Rebecca English opened Birdhouse Tea Company in a converted old factory in Alsop Fields last year. She talks customer loyalty, the caring Sheffield culture, and why it’s always good ‘just being there for a cuppa’.

I was inspired to start my business by … my love of tea, my love of Sheffield and passion for educating others in the rich history of the nation’s best loved drink

My favourite thing about running my business is … the brilliant network of independent businesses in Sheffield – especially the support from other strong female entrepreneurs.

The three words that best describe my business are … local, passionate, authentic.

Sheffield City Region is a great place to start a business because … of the growing support of independents from the people in the city. We love how many loyal customers we have, keen to support us in the next stage of our journey.

Sheffield City Region is a great place to grow a business because … the people genuinely care about being involved in what you’re doing next. The city is celebrating independents rather than going for the big chains.

The best advice I ever got was … make friends with everyone you meet and know that everyone has something to offer each other. I love helping fellow businesses any way I can whether it’s talking through challenges and offering my experience or just being there for a cuppa. I also love being able to recommend other businesses to people and expand the network.

The worst advice I ever got was … probably from myself. I’ve always tried to do everything on my own, and when you’re self employed it’s knowing the right time to ask for help.

The organisations that have supported me and my business include … countless support from other independent businesses! Sometimes just a cup of tea or a hug from someone on the same journey is priceless. It’s difficult being your own boss because nobody sits you down and tells you you’re doing a good job – but it means a lot from people in the same position.

The main challenges facing my industry/sector are … educating people on better tea – we’re in a place where people enjoy, and sometimes celebrate, cheap tea bagged tea and that takes a lot of energy to change people’s perception. We’ve also pioneered no waste and the concept of cutting down on packaging and plastic from day one which has been challenging,  but the current media spotlight on this is really helping our quest as people become a lot more conscious of what they’re buying, who from and the impact on the planet.

In 5 years’ time I expect my business to … give me at least one day off a week 😉