Tea & Toast, a pioneering retirement living solution has been hailed as a leader in helping families plan, research, and strategize solutions when making a life transition to living in a retirement home or long-term care home. Located in Ottawa Ontario, the organization takes a holistic approach in that oftentimes it’s not only one senior (or couple) looking for a new home, there is a whole family involved to find the best location, not to mention wanting their loved one in a place that they are happy with too.
Tea & Toast was founded in May, 2014 by Amy Friesen, who heads up operations and marketing with a large team of consultants who specialize in retirement and long-term care home search. She is a best-selling author, Tv show host and senior living educator and speaker. Amy Friesen is the recipient of the Women’s Business Network’s 2019 Emerging Entrepreneur Businesswomen of the Year Award. She is also a Forty Under 40 recipient. Operating with an ambition of “be helpful”, Amy strives to instil her belief that seniors and families should be supported more appropriately when looking for resources.
As an independent, non-biased retirement living advisory service operating in the Canadian senior living market, Tea & Toast works with families to take a deep dive into discovering their needs and preferences, for the present and the future. A Tea & Toast advisor acts as a liaison between the retirement homes and families, ensuring that the information presented is correct and appropriate to the client’s situation. This helps families make decisions on retirement living not only based on the general feel of the home, but also on solid and reliable information.
It believes in informed decisions which to us means discussing and figuring out what will work now, as well as in the future. They support their clients from first contact, though touring to decision making. Navigating the system and defining terms at different homes has proven to be time consuming and stressful for many families and the reason we are with each client the whole way. Oftentimes when families embark on this mission on their own, they are spending 80+ hours researching and touring. Working with an advisor usually takes the invested time down to about 5 hours. Tea & Toast is a non-biased service. They believe in personalized retirement living choices, made easy.
The Source of Inspiration
Amy Friesen took a keen interest in the business in her younger years, and this continued through college and university. It was then that she connected her passion for working with and being around seniors to marketing and sales in the senior living industry. After almost a decade working in various retirement homes, she realized there was a tremendous lack of information on retirement living available to the general public. The information that was available to the community was often delivered under a specific retirement brand instead of laid out in an unbiased fashion. This affected her on a deeply personal level, as she could see families making decisions that had the potential to compromise the quality of life for their loved ones.
In 2014, Amy Friesen decided to leave working at retirement homes. She began to build an advisory business focused on helping seniors and their families find the right fit in retirement living based on their needs, and not the home they happened to tour that day. Leaving a steady “day job” was a definite risk, but she has not once looked back. Being an entrepreneur and business owner continues to energize and inspire me.
From the Founder’s Desk
“I didn’t know that I wanted to be an author until recently. There are so many unknowns for families and not everyone is ready to call Tea & Toast right now, but many are planning and considering the different decisions needing to be made. Breadcrumbs, Piecing Together the Retirement Industry provides information on the system and how it works. It is a jumping-off point for folks who want to start considering their options, but don’t know quite where to begin”, shared the leading lady while discussing the influencing factors behind her decision to be an author.
Clientele & Corporate Ethos
Tea & Toast clients are mostly seniors in need of a retirement living solution. However, most times they are also working with their families to help in the decision-making process. The clients have faith in the company’s system because they connect with them on an authentic and emotional level. They often come to the team overwhelmed and unsure where to begin. After the initial consultation, their minds are set at ease because they feel comforted knowing they are not alone. The team explain options carefully to make sure the clients know how Tea & Toast can help them and what the next steps are. They are also grateful for avoiding buyer’s remorse because they know that together, the team have gone through all the options and identified the most appropriate homes. Tea & Toast is with them every step of the way. As well, it has created a devoted fan base. Once families go through the process and realize how much easier T&T has made it for them, they are happy to share their positive experience with others.
Hurdles & Supporting Factors on the Way
Amy’s one of the biggest challenges was building and running the company at the same time. She equates it to setting sail on a ship and rebuilding it while at sea. This is an industry in Canada and it is still in flux. That, paired with adjusting services to meet the needs of the community and the homes, keeps them quite busy. And adjusting her business model to a global pandemic has been an interesting challenge over the past couple of years.
There have definitely been people who have helped along the way. Amy’s family is definitely a huge support. Honestly, however, she has been guided mostly by an internal drive to improve an industry she loves, and helps as many seniors as she can.
A Day in Amy’s Life & her Hobbies
Amy’s day begins at;
6:30am – Meditation and stretching/yoga
7am – Breakfast with my daughter and husband
8am – Walk the pups
9am – 10am – My breakfast, audio books, and getting ready for the day
10am – Collaboration and check-in for the day
10am – 12pm – High concentration items and meetings
12-1 – Lunch and relax (maybe reading, dog walking)
1pm – 4pm – Lower concentration items (often content development, and meetings)
4pm – 5pm – Wind down
5pm – 6pm – Dinner prep and eating
6pm – 730pm – Hang time with the family
730-8pm – Bedtime for my daughter Eva
8pm – 9pm – Chilling out
9pm-10pm – Night routine (skincare, reading, journaling, gratitude’s)
10pm – Lights Out
The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
Future Outlook & Feathers in the Crown
Amy Friesen is excited about seeing how the senior living industry grows in the next 20+ years as all the baby boomers transition in. Tea & Toast continues to expand in the home market with plans of more expansion. They have also put together a Canadian retirement home advisors’ network, which Amy Friesen hopes will help shape the future of this industry. Her Artful Aging with Amy Friesen podcast continues to grow as well. As for other plans, she has a few other things in mind… but you’ll have to follow her to see!
- Awarded Businesswomen of the Year in 2018
- Awarded Top Forty Under 40 in 2019
- Awarded Corporate Engagement Award of Excellence in 2019
Amy Friesen’s Advice to Female Entrepreneurs
There is no right time to start – in fact, there will never be a right time. Choose something you love, jump in with both feet and ride the wave. There will be ups and downs and as long as you know your why, you can figure out your how.