We went along to the official launch of the Tea Factory social enterprise on Saturday, intending to stay long enough to watch the ceremonial cake be cut but ended up staying until the last crumbs had been eaten, having to drag our kids away.
Opening today, TD4LP is a family cafe and play centre aimed at people with kids under five. Families pay an entrance fee to use the play facilities and enjoy the entertainment for as long as they like. With the majority of its space given over to play, it's not really a direct competitor with Brockley's existing cafes, more a low-cost, local alternative to taking the kids to Discovery Planet or the Aquarium at the Horniman Museum.
Every session is hosted by TeArtists - children's entertainers and performers who arrange activities throughout the day. The founder, Sally, is herself a former dancer and circus performer and has recruited a range of local talent to get involved. The artists involved in the launch were charming and great with the kids.
Located in the long-vacant corner unit of the Tea Factory, they have done their best, with the help of Green Tea Architects to transform an unpromising location in to a toddlers' paradise. The outside area is now screened by a wooden fence creating a usable outdoor space and the windows are filled with teapots to create some privacy and the colour palette and choice of props gives everything, including the staff's costumes, an Alice in Wonderland-meets-Beatrix Potter feel. The plan is to change the cafe's theme regularly, so look out for an indoor beach coming soon.
The space also doubles as a children's party venue and they have already taken a number of bookings. Sally's approach, especially while the business is in its infancy, is to listen to what local families want and to be flexible in terms of what they offer. So if you have a specific request, such as an space-themed birthday party, don't be afraid to ask her. As a not-for-profit, they will also be expanding their community outreach in the coming months.
The first Brockley business designed with the local explosion of young families in mind, TD4LP is a bold project, run by a team whose enthusiasm is infectious and whose ambition is to create something truly unique.
For prices, opening hours and more, visit the Tea Dance for Little People website.