We did it!
By the skin of our teeth. At 4am on Saturday night (Sunday morning) the store still looked like this!!
At midday on Sunday morning the store looked like this!!!
I think they call things like this a miracle… or perhaps even a mirage? Being lovers of all things ‘Wabi Sabi’, we embraced the unfinished, raw, incomplete – and saw the beauty in it. The soft opening became a free tasting and all our friends, neighbours, passers by and local community brought with them their goodwill and the happy, vibrant atmosphere that filled the store.
Join us this Thursday 6th of November for our official store opening from 8.30am to 6pm.
Seven days to go!
Stressed… terrified… exhausted…bankrupt… incredibly excited!
Today’s post tells some of the story of the last few months in pictures – obviously it’s way too busy to write the usual essay. (‘Phew!’ ). I heard that!
Don’t worry, back to 1000 + words in a few weeks, when we will tell you all about the adventures (or should I say misadventures) of launching a brand and opening the first location.
Look out for the opening pictures…follow us on Instagram for up to the minute news (no it’s not just for teenagers..).
See you very soon!
I’ve just spent a week in San Francisco – what an inspiring place.
The city has striking similarities to London, and some notable contrasts. The main disparity is pace – San Francisco has a relaxed vibe compared with the inherently uptight nature of London – no doubt attributable to the calming Californian sunshine. What both cities have in common, are that they are both truly international melting pots, rich in culture and creativity. Both are progressive in their outlook and this holds true with regard to attitudes toward health and wellbeing, with a myriad of natural and healthy alternative food and drink options available for the discerning.
One notable illustration of this is that the tea culture in San Francisco is becoming as dominant as the coffee culture. Chains like Teavana and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf are establishing a presence, together with a burgeoning independent movement, pioneered by local businesses such as Samovar (specialising in premium loose leaf tea, Chai, Matcha and Pu’er) and The Boba Guys (specialising in bubble tea). The funny thing is that the hub of this independent revolution is the Mission District – a neighbourhood with a Hackney vibe but with an Hispanic twist – beards, bikes and cool cafes abound!
It was no doubt an inspiring trip…. look forward to a Californian inspired, Matcha and Almond Milk Shake, served at Tiosk on Broadway market in the very near future….
Student of Ayurveda (and sometime White Witch…).
Arriving at the door of Julie’s beautiful warehouse home in the heart of Shoreditch, you are immediately wrapped in the gentle scent of natural herbs and spices. Sage, Bergamot, Clove and Cinnamon weave through the huge living space and gently embrace you.
A riot of carefully curated colour assaults the eye. Vignettes of beautiful objects are everywhere you look, it is truly a celebration of the beauty of ordinary objects.
Slight of stature, with clear glowing skin that belies her age and heavily grey streaked hair. A tiny tattoo of a heart and her husbands abbreviated name adorn her ring finger. A somewhat shocking tattoo of a large Leech attaches itself to her slim wrist – a recent addition, (in Ayurvedic practice, a Leech is used to suck impurity from the blood stream). Julie lives with her husband Graham and 18 year old son Nat.
Julie’s childhood was spent moving from one Armed Forces home to another, most were sterile and void of character with no room for personal taste or accrued belongings. At the age of 6, a visit to a neighbour in Germany who had once lived close to Belsen concentration camp and had amassed many unusual objects, was to be the beginning of Julie’s obsession with objects – natural, industrial and medical.
Every carefully curated surface in her home is filled with collections of natures bounty, displayed in clever groupings, colours, textures. Less obvious and yet no less beautiful, are the industrial and medical objects, glass eyes, tribal head dresses, old factory tools. Julie sees the beauty in objects that most would overlook. Often her pairing of one object with another brings out its beauty.
Her garden is an oasis of skyward bound lush greenery in a vertical slice of white brick-work, crammed between the countless buildings that crowd Shoreditch triangle.
