PALMETTO -- Alexis Robbins hopes she can strengthen ties in the community one cup of tea at a time.
Robbins is mainly a whole seller of her own tea line -- Createavity -- selling it at farmers markets and trade shows along with bath soaps and foods at farmers markets and craft shows.
Inside a storefront at 414 10th Ave. W., in Palmetto's historic district, she provides a welcoming room for groups.
"I like bringing women together and supporting women. I think it's really important," she said. "I don't think people in general have a lot of support."
She knows from growing up in Sarasota and moving to Riveria Dunes where neighbors aren't all that chatty, she said. Forming her own group was an outlet to get to know people in the Palmetto area.
Robbins, a member of Junior League of Manatee County, is a frequent user of Meetup.com, hosting meet-up and networking groups in the store to get to know people with a common bond.
"We focus on networking groups, workshops," she said. "I have a couple ladies who do jewelry classes and ladies that do essential oil workshops."
Tuesday night will be a special Cocktails for a Cause event in which $10 will get individuals in the door to help raise money for Camelot Community Care for Christmas gifts for two siblings, ages 12 and 14. There is a tree at the front of the store that has the children's wish list on it.
The event runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and will offer food from Riverside Cafe Waterfront Deck, Sugar Cubes, Hideko Sushi and Thai, Clam House, and Paul's Pizza by the Foot. The store will provide wine. Several vendors, including Ella Z Jewels from Sarasota and Essence of the Heart from Myakka City, will sell their wares with 10 percent of proceeds going to charity. Psychic Connie, a Parrish resident, will also offer readings for a fee.
Camelot Community provides child welfare and behavioral health services in Manatee County with offices around Florida. The organization has 26 children in the program in Bradenton, executive director Halle Kranz said.
"This event helps provide them with a good Christmas because (ArTea) is sponsoring two children for us," she said. "The children turned in their Christmas list with all the toys they asked for."
Money can be also given at the event to help purchase the items, Kranz said. Staff will also be on hand for people to learn more about the organization as Camelot is in need of foster parents.
"We need help through the year," she said.
Around the store, boutique furniture is for sale, art hangs on the wall, with tea lined up on the shelves, tea accessories and knick-knacks such as bath soaps shaped like cupcakes. She's also working with Village of the Arts business Sugar Cubed to make baked good infused with her tea available only at her shop and her market and craft show booths.
The store, which opened in late November, is already going through some changes after a business partner backed out, said Robbins, who ran 412 Boutique a couple doors down. Instead of having regular business hours, the store is by appointment only so she can focus on events.
"It doesn't have to be a big group," she said. "I'll come in for two people."
ArTea doesn't charge for groups to use the space if used from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bring in proceeds from purchases of tea and food during those hours, Robbins said, and a fee is charged for after hours.
Her loose leaf tea, Createavity, is available at the parties and during business hours and she also sells tea from Plant City called Sereniteas & Soothers and honey made in Florida. At private events, Robbins will prepare the tea. During business hours, customers have to make their own tea.
For more information, call 941-681-8327.
Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.