Innovation Destination Hartford met The Storyteller’s Cottage Founder Lisa Natcharian, in September 2017. (Read the interview: CT Entrepreneur Creates Space for Literary Events and Adventures).
At the time, Lisa had ambitious plans to provide a unique space for public and private events including literary societies, book clubs, writer’s groups, and literary escape rooms in a historic setting in Simsbury, CT.
Lisa’s vision was a success. The Storyteller’s Cottage became known for its literary-themed events and live murder mystery parties. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic caused in-person events to cancel, the Storyteller’s Cottage had to make major adjustments, including moving its operations online.
“I chose to pivot to online operations because it was clear that the COVID-19 capacity limitations would prevent us from being able to bring in enough income to cover our in-person expenses,” explains Lisa. “The Storyteller’s Cottage was originally founded to ‘Bring Literature to Life.’ When it became impossible to create in-person events based on literature, I changed course to instruct literature fans how to do so themselves.”
The Storyteller’s Cottage now offers five online products, plus individual coaching, enabling participants to harness their own storytelling creativity and recreate literary worlds at home:
- Murder Mystery Party Kits
- Individual Mysteries by Mail
- How-To “DIY Immersive Events” Videos
- Downloadable Master Classes
- StoryWalk E-Books
“I’ve had to adjust my marketing, as my products are now available to anyone across the country via the internet, which means I’m now competing against much larger nationwide businesses,” says Lisa. “It’s a learning experience, like anything else, but I’m slowly making progress—very slowly, as I had to lay off all my staff and am now the only employee!”
Lisa owns the building in which The Storyteller’s Cottage was located. She notes that it was an objective business decision to move the literary events out of the space and rent it to another business that would pay rent in full. “It was clear from the beginning of the pandemic that confidence in in-person activities would erode and stay that way for a very long time. It didn’t make financial sense to hold an empty building for a year then spend yet another year trying to regain our momentum.”
The building at 750 Hopmeadow Street in Simsbury will become home to The Coffee Spot (slated to open March 27). Lisa says she has no plans to reopen the Storyteller’s Cottage in person anywhere else.