Mention an ailment of mind or body and Julie will always have a suggested natural remedy for it. She is one of life’s few real carers, a modern day White Witch! She relentlessly gives her time and energy to others, tirelessly supporting those in need – perhaps a symptom of a tough and complex childhood that left her feeling rejected and perhaps unloved? Later this was to manifest itself in an all consuming eating disorder, a battle that she finally won after the birth of her son Nat. Like the faint scar left by a removed tattoo, for many the illness will remain, tucked quietly away in a corner, its bearer finding healthy ways to keep it subdued.
And so, in many ways, it comes as no surprise that Julie has made the recent life changing decision to leap from the financial safety of 15 years in a stressful corporate role, to become a full-time student of Ayurveda. She has found a path she is passionate about that allows her to continue to help others, whilst also taking care of her own long term health and happiness and that of her family.
Julie, what brought you to Shoreditch 20 years ago?
“Really it was the desire to live in a large open space, the antithesis of the type of homes I grew up in. Twenty years ago Shoreditch was still an edgy somewhat daring place to reside, perfectly facilitating my love of collecting beautiful pieces of junk, industrial and natural objects. We also had a collection of eccentric, crazy and needy neighbours at that time – including junkies, alcoholics, porn producers and generally mad folk, whom I would try to help ‘save’ from themselves”.
You have one of the most inspiring homes I have ever seen (and I am an avid devourer of interior books and magazines). Where do you get your inspiration? Who and what inspires you?
“Since an early age I have been facinated by interesting objects. A friend of my Mother’s collected Victorian ointment pots, twigs and unusual objects. Visiting her home at the age of twelve, was the first time I had seen a home decorated in such a way and the effect was instant. Coming from standard army housing into this unusual and inspiring environment made such a huge impression, an impression that remains with me to this day. I am fascinated by the layers and levels of objects. For example, a medical instrument may look barbaric on the one hand, but saves people on the other”. (Julie also loves boxes, but that’s another story!).
*Julie’s tips for sourcing interesting objects: Look for the Vegetarian cafe – its almost always in the most interesting part of town. On holiday, always track to the old town. Try Spittlefields Antique Market on Thursday’s Brick lane arches in London and Lewes town in Sussex.
What lead you to the study of Ayurveda?
“When I overcame Anorexia, I became Vegan. Over the years, I learn’t to use herbs and spices to deliver maximum flavour with minimum calories and so I was able to use this experience in a new, healthy way. I grew to love the intense flavours and smells and now use them to warm and energise, to calm or refresh”.
In the simplest terms (& it is of course an extremely complex illness), eating disorders often stem from some kind of unhappiness or imbalance. Ayurveda is all about happiness. It is the belief that if you are not happy, you are not healthy and that good, natural, whole food can make you happy.
“When you eat only natural food, you can really feel the effects of food on both your physical body and your mental well being.
As well as the physiological energies – Doshas; Vata, Pitta and Kapha, Ayurveda works on three principal mental energies who’s main characteristics are Sattvic – pure joy, happiness, love, compassion. Tamasic – greedy, attachment, dullness. Rajasic – selfish, anxious, self centred. Where Western medicine is sterile and factual, often treating the symptom not the cause, Ayurveda looks of the underlying cause and tries to re balance the Doshas and through food can increase the Sattvic qualities in oneself.”
“Another influence was my Grandmother who was born in India, a culture where food, plants and herbs are considered to be medicinal. This has also been an inspiration throughout my adult life”.
What are some of your favourite Ayurvedic food recipes?
“Kitchari is a wonderfully rejuvenating staple. By adding different vegetables, herbs and spices, you can make this suitable for every Dosha and it is very easy to digest. Using red raw rice makes this highly nutritious also for diabetics. The inclusion of turmeric is especially beneficial for diabetics as it is a great blood tonic. It is also good for coughs, skin conditions and will help in the digestion of the protein from the mung.
½ cup Mung Daal ( small green mung is best)
½ cup basmati or red raw rice (the best if you can find it)
4 parts water will make a good every day meal which can be eaten if you have good digestive fire (agni). To this you can add vegetables and spices to suit your taste and needs.
