A MASTERS graduate who spent a year applying for jobs without success has taken a chance on setting up her own tea shop.

Joanna Davies, 25, has chosen to sell tea in Dorchester because she thinks it is a recession-proof product.

The local girl returned to her home town to set up new business The Gilded Teapot, after graduating a year ago with a masters degree in cultural studies from the University of Winchester.

She said she spent a year trying to find any kind of employment.

“I could only get a couple of days a week part-time work and would spend all the rest of my time trying to find a job.

“I kept getting rejection letters telling me there were hundreds and hundreds of applicants.

“I was working at a tea shop myself and had a good relationship with suppliers, so thought ‘this is my chance to build something because the jobs market is non-existent.

“There are two industries that seem to be recession resistant, and they are lipstick and tea, so I went with tea,” she said.

Joanna has taken over the premises of the Stuart Turner tobacconist in Dorchester’s Tudor Arcade.

Dorchester Mayor Les Phillips and Denise Addison, president of the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce, opened the shop.

Joanna carved out a different career path for herself after originally planning to become a drama teacher.

“I would say to people who are in the same situation as me, try to be flexible.

“Do what you feel most passionate about and try and band together with like-minded people.

“Don’t feel that all is lost with rejection, just keep on trying to be determined,” she said.

Former Thomas Hardye School student Joanna said the entrepreneurial spirit is in her blood.

“I come from a family of people who are almost entrepreneurs and have started their own businesses.

“I’m lucky because I have been able to get finance from outside the banks.”

With little business experience behind her, Joanna said she is not aiming too high.

“I’ve been very conservative in my projections for the first few years.

“Dorchester is a place where a lot of people support independent shops and we have the advantage of being very flexible and not being cookie-cutter businesses like lots of others in the area.

“There used to be a tea and coffee merchants called Parsons and everybody seems to remember that fondly.

“The town also lost Whittards so I’m hoping that people want a tea and coffee merchant here.

“I’m working with local suppliers for the tea and all the coffee has been roasted in Dorset.”