Fit for a princess

Published 4:23 pm Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Vicki Roach opened Tea Party Treats and Sweets in June 2011. The little white cottage on Ben Howell Road outside of Ironton, Ohio, hosts children’s birthday tea parties, bridal teas, baby showers and more events year-round. Photography | Jessica St. James

Vicki Roach admits she’s a grandma who never grew up. But that’s just fine with her as she has been able to turn that youthful spirit into a successful business.

Roach opened Tea Party Treats and Sweets in June 2011. The little white cottage on Ben Howell Road outside of Ironton, Ohio, hosts children’s birthday tea parties, bridal teas, baby showers and more events year-round.

“I just absolutely have a ball doing it,” Roach said. “I just love doing it.”

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Roach first started doing the children’s tea parties when her daughters were young.

“It was a good way of entertaining them,” Roach said. “Just a fun, cheap way. Having tea parties all the time. And I would do it for the birthdays. Do it up big.”

The mothers of Roach’s daughters’ friends liked the parties so much, Roach started doing the parties for them as well. And then she did them for her nieces.

“I was getting to where people would be asking me to do it all the time,” Roach said. “It got so busy that I thought I’m just going to start my own business.”

The parties began in the loft of Roach’s father-in-law’s business, but what she really wanted was her own tea cottage.

“It’s just one of those things I have a passion for,” Roach said. “I’d been praying about it for years because I had wanted to do it, but it never worked out. And then it all started falling into place and I realized it wasn’t my plan, it was God’s plan. And it’s just taken off. So it’s been a blessing.”

Roach’s vision for the cottage was for it to be a place that would mesmerize the children when they first walked up to it.

“I wanted it to be like a white and pink doll house for little girls,” she said. “The little girls, when they walk in, it’s just amazing. In the spring, when you walk up the stone path that leads you to the cottage, it’s like an oversized playhouse.”

For birthday parties, Roach tries to make the birthday girl feel special, as well as all of her guests.

“I think they all just want to feel really special,” Roach said. “I think this is a good way of making them feel that way. For one day, it’s all about them. Who doesn’t like those days? It’s just really good for their self-esteem. It’s not just about that one little girl that day. We try to make them all feel special. We just tell them how beautiful they are.”

During the hour and a half long birthday party, the girls dress up in the costumes and jewelry Roach has available. They drink tea and eat homemade scones with jam, cotton candy and other treats. The girls then get their fingernails painted, have glitter put in their hair and play old-fashioned games like Musical Chairs and Pin the Tail on the Donkey.

“It’s a ball,” Roach said. “It’s a good, inexpensive way to have fun.”

The cost for a party is $125, which includes all of the food, prizes and gift bags for up to eight girls. For an extra $20, Cinderella or Tiana (from Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog”) can come to the party as well.

“All parties aren’t the same,” Roach said. “Not all little girls want to be princesses. Some just want to dress up in the old lady clothes — the boas and the hats and the old lady jewelry and the high heels. So I have that also. Each person has her individual party.”

Adults having a baby shower, bridal tea or other gathering at the cottage can enjoy scones and jam, tea sandwiches and other menu items.

Reservations are required and Roach does not schedule parties on Sundays and Mondays. She also does children’s story hour on the second Saturday of each month. It’s first come, first served with a cost of $10 per child.

Roach said she couldn’t have done this on her own and is quick to credit the women who work with her to make the parties happen.

Kelli Vanderpool-Lutz, of Sweet and Sassy Treats, makes the cotton candy and chocolates. Tammy Tipton Vogelsong, of Tipton’s Traditions, does pink cupcakes or a specialty cake by request. The homemade cookies are made by Abby Floyd, Kerry Simpson, Amy Patterson and Michelle Simpson of The Cookie Jar. Brenda Thompson, of Brenda Thompson Photography, can take pictures of the parties by request for an additional fee.

“I love small-business women getting together and helping each other,” Roach said. “It’s been wonderful working with them.”

Roach is currently working on expanding her children’s parties to include boys.

“I feel like I do have my niche here,” Roach said. “I think everybody needs to find their niche. I’m 48 years old and it has taken me this long to find it.”