8 parts water makes a more liquid “soup” for days when you want to fast but need to take some food – also good to rekindle agni after a fast. Add Asafoetida, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom and turmeric. There is so much information available about the individual properties of each of these spices – try them and see how they make you feel – a little spice can terrifically improve the actions and benefits of the food that you eat.
14 parts water will make a gruel consistency – very good for treating an illness where digestive fire is very weak – you can also take just the liquid part – add a pinch of Trikatu (three pungent spices) black pepper, long pepper and whole dried ginger – this will help to increase agni (digestive fire) and will destroy toxins in the digestive system to support recovery. You can add more spice as health improves and gradually increase bulk / decrease liquid.
Ayurveda says that food should be unctuous, warm and delicious – don’t be scared to add oil to your bowl or a teaspoon of ghee!”
What are your favourite loose leaf teas and tea recipes and what teas do you recommend for their healing properties?
“I love simple black teas, particularly Assam. Its also good for increasing Vata if you are Kapha or Pitta predominant.
Masala Chai is another favourite – look out for the recipe on the TIOSK blog soon! Blending trials for the store are in progress!
Sage tea and roasted Artichoke tea are great for digestion and I also use them as simple stock for soups – especially if they are bean or lentil based as it helps with the digestion of these.
Fennel tea is also great for digestive problems.
Cinnamon and ginger on cooler days will stop aches and pains – this is also a good base to add more spices for specific ailments. Add honey or jaggery if sweetness is needed.
Corriander seed as an iced tea for warm days, also for fever and Pitta type headaches – the type that thump/throb and cause heat in your head!”
When will we be able to come to you for remedies, massage, counselling?
“Friends and family are already coming for massage (you haven’t been yet!). I love giving massage, but it is something that I personally don’t want to charge for”. (Form an orderly queue folks!) “Most people that I have massaged so far have had pain or some kind of emotional fatigue and I have wanted to help them with that – I worry that if I start charging, I will have one eye on the clock and then the integrity and healing is diminished! When you massage with the sole intention of easing a pain or anxiety, the immediate effects are incredible. Having said that – I am getting on, so I cannot spend every day giving free massages..”.
“I will be qualified as an Ayurvedic nutritionist next July and will then start to set up the foundation of my practice and will be able to practice whilst I finish the 3rd and 4th years to become a practitioner – spending 6 months working in India in an Ayurvedic hospital! All very exciting and inspiring!”.
What are your plans for the future?
“To set up a cafe that is open 3 days a week, also selling my herbal preparations which will be seasonal and will address typical complaints for each of the Ayurvedic doshas for that season. The food will be delicious, healthy and Ayurvedic – but the plan is that anyone who wanders in without knowing all of this, will be very happy to eat there. My husband was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes last year, but with careful diet management and the use of Ayurvedic spices, he has managed to keep his blood sugar and cholesterol at normal levels. Diabetes is such a terrible illness which is becoming so common now. In London, people are treating it as an inevitability because they find it difficult to regulate their drinking and diet. Ayurveda offers complete care and management advice for diabetes – and this has been tried and tested for 5,000 years! We need to be educated on how to manage diabetes instead of accepting that we carry on eating what we want until we become insulin dependent! This doesn’t mean living on a frugal diet of beans and salad, it just means re educating ourselves to accept a balance and to control the cravings that allow us to devour heaps of sugary, fatty foods daily. What used to be a real treat, every now and then has become our staple diet.
To make people happy through the food that they eat – and also to feel energised and healthy is such a joy.
On the other days I will run an Ayurvedic clinic and will incorporate some cookery lessons and teach people of all ages how they can very simply adjust their health on a daily basis, once they are aware of their Dosha. There is a lifetime for studying with Ayurveda, so I am happy to allow this to unfurl and grow as I learn more!”
Julie will be helping TIOSK formulate some of our herbal blends and our Masala Chai recipes.
Why on earth would you add a cooking course to your already overflowing life I hear you cry!
Well, I have told you that we will be serving food with our beautiful clean tea at TIOSK haven’t I? What better to accompany your antioxidant loaded, pure and natural tea, than clean, healthy, living whole foods! Not hippy style whole foods, (although there is definitely a touch of hippy in both of us!), just really delicious, beautiful, locally sourced healthy food.
