Every weekday at 6:15 a.m., Jaime Vermillion and her three children open the doors to Sweetea’s Tea Shop and start working.
Thirteen-year-old Amelia is tasked with washing dishes, wiping off tables and cleaning counters.
Twelve-year-old Anna and 11-year-old Thomas are busy mopping and vacuuming.
Then, they all head off to school.
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“I want them to learn the value of hard work. I also want them to serve our community and contribute in positive ways,” Jaime said.
“Who knows, maybe they will own the shop one day. Two of them are already asking if this is possible.”
Jaime reopened Sweetea’s Tea Shop on Jan. 31 after buying it from Laura Boyer in January. The day she heard about the shop being put up for sale, Jaime went to speak with Boyer.
When Sweetea’s used to open at 9 a.m., Jaime visited every day, trying out different combinations of teas. When Sweetea’s started opening at 11 a.m., she wasn’t able to get in to visit as often due to her work schedule, but still loved the shop when she was able to stop by.
“Initially, it started off where I loved the drinks. I loved tea. I didn’t know much about tea at the time, but I enjoyed coming in and experimenting,” she said.
“In time, I really enjoyed getting to know people here at the shop.”
With the help of family and friends, Jaime took the month of January to add her own touches to the shop, such as murals, specially designed seating, new paint and new menus. She also changed the way retail items are displayed in the store.
“I would say there are changes all across the board,” she said.
The shop still carries more than 35 looseleaf teas and makes tea lattes, iced teas and bubble tea drinks in many flavors.
Another change customers may notice is that Sweetea’s now serves coffee and espresso drinks. A popular one is “Golden Milk,” a turmeric latte mixed with milk and warm vanilla.
Sweetea’s also has breakfast and lunch menus. Breakfast starts at 7 a.m. throughout the week and 9 a.m. on the weekends until 11 a.m. The menu includes a variety of pastries, breakfast sandwiches and waffles.
The lunch menu includes quiche, chicken salad, paninis and a variety of sides.
Being open by 7 a.m. is important to Jaime. “As a local, I think it’s important for people to be able to swing in in the mornings and pick up a tea or a coffee and a pastry on their way to work,” she said.
“I know that I’ve enjoyed places like that as a local in the past in various places I’ve lived, and I wanted to be able to provide that for the community.”
Home away from home
Betsy, Jenne and George Hays sit by the fireplace at Sweetea’s. It’s Jenne’s birthday, and her parents, Betsy and George, met her in Nashville after driving up from Louisville. Jenne lives in Indianapolis.
This is the fourth time they have visited Sweetea’s for a birthday celebration. They started a tradition of always getting their photo taken in front of the fireplace.
Jenne tried the vanilla hazelnut latte, while her parents decided on the choco-latte. “We thought they were delicious,” Betsy said. “They have some great offerings.”
The family said they enjoy the new look in the shop and like the new owner. “She seems excited,” Betsy said about Jaime.
“This will always be a stop when we come to Brown County.”
Jaime said so far, the business transition is going really well.
“I’ve enjoyed learning so many new things about teas and coffee and business and our community,” she said. “It’s an honor to be here, truly.”
As a new business owner, Jaime said she learns something new every day. “I am always taking a look at streamlining process and doing things more efficiently. I’ve learned a lot over the past month about food preparation, working within my means in the kitchen,” she said.
As the afternoon continues and the school day ends, Jaime’s children enter the shop, along with high school students looking to grab a drink and use the shop’s WiFi. That’s something Jaime encourages.
“It makes my heart happy really when I look out and see so many people here just enjoying throughout the day, whether or not they’re reading or knitting or coming to study or just catching up with friends,” she said.
Jaime and her family have lived in Brown County for about a year and a half. The family previously lived in Morgantown.
Thomas said he was happy when he heard his mom was buying Sweetea’s. “I’ve liked this place and I wanted it,” he said. “We loved it.”
The kids pitched in to paint and do some of the renovations. “We had to do so much work,” Amelia said.
But they’ve also been able to put some fun touches on the business. Anna was able to name a new pineapple drink “Pineapple Island.” Amelia wants to make “Amelia’s Brownies” to sell in the shop.
Jaime said her vision of Sweetea’s is a place where anyone can come and enjoy what’s meaningful to them, whether it be knitting, reading, using Wi-Fi or visiting with friends.
Thomas leans over to whisper something in Jaime’s ear. “It’s a life of peace, my son says,” she said with a smile.
“If this could be somebody’s home away from home where they like to come and do life within the community, then I have fulfilled my purpose.”
Address: 225 S. Van Buren St. near the new Brown County Visitors Center
Hours: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Facebook: Sweetea’s Tea Shop