The Pauline Tea-Bar Apothecary: a woosah space where the tea is secondary

In a renovated doctor's office on Charlotte's west side, a former broadcast journalist and medical chaplain has created a space where customers are invited to meditate, pray and even cry.

Charlotte is known for a lot of things, but being the home of woosah space isn’t one of them.

What’s woosah space?

A place to relax, meditate, pray, cry, breathe, even think before hitting that emotional wall of “…and then I lost it.”

Sherry Waters, owner of The Pauline Tea-Bar Apothecary, has been intentional about providing woosah space, along with a warm cup of tea and a little something sweet on the side, for six months now.

Named for Waters’ grandmother, Pauline Tea-Bar is located in a renovated doctor’s office near the intersection of Wilkinson Boulevard and Morehead Street in the Camp Greene neighborhood.

Waters recalls a first-time customer who looked around, taking in the herbal teas, prayer closet, sitting spaces, uplifting books and aromatherapy wafting in the air, before pronouncing, “I’m gonna come back here to woosah.”

With that, Waters knew she was on track. She now often hears people say that the tea-bar is just what the Charlotte community needed.

A concept long in the making

The seed for her woosah-sacred space was planted five years ago, when Waters, then serving as a chaplain at Carolina Healthcare Systems (now Atrium Health), found herself creating restorative environments in patient rooms before talking to them.

It mattered how the chairs were arranged and how inviting the rooms were for people to feel comfortable enough to talk, she recalls.

“People need a place to just cry. To be still. To have a safe space where their story is going to honored and they’re going to be cared for,” says Waters, who also offers a side counseling  business as a spiritual director. “This space allows me to be a community chaplain.”

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From left to right: Dana Woods, Sonja Smith and Tish Brown, all graduates of Howard University, met up at Pauline Tea-Bar Apothecary on a rainy Saturday to catch up. “We have’t seen each other in a little bit,” said Smith, who described the tea bar as “a nice place to convo with friends.” Photo: QCity Metro

In the six months that The Pauline Tea-Bar Apothecary has operated, it has hosted:

  • Live music and poetry on the first Friday of every month
  • Weekly shoulder massage sessions every Tuesday, starting at 1 p.m.
  • Tea parties
  • A 70th Birthday Party
  • Corporate staff and neighborhood meetings
  • Writer and artist gatherings
  • Bible studies

Nothing by chance

While respectful of other religions, Waters says the Pauline Tea-Bar is unabashedly Christian. She has been intentional and prayerful about every feature in the 1,700-square-foot space, from the photos lining the wall for sale to the prayer requests stuck in a rack hanging in the prayer closet.

“I knew exactly what it needed to look like since February” of 2019, Waters says.

Another feature includes letting customers pick from a variety of cups before selecting their teas. Often, just the selection helps Waters know her customers’ interests or personal concerns.

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Inside a prayer closet, customers may leave written supplications, rolled up and tucked into a wire frame.

The Asheville native brings diverse experience to her entrepreneurial venture. She’s a former broadcast journalist and spent 25 years working with nonprofits. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from UNC Chapel Hill, certification in nonprofit management from Duke University and a master’s degree in practical theology/pastoral counseling from Pfeiffer University.

Surprisingly, what Waters didn’t bring to the business was an in-depth knowledge of tea.

“The tea was secondary,” she says with a laugh. “I had to learn about tea. What I knew I wanted was a sacred space, but I needed a draw. It was never just tea.”

The Pauline Tea-Bar Apothecary is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday. The address is 2326 Arty Road in Camp Greene.

Resource Corner

Waters’ advice for new entrepreneurs?

Stay true to your intention, because there are going to be folks — well meaning — who want to support you but will have a lot of ideas. If you drift from your mission and intention, you will tend to try to do too much, and it will water down what you intend to do.

What did you think about this article? Click here to share your feedback by answering five easy questions. This article was published under a grant from the Facebook Journalism Project, which partners with news organizations working to build a more sustainable future for community-based news.

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