The Silent one and I want you to have a choice about what you put into your body. As regular travellers – the Silent one is in Boston as we speak (I know…ideal opportunity for a pun… let’s just say she’s not there having a party…), we have always struggled to find healthy food on the go. We hate it when you are out and about and there are no healthy options, when the only sustenance available is full of refined/ processed sugars, high in bad fats, full of additives or simply contains no real nourishment at all.
We hate it! So we decided that we would offer you food that is good for your body and general wellbeing, not food that will contribute to your poor health as the years go by. That said, it’s all about choice, so if you’re body is telling you it needs a bloody big chunk of rich sweet chocolate cake to go with your tea, then you will also have that choice. A little of what you fancy and all that…
For those of you who have eaten at my table, worry not, I will not be the chef! I took the course to renew my understanding of the principals of whole foods/macrobiotics, despite being fortunate enough to grow up at a mostly organic, whole food table (sometimes even biodynamic). I was totally unaware of how fortunate I was back then or how forward thinking the Community that we grew up in was all those years ago.
I anticipate a huge trend toward whole, non refined foods, both inside and outside of our homes. Fresh juices and wait for it….loose leaf Tea blazing the trail! You can feel it too right? The total TIOSK lifestyle.
Hey, its been a while… exactly the length of the school summer holidays thus far I think you will find!
Yup it sure is tougher than it looks starting up a business with 4 kids in tow and no school day to break the justified but relentless demand for ones attention – not to mention the cooking, cleaning and washing that accompanies a household of five.
Four weeks have passed since my last post and so it may come as a big surprise to some of you that I have quite a lot to say 😉 and so I have broken it down into a few short stories again, which I will post over the coming days.
Chapter 1. Our worst nightmare and only fear.
When someone asked me if I was scared about the future shortly after I resigned from my job earlier this year, I said “No! Not at all! I have just one fear and that is that we run out of funds before we can complete the project to the specification it deserves”.
…..we are now running 4 months behind schedule. Those of you who have embarked on any kind of build will know that this is a pretty serious time lag. As each week passes, we are paying rent but not turning over sales. A bad combination!
Maybe somewhat naively, I predicted that possession would be within three months of our offer being accepted – seems a reasonable amount of time to re-assign an existing lease don’t you think? It was in-fact almost six months thanks to a very slow solicitor (so what’s new right!?). Not our solicitor I hasten to add, she was super swift and highly efficient of course.
We had also planned for the build to start immediately upon possession, not taking into account how long it would take to get the layout right – post rip-out, it took weeks! Last but not least, who knew that the builders would take up to a month quote! Some not even bothering to return them at all! (Maybe it was my hand drawn plans that put them off….?), and so a further 2 months have passed.
Let the sleepless nights begin!
It’s not all bad news however, it’s never all bad news in my World. We have almost completed the basement works with the help of a local builder and I have personally removed all the plaster boarded walls with a crowbar to expose the beautiful old bare brick (and some finger flesh at the same time – ouch!).
The shop fit should finally start this week. Keep your fingers crossed for us. Following my little crowbar accident I will not be able to cross mine for a while! 😉
Its been a hectic few weeks since my last post. Contracts have been signed; Payment terminal – check, POS system – check (you know what that means because you have read all our posts – right?), Plans and Elevations -check, Insurances – check, Planning applications (don’t get me started) and much more…
Along with our beautiful site, we inherited at least 1500 DVD’s! What to do with all these DVD’s…? Lets have a sale! It will pay for the rip out!
Picture this…. Broadway Market on a sunny Saturday, heaving with literally thousands of market goers, I decide that along with my Mother and 4 children, we are going to open the doors and start selling what is left – 3 for a £1!!!
Like a huge dam, the whole market burst through the doors and descended on the wall of DVD’s.
Amelie (7yrs) is head cashier – her teacher said she needed to work on her maths and working with money was ideal – ta da! Gabriel (6yrs) is the runner. Tallulah (13yrs) and Tehya (18yrs) are fillers… a filler finds the DVD that corresponds with the number on the empty case. Did I tell you that 70% of the DVD cases were empty? Did I tell you that they were not always in the numerical order you might expect?
