Alumna Chiara Cappellano: An entrepreneur purosangue

Alumna Chiara Cappellano: An entrepreneur purosangue

05/11/2023 - 10:32

She’s got the guts from the ‘BUas Skills for Life’ list! Her roots also help in that respect. But the most important thing is confidence in the concept and a well-thought-out plan. What’s alumna Chiara Cappellano up to?
  • Stories

Chiara Cappellano studied Hotel Management at Breda University of Applied Sciences (formerly  NHTV) and she did so for a reason. As a child she knew that she would run her own company one day. ‘My father is from Sicily and came to Delft at the age of 18 to study at Delft University of Technology. When I was three years old, my parents opened an Italian delicatessen – yes here, in the place we are right now at Minderbroerstraat in Delft. The restaurant wasn’t added until much later. It’s a real family business.’


Five cents per small bag

‘The shop was my living room; when I was six, I used to help out in the shop. I filled small bags with dried mushrooms and herbs and stuff. I earned five cents per bag, which was literally quite a bit of pocket money!’ ‘So you were an entrepreneur in good time? ‘Certainly, from the age of 14 I’ve been working towards what I’m doing now. The hotel school was also part of that plan, although I actually wanted to go to The Hague. I could have taken a course in hotel & catering or retail, but I made a conscious choice to do a broad management course at hbo level.’



The Hague!? ‘Nice and close,’ laughs Chiara, ‘but I didn’t pass the selection procedure. Then I had a look at Breda and that felt right immediately. You know, everything happens for a reason, I firmly believe in that. If I hadn’t gone to study in Breda, there wouldn’t have been such a great business plan for my own business in Breda. With the same blurred concept as the one we apply in Delft. Caterer, osteria (tavern, Ed.) and delicatessen in one building. All products come fresh from Italy, from local family businesses. Everything has a story and we tell that here at the table. It is the common thread of the company. I just thought everyone is talking about storytelling, but we already tell stories.’



‘I did the minor Entrepreneurship at BUas and my graduation project was a feasibility study into the concept we work with. As far as permits are concerned it’s rather complicated, but for us it’s a proven concept. Still, you have to be able to base your plan on solid grounds, figure wise. Otherwise you don’t have to go a lender. I was told at my bank that they don’t see such an elaborate business plan very often. I was able to use many things I learned when I was writing my thesis. And okay, I have a head start perhaps, but I’ve always worked hard, I’m goal-oriented, and I’ve seized opportunities with both hands.’


All for a reason   

‘A great opportunity was also my work placement abroad. I wanted to go to Cape Town, which I had had in my head for a long time. But it didn’t feel right, that’s strange. It was a very popular placement position and I changed my plan at the last minute and went to Madrid. That’s where I met my boyfriend,’ laughs Chiara. Here it is again, all for a reason. ‘Exactly! And that work placement was a real eye-opener. I thought I would like the Food & Beverage part of it the most, given my background, but I found the contact at the front desk much more interesting. Then I knew for sure, there had to be a shop.’



And we will see it at Wilhelminastraat in Breda this year? ‘Yes,’ Chiara beams, ‘it’s an A2 location with a lot of destination clientele. There’s a wine shop, an organic butcher, a cook shop, we’ll fit in well with Il Limone. I’ll have to get used to no longer being a manager in Delft. I’ve learnt so much here. Just after I graduated, we went straight into the first lockdown. Then I learnt to switch really quickly. I had all kinds of ideas and was given lots of freedom by my father to try things out. As a result, I’m more ready now to start my own business.’


TikTok adventure 

So no dip due to the corona pandemic? ‘No, we did good business beyond expectation. That was partly because of my TikTok adventure. I already posted a sandwich-of-the-week video on Insta  every week and started doing this on TikTok. First with an existing video; I had it played at a faster speed, put some music and a voice-over underneath, and it went viral in no time. People were queueing up outside along the canal, all the way over the bridge. Just bizarre, 100 sandwiches per day became 900. We now have 85,000 followers. I’d love to take that buzz with me to Breda!’