Website turns big dreams into small business for Heirlooms
Written by Audrey Hollatz, Proprietress of Heirlooms Tea Room
Many seeds that had been planted throughout my life had grown into the vision that would become Heirlooms, a Tea Room located in a historic home, an unhurried place for social gatherings that would feed the soul as well as the body; a place where people could experience hospitality, beauty, and peace. The history of the L.A. Ritter House and the beautiful caretaking made it a perfect setting for Heirlooms. Our motto at Heirlooms is “sharing the gift of time with those we treasure.”
Heirlooms opened for business with an Open House in September of 2008. However, the concept has been in my head, and on my heart, from many years before that. I’ve always felt that in our modern technological society, we’ve lost many of the things that make life beautiful and meaningful. Although we have many new ways of ‘connecting’ with people, it has all become so hurried and impersonal that we don’t REALLY connect. Teatime is a way of slowing down, putting everything else aside (including turning our cell phones off!) and focusing on the people that you are present with. There’s a saying that goes: “Tea is drunk to forget the din of the world.”
Introducing people to the concept of a Tea Room “by reservation only” was virtually impossible to do without a visual, interactive tool to SHOW them. So many people at our Open House event wanted to know more, but I couldn’t explain it well enough to 200 people, one at a time! Also, most people rely on the Internet for their information, research, and planning. Heirlooms NEEDED to have a professional website!
My husband is a commercial photographer and is fairly useful on the computer, so we thought we could just build a website on our own. Once I got into it, I was completely overwhelmed with all the options and knew that I needed very knowledgeable people to put it together for us. The professionals at Vivid Image helped me to sort out all the options to figure out exactly WHAT I wanted Heirlooms web presence to look like, WHO my audience was, HOW to communicate it to my audience, and WHERE to put things for best SEO (which I knew nothing about at the time!).
Kori at Vivid Image was so very patient in explaining how to use the site, update it, and add photos to the gallery, as well as showing me how to look at the “Stats” tool to see how people were using and responding to the website. Beth’s knowledge shared at her “Refresher Course” is also invaluable, as I still need help in understanding how this all “works”! Beth is such a wonderful advocate for all Vivid Image clients! She is a great mentor to follow on how to use social marketing to increase awareness that Heirlooms is here!
Vivid Image designed a beautiful and very effective website that really speaks to our demographic for Heirlooms. I hear nothing but compliments from our guests and potential guests of how lovely the site is, and that it really reflects what Heirlooms is all about. Our website is so easy to find using minimal search words, and our customer base has been built significantly from people outside of Hutchinson searching for a special place to go. Actually, I’ve had many customers find Heirlooms online. Some of the most unique connections have happened from people searching the Internet for “Tea Rooms in MN”.
Our website is so easy to find using minimal search words, and our customer base has been built significantly from people outside of Hutchinson searching for a special place to go.
I was very intimidated at the thought of having a website, with very limited knowledge of technology, the Internet, and what I even wanted (or needed) in a website. One of the things that I appreciatemost about the people at Vivid Image is that they are SO knowledgeable about every aspect of website design, development, implementation, and administration. They knew the questions to ask me to draw out my vision for the Heirlooms website, and came back with a design that really captured the essence of what I wanted to communicate. Another thing that I really appreciated was that they never made me feel stupid about my lack of knowledge! I felt completely confident in trusting the Vivid Image team to pull all the ‘snippets’ of information together that I managed to provide to make something beautiful, and then to help me to develop it further in the future.
“Go to Vivid Image” is my sincere recommendation! The wonderful people there will take your concepts and develop them into a more attractive and effective website than you can even imagine!