Yes, the queue was out into the street, our head cashier was counting each transaction on her fingers and being 7 years old she was easily distracted and so often had to start again. 1..2..3..4… 12 DVD’s…….finger counting……£4! Customer gives £10 note…… 4…5…6…etc finger counting……eventually £6 change is handed over. Then…. 5 of the 12 DVD’s have no disc in them…..search for discs….by now 10 minutes have passed. Needless to say, most customers were very patient and lovely, however a few were not so accommodating despite the virtual give away…’can I pay by card’? (lol). Do you have XXXX rare DVD? (lol), there is one DVD missing from this £1 box set of 20… can I have a discount? (lol).
CUSTOMER: “Why has the DVD store closed down? What’s this going to be then!” (somewhat aggressive/negative looking for a fight tone).
ME: “Yes, sadly a sign of the times. It has closed down as a direct result of the huge technological advancements in streaming and the popularity of such Companies as Netflixs and Love Film etc. Its going to become a premium loose leaf tea bar and health food eatery”. (sympathetic, warm and friendly tone).
CUSTOMER: “There are loads of tea shops here!”. (Angry/unfriendly tone).
ME: “Indeed there is one here that carries a selection of tea, but is not specifically about tea. Imagine where the East London coffee culture would be today if we – the locals – had only allowed one coffee shop into the area! :)”, (said in calm, friendly manner).
CUSTOMER: “There needs to be more diversity! Too much food and drink!”
ME: “As much as it would be nice to have more non food shops on the street, time has shown that the locals like how these stores look but don’t actually spend their money in them! So, sadly they don’t survive. Food and drink thrives here – after all it is a food driven market street isn’t it!?”
(ps. this is also my high street and has been for the last 10 years, so I am really sad that a small few ‘glass half empty’ types are talking to me as though we are going to open a Pret a Manger!!! ! I don’t say this part allowed of course.)
Meanwhile hot and somewhat stressed, we continue to reduce the walls of DVD’s to empty shelves. Mum meanwhile has turned into a true Eastend market trader shouting ” 3 FOR A POUND! ” “3 FOR A POUND”, “GET THEM BEFORE THEY GO!” In her queens English…
Sunday – a new team of friends and relatives arrive to assist with the sale – including my business partner The Silent one, her husband and brother as well as my Sister and brother in-law. A more efficient but less sympathetic team. When met with the now somewhat familiar words..
CUSTOMER: “Oh no why is the DVD store closing down, this is so bad :(”
BROTHER IN LAW: “Because you didn’t come and rent DVD’s! If you had they wouldn’t have had to close!”
CUSTOMER: Silent…. 20 DVD’s purchased….
2 DAYS. 1000 DVD’s. RIP OUT PAID FOR!
Ps. 99.9% of customers were really excited about our concept and can’t wait for TIOSK to open! It got me thinking though… there are two types of people. Those who always find the negative in everything (you know the ones who beep their horns aggressively and make sour faces when you don’t notice that the traffic lights have changed to green – a small toot will do right?). Then there are those who always see the positive – for example when The Silent one jokingly replied that we were opening a Sex Shop when asked for the 100th time, they smiled politely and said ‘lovely, how interesting…’ 😉
Which one are you? A complainer or an embracer?
Berliners are a unique breed of Germans – very progressive in their thinking, pioneering in terms of trend setting and very style conscious. I go to Berlin relatively frequently and have noted a definite tea movement burgeoning over the last year. Berliners are drinking tea and drinking it with style. Tea bars and pop up stalls are appearing in the city and the Berlin benches that frame the outside of every cafe and independent boutique are now populated with beautiful people drinking Lapsang Souchong rather than Latte’s.
