Student Entrepreneur: Claire's passion for food and entrepreneurship

Claire Ann Villafuerte

Claire Ann Villafuerte, originally from the Philippines, is a chef-turned-entrepreneur with a Bachelor of Business (Entrepreneurship) from Torrens University Australia. She started her food business, Kitchen of Klara, during the pandemic, aiming to promote healthy eating.

Meet Claire Ann Villafuerte, originally from the Philippines. Claire has always had a love for the delicious local cuisines and a knack for cooking, which she developed at an early age.

Claire’s journey has been quite diverse professionally. Back in her home country, she studied both Interior Design and Computer Programming. However, her passions for good food and entrepreneurship have remained constant, and in April she graduated with her Bachelor of Business (Entrepreneurship) at Torrens University Australia.

Before enrolling at Torrens University, Claire took Certificates III and IV in Commercial Cookery, and an Advance Diploma in Hospitality Management in Australia. She was working as a chef when the global pandemic hit, which impacted the direction of her career.

“I have been working as a chef at RACV Torquay for more than four years now. During the global COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns, I was stood down for months.

Claire Ann Villafuerte's graduation

So, I decided to think of another source of income, and to use my skills to pursue a career as an entrepreneur and set up a small business” explained Claire.

Having studied Cookery and Hospitality in Australia, Claire was eager to add to her skillset by jumping into the world of business, knowing it would help her in taking this new direction.

“I then finally found my real passion, and enrolled in the Bachelor of Business (Entrepreneurship) course,” said Claire.

“I personally chose Torrens University as they offer modern management and marketing methods in their Business courses, and provide strategies that guide students through the process as they start their own ventures.

I was also impressed by the personalised learning environment with smaller class sizes, which gave us the chance to have one-on-one interactions with skilled and industry-experienced facilitators. There were also blended online and face-to-face learning and dynamic online learning options, which worked around my schedule.”

During the pandemic lockdowns, Claire began her Entrepreneurship degree online with Torrens University while laying the foundations for her very own food business.

Claire found that doing the two things together worked well; she received support and encouragement and was able to apply her in-class learnings directly to her business venture.

Expanding online food delivery business while studying

“Despite the challenges and significant disruption of normal university classes during the pandemic, both students and educators were able to adapt to new technologies in the most novel ways.

From the beginning of my course onwards, I was encouraged to continue and expand my small business, Kitchen of Klara, an online food delivery service.

It was truly a meaningful journey full of sacrifices, hard work and learning experiences. It may have been a ‘lost’ year for others, but it was a year of knowledge acquisition for me. I have gained professional knowledge and expertise from the lectures, great assistance from facilitators and workplace experiences, and I was able to cultivate the best version of myself,” Claire said.

During her course, she was able to complete several business consulting internships, despite the pandemic. One of these valuable, relevant work experiences was working as a business development consultant for Number One Restaurant at RACV Torquay Resort where she developed a business report, providing the restaurant with important business insight.

“I generated reports for the restaurant on a weekly basis, applied all my knowledge from my course and used it to make the business report. I deep-dived into the restaurant industry to support my reporting and was able to expand my knowledge of the business a lot.”

Equipped with her new-found entrepreneurial skills and deep knowledge of the food industry, Claire is now expanding her food business and reaching new markets.

“I consider myself as a ‘hybrid entrepreneur’ at this stage,” Claire explained. “I work as a part-time breakfast Chef at a five-star resort while running my small start-up business. This way I lower the financial risk and increase the chance of any growth potential. I can also acquire more entrepreneurial skills from my workplace and improve my business management skills.

After completing my course, I’ve now started planning for my business activities in line with the upcoming events, such as Halloween, Christmas and next year's Anzac Day. I have started marketing my new offers of Halloween treats via messenger and WhatsApp for a more personal touch with my customers, and I have been promoting on social media.”

Entrepreneurial passion for health and wellbeing

Kitchen of Klara is not just a job. For Claire, it’s a way to create a meaningful business out of her lifelong passion for promoting healthy food.

“My mission with Kitchen of Klara is to share the importance of health and well-being by avoiding harmful food additives as much as possible. With my snacks and food products, I strive to modify the ingredients to offer healthier options than what’s typically available off the shelf. I aim to meet the dietary requirements of people who are health conscious or have severe allergies.”

Claire is looking forward to a future career that combines her passion for healthy, quality food with her love of business entrepreneurship. Wherever she ends up, with her positive attitude and work ethic, she’s sure to do well.

“I always wanted to be a successful entrepreneur,” explained Claire. “My dream job is to have a stable hospitality business where I could fulfil my mission of promoting healthy food while creating pleasurable experiences for consumers. I also plan to have my own podcast and blog to support my mission of sharing knowledge on how lifestyle and food can enhance one’s health and well-being.

For me, ‘entrepreneurship’ means creating an idea, identifying opportunities and being passionate about pursuing it despite uncertainties and risks.

There may be obstacles and challenges along the way. Some failure is inevitable, nevertheless, it builds resilience, perseverance and determination. I believe that failure is one vital element towards success.”

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