how we naturally roll!
We like to turn our wares into something wonderful and appealing from the realms of our Dorset kitchen then this can only lead to good and wonderful and of course tasty things!
Covid 19 Pandemic
The last year with the pandemic has seen a time where we have proper had to innovate, reinvent and push forward with ideas that once might have never been pushed forward but equally we saw our established outside catering business nose dive virtually into non existence!
We had two choices at the start of the Covid pandemic. our café had to close in line with government rules and so we could either shut up shop and bury our heads in the sand or we rose up on eagles wings and faced the pandemic head on- by doing what we do best - we cooked our way through it!
Lockdowns 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 - We Cooked our Way Through Them All!
Through all three lockdowns we prepared preordered, fresh ready meals, cakes, pastries, granola, posh afternoon teas, cream teas as well as weekend hot breakfast takeaways and Saturday night hot takeaways. Customers who were shielding we delivered to and when general supplies were short- well we obtained those too and delivered them. Items such as fresh veg and fruit, pasta, rice, bread, meat from our suppliers.
During the three lockdowns our social media followers increased and our email subscribers has more than doubled! We have a keen, committed and engaging audience not to mention incredibly supportive and loyal.
It came to our attention quite early on that many of our followers were not necessarily local but craved our produce and would happily pay to get them delivered, we were receiving lots of email requests and social media comments asking us did we mail out or could we. However we were not geared up to do so.
We feel there was never a more appropriate time than now to once again to keep our heads firmly set forward bound and start looking at the future.
It is fair to say that after this pandemic, generally the idea of gifting has become a predominant part of our culture, it gives both the arranger and the receiver so much pleasure and we have enjoyed being part of this movement and want to expand on this pleasurable part of our industry even more.
In the last year we have been focussed down as a business more in the name of survival but now we see the end of this dreadful time and we are very much looking forward to where we now want to lead our business.
Our café will continue post pandemic for sure. Our customers are very keen and now returning to dine with us . The 'thyme after time' kitchen is well kitted out, it is established and a very productive space. So investment on this basis into this next project is in fact minimal and low risk.
We have the most wonderful team of staff, all with different layers of skills, they are local as well. Many of them multi skilled and keen to take on more hours where available. If for no other reason, we would love to move forward with a renewed energy now we are back open and we are certain our staff will, as always share this new vision which complements so wonderfully what we already do- and well!
Here are are a few statements of what our staff members think of their jobs at 'Thyme after time'.
"I love my job at 'Thyme after time It means so much to me because it allows me to be me!
I was a full time Mum, not quite sure where my position was in the working world after being out of it for so long. I was initially given 4 hours a week but have done many more and I can honestly say I have never looked back! We are a great team and we all respect each other, we all work hard to get the job done. There is lots of love, laughter and coffee. This is what helps to give 'Thyme after time' its welcoming atmosphere as well as all the lovely customers who keep supporting us. I can truly say I would not work anywhere else!"
"I am the longest serving member of staff here at 'Thyme after time' and the one thing I have observed over my time here is the care that Margot and Eve put into the food that we serve. The Café is constantly evolving and so is the food to keep up with the latest food trends."
"I was a school leaver when I came to work here as an apprentice Chef four years ago. School had been a very unhappy time for me however I was given this opportunity to learn a trade at 'Thyme after time' Since then I now have my qualifications but have been promoted to Chef and I lead a team of staff here despite the fact I am only 20 years old. I have even just managed to buy my first house this year!"
So what do we have planned?
From Here on in....
Its fair to say that upon reopening we simply do not have the cash flow to purchase large appliances, our heads are down on working at getting our café back up and running to the levels of pre-covid.
It is however a great time to look at our business with renewed perspective and look towards the future and how we want to steer the ship that is 'Thyme after time'.
We need to invest time and energy in healing our established Café business, this will not happen overnight but we are positive that in no 'thyme' we will get back on track! This is where we hope you might help us?
So with this all in mind, this new element to our business means we can keep spending and outlay to a minimum- sensible right?
We have essential outlay costs to fulfill this project and also items that we could 'make do and mend' but it would mean a compromise!
Web Design and Marketing
So we would definitely need a new e commerce web site for this purpose as our current web site does not have a selling platform.
The new web site would also need substantial advertising and marketing at least for the first year to get us noticed and off the ground.
Packaging for our project is essential, we feel strongly that we would like to use an environmentally friendly packaging, that's important to us and the well being of our planet. Currently we are testing a sheep wool insulated pack which sits very nicely with our vision.
Let's Talk ovens
We could get away initially with the baking oven we have in our café. It works and would do the job -albeit slowly. This particular oven we bought last year second hand when our previous one was no more. It is painfully slow to heat up from cold (about 30 minutes in fact). This is 30 minutes we could be baking and producing!
Having researched the most suitable oven for our purposes would be a 'Rational' oven which would also bake lots of delicious scones, cakes, pastries but it would need to dually serve our café too. The oven we have in mind is much more highly productive, it could potentially bake 200 scones an hour!
So, as you can see, this is pretty much all we need to expand and move forward- modest eh?
Once we are set up....
Well, once we are set up, we would be all systems go in a very short time. We cannot however do this without this initial capital we are fund raising for, which would in essence drive us forward into the future.
Many of you may think- well that's not a lot of money? Or others of you may think well why do they want to do that now, why not wait?
We need to make a recovery from the last 15 months and to be in business means you should always forward plan, not stop where you are at.
This is our forward plan for our future.. We have 12 local staff on our books who rely on us for their jobs and we want to be there for them and lead them into feeling safe again in their jobs after this very insecure time.
Now all our staff are back in from furlough, we want to set them up with new exciting challenges that they and we can get stuck into and lead the 'Thyme after time' business forwards into a bright future.
We believe our business has something special that not all businesses possess, we care about our customers and our staff. Our Café has soul, a home from home and a good feeling that makes us unique. We like to think our customers leave feeling much happier than how they arrived.
If we can spread that same love into our ultra special cream tea boxes by post then this can only be a good thing right??
Breakdown of costs for you to see!
Here is the breakdown of the costs to get our project up and running-
New Rational cooker along with shelves and fitments
Cost - £7010.00
Electrical and Plumbing installation for cooker
It requires a water pipe installation for the self cleaning oven and steam plus electrical installation
E Commerce Web site with selling platform including domain names, annual subscription for selling web site, art work and design and 10 sets of blog art by local web designer -
Cost - £1000.00
Sheep's Wool Packaging initial purchase including complete box sets and water packs.
Custom Branded Tissue Paper to line boxes
(Eco Friendly and printed with soy ink, FSC certified)
Crowfunder Commision at
0% platform fee for Covid related projects + 1.9% +23p Transaction
Cost based on raising the required target
Total Crowdfund Target- £9677.93