My last trip was Tuesday – the day when Germany beat, actually humiliated, Brazil in the semi finals of the World Cup…..the Berlin benches were abandoned and the Berlin bars were full. Mardi Gras had come to Germany, but I had to leave the party and retreat to a Berlin bench when the score reached 4:0, as my friend and I were possibly the only two people in Germany that were routing for Brazil. I’d like to say I consoled myself with a soothing cup of Jasmine tea, but in reality I did feel much better after a large glass of Pouilly Fume!
Watch out for a ‘Berlin bench’ coming to Broadway Market soon….
The Silent One
Guess what!? We finally completed on our first store! Hurrah!!! Hallelujah!!! Hip hip hooray!!! Look up, there she is, one of the best locations on the street! A corner plot I hear you cry. Of course dear of course! 😉
Shall I tell you the story of how we got there?? Okay, sure, I’ll tell you everything, how about I do it chapters? That way you can ‘read the book’ so to speak, or just take in bite-size sections on the bus, on the train, in the car (with driver), on the private jet. Our readership is pretty diverse you know.
Chapter 1. The Bicycle
Previous episode… do you remember back in March, the Moral one turned down a substantial ‘gazump’ in favour of moral correctness? Well after that modern day miracle, do you know what happened?
Nothing ….. absolutely nothing until the beginning of June, at which point the Landlords solicitor awoke from a long deep sleep, so long that I was sure he would turn into a butterfly.
Following the usual legal negotiations which I will not bore you with, (did I tell you we had the best law firm in London? Well we did). Finally lease signing day arrived!
Of course after 5 months of no action, everything was needed that very day! The very same day that I had a poorly daughter, (1 of 4 – could be worse right?!), the Silent one had back-to-back meetings with the President (not the White House sort, the American corporate Company sort – more political than the White House might I add…). Not ideal timing you could say.
Papers needed signing, witnessing and delivering to the Lawyers office – a central London marathon was required.
What to do, take taxis (too expensive)…. buses and trains (not enough time)? Or…… take the Bicycle.
Those of you who know me well, will recall that the last time I rode a bike was for a charity Triathlon, where I managed to go axx over txx at the finish line to rousing applause and the mortifying words ‘I got it’ from the official photographer. You will also know that I would never be seen dead on a bicycle in London – for that very reason. I don’t want to die young, okay…. middle aged. But having hung out in Hackney (not Holborn) for the last few months, I must have caught bicyclitis and within 10 days had fallen in love with it. Riding to school with the kids, two minutes to TIOSK, Canal side jaunts after school, two minutes to the Lido, five minutes to the bank, the printer, the post office. Sun shining. What’s not to like?
Bike thieves, that’s what’s not to like!
Chapter 2. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
Ten days in and my bike gets stolen! I’m sad, really sad. I leave the next day on the train to visit the Tea Merchant. Sad…so sad. Even the Silent one can’t distract me with her top humour.
I arrive home that evening still sad…
Wait…. There in the living room is a bike just like mine! It turns out it’s an amazingly generous and thoughtful gift from the father of my two little ones. I’m not sad anymore.
So, back to that decision….taxi… bus… train…or the Bicycle….. I go with the challenge! ‘Feel the fear’ as they say. I hop onto the bike, select the ‘I’ve been riding bikes for years’ confident looking face (meanwhile wiping my sweaty hands on my jeans at regular intervals – the only sign of my inner fear!) and head out into the murderous London traffic, dismounting for Old Street roundabout – obviously.
I arrive (alive yeh!) at the Silent ones head office. I call to let her know I’m discreetly near by, she arrives 5 minutes later stressed and out of breath, she has literally ducked out of a presentation. A Presidential presentation no less and is on a fake loo break!
Next stop a Witness, (I known the order is not quite right, but needs must).
Next stop the City!!!!! Holy Mary Mother of God… prayers are said, hands are wiped, off I go again. I’m getting the hang of it now. Not even a huge red bus is going to put me off my stride! Last stop the huge, shiny glass, super league lawyers office.
One day a Company Director, the next a bicycle courier.
Mission accomplished! Just the daunting task of getting home in time for the school pick up now.
Okay I can admit it to you, I dismounted at all major junctions …. well we are now the proud owners of the shop formerly know as the Film Shop and I’m alive aren’t I!